Stompbox/micro-head amps odyssey begins

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Jupiter, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I wanna make my rig as light and mobile as possible, ideally such that I can easily carry everything in one trip. Right now I’m looking at mini/micro amp heads.

    The parameters I’m working with:

    I’m insisting on:
    • About 50 watts (Could be more, but not necessary)
    • Nice clean sound
    • Full-featured tone shaping (at least TMB)
    • Small enough to drop into my pedal/cable bag—or ideally go right onto my pedal board. So about the size of two standard stompboxes, give or take
    • Bombproof
    • From $200-$400 (okay, maybe $500 if it’s AWESOME)

    I’d like to have, but not a deal-breaker:
    • Reverb
    • FX loop
    • 2 usable channels
    • Aux in
    • Line out

    I’m NOT particularly interested in:
    • Toobs
    • Modeling
    • High gain

    I’m considering other solutions, like a nice SS combo with a neodymium speaker, but at this point I’m thinking head/cab.

    I’ve been doing my homework, and this is what I’ve seen so far:
    1. EHX .44 Magnum: nice size, plenty of power, but lacks tone-shaping. More of a backup amp.
    2. Foxgear Kolt 45: kinda like the EHX, but with TMB.
    3. Quilter Microblock 45: as above.
    4. Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170: gobs of power, kinda spendy for the features though...
    5. Quilter Interblock 45: a leading contender for size, features and price, but I’m hearing that the knobs/pots seem flimsy...
    6. DV Mark Micro 50 ii: this is the only one I’ve been able to actually play! Liked the clean sound, but the “drive” channel is basically just an overdrive pedal circuit that runs on top of the clean channel, and I didn’t think it was very usable. Also, while the second generation of this amp has an effects loop, I haven’t been able to find that version in Japan...
    7. Quilter 101 Mini Reverb: more features, but also 200 bucks more than the Interblock, and some folks hereabouts have said they thought these sounded kinda dark?

    So I went downtown today, and I was chagrined to find that in the second-largest city in Japan, I was unable to find any of these in any stores, with the exception of a used first generation of the DV Mark unit (no FX loop). Most of them can be had online, but I'm really hesitant to splash out without actually playing through them.

    Are there some other options out there I’m overlooking?
     
  2. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    I got the quilter microblock for backup. Had a powerblock.,wish still had for backups.

    Note that 45 watts is not at 8ohm. Read fine print for all of them. I think only 20something watts at 8.

    But, this still should be good enough for emergency.
     
  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I’m not shopping for an emergency amp at this point; I’m working out my main rig. But yeah, they do tend to drop watts as the ohms go up.
     
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  4. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Hotone took their nano heads, combined a pair of them with a wufty power stage to produce these :

    https://www.hotoneaudio.com/products/nano-legacy-floor

    Thomas Blug came out with :

    https://www.bluguitar.com/english/AMP1_Mercury_Edition.html


    The EHX Magnum. Plenty of power?, check, although not the rated power, it's loud. Tone shaping?, well, there's the little switch which goes from muffled to clean. Do -not- accidentally tread on the little switch. It isn't designed for it, and will break apart, shattering within the case. It's an absolute bugger to replace. A real flaw in an otherwise neat ( if expensive for what it offers ) design. It does sound quite good though.
     
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  5. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Meister

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    I’ve been on this quest for a couple weeks now. Harley Benton makes the Thunder 99. 50/50 watt pedal amp w/stereo ins and outs for $120 shipped from Thoman. Hotone make several ss mini and floor amps. Not sure on the features but I know they have 5 or 6 knobs and other features. Baroni Labs makes some good looking stomp box amps in
    30, 50 and 100? Watts. ISP make the stealth series that look impressive. For my exploratory $$$ I’ve chosen the Thunder 99 and an EQ.
     
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  6. stormsedge

    stormsedge Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I have a Quilter 201 (purchased on a SDoD $249)...it is a beast from my limited perspective. It weighs about 4lbs. It does not, however, meet your reverb, aux in, or two channel requirement, so this is really just to recommend you look at other choices in the Quilter line. I've emailed them direct and received a timely response, so you might choose a couple from the lineup and ask them direct questions? In my case, I asked about OD pedal placement and using the FX loop, and Pat Quilter wrote back saying run them all through the front if you want (which is what I am currently doing). I like this particular amp because it is simple with gobs of power.

    I ended up doing a sonic science experiment with this amp and purchased two unloaded 1x12 Seismic cabinets (which come in right at 30lbs each with neo speakers--so a bit heavier than you may want)...put in an Eminence Lil' Texas neo (125w) in one and a Celestion BN12-300S neo (300w)(the same speaker as the Quilter Dock) in the other. This rig is way more than I really need, but it is fun to tinker. I have both cabs plugged in at the moment. There are some here (maybe more savvy than I) that will pipe in with DV Mark speaker cabs---those are really nice and light units---had I been more observant on the front end, I may have gone that route. Happy hunting!

    Edit: the aforementioned speakers are 8ohm.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
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  7. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have been eyeing the lightweight stuff, as well. I really like the Quilter stuff (very usable, plus brand confidence from many years of relying on QSC amps) and am debating if the wife will notice too loudly if something magically appears. I guess the sale of a certain Dual Showman Reverb could help squelch that, especially since she has no issue with assisting load-in/out.
     
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  8. W.L.Weller

    W.L.Weller Tele-Holic

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    My only first-hand experience with any of these is the EHX, and I agree that it's not really suited to use as a primary amp. Maybe it would be ok as a pure power amp after a Tech21 (or Joyo clone) amp-in-a-box that has actual tone controls.

    Based on the internet I read, I think Quilter & DV Mark are definitely worth further consideration.

    Not sure what you're thinking about speaker-wise, but two 8Ω speakers in parallel are 4Ω, which is where some of these amps are making their rated output power. An open-backed 2x10 or 2x12 cabinet would have room for a small pedalboard at the bottom, then you'd just need a speaker cable long enough to reach from the board to the cab.
     
  9. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Meister

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    The Vox MV series works as a pedal amp too.
     
  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Thanks for the tips! Nano legacy is interesting, though hard to find around here. I need to listen to some vids to see how the clean sound is. Thing is, both of the duals have a channel with WAY more gain than I need... AMP1 is a LOT of gear, in terms of features (and price) for my needs.
     
  11. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    well, if a BIG box goes out and a LITTLE box comes in, that oughta be seen as good, right? ;-)

    I have a ZOOM MFX pedal that will do my effects/amp emulation for now. One of the reasons I’m leaning towards a good plain-vanilla clean sound for the power amp is that I expect FX/emulation will keep getting better and cheaper as time goes on, so I want to be able to upgrade in that area independently of my amp.

    ATM I am looking hard at the DV Mark Neoclassical 1x12 cab, or else building my own cab for some other 12” neodymium speaker.
     
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  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I’m embarrassed to admit that I walked by a pile of these today because I thought they looked like toys... I’ll check em out!
     
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  13. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    The lack of an effects loop kept me from buying one when they were on sale before Christmas. They do sound good though.
     
  14. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    And they’re like 150 bucks or something...
     
  15. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I've got 4 Nano heads, the Mojo Diamond, Purple Wind, British Invasion and Siva Boogie as well as the Hotone Binary Amp and IR Cab. As you might guess, I really like their products. I use them frequently on the Twanger challenge backing tracks here if you want to hear some examples.

    The regular Nanos are only 5 watts but can be boosted to wife annoying levels by running them into a FRFR or PA. Adding the IR Cab pedal really helps them too.

    The best cleans from the ones I have are the Siva Boogie (a Bogner Shiva emulation, not Mesa) and the Jazz Chorus model on the Binary Amp.
     
  16. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Meister

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  17. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey TDPRI Member

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    You might want to expand your search to include powered cabs and preamp pedals.

    Also, SD has a new version of the power stage coming out soon that is more fully featured.
     
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  18. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    In your opinion what is the difference between a modeling solution + FRFR cab, like the Headrush stuff for instance, and a pedalboard amp with a class D power supply and a cabinet? To me it seems like they are the same basic idea but in different boxes - some software acts upon the incoming signal, then that goes to a class D power amp then on to speakers. Not trying to be sarcastic, I'm wondering if there is a specific tone you're after that you can't get from the modeling stuff, or if there are other differences in the approaches that I am not aware of. It seems to me like the headrush gigboard, or Line 6 HX stomp, plus a 112 FRFR cab should meet all your practical requirements.
     
  19. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    I've been using a Quilter 101 mini into a Emi Lil' Texas for a few years now. There was a bit of a learning curve to the unconventional EQ but it's proven to be a great little rig. My reverb is a Boss FRV-1 and I use a couple of OD's for dirt. I prefer to use pedals rather than built in effects that might be described as so-so. I also have the option of using them with my other amp or backline rigs. The FX return jack has also proven useful for my keyboards and acoustic electrics. The 101's can be had cheap and are a good option if you don't mind using a couple of pedals.
     
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  20. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm looking at the Ethos Overdrive amp -- not just the overdrive; the one w/ 30W SS -- which is much more expensive but starting to appear, used, around $500, which is super cut-rate. I've head the thing live and absolutely love the sound. Ditto for BluGuitar. Too expensive, new, for me, but starting to appear at good prices used. Both are fantastic. Of the rest, I think SD and Quilter (Interblock) are a level above the others.vI haven't checked used prices on the Duncan. Good luck. I think this is a good time to make that move, as the gear is genuinely good (and new tubes are turning to crap!).
     
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