Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

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David Verb
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Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by David Verb » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:22 am

I was talking to the head tech officer at my music uni the other day, who has some experiences mixing live bands who toured down under, and we had a discussion about optimum stage levels. His argument was that an amplifier only needed to output 1 - 10 watts of power for nominal stage levels in a good environment, then micing and sound reinforcement would do the rest. Especially in the case of your local pub gig or band contest.

I have heard about the Zvex Nano Head, The Rock Block (my personal favourite after viewing some Youtube videos), and now the micro terror.

On the website, the Rock Block boasts 100 db of volume, that's plenty loud for most humans.

So, who here would take the risk and gig a 1 watt amp seriously? Or is this a studio and bedroom wanking tool?

Where is your master volume usually set on your 'big' rig? How much air are you pushing against the back of your knees? Are you saturating your leagues of female audiences with valve saturation? :mrgreen:
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by baytamusic » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:25 am

David Verb wrote:I was talking to the head tech officer at my music uni the other day, who has some experiences mixing live bands who toured down under, and we had a discussion about optimum stage levels. His argument was that an amplifier only needed to output 1 - 10 watts of power for nominal stage levels in a good environment, then micing and sound reinforcement would do the rest. Especially in the case of your local pub gig or band contest.

I have heard about the Zvex Nano Head, The Rock Block (my personal favourite after viewing some Youtube videos), and now the micro terror.

On the website, the Rock Block boasts 100 db of volume, that's plenty loud for most humans.

So, who here would take the risk and gig a 1 watt amp seriously? Or is this a studio and bedroom wanking tool?

Where is your master volume usually set on your 'big' rig? How much air are you pushing against the back of your knees? Are you saturating your leagues of female audiences with valve saturation? :mrgreen:
Here's what he left out. Lower wattage amps have wimpy bass.

I play my amp pretty loud, but try to keep the sound guys happy. I find that they usually think my tone is good (I think), so they don't get as pissy about volume. I usually make a point to ask if it's too loud, usually they are ok with it.

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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by David Verb » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:55 am

Even wimpy through a 4x12?

I find the clean channel on my RV100 too bass heavy at times, especially in the room I'm in. I would prefer to let the bass guitar take care of the lower frequencies. But that sort of attitude isn't going to 'bust guts and melt faces' isn't it?
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by Jondog » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:08 am

Micing it and running through a PA will work, but if it was always like that, rock wouldn't exist. MORE POWER! Pete Townshend needed a 100 watts to be Pete Townshend.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by msmith4432 » Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:25 am

I wish I could relate to that but most of the time when I play I don't have anyone to run it thru the PA. In fact there have been a few time thatI have done that but I have no idea how it all works. I wish I knew more about it but usually we play and I just balance the volume of the amp based on the drummer. And no I could not image playing in a live environment with a band having a 1 watt amp. I have played on 5 watts before.. It was when I had a Mesa boogie lodestar, it had 5,15,30 watt options, honestly at time the 5 watt worked great. However we were only playing for about 125 people.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by indianDYsummer » Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:30 am

I tried several 1-5w amps but found I prefer larger amps with a good MV. Like 15+ watts. The larger output transformer might have more to do it than the wattage, but I also like the additional bass available.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by OU818 » Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:47 am

I honestly think 20w is the best medium venue amp if you are being mic'd.

I currently play a Hiwatt DR103 100watt monster and have to generally face it towards the wall to stop killing the FOH mix.
It works great in the bigger rooms but I am starting to lean towards a small 20w 1x12 combo for smaller venues.

Either that or just build myself the Trinity Triwatt kit.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by Bensen » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:40 am

baytamusic wrote:Here's what he left out. Lower wattage amps have wimpy bass....
+1

Also there are many techs that suck and can't mix e-guitars on the gigs we play and I don't want to rely on them for my guitar tone.

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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by irish_admiral » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:15 am

Two words... clean headroom.

If you just want dirt, then very low wattage amps can be pretty good at getting a nice dirty tone at manageable volume. If you need to hear yourself on stage via the amp, and you play clean, you may need an amp with more watts.

In terms of low end, the act of passing the signal through more old school valves in the power section seems to add more grunt in the low end. HOWEVER, whoever mentioned that they like to let the bass player take care of the low end is mostly right. Unless you play without a bassist, in which case low end matters less, the tech will take a bit of your low end out as you & the bass player will be treading on each others toes otherwise. Don't get mad at him - it makes the band sound much better, else you'd get too much noise crowding into one space.

The whole 1-10 watts thing this guy mentioned is probably more from a perspective of optimum stage noise level to manage from a PA perspective. The less noise on stage the better, because it makes it easier to manage. There's been a huge swing towards in ear monitoring as it makes the stage easier to manage, and it's better for your ears.

You've got to balance the priorities. If your amp is too loud, you'll unbalance the band mix, end of. However, drummers are normally fairly loud, so you've got a bit of room, especially if you're playing without monitors.

Other alternative if you've got a loud amp is just to crank it, but put it offstage, or at least face it away from the audience...

Personally, I don't see much need to go over 30 watts clean or dirty: that's plenty loud for monitoring on stage even with a heavy handed drummer.
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Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by DiabloS » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:28 am

Yeah, I wouldn't go as low as a 1 watt.... even though it might work in some cases where you have excellent monitoring, a good sound guy, don't need clean headroom, etc. I try to keep my stage volume low enough, but I hate relying 100% on monitors on stage cause half the time they either don't work very well or the sound guy doesn't give you a good enough mix. If something happens that the monitors don't work that night.. you're pretty much screwed to hear yourself on stage over a loud drummer.

I think the others here are right, that for small-medium sized clubs, a 15-30 watt amp is usually ideal depending on how loud your band/drummer is. I usually use my Dual Terror in 30 watt mode with the volume between 10 and 11 o'clock except for really small clubs I sometimes bring it down to 15 depending on the layout of the place.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by OrangePaul » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:57 am

Whilst 1 watt can sound more than loud enough at home I'm pretty certain in any size-able room its volume would just disappear.

I've tried recording my blackstar HT1R and didn't get very good results either.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by baytamusic » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:21 am

David Verb wrote:Even wimpy through a 4x12?

I find the clean channel on my RV100 too bass heavy at times, especially in the room I'm in. I would prefer to let the bass guitar take care of the lower frequencies. But that sort of attitude isn't going to 'bust guts and melt faces' isn't it?
Yes. I've owned several 5w amps and have ran them through my 4x12 and they don't have near the bass response of even a 15w amp. I don't play the kind of music where I want to 'bust guts and melt faces' so I'm not quite sure what you're getting at with that comment...

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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by Thinline_slim » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:27 pm

Agree with Joe - clean headroom

Agree with Bayta - bass response. But for a different reason that having more bass in the mix. I agree that the bass player needs to fill that space but having more iron and bass will give you more punch for rhythm as well. Having that plus more headroom can give you more dynamics in your touch, pick attack etc. running a 1w wide open will compress into mush.

There are smaller amps that are damn touch sensative but there are far more 30-100w that will do it too. Also remember wattage to decibel ratios too. I think it goes if you doube your wattage you'll get an additional 3 dbs. 30w to 50w is not that big a difference in volume.
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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by baytamusic » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:33 pm

Thinline_slim wrote:Agree with Joe - clean headroom

Agree with Bayta - bass response. But for a different reason that having more bass in the mix. I agree that the bass player needs to fill that space but having more iron and bass will give you more punch for rhythm as well. Having that plus more headroom can give you more dynamics in your touch, pick attack etc. running a 1w wide open will compress into mush.

There are smaller amps that are damn touch sensative but there are far more 30-100w that will do it too. Also remember wattage to decibel ratios too. I think it goes if you doube your wattage you'll get an additional 3 dbs. 30w to 50w is not that big a difference in volume.
Yeah, they just mush out out lower notes IMO. Also the thickness in the tone just isn't there. There's a lot going on in a guitar sound above 100hz that is very important to a full sound. I can almost bet you analyzing the EQ plots of a 1w vs 30w amp would be very revealing. I'm guessing the 1w is way down in the 200-800hz range compared to an amp 15w or so and over. I'm just guessing, but that's what I seem to hear.

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Re: Cranked 1 watt amp vs 100 watts... with a master volume?

Post by dreamdistortion » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:00 pm

I want my amp to do the work and fill the room with sound. Not an SM57 and the PA. I play small- medium sized clubs and tell the sound guys NOT to send my guitar through the PA system. The only reason I mic the guitar cab in this instance is so that it can be run through the monitors for the rest of the band on stage.

Honestly, where do you want your amplification to come from, your amp or a shitty sound system?

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