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Mini 0r Micro Amps.... I Must Be Missing Something?

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by Shane Carter, Jan 20, 2013.


  1. Shane Carter

    Shane Carter

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Location:
    Detroit
    I understand the convenience of these small heads, TC, Ampeg, Aguilar, GK, GB, MB etc. especially if you ride a bicycle. I even ordered the PF-500, primarily looking for a small backup for tube amps.

    I realized I have to carry it and whether it's on top of my cab or in a case, I still have to move it. A power amp (I'm using a Crown XLS1500) has way more power, ohm and cab options, these mini's just aren't worth the problems people are posting on TB. Yes, you need a preamp either racked or in pedal form, but it's worth it.

    PF-500 cancelled. Call me when they have one the size of a pack of cards, that works. :bag:
     
  2. B-string

    B-string Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Location:
    Lake Havasu City, Az USA
    So you think it is a better option to carry the PA version of a micro amp (SMPS, Class D) and a preamp pedal or additional rack mount preamp instead of the one unit micro amp?
    Just checking.
     
  3. robertusf

    robertusf Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    PF500 - it's much nicer to carry my PF500 in a padded bag than it was lug the 4 space rack ....been doing it for a year now
     
  4. Shane Carter

    Shane Carter

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Location:
    Detroit
    For me, yes. That's what I'm asking, what am I missing? I can handle the extra 3 pounds for the additional benefits. Plenty of room in my vehicle. I love seeing these tiny things where people have to buy the mounting brackets and mount them in a rack. I've read the postings of faults, clipping, dying, limiters, lack of power, lack of cab connections, ohm options.

    I'm not saying people shouldn't have them, I just don't know why.
     
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  6. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2004
    The micro and mini amps are more reliable over all.
    And the warranties getting longer is proving the manufacturers bet on it.

    Musicians are buying them now, and its just the topics of the day.

    Of course there's a few "lemons", but these are not systemic problems with the technology in general.

    The power amp market is going the same way.
    There aren't any major power amplifier companies with new designs outside of PWM (class-d) these days. In fact all amplifiers in the world are going class-d (PWM) with SMPS.

    Myself, I agree a good power amp is a good way to go. There are many signal processing options and a good, transparent, amp will give you a lot of versatility. We need more power amp options. Half-racks please :)
     
  7. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Location:
    Camarillo, CA
    Negative reviews and problem threads are far more common than positive ones. As a TB'er, which are you more likely to post about - an amp that you're generally pleased with, or an amp that took a crap on you three weeks after purchase?
    The number of problems reported on a forum like TB is not really indicative of the actual number of problems in the real world.
     
  8. majortoby

    majortoby

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl USA
    I think that micros are a fine way to go. I mean, how badly do most bassists really need a 2 ohm stable amp? Sure, I'd love to have a six space rack loaded with all sorts of signal processing toys and boxes, but I could do just fine with a micro.
     
  9. Shane Carter

    Shane Carter

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Location:
    Detroit
    I agree and any amp or manufacturer can have problems, but unless I'm riding a bike, public transportation or hitch-hiking, why do I NEED it (excluding health problems or other physical limitations?) PF-500 11 lbs. XLS 1500 8.6 lbs.
     
  10. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2004
    The weight of the amp has nothing to do with the sound or reliability. They just so happen to be light, and that's a feature many consumers want.

    Those that argue they have a heavier amp and don't care about the weight, must also not care if the amp is lighter. If you can lift something heavy you can lift something light. So what's the point of pushing that light or heavy amps mean anything to you?
     
  11. Marty Forrer

    Marty Forrer

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Location:
    Napier, New Zealand.
    Well I'll tell you why I bought my GB Streamliner 600 and two Shuttle 112 cabs. Weight and convenience. I'm 65, I have a bad back and I can carry a Shuttle cab in each hand and the head in a laptop bag over my shoulder. I could not even do that with my PF500 and two PF115HE cabs. And it sounds better.
    I've had a Mesa 400 with big heavy road-ready cabs, I've had various other tube heads and large cabs. Would I go back to that? Not on yer life, not even if I was younger and healthier.
    I'm a doubler, and my GB rig is perfect for both. I can use half of it for jazz and coffee bar type gigs, easy stuff.
     
  12. Shane Carter

    Shane Carter

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Location:
    Detroit
    Seamonkey: "They just so happen to be light, and that's a feature many consumers want."

    1. People want lighter amps. The XLS1500 is 8.6 lbs.

    2. Health reasons, a 6 lb. amp and two 36 pound cabinets. I love my GB Neox 212T, put the amp on top and roll it on the back wheels.
     
  13. KJung

    KJung

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
    I guess it is hard to do a search on this particular topic, but a thread like this comes up about every month or so on the site.

    Yes, you are missing a number of things.

    First, the options/features you describe, like dual mono operation, are totally unimportant to many players. So, don't assume the benefits that you think are important are important to everyone.

    Secondly, for those of us who play at a professional level, and/or in the pop, jazz, or funk world, it is a rare (if any) gig that can't be handled by a 410/212/115 sized cab (or even a 112 or 210 in many cased). Put another way, for many players like myself, I never, ever have to be louder than an unmic'd drummer. So, that 400-600 watt power range into a moderate size cab with good efficiency handles every gig I need. So, again, zero advantage to more power.

    Thirdly, combine that with the different schlep's we all have (in my case, I play mostly on the road in large cities, and often walk blocks to the venue from my car), as long as I don't compromise my tone, the smaller the better!

    Your comment on reliability is not supported in fact. Yes, some amp companies seem to have high failure rates, but if you look at a company like GK, there are just as many problem posts on their 'non class D' amps as there are on their class D amps. Don't confuse amplifier topology with brand or production/design quality.

    So, if you don't 'listen with your eyes', you will find, like many of us who kind of make a hobby out of checking out gear, that there is virtually no measurable differences among different amp topologies (except, I guess, all tube amps, which are kind of a different thing when pushed to overdrive). Put another way, if you 'blind tested' 10 non SMPS amps (that is really what makes a small amp small and light) with 10 different SMPS amps (class D or not), no one could IMO and IME reliably identify the topology above the range of chance. All 20 amps will sound different, of course, and you would dig some and not others. However, it would not be defined clearly by the two power topology groups.

    That being said, if you play really loud, and for some reason feel you need multiple 4ohm cabinets or whatever, a PA amp and preamp is a valid option. Of course, using your logic, I am sure there is someone out there that would say 'why not use a CA9.... it's the same size, and what's another 40 pounds:p There is a reason that 'heavy PA amps' have virtually disappeared, even from high end concert level sound companies.... there is not advantage to the weight regarding performance:smug:
     
  14. bassfran

    bassfran

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Location:
    Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    I often play on multi-band bills and don't have roadies.

    Why should I waste my energy lugging a giant, heavy rig? To me, this is progress.

    I can arrive 1/2 hour before the hit, load-in, set-up, and be ready in a relaxed manner in nothing flat. And I won't even break a sweat.
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm quite happy with the sound and reliability of my micros, but I'm starting to appreciate traditional solid state with an iron transformer more these days. I've done a handful of gigs with a traditional solid state BA110 recently, and OK, it's an inexpensive practice amp, but I can tell a difference in the response of it and my micro rigs. It comes across as a little tighter. I still dig the micro rigs a lot, but I get why some folks haven't made the switch from heavy SS to light SS.

    I guess that means I disagree with Ken, but what else is new? ;)
     
  16. KJung

    KJung

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
    PS That all being said, the Ampeg micro you were thinking about buying seems to have high failure rates. Again, don't confuse a particularly brand's problems with 'type of amp'. I love the small form factor amps, and feel there is one for almost every tonal goal. However, I do not recommend the small Ampeg models at this point. So, I think you probably made a good move there.
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    My PF350 has been a champ for a year and a half. Not a second's worth of trouble.
     
  18. KJung

    KJung

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
    I again would not make comparisons within one brand (especially Ampeg) and then make blanket statements about an entire category of amps:smug:

    Edit: Put another way, it would not be at all suprising that if you tried a different amp than you are used to, it would sound different, and might sound 'better' to you. That could be due to a hundred design issues, most of which would be more likely as causal drivers than power amp topology. It is kind of like saying 'I tried a red amp, and I liked it better, so I can see why some use red amps'!

    That does not mean that some totally and validly like a DB750 versus a Glockenklang Blue Soul (for example). They do sound very different. It is when you start saying that the 'difference is due to the topology' that things get 'inaccurate':)

    To your point, there is no micro that sounds like an SWR900. There is also no 'non SMPS amp' that sounds like a Walter Woods. Different strokes, not better or worse or 'tigher' or 'looser' at all in general.
     
  19. KJung

    KJung

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
    Again, even products with horrible reliability records have more happy users than not. It is all about the percentage that fail, and hence the probability of failure on the gig. It has nothing to do with the fact that a given individual has had trouble or not.

    Even the most problematic heads have a relatively low failure rate versus '100%' all or nothing.
     
  20. IntrepidCellist

    IntrepidCellist Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Location:
    Manhattan
    Haven't had any issues with my little Aguilar, and I've been hammering on it for quite some time now. No shutdowns, brackets, breaks, or issues being loud enough (and it sounds great). And, at 6 lbs. in a carry bag, what's not to like?

    I mean, the size/weight was a factor in my purchasing decision, but the tone was what cinched the deal (as well as the fact that the Aguilar factory is just a few blocks away).

    Even a lightweight PA-style power amp in a rack case with a preamp is going to weigh four to eight times as much and be more of a pain to carry on buses and subways. Plus, it'll cost more!
     
  21. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    Physical size has a lot to do with it too. Just to put it into perspective, you're talking about how your amp weighs 8.6lbs. But it's also 2U and needs to be housed in a rack. Then you also need an additional preamp, so there's another 1U or something on the floor. My 1U preamps both weigh 14 lbs and a 3U rack has to weigh at least 10 lbs (probably more). So total weight would be much closer to 30 lbs. plus the size of a 3U rack.

    I try to make my loud in/out in 1 trip. Basses, amp, cabs, cables, pedal board, and everything else I need for a gig. My GK MB500 fits in the front pocket of my gig bag so I don't need to carry it separately.
     

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