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Ampeg PF-350 vs SVT Micro VR

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Gatlin, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. onestone


    Jan 18, 2013
    I have the Micro VR / SVT-210AV (two cabs actually) combo and just yesterday took delivery of a used PF-20T. In the stable there's also a PF-50T, PF-800 and two PF-210HE's (don't tell my Mrs... :smug:).

    Based upon a short go with the PF-20T along with one 210AV cab yesterday evening (at relatively low volumes) it is clear to me that the Micro VR isn't going anywhere. They're two different beasts IMHO and both sounds great in their own way. If i had to choose between the PF-20T and the Micro VR i'm honestly not sure what i'd end up with. I like the Micro VR that much despite no tube goodness and i forget all about the relatively noisy fan as soon as i here those sweet tones :bassist: (I'm using passive j and p -basses with both flats and rounds btw). The PF-20T with its small footprint on the other hand will probably be perfect for home studio recordings, tube pre and what not.

    I realize this may not help you the slightest with your decision and YMMV, but this is how i'm trying to justify my latest amp acquisition... :roflmao:
    Gary Bratton and DaveDeVille like this.
  2. Gary Bratton

    Gary Bratton

    Jan 4, 2021
    @onestone most of what I got out of that is that you have all the toys and I’m jealous. :D But I would love to hear of your experience as you get to know it and continue to compare the two.

    I’m assuming the Micro VR is a lot louder and the PF-20T can do pleasing warm overdrive at reasonable volume (that still might be too much for me in the basement)? I do love the sound of the Micro VR, also with the gain cranked, but it’s definitely louder than I need and I have to keep the master pretty low.

    My tastes are all over the place, but I definitely lean toward the SVT over the B15 sound (as well as I understand both of them without actual hands-on experience with either).

    I play a P with rounds and a Höfner with flats, and the tone I’m after ranges from warm and overdriven a la Paul McCartney through to driving and aggressive with all sorts of clean in between.

    I did find a used one for a decent price, but that would be quite a commitment for someone as indecisive as myself. :)


    onestone likes this.
  3. I doubt I'll be doing this before your return period times out as the fan noise doesn't bother me at all. I'll certainly report back if/when it happens though.
  4. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    20 watts is not much power.
    Add anything close to even quiet gig level, I would think the VR should offer a lot more slam, clean volume, and versatility.
    Gary Bratton and DaveDeVille like this.
  5. Gary Bratton

    Gary Bratton

    Jan 4, 2021

    @Snibborwocky - if I may quote you from another thread here, can I ask for your thoughts on the sound of the PF-20T vs. the Micro VR? I bought the Micro VR for its SVT-ness and love the sound, but it’s more power/volume than I need and the fan really bothers me.

    If the PF-20T can cop a similar SVT-ish sound with added tube warmth and no fan, I would probably be willing to jump ship.

    I am assuming the Micro VR is louder than the PF-20T, right? I’m playing in my basement and not likely to do anything more than an informal jam, so that’s actually another benefit for me.


    Snibborwocky and iagtrplyr like this.
  6. I would think the PF 20T is more likely to be closer to the B-15 character than an SVT.
  7. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    That’s exactly how Dino from Ampeg described the PF20T. According to him if you want an SVTish tone the PF50t gets close.
    Rich67 likes this.
  8. Rich67

    Rich67 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    North of Austin, TX
    I've both the VR and the PF-20T. The fan in the VR has never been problem for me. Yes you hear it when you're not playing, but I've not found it comes through in recordings. But, that's not to say it's not a viable issue, just hasn't bothered me.

    I've never cranked either amp to full output to be able to tell you one's notably louder than the other. For me, the PF-20 is a bit more versatile and I suppose a little better. "Better" is pretty subjective, but for me it means a bit more versatility by way of more variety of tones; you get preamp and power tube distortion by way of gain and master volume, more tone control, and the choice of preamp or power amp silent recording. I don't have the cab you're talking about, but do have an Orange 2x10 along with an Orange 1x15 I run the amp through.

    The ability to very easily bias the amp if you choose to roll tubes is cool. But with the PF-20, you're pretty limited to just those in the 6V6 flavor. Not a bad flavor though. (I've not researched if you can put 6L6's into the PF-20) I also have a PF-50T and it is a bit more fun as you can swap between 6L6's, 5881's and KT66's.

    Now, all that said... If I could only have one? I'd probably get a red VR and matching cab and be happy as can be by way of playing and recording at home. This thread got me to dig out my VR and even with a busted treble dial (loaned out to someone who didn't take care of it) and I've been totally enjoying it through cabs, and direct.

    If I could only have one and it had to serve me for practice, I'd keep the PF-50T and use it through a 4x10 for practice and also through a DI for live shows. Whenever those come around again.
  9. iagtrplyr

    iagtrplyr Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Clinton, IA
    Gary, I’ve been reading with interest and want to throw you a major curveball, but it’s January, what the hey?

    I’m a big Ampeg fan and have owned or currently own their gear. I know what you want; a low-level SVT-type tone to record with, play along to tunes, and jam with on occasion. There are other options though you may not have thought of.

    First, as a former owner of a Micro-VR head and one 210 cab, I thought the rig was competent but found it s challenge to use. It was a little too much for the quiet noodling at night, plus the fact I like a little more deep bass and that sealed cabinet lacks it without turning up the bass control. So out it went in a trade for a PF-800.

    Forward to the past year or so and I’ve put together a DIY recording setup. I still want the tone you seek as well, so I bought an Ampeg BA-108 v2, which IMHO is the best sounding combo in the line.

    At 20 watts it’s perfect for the studio (with a mic, no DI), offers a decent SVT tone (they all use the Legacy pre), and with a speaker swap for an Eminence replacement, I can crank away with no loss of tone; perfect for that jam you might get yourself into. The fee? I believe it’s $109 plus another $60 for the speaker.

    Or, since you really do like the Micro-VR and it can easily be taken out to play, buy an Ampeg SCR-DI preamp pedal for your room. It’s my go-to for direct recording, but I’m also finding it great at the front of any amp. It’s a Swiss Army knife and for less than any amp you’re looking at.

    Thanks for reading this long-winded entry. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Oh yeah, as for the excess fan noise from the head, it was mildly annoying at first, but the more I used it the less the noise bothered me. You’d never hear it jamming, but yeah, at low volumes it was audible. Good hunting!
    Morrighan, Rich67 and Gary Bratton like this.
  10. Update: the fan is so tightly mounted between the rear panel and heatsinks that there is no room to squeeze in any damping washers. So much for that "good" advice.
  11. Gut shot for those that like such stuff.
    Note: the pcb is actually laid out so the the mosfets and heatsinks are slightly skewed; initially I thought this was damage from an impact.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
    Qlanq likes this.
  12. Gary Bratton

    Gary Bratton

    Jan 4, 2021
    Yowza! Also looks like a PITA to replace (or do you see an easier way). Thanks for checking.
  13. onestone


    Jan 18, 2013
    As someone mentioned (not sure if it was in this thread though...) the PF-20T works like a charm as a guitar amp as well! Obviously depending on what guitar sound one prefers, but at least that's my first impression testing with the 210AV cab. Clean and slight tube break up with a compressor and reverb sounded very nice IMO. That's a big plus for me anyway, as i don't have a proper dedicated guitar amp at the moment.
    Rich67 likes this.
  14. As a few have already replied, I would agreed that the PF-20T is closer to a B-15 in terms of tone with a much warmer sound than that of a Micro-VR. To get any kind of almost SVT "grit", you'd have to really push the 20T in volume and gain which can get very loud in my opinion. On the flip side, you are also correct that the Micro-VR has a pretty annoyingly loud fan which bothers me as well if your sitting or standing right in front of it, whereas the PF-20T is dead silent due to it being tube driven. As for which is louder, I can't give an opinion as I really haven't pushed either of them to wall shaking limits in my house lol.
    Gary Bratton and Rich67 like this.
  15. Gary Bratton

    Gary Bratton

    Jan 4, 2021
    I have guitar amps coming’ out my...uhm...ears. :) Still thinking...my head asplode!

    Thanks so much to everyone for all the help and allowing me to totally threadjack.

    Rich67 likes this.
  16. Rich67

    Rich67 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    North of Austin, TX
    None of any of the above are "bad" options, which can make the decision harder (for me anyway). You're gonna have killer tone (and a lot of fun) with any of these.

    And I'm now thinking I need to try a SCR-DI.

    I did forget to say, the PF-20t sits perfectly atop the 2x10 cab from the SVT micro stack.
    Gary Bratton and Snibborwocky like this.
  17. Gary Bratton

    Gary Bratton

    Jan 4, 2021
    I’m such a goober... I just had to go downstairs to my music room (where my wife is working, hiding from the kids). Since I wasn’t able to play, I found myself drooling over my own gear. I saw the Micro VR mini stack in particular and thought :drool::hyper::bassist:

    Rich67, onestone and DaveDeVille like this.
  18. There is no way the PF20T will get even close to the Micro VR in terms of power to drive cabs; the Micro VR will drive an SVT810 quite happily at giggable volumes.

    As has been said, the fan free PF50T appears to have the same (or very similar if not) preamp stage as an SVT CL and should get closer to an SVT tonally if that's your goal. Although the Micro VR looks like a toy for our bedrooms it's actually a seriously good gigging amp.
  19. Gary Bratton

    Gary Bratton

    Jan 4, 2021
    @iagtrplyr - Yes, you know exactly what I’m after. If only they made like a little mini version of the SVT stack...wouldn’t that be cool? :D I think I have at least considered all of your suggestions...

    So it now looks like I’m facing scope creep in both directions:
    • The cheap route is I send everything back and just use a DI (I’ve actually tried to talk myself into this, but I’m not too crazy about the way my monitors handle the low end and just preferred the sound of the real thing.)
    • A downward lateral move would be to trade the VR for a combo. This is kinda like starting over, and with COVID (and life in general) I’m not going to be able to make it to a music store any time soon to test stuff. From what I’ve read online the Fender models seem to get the nod over the Ampeg combos. And, it’s totally shallow, but the look of the Ampeg combos just do nothing for me. The Fenders at least look decent. I have considered ordering an open box Rumble 100 v3 just to see how much I like it.
    • An upward lateral move would be to get a PF-20T. While that is a super appealing option (tubes and no fan = win-win!), I went with the Micro VR because it’s based on an SVT, and the PF-20T sounds like a step in the wrong direction from that standpoint.

    And then there’s the PF-50T, which seems to be what all of you enablers are trying to steer me toward. And being the sucker that I am, I’m falling for it hook, line, and sinker. I read someone on here describe the PF-50T as being for cork sniffing tube snobs to play in their bedrooms. I don’t think it was meant as a compliment, but that’s me to a T.

    All-in-all, I would probably be looking to double my “investment” (translation = waste twice as much money) to get into a used PF-50T. I’m not totally opposed to that. But then I worry that it’ll be WAAAAY too loud for my needs, and/or I’ll go used and end up with a really noisy one. And then it doesn’t fit on top of the 210AV very well, so I have to think about a different cabinet (PF-210???) which is also more expensive, and not something I wanted to to think about.

    I end up with a killer rig, but super overkill and very far from where I started.

    And all because of a damn noisy fan...well, that and my OCD and complete inability to make a decision and stick with it. :)

    @Sparky Mark - Did you see a way to get to the fan in the Micro VR and change it out? It looks pretty tight in there, not encouraging.

    @Rich67 - Since you’ve looked into tube swapping, do you know if it’s possible to run 6V6s in the PF-50T for a little less juice?

    Thanks y’all,

  20. Rich67

    Rich67 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2019
    North of Austin, TX
    I'll need to research it, but my initial reaction is I don't think so. I know with many older Fenders you can put 6L6's into a 6V6 amp, but not vice versa. But I'll do some digging...
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