Are class D amps tone affected by master volume level?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Johnau, Feb 27, 2024.

  1. I have an 800 watt Genzler Magellan class D amp, (running into one or two 1x12 Bergantino cabs, or a 2x10 Revsound cab, depending on venue/mood).

    The amp is overkill for 90% of the gigs I play. Current band's gigs are lower in volume than others I’ve played in the past, and we typically have PA support. So I barely get the master volume on the Magellan over 9:00.

    Tone wise, would I be better off with a lower powered class D amp that would allow me to crank up the master volume some? Does the master volume level affect tone in a class D amp, such that the more its cranked possibly giving a fuller tone? Or does that not matter with class D amps?

    Yes, I do understand class D amps are not going to do what tube amps do when they are cranked.

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  2. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    well, you definitely can clip a class D power section (it might sound more or less musical, but typically will sound compressed). saturate -- not so much, but it really depends on how the exact power section sounds when clipped.

    basically, what you're looking for is compression, saturation and maybe some drive. if I was in your shoes, I'd just get a compressor, maybe a markbass compressore could be close enough if all you need is 'fuller tone'. a subtle always-on overdrive is also a good option.
  3. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    In general, no. The tone is not affected by the master volume position but the perception may vary by the volume of the rig itself.
  4. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    I personally like lots of overhead (maybe favor the Master Volume over Gain for really low volume), but I can see you enjoying a less-powerful head- 500 or maybe even 350 watts.

    I hope you wouldn't have to sell the 800 though, at least until you're sure what you replace it with does everything you need. :)
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  5. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    NW Ohio
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Or maybe just use some effects pedals to get there without turning up the Master ?
  6. etoncrow

    etoncrow Greg Harman, the Mad Hatter Gold Supporting Member

    Does your amp go to 12 like mine? - Nigel
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  7. Thanks everyone for the insight. It does seem to me like there is some difference when I turn the amp up during a show. Which after reading to all your replies, I now believe is probably the speakers themselves coming alive and getting fuller, maybe some additional room reinforcement added in.
    The music I'm playing is Americana, so other than compressor (which I have and will start using), I'm not sure what in the way of other pedals might be genre appropriate.
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  8. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I wouldn't want to be using my 440 watt Glockenklang Soul on one of those 10% of your gigs that need more oomph.
    OTOH I use an 800 watt class D head for cocktail jazz all the time.
    acme-quilter - 1.jpeg
    It definitely is better to have extra wattage & not need it than vice versa IME.
    I do have to be a little careful with the 1x10; 500W @ 8Ω could fry that woofer if I tried to make it do the work of a 1x12 or 2x10. But with a little common sense I've gone many years without incident. So I have no plans to get a lower wattage head for those jobs.
    With solid state heads, I've found the "mojo" (i.e. preamp compression and/or distortion) is usually best conjured with the input gain.
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  9. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    a subtle drive will be same appropriate as a slightly overdriven tube amp would be. so if you think, a maxed out tube amp would be appropriate, a mild overdrive also will.

    just in case, my vote goes for EHX Bass Soul Food
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2024
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  10. ardgedee


    May 13, 2018
    Our perception of sound is affected by its volume. Part of this is the Fletcher-Munson curve, part of it is the phenomenon of perceiving more detail in louder sounds. So you might hear your playing differently at different volumes, even though the preamp is working exactly the same way in all cases and the power section is not meaningfully changing the tone as you change the master volume.
  11. dhagopian

    dhagopian Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Los Angeles
    I definitely hear more low end at higher volume.
  12. I also have a Genzler MG800. I run it through either my Epifani UL210 or my Epifani UL210/UL112 stack. It sounds awesome at any volume level. If you aren't getting a great sound at lower volume, maybe mess with the EQ and contour. I found playing with a keyboardist friend at modest levels that the drive channel sounded better. I didn't have it set to overdrive, just added some growl. It seemed to cut through more than the clean channel.
  13. I second the suggestion by Aloe in post #2. I use the Markbass Compressore always on in front of my MG800. It adds a special something at all volume levels.
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  14. Short4since64


    Nov 7, 2023
    Class D doesn't overdrive as class A /AB does. It's perfectly clean, the input is (typically) compared against a sawtooth oscillator to generate the pulse width modulated RADIO frequency the amplifier amplifies. It's a mathematical process, it's internally limited, if not it would give the same result as overdriving an A/D recording interface: random noise. There's no clipping level at which the output saturates and generates all the harmonics. A smaller class D will only be softer. If your preamp section won't give you the sound you desire, you might want to try a different amp, but in the same power range. A small class D is simply a practice amp. Or just try some pedals.
  15. Thegreatzambini


    Aug 25, 2022
    Ask these guys, Jeff genzler may chime in as well
  16. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC/JAM USA: For brand affiliations visit
    Even if an amps tone was NOT affected by the master level, you probably will "hear" (perceive) it differently. In general, "loudness", if applied "reasonably", will "sound better".

    My apologies for all the quotes, but we all perceive things a bit differently. The lower the frequency is though, the more air will need to be moved to reproduce it. This can equate to a fuller sound.

    Psychoacoustics is a "thing". My last quotation marks, I promise.
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  17. jw23mind

    jw23mind Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    Reading MA
    Not intrisic to Class-D, but it really depends on other add-ons to the design. I had a lower power TC Electronics amp that compressed to hell as I approached full power. The compression was clearly by design to try and eke out the full rated power, but there was nothing in the manual to inform me of this. I had to find out the hard way.
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  18. Appreciate all the comments and suggestions. Just to clarify, I'm not unhappy with the tone or the amp in general. I think the Magellan is great. It's just that when I did happen turn up more than usual, I noticed a bit of a happy change in tone/feel. It got me wondering about proper amp power/sizing, but you've set me straight. And my main takeaway from this is, I'm just gonna crank it up!
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  19. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

  20. jw23mind

    jw23mind Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    Reading MA
    Yeah you need more bass and treble at lower volumes, thus the loudness control on home stereo amps (see Fletcher-Munson curves)
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