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Common amp myths

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JimmyM, Sep 29, 2008.


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  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I thought it might be fun to start a thread where people can debunk some of the myths going around about amplification. Feel free to add your own, but try to be accurate, please. And as always, comments are welcome.

    Underpowering a cab can cause speakers to blow if you send the amp into clipping.

    This is the number one myth of all time. It's debunked all the time, yet it's repeated here at least once a day, and many major manufacturers still claim this to be true on their websites. The only thing that blows speakers is forcing them to work harder than they're capable, and that's done by overpowering them. If an underpowered amp goes into clipping and blows a cab built to take more power, it's because the clip momentarily caused the amp to put out way more power than the speaker could take. But if the amp's peak power rating is lower than the cab's RMS power handling, it's highly unlikely. You're much more likely to blow a speaker with an overpowered head because it will still be putting out clean volume while your poor speakers struggle and beg for mercy.

    Square wave distortion blows speakers.

    This is the second most repeated myth. Supposedly it puts out a wave that's the opposite of how a speaker works and shreds them. If it were true, how could you amplifly an analog synthesizer?

    Bass waves need room to develop.

    I must admit I always thought this was true. So many audio people used to say it as a mantra when I was starting out. Not true, according to Bill Fitzmaurice, and his explanation is a good one...if it were true, how come headphones work?

    Tube amps are harder to keep in good repair than SS amps.
    Not true at all. There is no reason tube amps should require more care than a SS amp. Yeah, occasionally you have to replace a tube or have it biased, but occasionally SS amps need servicing as well. FETs need biasing occasionally, too. And I've had SS amps in the shop as much or more than I've had tube amps in the shop.

    Tube watts are more powerful than SS watts.

    Watts is watts. The only difference is that tube amps will generally allow you to push past the point of their RMS wattage because distortion kicks in much smoother and less noticeable as an SS amp, so it sounds like clean volume even though it isn't.

    Rock amps vs. jazz amps.

    There seems to be a perception among newer players that the type of amp you play is based on the type of music you play. BULLCRAP! You can play any kind of music on any kind of amp/speaker rig, and if you can't, it's not the rig's fault. Now I don't think I'd take a giant 810 rig with a chrome grill and a head that says "KRANK" in big bold letters to a jazz gig at an Italian restaurant, but sonically, I could make it work. As long as you have a rig that has enough power to cut the gig, you should be able to make it work for any kind of music. And speaking of power...

    I need 1000w for the headroom.

    Yeah, and Paris Hilton is a superstar because of her great singing voice and wonderful personality. If you have headroom on a 300w amp, what makes you think that have an extra 700w of headroom is going to improve your tone? As long as you're operating within the RMS wattage, your tone won't get any cleaner. Power is cheap and relatively light, so there's nothing wrong with having 1000w available if you want it, but if you have a 1000w rig and you run it regularly on less than its 1000w, then you have a 1000w rig because you like to tell people you have a 1000w rig ;)
     
  2. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    This should be good. :eek:

    Pre-emptive mod plea... please keep all responses civil, guys. Thank you.
     
  3. Nikoubis

    Nikoubis

    May 3, 2007
    Athens, Greece
    And yet I can't help watching... :bag:
     
  4. +1

    I enjoyed the post though. JimmyM always has something informative.
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Wow, set me up for failure, why don't ya? ;)

    I'm not trying to start arguments with this. None of it can be argued. It's all been established as fact long ago by minds way greater than mine.
     
  6. GeneralElectric

    GeneralElectric

    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    Tubes can overheat if they're dusty.

    Tubes can break if you touch them while they're still warm.
     
  7. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Jimmy - just because something is a fact, that doesn't mean people won't argue about it. :D
     
  8. 'Transporting your speaker box on its side can damage your speakers.'
    A respected sound guy told me this once and I believed it for ages. What a douche.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well to be fair, that last one...if the tube is super hot and you have been soaking your hands in ice for 10 minutes, you can possibly cause a tube to crack if you touch it. Of course, on the rare occasion that someone soaks their hand down in ice while playing, hopefully they're smart enough to avoid touching electronic equipment because of the shock hazard first ;)
     
  10. 'Markbass amps look really cool.'
    :bag:

    Somebody told me this once too and I believed him for ages. :p
     

  11. Ah good to have an answer for that one, I regularly play my Ampeg rig well below its 450 watt power due to the fact I no longer have a practice amp (gave it to a friend to learn with!). But is there such a thing that if you have a 750watt cabinet, but play it at 450watt, that it affectsthe tone to a great expense because the speakers aren't gettin all the juice they need?
     
  12. Evan_S._Brown

    Evan_S._Brown

    Jan 10, 2008
    "Similar to All Tube amplifiers, D class amplifiers always need a load otherwise the power section will die"

    I hear this one quite often at the store I work at.
    I have done a lot of research on this subject and have found not a shred of evidence to support this statement.
    However, if anyone has experienced this before please share... I am very interested
     
  13. David1234

    David1234

    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    If my ... ummm friend's quad has 800W of 10"s and a 100W tweeter, and I send 500W into it, that's all grand since it's a bass signal. But what if that 500W was so overdriven that 40% of its power was high mids and treble. Surely the 100W tweeter is going to have a bad day? No?
     
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Not at all. I've found that the only parts of the entire signal chain that benefit from getting all the juice they need are pickups and tubes. There's a faction of guitarists who believe that about guitar speakers, but they end up spending a lot of money on recones and replacements because the sound they're looking for wears out speakers.
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    No. Maybe 30 years ago the answer would be yes, but modern tweeter/crossover design in bass cabs prevent that from happening. Also, the frequencies where overdrive lives aren't usually in the range of the tweeter, and if it is, it usually sounds godawful. If you do blow a tweeter, it's because whatever you used to cause overdrive caused the wattage to be grossly over the operating range of the cab.
     
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    As far as I understand, it can only damage a power amp if it has an output transformer, which is rare on a solid state amp, especially a class D which is designed to be small and not weigh much.
     
  17. musicelectronix

    musicelectronix

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hüstın, TX
    Lead Designer, Zeibek Boutique Pedals
    Jimmy, the number one pal of the common men :D I can not verify most of these facts, but yet as I always say (not really, but I would have on occasion, such as this one): If Jimmy said it, it is most likely true, because he is one of those rare self-conscious guys out there.
     
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    :D

    I'd have a lot less confidence in a thread like this if I thought of this stuff by myself ;) But thanks anyway. I do like to take a no-nonsense approach to what I do, and I hate to see people spend money needlessly and not get what they're spending the money on, or feel like they should spend more money on something because of myths like these.
     
  19. Can you link to where he explains this? I'm very curious to hear the explanation.
     
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That WAS his explanation.
     

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