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Could someone explain to me how amp wattage works?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by HunterBurgan4Me, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. HunterBurgan4Me


    Mar 6, 2010
    (yes i've googled it)

    I have an Ampeg SVT 7 which says it is 1000watts.

    At nearly twice the price there is the Ampeg CL that gives out 300watts. Then of course there is that heritage ampeg model for about 4 grand giving out 30watts.

    I don't think I understand this very well... I read somewhere that [DEL]ampeg [/DEL] wattage doesn't necessarily mean volume, then what the hell does it mean?

    Sorry for my ignorance
  2. Wattage is a unit of power, which tells you the rate of energy conversion. It is not a unit of volume.

    So the question is: Is a ~1000 watt SVT 7-pro louder than a ~300 watt SVT-CL?

    Answer: It depends.

    What all this depends on, is the cab(s) that you are using. Through a medium duty 210 they are both going to be the same volume, due to the limitations of the cab. Through a more capable cab, you may be ample to find the limits of clean volume of the CL before the 7-pro. Tonally the amps will differ cab to cab a bit as well.
  3. Also understand that a 1,000 watt amp is NOT twice as loud as a 500 watt amp.

    It takes 10X the power to double your output.

    Therefore, a 1,000 watt amp is only twice as loud as a 100 watt amp.

    The number and efficiency of speakers has a much greater effect on getting loud then just using a huge amp.
  4. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The faq's and stickies are chok full of great information. Basically, it's not that complicated, but understanding the whole process is required. A higher wattage head has the *potential* to create more volume, but as always, it's the amount and quality of the speakers that ultimately converts that power into sound. And the price of an amp has nothing to do with any of it.
  5. drewfunk


    May 10, 2010
    Olympia, Wa
    Wattage doesnt dictate price, and price doesnt dictate wattage.

    Price comes down to build quality, desirability, and who's name is on the amp. Generally speaking, handmade tube amplifiers such as the Ampegs you listed will be considerably more money than solid state amplifiers. Regardless of wattage ratings.
  6. Don't let the cost or desirability of components confuse you with the output power. They are not comparable.
  7. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    It's a bit like horsepower in a car. You can have a ton of horsepower but there are a whole lot of other factors that go into how fast and expensive it is (size, weight, quality of components, where it's manufactured, production methods, etc.) With amps wattage is only part of the price and loudness equations along with your desired tone, speaker sensitivity, component costs and quality, where and how it's manufactured, etc.
  8. Simple example would be the cost of the power and output transformers in most high power tube amps is almost the sum of all components in a high power (1000 watt) Class D, SMPS amp.
  9. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Watts mean nothing. They are pretty much a dong measuring contest at this point.
  10. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA

    Here is another bit of info that you might find useful:

    There is a plethora of threads on tube versus solid state. Everyone has opinions, and there is no wrong opinion, only personal preferences. My way of thinking is this: when I think of a solid state amp's power rating, I think of it as a cliff.....a cliff that I don't want to get anywhere close to, because if I do, I risk falling off the edge into the deep canyon and die. In amp terms, that is called clipping...something you don't want to do with a SS amp. So with a 1000 watt SS amp, I'm not going to actually use the full 1000 watts because I don't want to get anywhere near that cliff. Now, switching over to tube amps, I think of it as if that canyon is filled in, and instead of there being a cliff, there is a nice gentle easy-to-walk slope.....no edge to fall off! And in fact, that slope (beyond the 300 watt tube amp rating) is very inviting! So I am totally happy using all 300 watts, and sometimes even more!

    So, it's true that a watt is a watt. But for me, the difference between a SS amp and an all-tube amp is whether there is a cliff at the edge, or a nice inviting gentle slope.

    EDIT: there are other aspects I like about tube amps as well (the tone, and the feel). But again, this is a personal preference thing. I just wish my tube amps weighed under 10 pounds each!
  11. watts does not equal power or volume in itself. Amps are built in many different classes that are not equal. Tube amps like the all tube SVTs or the Mesa 400 are insanely powerful. I've had a solid state amp that was 750w that was louder than another solid state that was 1500w. It's all a bunch of stats to get you to buy stuff in my opinion. It's like all these 410 cabs rated at 1000 watts some Ive even seen rated at 1500. None of them are as loud as an 800w rated ampeg 810. It's even worse with bass cabs. People buy the next newest thing because its rated to go down to 25hz not realizing at all that the speakers are only rated to go down to maybe 40 or 50hz.
  12. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Now does wattage affect tone at all or is that subjective?
  13. ThisBass


    Aug 29, 2012
    it is objective with a firm specification of THD (distortion)
    but it is subjective with just same amount of THD but different content of distorted Harmonics.

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