Is there much difference in the Power section of the popular Class D Amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by radvbass, Jun 28, 2022.

  1. radvbass


    May 19, 2019
    I'm looking at components vs. all in one Bass head units. Each bass head manufacture has a pre-amp with their recipe for "tone". Mesa, Aguilar, Eden, SansAmp, Ampeg, Orange, Darkglass, MarkBass... However, the extra cost for the "power section" seems pricy. Most pre-amp versions of tone are $200-$400 with some discounts on the used markets. Yet when you add the 500 watt Class D circuts, most are $500+ more. It also seems like the typical Class-D curcuit boards are under $100 for 500 - 800 watts. So, does the membership think there is much difference between the 500 watt or 800 watt power sections of the top brands. How much do you really think is baked into the tone recipe due to the power section. Curious. Thanks in advance.
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing.

    Nope, if by "typical" you mean the ubiquitous ICEpower 700AS1, more like $200 in quantity before you add shipping, cabling, heat management, a much bigger case, greater engineering, warranty, and service expenses, and so on. And then a big kicker here in the US, especially for small production manufacturers: regulatory approvals and associated testing.
  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
    Some manufacturers understand the value that premium platforms like ICEPower bring to their customers. They also tend to follow safety and EMC rules, and avoid no-name amp solutions because they know the pitfalls in performance and reliability.

    Some manufacturers also understand how to exploit unpublished attributes of the ICEPower platforms to go farther than the published specs might (inaccurately) indicate.
    Arjank, Al Kraft, Jazzdogg and 32 others like this.
  4. gtirard


    Feb 22, 2020
    Paris, France
    Quilter Bass Blocks 800 and 802 use their own in house class D power module.
  5. radvbass


    May 19, 2019
    Thanks all for the responses so far. I'm not so interested in "building the power section". I'm more interested in having 1 solid, dependable, ergonomic power section and bring different tone to the party via the vendors pre-amps to help dial in my signature tones without the expense of the "whole amp". I know many of us go through the "endless search for tone". I know I do. I might look for a solid class d bass amp with less pre-amp features and play with vendor pre-amps to help find my sweet spot. Just an approach and looking for feedback (pros and cons). Thanks
    Killing Floor likes this.
  6. gtirard


    Feb 22, 2020
    Paris, France
    Yes, you may use a power amp like the GSS Sumo or Baby Sumo and one or several preamps...

    pros: flexibily
    cons: complexity
  7. gtirard


    Feb 22, 2020
    Paris, France
    but I'm not sure it would cost less or sound exactly the same

    for example would a Mesa preamp + generic power amp cost less and sound identical to the equivalent Mesa head? Not sure...
    BlueTalon likes this.
  8. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    False economy. Whatever you think you're going to save by getting just the preamp... well, you're still going to need the power amp. Getting a separate preamp & power amp is something a lot of people still do, and it's a perfectly legitimate way to get your sound. But don't kid yourself into thinking it's a cost saving measure.

    Personally, I like the idea of having a preamp and a power amp that were engineered from the very beginning to work with each other.
    TomB, rockdoc11, gepettus and 9 others like this.
  9. prowla


    Aug 19, 2004
    A rule of thumb is that 10x the power is 2x as loud; thus the difference between 500W and 800W may not be that huge.
    That said, I've just acquired a 4x 1300W power amp, which might be a bundle of fun!
    tindrum, Calebmundy and mikewalker like this.
  10. pepj


    Mar 25, 2021
    Friend of mine designs amps for a gtr company and we talked at lenght about class D and obviously, finding out how to marry them successfully was a massive part, in terms of time spent, of their project.
    mikewalker likes this.
  11. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    As far as I know, Markbass amps have their in-house, unique power amp section, both for the older class A/B amps, and the newer class D amps. I have the (obsolete) Little Mark Ninja 1000, which isbthe most powerful integrated bass amp I have used. It still sound different from the 750w ICE power EBS Reidmar 750, especially at full band SPL, and that is not due to preamp differences.
    So no, there are differences.
    Sparky Mark and Kaplan like this.
  12. There are brilliant designers marketing terrific Class D amps for any number of well-known name brands.

    It:s silly to me that 'I can HEAR Class D' is now about to replace the old tubes vs. solid state argument, but then here it is. I haven't yet put it together how lighter, cheaper, and more powerful is somehow a problem for some people. And if course, you could certainly buy other things if that's what floats your boat.

    All I'd say is I'd find a strong, reliable amp (I'd prefer 800w to buy a little more headroom) that you like, and buy it. On the other hand, you could piece this and that together for quite a while and get nowhere but more confused as to what you're really after, and you have to consider what cabinets this is all supposed to run through.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
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  13. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    I think the idea is that the power section are transparent, no? You can go with separate to have flexibility through swapping preamps (there are PLENTY of stand-alone power amps out there to choose from, especially used if you don’t mind heavy) but I doubt you are going to save any money this way.
    BlueTalon likes this.
  14. Why not a Class D TUBE amp ?? best of both worlds right >> lol
  15. eeyorebass


    Jan 2, 2008
    I think this sums it up perfectly. Yes, you can certainly get a power amp and run different preamps for different tones. And a power amp plus a few preamps would be less expensive than buying multiple integrated bass heads.

    However, it will never sound exactly like any of the integrated heads the preamps are pulled from. Close enough? Maybe. But that's up to the individual. There's a lot involved with how the pre and power amp are designed to go together, and in some cases, the power amp itself is modified to perform in a particular way that's different from the out of the box unit. The Mesa Subway amps are a perfect example. They all use the same power amp module, but in each implementation, the module is modified to perform a certain way. On the WD800, one of those perimeters (damping factor) is even on a switch so you can change it on the fly. It's much more than just the preamp that makes each of those heads sound different from one another.
  16. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    An option might be to buy one decent micro head, and use it with different preamps via the Effects Return jack.

    I once asked one of the amp makers why they didn't sell a power amp version of their micro amp. They told me it would be more expensive than the full head. It's counterintuitive, but they would have to spread the development costs over a much smaller sales volume.

    Also, it's true that some pre / power combinations are designed together. I have a voracious appetite for reading amp schematics, just because I'm a curious character. In some amps, the circuitry to control things like power-up timing and overload limiting, are on the preamp board, and would still be needed on a power-amp-only version.
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Once I could afford a Grace Designs Felix I went with two different sized powered cabinets.
    It gives me the flexibility of having a MAS 1/8 for small rooms or a MAS 4x5.5 for big rooms.
    Alternatively, I can swap out my Headway EDB-2 H.E. with either cabinet. Just my take.
    CryingBass and RustfeatherBass like this.
  18. Jefus

    Jefus Does this amp make my bass sound fat? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    I was going to post something very similar. I'd recommend getting an amp that you like that has a way to patch directly into the power amp, say by an effects return or something similar. Now you've got an amp that's always ready to go, but you can also switch the flavor by plugging a different preamp into the power amp.
    Rip Van Dan likes this.
  19. drumvsbass


    Aug 20, 2011
    ...and I think they are the only one, but I am not sure if that would make a difference or not. My understanding is that if you to plug just straight into the effects return of any major brand class D amp the result would be the same. All the 'baked in coloration' comes from the preamp sections of these amps and the power sections are essentially the same. I could be wrong as this is only my opinion from trying this experiment out in my store a number of years back. It wasn't a super scrutinized test, but honestly I couldn't say there was a difference that would matter. So to that end, buy whatever class D amp you like the sound of the preamp of (or the brand name of)