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Master volume vs Gain...a question ......

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DaveB, Jan 4, 2001.


  1. DaveB

    DaveB

    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    How do you set your Master Volume in relation to your Gain?
    (a) Crank the Master to 10 and then up the Gain to room level ?
    (b) Set the Gain first then up the Master to room levels ?
    (c) Something in between ?
    Why do you use your method?
     
  2. rllefebv

    rllefebv

    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Typically, (which just means 'In My Experience'), Gain sets the level of the pre-amp or input, while Master sets the overall output level of the amp. For instance, setting the Gain to 10 usually overdrives the preamp resulting in distortion. The Master then amplifies this distorted signal through the power amp to the speakers. You can achieve some decent distortion this way, depending on your amp.

    My preference is usually to set the Gain as high as possible without distorting, (I prefer a clean sound). This results in a pretty good Signal-To-Noise ratio. I then would use the Master to set the overall volume.

    Hope this helps...
    -robert
     
  3. DaveB

    DaveB

    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Robert- Thanks for your reply.Actually you touched on a point of interest. I don't think many players would put the Gain to ten. However,one of the schools of thought on players looking for "clean" is to put the Master on 10 and let the pre-amp Gain bring it up to room levels.The downside is that signal-to-noise ratio suffers to some degree.Some interpret that loss of S/N Ratio as degradation of "clean". However, others see increasing the pre-amp gain as degrading the "clean" in increasing degree.So, my question really asks "Which degradation of clean tone do you prefer?" Or can we really tell the difference.I have used the "Master on 10" many times on gigs - even in small rooms and it seems to me to be "cleaner" than when I Gain up first then set the Master.
    Having said that the people in the crowd wouldn't have a clue would they?
     
  4. rllefebv

    rllefebv

    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Interesting thoughts Dave. I just put it to the test on two different amps, a Carvin RC210, (With the R600 head) and an old Peavey TKO 80. The controls are labeled differently on each amp... 'Gain' and 'Volume' on the Carvin, 'Pre-Gain' and 'Post-Gain' on the Peavey...

    On the Carvin, cranking the 'Volume' then using the 'Gain' to bring it to volume yielded quite a bit of hiss which I had to EQ out. Interestingly, the EQ had far less effect than normal, (Less signal passing through the EQ stage I would guess). Reversing the controls and setting everything back to 'normal' and bringing the amp to the same sound level, there was much less hiss and more response from the EQ.

    On the Peavey, pretty much the same, but to a much lesser extent. Actually, the amp distorted with very low-levels of 'Pre-Gain' but it was a different sounding distortion that I found pretty appealing. Probably close to blowing the speaker, but it is just a beater. Whaddya know...new tone settings that I would never have gotten otherwise. Thanks!!

    Anyhow, no real scientific method used here, mostly 'By Guess and By Golly'...I'll keep the Carvin the way I normally do, but I'm gonna have to dig a bit deeper with this little Peavey!!!

    -robert

    [Edited by rllefebv on 01-04-2001 at 03:26 PM]
     
  5. Matthias

    Matthias

    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    I remember we had a thread on this topic some weeks ago but you guys added some very interesting arguments!
    Especially the point on EQ effectivness is very interesting (and new to me) - maybe the strongest argument against the 'master to 10' method (if you want to use the EQ)?

    Perhaps you know that there are amps without master volume (=power amp always at max), e.g. the new Hartke 3000 and 4000 (wich BTW got a good review in Bassplayer)

    Matthias
     
  6. So on my Peavey 112 combo, putting the pre-gain at 10 will NOT hurt my amp? It will only make distortion?
     
  7. rllefebv

    rllefebv

    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    No, it should not hurt your amp. The pre-gain only amplifies the signal going to the EQ stage and power-amp. Boosting it to 10 will typically distort the signal. Boosting both the pre and post to 10 would almost certainly do some damage. After running through the above test and playing with it a little while, I set my Peavey back to normal. It seemed to be breathing a little too hard for my taste.

    Of course, I'm only speaking about my experiences with my Peavey TKO-80, Carvin, or any other amp that I personally have played through with this type of control setup. YMMV. I would advise you to check your manual. If you don't have one, I think that Peavey has them online.

    -robert
     
  8. Gabu

    Gabu

    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Hey guys,

    In regards to this topic I began to wonder if it makes a difference going from tube to solid state. That in mind I tried playing a GK RCB 200 and a Peavy Century 200 each way. I also played through my old trusty-rusty orlando violin bass. To me it seems that if I turned the pregain up to 10 on either of the amps, I got distortion... not fun mucho-stylin' distortion, but kinda muddy-yucky stuff... Also on both of them when I turned the master all the way up and controlled the volume with the pregain, it worked much better, I had a nice controllable sound. But when I turned the master a bit down to around 8 it was cleaner. This was true paticularly on the tuber.