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Power amps...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mike Money, Jun 27, 2004.


  1. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    I'm assuming that power amps do not affect tone?

    If that is the case, what would be the difference between getting a Carvin DCM-1000w power amp and getting a a Crown for however much more they cost?
     
  2. appler

    appler Guest

    I think the high price reflects a better made, more reliable amp.
     
  3. My power amp actually made my tone better. Its a lot clearer now.
     
  4. Chapbass

    Chapbass

    Dec 11, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    IMO, the Carvin DCM series is a very well made line of amps. Theyre very cost efficient, and they just keep kicking. If I ever need more power for my rig, the DCM line is where im going.

    Not saying the crown amps are bad, and obviously theres quite a few power amp companies who are very reliable, dollar per watt though, the carvins are hard to beat...


    As far as changing the sound, I wouldn't think it would much. A power amp made for basses (aguilar comes to mind) might change it if it uses tubes and stuff like that, but most Live sound oriented power amps would be geared towards being transparent, not coloring the sound (i would think, at least...).

    Better made amps seem to be more reliable, especially when the whether isnt ideal, and/or they're used in large, heavy, very hot racks... Seems like most of the new technologies in the PA department have to deal with heat dissipation.
     
  5. Chapbass

    Chapbass

    Dec 11, 2003
    Chicago, IL

    That MIGHT be because of the added headroom you have. I've noticed that low frequency instruments love headroom : ).
     
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Power amps have a HUGE impact on tone. It is just as vital as the preamp in my opinion. I've got three Mesa tube power amps, all at the same wattage, and they all sound vastly different. I've also tried various PA power amps, and they sound quite different as well.

    I generally prefer the tone of amps specifically designed for instruments; they have a better tone, and impart a better feel to me. PA amps sound harsh and sterile to my ears, while Boogie, Aguilar, etc., sound musical and warm, tubes or no tubes.
     
  7. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    OOh! I can't wait till my PLX 2402 gets here...
     
  8. Chapbass

    Chapbass

    Dec 11, 2003
    Chicago, IL

    Makes sense. Power amps designed for bass would reproduce the bass frequencies more, where the PA amps have to cover the really high stuff as well, making it sound harsher. theres probably quite a bit of high end boost (similar to consumer audio speakers for stereo systems), which could contribute to that sound.

    As for your first comment, I've never tried a preamp/power amp setup for bass, so ill take your word for it, which seems like a safe bet to me :)
     
  9. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    It's only harsh if what you put into the power amp is harsh.

    What high end boost are you talking about?
     
  10. natrab

    natrab

    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    I think what he means is that bass power amps usually add a little coloration that is more suitable to bass (usually just by way of having tubes) while PA amps are designed to be completely clean and uncolored. I agree that my sound seemed "sterile" when using my PLX for my bass rig (along with an SVP-Pro). What I probably needed was some sort of booster or sonic maximizer. However when I tried plugging the SVP-Pro into the power section of my tube bass amp, it sounded a whole lot more how I wanted it to.
     
  11. Okay, I guess I'll show my ignorance, or at least my opinions on the subject. To me power amps designed for lots of power are generally pretty inert sonically. Big honkin' tube amps that weigh in at 100 lbs or not designed for clear transparent sound, they are designed with the A***g sound or the Ag***ar sound. You push them hard and they break up nice giving you monster tone, which some prefer. Some prefer the clean, hifi sound - it's all a matter of taste.

    My guess is there isn't more than a handful of solid state power amps that are disigned only with bass guitar in mind. If you can get all the tone out of your preamp that you want, why buy a 300 watt tube power amp that weighs as much as a '68 VW bug and costs $1000 when you can buy a PLX3402 for $0.30 per watt? Bob is right, an amp should be a straight wire with gain unless you need a particular tone. And don't get on the "but tubes are louder per watt" thing. Watts and dB (loudness) are pretty well defined mathematically. Tube watts are not louder than solid state watts, a watt is a watt whether tube or SS.

    Blah blah blah blah amplifier, blah blah blah watts. It's all up to your ears.
     
  12. I prefer to shape my sound with preamp and eq, not the power amp. Of course, if you want something different, buy it. There's lots of folks who prefer the "warm" sound of a tube power amp or a "voiced" bass amp.

    For the "PA" style amps you mention, there should be no real sonic difference in good quality amps from reputable manufacturers. Buy according to what features you need, what weight you can carry, what price point is right for you. A final consideration is reliability and customer service.

    For me, price point meant a lot, along with weight and a generally good rep. When I got my Carvin DCM1000, the $150-200 difference between it and a QSC PLX 1202 was a big factor. Two and a half years later, I don't regret the decision at all. However (since my finances are not quite so tight), if I bought now I'd probably look hard a Stewart (more power in a significntly lighter weight) or QSC (also more power in a light weight and a great warranty/superb customer support). But I'd keep my DCM ;) .
     
  13. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I generally prefer tube power amps, even when they are not being driven hard. The clean power out of those amps is preferable to SS clean power for me anyday. Tube power amps also impart a certain feel that SS designs just can't touch.

    I'd also be willing to bet that if you had 3 different SS power amps of the same wattage you would get 3 different sounds.
     
  14. Schwinn

    Schwinn

    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Interestingly, I COULD hear a difference between a QSC RMX 1850HD and a QSC PLX 2402. I was surprised because I thought solid state PA amps would be transparent and sound identical. Probably due to the different designs, since there is not much of a power difference. Of course, this difference was audible but still only a slight difference. Preamps have WAY more to do with tone than anything else when it comes to amps.
     
  15. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    If they are set randomly, that would be the way to bet.

    But if they were closely matched in gain, I would gladly take your bet. ;)
     
  16. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    What were the circumstances of your testing?
     
  17. Schwinn

    Schwinn

    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    very non-experimental to be sure! I had bought the PLX and was preparing to box up the RMX to sell. I set them on top of one another and switched them back and forth out of my system without touching the eq. Both were in bridged mode. I understand that the gain levels differ so may that be the reason?
     
  18. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    So if they all the same, why are there so many different brands out there? No reason to buy QSC if they all sound the same, right? :smug:
     
  19. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Differences in gain cause differences in loudness, which can by itself account for many, many perceived sonic differences.

    There are differences between the RMX and PLX circuitry, but the sonic differences they have are so small that you'd have to really be doing the test in a very controlled listening environment to detect them, and even then, they would be hard to pick out.
     
  20. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    No reason not to, either, eh? ;)

    In their linear region, well-designed power amps will tend to sound alike. That's not to say there aren't differences; some worth considering are:

    • Reliability
    • Ability to handle extremes (clipping, for example) well
    • Service and support
    • Value
    • Mobility (size, weight, AC requirements, et al)
    • Feature set
    • Availability