What effect does turning an amp up have on your speakers?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Nick4496, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. Nick4496


    Apr 14, 2017
    So obviously people know that when you turn a tube amp up it sounds awesome but does this damage your speaker or speakers? Same goes for SS amps, I realize most people don't drive a SS amp because it doesn't sound the best but would this harm your speakers if you were to push it as much as a tube amp disregarding how it would sound? Also what is the difference between driving the pre amp or power amp? Which is better and doesn't harm the gear?
  2. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    It's all about the power applied from the amp vs. what the speaker can handle. If the speaker is rated greater than the amp, and you don't exceeded the mechanical limits of the speaker, it should be fine. The problem on most bass cabs is when the amp is way to powerful for the cab, or the very low frequencies are cranked up and you exceed mechanical limits. Most bass cabs are murdered by exceeding mechanical limits. The wattage of a speaker in a cab is a thermal rating of the voice coil. The cab rating is often just a reflection of the speakers VC rating, not taking mechanical limits into consideration. If you like deep bass like I do, then for the most part, if you wanna play, you gotta pay.

    Solid State overdrive/distortion can sound fantastic.
  3. Nick4496


    Apr 14, 2017
    So saying that your speakers are able to take the power no problem, how is an amps power or pre amp section affected by turning the volume up real loud? Which is better to run hot or both?
  4. I totally love the sound of an overdriven tube amp, when it gets into that compression stage and just sounds great.

    I also have a GK RB400, that sounds amazing when it "hits the rails" and starts doing its own overdriven thing. Completely different sounds, but both very cool in their own.

    As was stated above, the cabs I use can handle it, and do not go past their mechanical limits when being pushed. It's not because they are super cabs, it has more to do with the eq I've chosen.

    The nice thing about the RB400 is I don't have to drive it incredibly hard to get it into the sweet spot. It's plenty loud, but nothing crazy where it really gets into the foh mix before it works it's magic.

    Unfortunately my tube monster has to get pretty loud before it gets to the good place, and that's often too loud for most indoor venues.

    But as long as you aren't exceeding the mechanical limits of your speakers, many SS amps have a nice sound overdriven a bit.
  5. Nick4496


    Apr 14, 2017
    so really you arent going to damage your ss head by driving either section of the amp.
  6. The preamp will have a different sound pushed hard compared to the poweramp stage. Most quality amp won't hurt themselves turned up, provided the cabinet can handle it.

    However, anything over 500 watts in most instances would be pretty loud on stage, and a sound guy would be screaming to turn it down.

    A general rule of thumb is if you push the preamp into distortion (turned up). You would want to keep the poweramp at a lower setting to compensate. This will be a grittier, growly sound that may or not sound good. On the other end, keeping the preamp volume down and running the power amp stage volume up will usually create a cleaner sound.

    With my Ampeg SvtCl, I prefer to dime the poweramp and control the volume with the preamp volume. This seems to create a full but clean sound.

    On my RB400, I run the same way, or bring the master down and add more boost to get it to growl.

    There is no right or wrong way, just experiment to find what you like.
    Winoman, Bassist4Eris and fleabitten like this.
  7. Nick4496


    Apr 14, 2017
    That's awesome thank you! I just never wanted to push my Mesa D-800 too much and ruin it. Glad that theres no harm in distortion aslong as the cab can handle the raw power!!
    fleabitten likes this.
  8. No, not if the amp is in good condition and within it's mechanical limits it will be fine if pushed. As always, keep an ear open. If something doesn't sound right, it probably isn't.

    Transient spikes can shred a speaker in little time when on its edge, so keep an ear open for any speakers in distress.
  9. That's a lot of watts to push hard, I'd make darn sure you have speakers that can handle the power.

    Just because a cab says it can handle x amount of watts, doesn't always mean it can. Keep an ear on those speakers. The Mesa is built like a tank, just make sure it has adequate ventilation and you should be good.
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Which speakers?
  11. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    You won't hurt that amp pushing it.

    What cabs do you have?

    I'm saying if your speakers are rated in wattage to exceed the wattage of the amp, the voice could shouldn't burn. But if you crank everything, all bets are off. Also the D-800 is rated in Watts RMS, you need to make sure the cab is also rated in Watts RMS (it should be but is not always).

    Exceeding the mechanical limits of the cab is the elephant in the room. Assuming the cab is only rated at it's thermal wattage limits (many if not most), it's up to you, experience and judgment, to determine what is safe with the amp, eq. and the speakers mechanical power handling. Like I said, if you wanna play...

    As far as the settings, I would suggest keeping the master low and adjusting the gain and eq for the tone you want, then turning up the master to adjust the volume.

    @agedhorse designed your D-800 andHe's a good guy.:D can probably offer some more solid answers. He'll need to know what cabs.

    Never mind... he has arrived :laugh:
    TrevorR likes this.
  12. Nick4496


    Apr 14, 2017
    I'm running a Mesa Powerhouse 212 600watts at 8ohm so the head is only putting out 400watts but still have to be careful when playing live but its good to know that a little bit of distortion isnt going to harm anything just gotta use my ears. I also sometimes pair it with a homemade 112 250watt rms 8ohm cab. great sound out of both.
  13. That cab will probably fart out way before that amp runs out of head room. I dig in pretty heavy when I play so the spikes can kill a cab on the edge. (I've smoked a few cabs in my past with a gkmb800, where I thought I wasn't anywhere close to the speakers thermal limits). As stated, use your ears. Nothing wrong with a little growl, but if those speakers start farting and sound bad, it won't take long to smoke them.

    Just be wary, a dying speaker makes not a beautiful sound.
    MattZilla and GBassNorth like this.
  14. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
  15. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    Neither do people.
    blubass likes this.
  16. Very true. Not a sounds that goes away fast from your mind.
    blubass and BadExample like this.
  17. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Shouldn't be any problem with the powerhouse 212, but you have more than enough power to destroy your home made 112 so be careful.
    Winoman, Nick4496 and BadExample like this.
  18. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    It gets louder...
    BadExample likes this.
  19. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    Until it gets quieter :D
  20. popgadget

    popgadget Commercial User

    Sep 4, 2005
    Eastern, PA USA
    Authorized Greenboy Designs Builder, Scabbey Road
    And smokes.......
    BadExample likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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