Help Me Understand Wattage

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nigel davenport
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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by nigel davenport » Wed Jun 17, 2020 12:13 pm

Not trying to be a troll but I thought Andy Bell uses a 20 watt head?

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by Larsongs » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:26 am

I don't if this helps but if you take an SS Amp Watt rating & divide by 3 the answer is aprox. what Watt rated Tube Amp is comparable..

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Jun 20, 2020 9:09 am

tune_link wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:24 am
I've had a ton if different amps over the years both solid state and tube. I know that SS wattage doesn't really equate to the same volume at the same wattage as a tube amp will. I know there are a staggering number of factors that play into it - wattage at RMS, speaker efficiency rating, whether you use a combo 2x12 vs a 4x12 cab, etc.

One thing I've heard a lot is that for tube amps that 50 watts is a barely audible difference to most people than a 100 watt amp - that you only really lose clean headroom. I feel like the thing I cannot find any info on with respect to this is at what volume level? For arguments sake let's say that both amps are running at the same volume level (both at 12 oclock ), is the db difference still the same or is it only with both of them at maxed out volume that there is a small audible difference in volume? When I run a 100 watt head at half volume is that like having a 50 watt head maxed out? I've never owned a 50 watt amp but am considering one. All the heads I've owned have either been 120 SS watts or 85 - 100 watt tube heads/combos (V4, JCM800, Twin). I was reading on an older Marshall amps forum that some of the members there had 50 watt heads that were just astoundingly louder than some of the 100 watt heads they had owned at different points and that it had to do with a multitude of the aforementioned factors coming together. At any rate, could I get some input from the OSG crowd on this? I'd love to hear from some of you that own 50 watt heads and swear by them and what you use them for, etc. I'm definitely looking for a lot more than bedroom volume and my drummer is monstrously loud.
A few concepts that are helpful to grasp:

Amplifier power is measured with a specific percentage of harmonic distortion products (THD, or "total harmonic distortion")

Typically, this number is "1%," which in the context of a guitar amp is a long, long way from audible "crunch." Many tube amplifiers are designed in such a way that they keep getting louder and louder well above that 1% THD threshold. Most solid-state amps are different--among other design characteristics, they tend to employ larger amounts of negative feedback, meaning that the transition into clipping happens in a later and more-abrupt fashion. Negative feedback is an error-correction mechanism, so to speak, and distortion onset is delayed until it overwhelms the error correction. This means that a typical solid-state amp won't get very much louder past the onset of clipping.

A speaker is a literal electric motor, and not all of them operate with the same efficiency

It's easy to imagine an electric motor in, say, a radio-controlled car being more-efficient and faster for a given amount of current than a different motor that might also be used in that application. The same is true with speakers, as you've alluded to here. A very efficient 12" speaker might have a sensitivity of 102 dB at 1W white noise at a distance of 1M. An 8" speaker might have an efficiency of 92dB, which is a massive difference. A less-efficient 12" speaker might be as low as 99dB, which is again a massive difference, as you'll see.

Decibels are a logarithmic scale, unlike Pascals (a measure of air pressure changes) or Watts (a measure of power)

This is so we have a scale that just perceptually tracks with the way we perceive loudness.

A rig that can produce double the sound pressure in Pascals (air pressure) translates to a 6dB level increase. Two complete identical amplifiers with two identical speaker loads would theoretically produce twice the number of Pascals of sound pressure, which would give you a theoretical 6dB more level than one amplifier and speaker load alone.

Just doubling the amplifier's power, on the other hand, will give you an additional 3dB in the best case (assuming the amp's current speakers can handle the extra power). Acoustic power is not the same as amplifier power.

Adding another speaker would increase the efficiency of the overall speaker load, which also generates a non-trivial increase in acoustic power, but I confess to not knowing exactly how that would be calculated.

Hope this helps!

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:08 am

Many classic sounds we think as "clean" really aren't that clean (early Smiths, Stone Roses), and many classic "dirty" sounds aren't that dirty (AC/DC, The Who).

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by somanytoys » Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:38 am

marqueemoon wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:08 am
Many classic sounds we think as "clean" really aren't that clean (early Smiths, Stone Roses), and many classic "dirty" sounds aren't that dirty (AC/DC, The Who).
I’ve found this to be true more and more as time passes.

A lot comes just from the sheer volume of the power amp stage reacting with the speakers, rather than the preamp stage (or a distortion pedal) being dimed.

It’s not necessarily quite as true with fuzz, but that’s a little different. With the more powerful distortion pedals, it gets to be way too much too fast, especially depending on the amp’s settings, and that can get lost in a mix quickly.

I noticed this with the Keeley el Rey Dorado, and an old Keeley modded Blues Driver I have - not just Keeley’s pedals, but quite a few of the harder distortion pedals. They will get unbelievably distorted when you turn the gain up, but it’s just too much. It’s better to leave the gain down (around 9 or 10 o’clock) and let the pedal & amp volume do a lot of the work instead (when you can play loud). Especially if you’re pushing a tube amp, a little an go a long way.

And with clean sounds, just a little bit of dirt from a lighter pedal (like the Lightspeed) will bring out a lot of sounds and dynamics that weren’t really there before, but it will still sound pretty clean.
-David

It's a boost booster, to boost your boost - it makes your tone much muchier.

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by tune_link » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:44 am

somanytoys wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:38 am
marqueemoon wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:08 am
Many classic sounds we think as "clean" really aren't that clean (early Smiths, Stone Roses), and many classic "dirty" sounds aren't that dirty (AC/DC, The Who).
I’ve found this to be true more and more as time passes.

A lot comes just from the sheer volume of the power amp stage reacting with the speakers, rather than the preamp stage (or a distortion pedal) being dimed.

It’s not necessarily quite as true with fuzz, but that’s a little different. With the more powerful distortion pedals, it gets to be way too much too fast, especially depending on the amp’s settings, and that can get lost in a mix quickly.

I noticed this with the Keeley el Rey Dorado, and an old Keeley modded Blues Driver I have - not just Keeley’s pedals, but quite a few of the harder distortion pedals. They will get unbelievably distorted when you turn the gain up, but it’s just too much. It’s better to leave the gain down (around 9 or 10 o’clock) and let the pedal & amp volume do a lot of the work instead (when you can play loud). Especially if you’re pushing a tube amp, a little an go a long way.

And with clean sounds, just a little bit of dirt from a lighter pedal (like the Lightspeed) will bring out a lot of sounds and dynamics that weren’t really there before, but it will still sound pretty clean.
Agree completely from what I've experienced. It's funny that you mention the Lightspeed, I have two Greer pedals on my board and I LOVE them both. I have the Burning Goat which is a transparent flat EQ'd overdrive that I think was the sort of prototype for the Lightspeed (they don't make the BG anymore but the sound of it and the Lightspeed are incredibly similar). I also have Greer's Moonshot treble/mid booster and surprisingly against all advice it sounds incredible through my BF Twin Reverb both running it clean and especially when I start introducing drives and fuzz.

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by somanytoys » Tue Jun 23, 2020 3:11 pm

I really, really love the Lightspeed. I got that and an EQD Westwood, and I tend to like the Lightspeed a lot more. I need to try the Westwood with bass, maybe I’ll like it better there. It reminds me of the Ss/Bs Mini, which I sold off rather quickly. I’m going to try to make it work, or it will probably go up for sale as well.

I imagine that BG is nice. I typically like having the option of treble & bass knobs, but sometimes it’s good having something with a set eq, and just working around or within its parameters. Especially when it just has a really good sound. It’s kind of hard to describe, I don’t like the overused word “transparent”, but it kind of is. There something there, but it’s just more - not like a totally clean boost, but it gives the tone just the right amount of spank to wake it up a little and still sound like itself.

Treble boosters can be very effective with a lot of amps, and having the ability to change the mode from treble to mid or bass is great to work with different amps. I rarely use the treble setting, it’s usually either set to the mids or the bass.
-David

It's a boost booster, to boost your boost - it makes your tone much muchier.

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by sessylU » Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:30 pm

somanytoys wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:38 am
marqueemoon wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:08 am
Many classic sounds we think as "clean" really aren't that clean (early Smiths, Stone Roses), and many classic "dirty" sounds aren't that dirty (AC/DC, The Who).
I’ve found this to be true more and more as time passes.
I think this is a different thing. I think that "heaviness" usually means not maxing out the overdrive or distortion. I think that absolutely diming the gain on your amp and pedals is sort of a teenage attempt at getting heavy. It sounds clipped and compressed, and disappears as soon as you get with a band (it sounds cool as fuck in your bedroom when you're 15 though. Bass on 7, Treble on 8, and fuck the mids. I still miss it).

I think for playing live and sounding heavy, far less gain is what you want. Lowish mids are where the heavy is. Keep the gain just past the point of overdrive, and hit the thing if it needs to be heavier.

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by øøøøøøø » Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:55 pm

I couldn't agree more with the folks saying that too much distortion makes things sound smaller, not heavier.

I think more than any frequency-based concern (and certainly more than amount of clipping) a lot of the 'heavy' comes from dynamics. Dynamics are everything for any type of rhythm guitar especially.

If something is super clipped, it just sort of sits in one narrow space. If you want something like a power chord to have that feeling of punching you in the chest, it has to have some kind of dynamic envelope. It has to have that kind of transient on the front that's louder than the steady-state wash underneath.

Adding more and more distortion works contrary to this.

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Re: Help Me Understand Wattage

Post by mbene085 » Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:21 pm

Couldn't agree more. So many metal tracks sound like a buzzy mess, not remotely heavy to me. I remember thinking that the new Tool album sounds really heavy at times with a fraction of the gain as I listened to it for the first time. Obviously the musicianship plays a big role, but the way the percussion hits you is a huge part of that sound. There were times where it was even mostly hand percussion, but mixed so expertly, and the guitar tones themselves are not super high gain.

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