Low Volume, High Gain
I'm looking for a high gain valve amp that sounds great at bedroom volume with maybe enough volume for small pub gigs.
I don't play metal so I don't need over the top gain. At the moment my top choice is the Mini Rectifier. I've also tried the Orange Tiny and Dark Terrors, Cornford Hellcat and Blackstar Series One.
Anyone got any suggestions of amps I should try?
JCA20H depending on how much gain you need..
I used to have a Mini Rectifier and it was great at bedroom volume but I fund it struggling at Gig levels. the Jet City copes at gig level no problem (probably because it's brighter than the Mini Rec)
For me it has to be the H&K Tubemeister 18.
Switchable Wattage and,, with loads of gain on the boost of channel 2.
Also if 18W isn't loud enough you can whack it through the PA.
[quote=Si.;1353652]JCA20H depending on how much gain you need..
+1 on the JCA20H - very versatile n for what you get - dirt ( no pun intended ) cheap ... :D
I would think a Blackstar HT20 would do the job.
I'll second the JCA20H suggestion, and add the JCA22H to the mix (it's the same amp with an effects loop and a second channel with even more gain, which is lovely for solos). Mine turned up yesterday, and it sounds bloody excellent.
^ +1 (assuming, as they say, it's the same preamp as the 50 watt head, which i have).
Out of the others- hellcat was nice but very expensive, i thought. Wasn't super-fussed on the tiny terror (though they have other models with more gain, if that's what you want, which i haven't tried). Haven't tried the mini recto.
Other thing i'd say is- it depends on what you mean by "low volume". If you mean "smaller gigs", then those lower wattage heads might be worth a look. if you mean "bedroom volume", then those lower wattage amps are going to be way too loud too- and the higher wattage high gainers turned down may not sound any worse (and may well sound better) at super-low volumes.
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.
I've heard some clips of the Jet City amps and they sound great but no shops really seem to stock them anymore. Has anyone seen any in Surrey? What's the general opinion on Jet City v Soldano? The Soldano Hot Rod 25 looks good but quite expensive.
I agree, the Hellcat is fantastic but too expensive.
At the moment bedroom volume is more important for me than gig volume. I guess the max gain i'm looking for is for the alternative/emo sound (e.g. hell is for heroes, hundred reasons, coheed and cambria).
never tried the two head to head. From memory, the soldano i tried (avenger) was better, but the jet city i have gets pretty close. Like- if you had the two in the same room, the soldano might well be obviously better. But if, like me, you're only going on memory from having tried a soldano at one point, the jet city sounds like a soldano.
I hope I can be of some assistance here - I've personally owned an Orange Tiny Terror, Blackstar HT60 Stage 2x12 (the 3 channel one) and currently own the Blackstar Series One 104EL34. I have experience of putting all 3 through the same 2x12 Mesa Rectifier cab with V30s.
I use a Les Paul Traditional Pro and a Fender US Strat, and don't use metal gain with my own personal recordings. I will include my personal recordings so you can make your own decision :)
Orange Tiny Terror -
Despite being 15 watts, I found this to be the least 'home friendly' amp of all 3, to me running the volume low and the gain high just made it sound very buzzy and weak, not really fun for practice or good for recording. However when you start running the volume around half way and set gain to taste it really fattens up and sounds fantastic - however this is not at a home friendly volume. Cons - there is only one tone knob so you really need to know if it offers enough tweakability for you. Also, 15 watts does not leave much headroom for clean at gigging volume, though only you know how important this is to you. I have no clips of this amp because I sold it less than 2 weeks after buying it.
Blackstar HT60 Stage 2x12 was my next purchase. Here are two clips of it at low volume at home - here is it through its stock speakers (celestion 70 eighties) http://soundcloud.com/maxmoujaes/this-journey
Here is the HT60 with my Mesa Rectifier 2x12 http://soundcloud.com/maxmoujaes/half-of-a-double
First of all the pre-amp section of the HT60 Stage is the same as the HT100 stage head. The difference is that the 100 watt has two more output tubes, more wattage and it is a head... Let me start by saying that I really liked this amp. The clean is fantastic, both modes are, however there is no mid control over the clean channel which may or may not be an issue for you. I found it no issue personally, and having two clean modes gives you a lot of options for how your drive/fuzz pedals react with the amp.
There are two OD channels, which each have 2 modes. There are separate volume and gain dials for the OD channels however they share one EQ section. This ended up being a deal breaker for me as I couldn't get OD1 and OD2 to work well with each other, I always wanted to re-eq. The least difference (if I remember rightly) was to have OD1 in modern and OD2 in classic mode. Any other combination and I personally found it too much of a difference, however your experience/needs may be different. The amp is fairly tight and dark, and OD1 was my favourite drive channel. It was kind of Marshall-ish but lacks the sizzle of a proper Marshall. I didn't really get on with OD2 it was too in your face for me for rock but not 'big' enough sounding for metal. Your experiences may differ though. I actually liked OD2 more running the gain low as a sort of blues tone, but when wound up it sounded flat dynamically and a bit harsh. OD1 can get nicely smooth though.
Blackstar Series One 104EL34
Here is a clip of the Blackstar Series One 104EL34 crunch channel with a rock as opposed to a metal amount of gain http://soundcloud.com/maxmoujaes/bends_s104_el34
Firstly there are 3 EL34 Series One heads. I personally would recommend the EL34 heads over the 6L6 heads if you are not interested in metal as a primary tone concern. I have compared the 6L6 and EL34 heads personally through the same cab. If you want to read my writeup of the differences see here http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/b...l#post10424489 There are some metal based youtube clips here of the OD channels.
All 3 EL34 amps (50 watt and 100 watt 2 channels, and 100 watt 4 channels) have the same clean and crunch channels, so I will focus on them here, and will leave it up to you how much wattage you need. The 4 channel has 2 more OD channels which go in to metal territory. Bear in mind the DPR (which works as advertised) can bring the 100 watt down to 10 watts and the 50 watt down to 5 watts.
The clean is fantastic, better than the HT series to me. The most notable difference is in the harmonic overtones, the S1 just sounds more 3D for lack of a better word. Though there are two modes I personally only use the warm clean, I find bright clean is a bit thin. It is supposed to sound like an AC30 but it doesn't - and I own an AC30. The warm clean is sort of plexi-like clean, really warm and fat, and takes pedals really well. turning the gain up you get a nice crunch, but probably not enough for any proper rock tones. 100 watts means a lot of clean headroom, so you will be covered for a clean tone at gigs.
The crunch channel is my personal favourite channel on any amp I've ever played. It sounds in the Marshall JCM ballpark but it has its own character all the same, and with the ISF knob you can get it to go tight and bright, or warm and bassy, or anywhere in between. It is a much more 3D gain than the HT series, more overtones and a more complex tone, and it responds to picking dynamics much better. There is not a metal amount of gain available here, you need a boost for that, but there is more than enough gain for chords to sound huge. I personally find it sounds excellent at low volume, even on 100 watt mode. When using this channel at band volume it really sounds superb, crunchy but still with great clarity.
The super crunch mode ups the ante and tightens up the bass, adding in more gain and presenece. It works great if you want a really sizzling gain tone, which is great for making leads cut or getting more aggressive palm mutes.
Some things to consider - crunch and super crunch are individually foot switchable on the 2 channel heads, though the volume and gain differences are fixed. You will have to try this for yourself to see if it will work for you. On the 4 channel you can only change between the two crunch modes using the front panel button, the footswitch treats the two modes as a single channel. If you are intersted in my write up of the OD channels please read the above ultimate metal link :)
HT vs S1 (IMO..)
In general the S1 EL34 are brighter than the HT EL34 amps at home volume, but the EQ is very responsive - I personally just run the presence a bit lower on the S1. The biggest difference to me is that the HT series is a bit tighter than the S1. In my experience you can tighten an amp with an OD pedal but you can't really 'loosen' an amp, which is why I think you sometimes find people saying the HT series sounds compressed 'like a pedal'. That characteristic is also the same reason why some people think the HT amp drive is perfect - because if you like a modern tight tone and like the sound of the amp it doesn't need anything done to it.
In my experience the S1 cuts better live. It is more 3D and sizzles like a nice marshall when wound up. The clean is beautiful at high volume, it shimmers really well in my experience. The HT is a bit darker and a bit less dynamic but again this might be what you prefer. Bear in mind I had a 60 watt HT and have a 100 watt Series One.
The S1 build quality (knobs, switches, cabinetry) is noticably higher. The DPR works as advertised and you can really choose your wattage sweet spot. I find higher watts sounds bigger and breaks up less and less watts sounds narrower but saturates more. Personally when recording I always run at 100 watt for rhythm regardless of volume and set the wattage wherever it sounds best for leads, sometimes it sounds nicer squashed to 10 watts with the master run higher.
Hope this helps. Sorry it is a long read, I have tried to structure it helpfully and include personal recordings so you can make your own decisions on tone rather than rely on my own opinions.
I recently picked up a greenback cab but haven't recorded it yet. If you are intending to use greenbacks I'll try and record something soon if you let me know a style.