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The Hundred-Buck Amp Challenge
The Hundred-Buck Amp Challenge
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Old 23rd August 2016, 11:40 PM   #2001
Printer2 is offline Printer2  Canada
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Originally Posted by benb View Post
I give this device (seeing the, ahem, PCB layout at 1:20 to 1:25) One Star.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AxpEtcggr0

Much better one.

Last edited by Printer2; 23rd August 2016 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 24th August 2016, 03:58 AM   #2002
Gnobuddy is offline Gnobuddy  Canada
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That sounds excellent. Hard to say how much of the good sound comes from the Egnater (valve) amp, and how much from the solid-state pedal, though.

So far, the Sansamps and clones (Joyo American Sound, etc) are the best-sounding solid-state guitar amp emulations I've heard. I have an American Sound, and it isn't horrid even played straight into a solid-state P.A. It's not anywhere near as good as your little 2W 5E3, though!

-Gnobuddy
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Old 24th August 2016, 04:29 AM   #2003
Variac is offline Variac  Costa Rica
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The Hundred-Buck Amp Challenge
Hearing a lot about the Atomic Amplifire. The emulaters are getting quite good no doubt.
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Old 24th August 2016, 05:10 AM   #2004
Gnobuddy is offline Gnobuddy  Canada
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Originally Posted by Variac View Post
Hearing a lot about the Atomic Amplifire. The emulaters are getting quite good no doubt.
I hadn't heard of that one, thanks for mentioning it here. Some of the videos of it sound pretty good.

For a variety of reasons, I think digital emulators are the future of the guitar-amp industry. There's no magic in a valve, so it has to be possible to emulate it virtually exactly; the only question is how complex a model, and how much computational power, is necessary to do it realistically.

Computational power is becoming amazingly cheap and abundant, so the remaining weak spot is probably the actual mathematical models of valve amplification stages.

I hope they (emulators) eventually sound as good as the real thing before the bottom drops completely out of real valve amp manufacturing.

It's been a very long journey already. The first solid-state guitar amp to get any real love from musicians was probably the 1975 Roland Jazz Chorus - and it was mostly popular for its lush reverb and chorus effects, rather than it's bare tone. Forty years later, most solid-state guitar amps still don't sound very good. That is a very long time in the world of electronics.

-Gnobuddy
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Old 24th August 2016, 12:33 PM   #2005
Tubelab_com is offline Tubelab_com  United States
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The Kustom amps from the late 60's and early 70's were quite popular in their day. Bands Like Credence Clearwater Revival played straight into the amp, no pedals. I had a Kustom PA that I resurrected from the dead in about 1975. I used it for my keyboards. Didn't sound bad, but you don't crank keyboards into the distortion zone. All of the Kustoms from that era used the same schematic. It came straight out of the RCA transistor manual. So did the Heathkit guitar amp. The K200's (100 W RMS) used two of the 50 W power amps in parallel.

Acoustic from the same era was somewhat popular, especially their 360 bass amp. It had the ability to throw the bass out into the crowd. It was louder out in the middle of the field than up close. Ampeg had a bass cabinet with two speakers in a wedge configuration that did the same thing.

As simulators go, I use TH3 from Overloud on a PC. It has a clean reverb surf music tone that brings me right back into the garage in 1967 playing Ventures tunes. That's the sound I was always chasing back then, but could never catch, due to lack of a real reverb tank. Can't find those in the county dump.
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Old 24th August 2016, 06:22 PM   #2006
Gnobuddy is offline Gnobuddy  Canada
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Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
Acoustic from the same era was somewhat popular, especially their 360 bass amp.
The Acoustic brand was re-launched in 2007, apparently with at least one of the original designers on board. Their first two offerings (B20 and AB50 bass and acoustic bass amps) were very well reviewed all over the Internet.

Then the bottom fell out of the American economy, yanking much of the rest of the world with it. Acoustic seems to have been absorbed into Guitar Center and become a house brand. Guitar Center itself is in financial trouble, so who knows what the future holds.

I still have a B20 bass amp. I think I paid $120 or so for it, new, circa 2009; pretty close to a "hundred buck guitar amp", albeit for bass guitar. It produces surprisingly good bass tone from it's 20 watts and big 12" speaker, and even copes well with the low B on my 5-string bass.

I also have a later Acoustic product, the AG30, a wedge-shaped, dual-input acoustic guitar amp/small P.A. Only 30 watts and a slot-loaded 8" woofer with coaxial soft dome tweeter, but it has very nice sound quality, far better than a lot of P.A. systems that cost far more, and it's been more than loud enough for my use. It's used for vocals, and acoustic guitar amplification; strictly clean, of course, no overdriving or clipping, ever.

These were both thoughtfully designed products, where the money was budgeted well, and spent where it mattered most, on sound quality.

I am not sure about the causes for the brief flirtation by mainstream guitarists with solid-state guitar amps in the 70's and 80's. Perhaps those musicians talked themselves into believing the new transistor technology sounded better? Or perhaps it had something to do with impaired judgment due to all the illegal chemical substances floating around in their bloodstream?

Certainly there seem to be a lot of out-of-tune, out-of-time, nasty-sounding recordings from that era, probably from musicians who were stoned out of their minds at the time of the performance.

-Gnobuddy
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Old 28th August 2016, 08:54 PM   #2007
Gnobuddy is offline Gnobuddy  Canada
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The electronics of my amp are almost done - but there is one last piece of the puzzle missing. I really want to have an effects loop. Gotta have some reverb and delay after that distortion!

The loop doesn't have to be all-valve. Solid-state is fine as long as it contributes no audible distortion (i.e., is kept out of clipping, and produces less than 1% THD). But it must respect the basics of audio electronics: reasonably low source impedance on the "send" side, and enough clean gain to bring the levels back up, post-stompbox.

With two independent preamp channels, and very little room left on my plywood circuit board, I am momentarily stumped as to how to manage this. My initial ideas quickly evolve into absurd levels of complexity, and then get discarded. I haven't found a simple approach, yet.

I have +150V and -75V rails in my power supply, and a few LND150 MOSFETs, so that seems the way to go, but how to keep the whole thing simple?

I am also thinking parallel effects loop; less chance of ruining the basic sound of the amp that way, I think.

Anyone else have any suggestions to offer?

-Gnobuddy
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Old 8th September 2016, 04:49 AM   #2008
Gnobuddy is offline Gnobuddy  Canada
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Yikes. I hope I didn't kill this thread for good.

Anyway, here's my first attempt (simulated in LTSpice) at an FX loop. One LND150 to buffer the signal from the master volume pot, a passive FX send using a tolerably low impedance (10k) pot, a second LND150 to bring the "wet" signal from the FX loop back up to its original level, and mix it with the dry signal if desired.

The second LND150 operates as a crude virtual earth mixer. With up to 150 volts p-p of headroom, it should never clip in use, so it should be completely inaudible in the amp.

There are an annoying number of controls: master volume in the preamp, and then, in this FX loop schematic, an FX send level pot, and a "Dry" send level pot. I'll probably need to add an FX return level pot too, or at least a switchable pad in case return levels are too high.

3 pots, 2 MOSFETs, 2 quarter-inch jacks, a slew of resistors - this FX loop circuit is more complex than an entire classic Fender preamp. And this is after a few days of trying to simplify, simplify, simplify!

LTSpice screenshot, and .asc file attached. Comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism will be gladly received.

-Gnobuddy
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Old 8th September 2016, 02:09 PM   #2009
Tubelab_com is offline Tubelab_com  United States
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There are an annoying number of controls
My latest project has 53 knobs and a "test" button. It however cost a bit over $100, but that does include the knobs. It could be duplicated for about $100 without knobs, but I don't think we are ready for a Hundred Buck Synthesizer Challenge.

This is neither an amp, has a guitar input, or uses any tubes, but all are planned long term. My favorite "controller" is six note polyphonic, so that's the next obstacle. Polyphony requires a more powerful processor with more I/O. An advance prototype Teensy 3.6 will be headed my way soon. I plan on making a basic LCD / menu version that will fit inside the guitar.

I will be leaving for a 3000 mile road trip on Monday. This, and the new CPU go with me so I can work on the software. Sometime after my return I will start a new thread, or resurrect the long sleeping vacuum tube synthesizer thread.

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/instr...be+synthesizer
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File Type: jpg NuCPU_back_x.jpg (878.4 KB, 129 views)
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Old 9th September 2016, 12:38 AM   #2010
Gnobuddy is offline Gnobuddy  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
My latest project has 53 knobs and a "test" button.
Oh, boy! I can see why you had to color-code the knobs!

I hope you never have to debug any of the wiring. That would not be a fun job!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
I don't think we are ready for a Hundred Buck Synthesizer Challenge.
My wife has recently begun singing Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" at jams. I'm her accompanist, so I listened to the song to learn it, and I got a memory refresh of those 1980's synth and guitar sounds, complete with far, far too much chorus, and far, far too much use of primitive early sequencers. Oy vey!

The good news is a pair of cheap guitar pedals (chorus and reverb) got me close enough to the original guitar sounds. The bad news is that those sounds are, shall we say, not exactly subtle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubelab_com View Post
My favorite "controller" is six note polyphonic, so that's the next obstacle.
Hex pickup, or will you have to figure out all six string frequencies in software?

Good luck with the long road trip!

-Gnobuddy
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