Best Power Amp on the Market

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Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby unnbrokenchain » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:45 pm

I'm currently looking at my options for a Power amp. I've been looking at what other guys use. I know Vic uses or did use a 2R Focus Acoustic Image rated at 800 Watts for 1400$ ( a little bit on the high side). I have no idea what john Kadlecik uses. If anyone knows anything about his rack equipment I'd appreciate it. The one thing I'm concerned with is if I did break bank and buy a Mcintosh amp off ebay, with it being from 20 to 40 years old, how well it would run and if it needed and work. So getting something relatively new would be better on that aspect, but could it be up to par with Mcintosh's quality of sound. So, does any one have any suggestions? and don't say a MC2300 :lol:
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby tcsned » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:17 pm

First question - what are you using it for? Are you playing in a band? Or at home? If you're playing in a band, do you play small clubs or larger venues (more than 2-300 people)? If you are playing at home or at relatively small clubs I would use something 100w or less. Carrying around a huge, heavy studio/audiophile amp will get old pretty quick if you don't need something like that. Also, are you going for a pretty exact Garcia tone? Or something that is more "you"? A smaller wattage Mac might do it if you want a really Jerry tone. A huge rig looks really cool until you've roaded it 100 times :lol:
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby JonnyBoy » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:47 pm

I am using an MC50 right now, lighter and smaller than most Macs and sounds better than any amp I have ever used along with the twin as a preamp. Its the preamp that gives me the volume and definition, the Mac sounds remarkably like a tube amp. Otherwise, the Mosvalve amps are my second favorite. I used a Mosvalve for over 15 years before the MC. It is still in my rack as a back up. A MC2300 is way too heavy and no one needs that kind of power, not even the guys playing for DSO and JGB, Stu is playing a MC250 with great results, way less power than a MC2300 and a whole lot lighter. a MC2100 would give you 100 watts stereo, I still get plenty out of 50 watts and a JBL E-120 with some to spare.
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby paulkogut » Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:16 pm

A lot of jazz players who do the preamp/poweramp thing use a Walter Woods for the power section. (John Abercrombie, Steve Khan, Jim Hall). It seems to me it would work in a Jerry rig, too. They can be pricey new, but you never know when you'll run across one on the second hand market. I've been using mine with Brad Sarno's pre and am really happy with my sound. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYueQKxUULI

Good luck in your tone quest.

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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:24 pm

Consider that Kadlecik is getting a fair amount of clipping in his signal before it ever reaches the power amp, so that kind of changes the scenario when it comes to doing the Jerry thing with the mostly clean signal into a gently clipped McIntosh. It's a different approach. Vic uses an extremely powerful amp, but also achieves some modeled clipping so that he doesn't depend on the power amp itself to help limit and smooth things. Jerry worked with around 250 to 300 watts, and took advantage of the fact that the power amp itself would put a limit on the peak power because of its inherent power limitations.

Basically, you really have to consider how you're going to put a cap on the pick attack spikes so you don't completely destroy your ears and also so you don't deliver an overly loud, overly clean signal that just sounds sterile, cold and boring. Whether you approach it like Kadlecik, which works very well for him and provides a nice smoothing and sustain, or if you want to go the Vic approach where the digital modeling device helps control this, or if you want the real Jerry thing where the power amp itself provides some of the rounding or smoothing, this will help you find the right amp. Maximum power of the amp is critical. You DON'T want an amp that's TOO powerful if you aren't going to find some means of smoothing things out before the signal reaches the amp.

For Mattson in DSO, he's using a VERY loud Bryston power amp, and it was simply brutal if pushed. Cold, ice-picky, harsh, sterile, and lifeless. TOO clean, too linear, just like any overly powerful amp with a clean guitar signal. So we designed a couple of clipping devices for him. One is a pedal that is a very clean and UN-EQ'd voicing with the ability to just barely clip or dial it up to get fairly dirty like the old '72 and earlier tube overdrive sound Jerry got when he pushed his tube amps. We also made Jeff a rack mounted clipping device that roughly (very roughly) emulates the type of clipping a McIntosh would do when it's power transistors reached their limits. That rack mounted clipping device is WAY in the prototype phase at the moment, but it works and it helps. It's just not there yet for my tastes. The combo of these two clippers is what's enabling Jeff to dig in and shave off the ice-picky top end and get a bit of sustain while using an overly powerful power amp. By the way, the pedal clipper is something I'll be making more of in the next few months. I'm kind of designing it for us here who need to find ways of achieving that mild natural clipping but without the tone and EQ changes that overdrive pedals often do. Stay posted for that.

I've been hearing positive reports about the newer Rocktron Velocity 300, but I can't personally vouch for it yet. I've heard that you can kind of bang on that amp and dig in nicely with it. You can't go wrong with a tube power amp, because they'll naturally do the musical limiting, clipping, and smoothing. A real mac, like an MC250 is ideal in my mind. They're generally fairly affordable, easily serviced by a decent amp tech, and provide 75 watts per channel (peak power), which should be plenty for most mortal eardrums when using JBL's.

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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby tcsned » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:55 pm

I used to use a Mesa 50/50 with a V-Twin rack preamp - it worked pretty good - 6L6s so pretty Fender-y. The preamp caught fire at a gig and the power amp wasn't mine so it's been a while since I've used a separate pre/power amps.
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:19 pm

I'd think that Mesa 50/50 would be a great power amp to use.

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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby Cmnaround » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:24 pm

I'll vouch for the Mesa engineering tube power amps. It's not a Macintosh but srsly if your not on tour, which you certainly may be, a Mesa rack tube amp maybe something that you would want to consider. They are built like tanks, and in my experience sound really good. I've not had the opportunity to play through a Mac, but relative to other rigs I have played my Mesa is pretty nice - clean, powerful and definitley contributes to my overall sound - you can hear it when you pick with different intensity or approaches. Also, I'm only playing the 20/20 stereo - 20 watts per side which doesnt sound like a lot - but with 2x12 Tone Tubbys in a closed back cab it is way loud - could handle small clubs easily. They also make a 50/50 and I think a 90/90.

Good luck!
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby unnbrokenchain » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:28 pm

tcsned wrote:First question - what are you using it for? Are you playing in a band? Or at home? If you're playing in a band, do you play small clubs or larger venues (more than 2-300 people)? If you are playing at home or at relatively small clubs I would use something 100w or less. Carrying around a huge, heavy studio/audiophile amp will get old pretty quick if you don't need something like that. Also, are you going for a pretty exact Garcia tone? Or something that is more "you"? A smaller wattage Mac might do it if you want a really Jerry tone. A huge rig looks really cool until you've roaded it 100 times :lol:



I play at home and at a friends basement for practice sessions. I have two brand new Beyma liberties in a 2X12 cab. I got them wired so they can be played as two singles ( 8 ohms) or both bridged (4 ohms). That way if I don't need both of them I can just hook one up and when I do need both, I have that option. So, that is why I started looking at power amps, Something that could take a 4 or 8 ohm load. Yes I would like a Jerry sound. I geuss I'll just wait till I see a good deal on ebay for a Mac.
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:26 am

I'd say use one half of an MC250. They're easy to find.

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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby mkaufman » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:37 am

I play at home and at a friends basement for practice sessions. I have two brand new Beyma liberties in a 2X12 cab. I got them wired so they can be played as two singles ( 8 ohms) or both bridged (4 ohms). That way if I don't need both of them I can just hook one up and when I do need both, I have that option. So, that is why I started looking at power amps, Something that could take a 4 or 8 ohm load. Yes I would like a Jerry sound. I geuss I'll just wait till I see a good deal on ebay for a Mac.


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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby RiverRat » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:44 am

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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:08 am

RiverRat wrote:So his current tone is this... Vic->Guitar->AxeFX. My observation is that Vic's power amp setup contributes nothing to his tone.



That's what I'm trying to say as well. In that case, the power is extremely linear, clean, and uncolored, and all the actual coloration is happening in the Axe FX. Same with John K, all the clipping and signal shaping is taking place well before the power amp, then the power amp cleanly delivers that. The Jerry approach very much uses the power amp itself for some clipping and coloration and loudness control.

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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby gr8fullfred » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:32 am

I have a Mesa Boogie Quad Preamp with a Mesa 50/50 power amp. I am surprised that there is not much mention of this setup on this board. The Quad preamp is a wonderful thing with four channels that go from clean to wild.
Enough knobs to keep you busy for quite a while. While its not pure Jerry, you can get great sounds out of it.

The 50/50 amp has two channels of 50 watt 6L6 power, which is enough to make ears ring for quite a distance.

I could play any venue with this rig and it is completely serviceable by any tube tech. I bought both units for about $800 on ebay and I am willing to put it up against anything, certainly anything in the same price range. Why modify a vintage fender twin when for far less you could have a Mesa Quad Preamp,four channels, two equalizers, two reverbs, ready to plug into your power amp.

If you want even more insane power, you could pick up a Mesa Simuclas 400 amp that would have more power than anyone would ever need.

I also have a Mesa 50 Caliber combo amp, which for $500 bucks was also a great deal.

Mesa Boogie Rules! Jerry would agree!
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Re: Best Power Amp on the Market

Postby tcsned » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:38 am

gr8fullfred wrote:I have a Mesa Boogie Quad Preamp with a Mesa 50/50 power amp. I am surprised that there is not much mention of this setup on this board. The Quad preamp is a wonderful thing with four channels that go from clean to wild.
Enough knobs to keep you busy for quite a while. While its not pure Jerry, you can get great sounds out of it.

The 50/50 amp has two channels of 50 watt 6L6 power, which is enough to make ears ring for quite a distance.

I could play any venue with this rig and it is completely serviceable by any tube tech. I bought both units for about $800 on ebay and I am willing to put it up against anything, certainly anything in the same price range. Why modify a vintage fender twin when for far less you could have a Mesa Quad Preamp,four channels, two equalizers, two reverbs, ready to plug into your power amp.

If you want even more insane power, you could pick up a Mesa Simuclas 400 amp that would have more power than anyone would ever need.

I also have a Mesa 50 Caliber combo amp, which for $500 bucks was also a great deal.

Mesa Boogie Rules! Jerry would agree!

+1 on the 50/50 I loved using that amp till my V Twin caught fire. When I rebuild my stage rig over the next few months I am going to try to get another. Plus Boogie's shit is made solid. I would be nervous the way I bang shit around that if I had one of the audiophile amps I would trash it pretty quick. I have not used one of those new models but the old plain black 50/50s are great and not insanely expensive. I've always been a big Boogie fan since I got my Mark III in 1987 or so. Can't wait for that to get fixed up. I have a Mark IV combo that's cool but I like the M III better.
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