rukind.com

Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #113648  by gr8fl4295
 Tue May 08, 2012 3:19 pm
Please excuse my stupidity...but what the hell is a preamp? Why do you use one? How do you use one? Why should I use one?
Been trying to figure out why you would want to have multiple pieces of gear when you can have just 1 amp.
I'm confused.
Be gentle.

My current gear is:
Gibson Les Paul
"Tiger" custom on the way
Fender Twin Reverb (way too much amp for me)
Marshall MG10 (for practice)
BOSS RC-3
BOSS FDR-1 (for the Marshall)
EH Q-Tron+
MXR Dist+
Dunlop Hendrix Wah
 #113649  by strumminsix
 Tue May 08, 2012 3:27 pm
Your Twin is what most call a "combo". It's a combo of:
1. Preamp which shapes your tone
2. Poweramp which amplifies your shaped tone
3. Speaker cabinet which broadcasts your amplified shaped tone

So if you got a preamp (like SMS) you'd need a poweramp (like Mac or Mesa) and a cabinet like a 2x12
 #113651  by JonnyBoy
 Tue May 08, 2012 4:00 pm
A "Preamp" is basically any tone shaping circuit before the power amp. Like Strummin said, you have a preamp in the twin already, the treble,mid, bass and gain. The Power amp in your twin runs at full blast all the time and the volume depends on the amount of gain you supply it from the preamp. You can go as far to say that the trem and reverb are a preamp stages too. A buffer, active tone circuit, pedals etc can all be called "preamps" if you wanted to confuse it further. It wouldn't be technically correct to call everything a preamp, but they are tone shaping circuits before the amplification stage. Most likely for the purpose of this place, a preamp would be the tone stack circuit of a rig, a buffer or tone circuits in a guitar.
 #113674  by gr8fl4295
 Wed May 09, 2012 6:50 am
Ok, I get what they are now. But why use one, when you can have everything in a single package?
What are the advantages?
What makes the SMS Classic preamp so desirable? And McIntosh power amp for that matter.
 #113675  by Jon S.
 Wed May 09, 2012 7:02 am
gr8fl4295 wrote:Ok, I get what they are now. But why use one, when you can have everything in a single package?
What are the advantages?
What makes the SMS Classic preamp so desirable? And McIntosh power amp for that matter.
For your 1st question, it's obvious: YOU get to choose your components. Is this an issue if a given builder combines everything perfectly to your tastes in a stock combo? No. The components approach is for the rest of us (it's also nice to be able to split up the components to reduce weight/item).

For your 2nd question, I'm becoming increasingly convinced the answer is the same as the answer to the koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" I.e., do it and listen. :smile:
 #113676  by Tennessee Jedi
 Wed May 09, 2012 7:24 am
gr8fl4295 wrote:Ok, I get what they are now. But why use one, when you can have everything in a single package?
What are the advantages?
How much does the Twin weigh ?
One advantage of the pre-amp way is all the components are separate and easier on the old body ....
:-)
Im thinking you would get the same yummy tone from the SMS that get from your Twin -only at much more reasonable sound levels.
Anyway thats what I'm hoping for anyway
:D
 #113678  by strumminsix
 Wed May 09, 2012 7:31 am
gr8fl4295 wrote:Ok, I get what they are now. But why use one, when you can have everything in a single package?
What are the advantages?
What makes the SMS Classic preamp so desirable? And McIntosh power amp for that matter.
The McIntosh is what Jerry used, so there's that. and SMS is like what Jerry used so there's that too.

But at the higher level... Each component shapes the sound: pre, power, speaker and cabinet too!

Jerry liked the Twin's preamp but wanted more than 80w of power that the Twin provided, hence the Mac!

Others like say the preamp of Twin (SMS) and want to combine it with maybe a Mesa flavor like a 20/20 or 50/50.

Others think it sounds better to not have the amp being rattled by the speakers.

It's all about choices and mixin' & matches!
 #113679  by Smolder
 Wed May 09, 2012 7:51 am
Were I a touring musician, I'd be all over a rack mount system and specifically the SMS... and I've never even been in the same room with one. I'd also considerate if I was playing a variety of rooms and wanted to scale volume (power amp and speaker) to match the room. It has some huge benefits. As it is now... I'm playing in my basement and schlepping an amp to a jam once a week. For that, a twin at half power with a single speaker is working great.
 #113681  by TRG
 Wed May 09, 2012 8:11 am
One of the driving factors for me leaving the combo world behind and going to a rack rig was the tube rattle in my twin... then once going that route, I appreciated the other benefits... portability, customization, zero tube rattle, etc...

Now I'm enjoying an SMS, MC250, and K120s in an SSP 2x12 and all is right :-)

Come to think of it, if I didn't have that tube rattle to drive me away, I never would've ended up with the rig I've got now...thanks tube rattle! :lol:
 #113685  by gr8fl4295
 Wed May 09, 2012 8:44 am
Thanks for all the info guys.

So if I want to stay at bedroom level, I could do a SMS > ?? > 1x12"?
 #113687  by strumminsix
 Wed May 09, 2012 8:49 am
gr8fl4295 wrote:Thanks for all the info guys.

So if I want to stay at bedroom level, I could do a SMS > ?? > 1x12"?
Yes you can. RV100 would work well for that. That's a big reason folks do separate components or use a Master Volume amp.
 #113688  by Jon S.
 Wed May 09, 2012 8:54 am
To be frank, if all you need is bedroom level, save yourself time and money and just get a Roland Cube or something similar. That's what I use (the Street Cube version, actually) for practicing at low levels or noodling in front of the TV and it's more than sufficient.
 #113690  by Smolder
 Wed May 09, 2012 9:19 am
Jon S. wrote:To be frank, if all you need is bedroom level, save yourself time and money and just get a Roland Cube or something similar. That's what I use (the Street Cube version, actually) for practicing at low levels or noodling in front of the TV and it's more than sufficient.

Or... a sf princeton reverb (ab763 circuit) with the same circuit tweaks and a jbl 10. But, that's not gonna save you money like the cube will.
 #113811  by jeager
 Fri May 11, 2012 12:27 pm
I moved to a preamp/poweramp rig for two reasons initially.

#1 was tube rattle. Placing power tubes in the same box as the speaker is problematic because the moving speaker can rattle the tubes resulting in an audible noise that probably not notable when in a loud band situation but for studio use or bedroom practice its no good. I hate extra noises like that also I have heard that its not good for the tubes. I like having a really good tone for practicing, not just playing out, it makes for a more rewarding experience...my combo was good but it had the rattle.

#2 The SMS was designed to do what I wanted, Jerry tone in spades and other clean, dynamic tones if you want. Its super quiet too, no hum, no rattle, no hiss... and has a great reverb sound. A Twin will do this but I would not want to carry one around. I have tried different power amps and speakers with it and settled on what works for me in terms of ease of transport and good tone. Wish I had done this 25 years ago.