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Another DT25 volume/ LVM question...
on 2013-04-05 16:21:48
I've had my DT25 since they were launched in the UK and while its a great amp I'm still experimenting with the best way of achieving optimum tone at home volumes.
I recently purchased a THD hotplate on eBay 2nd hand and am experimenting with that at present- I could feedback if anyone's interested.
So far I've compared FULL patches from my podHD 300 in LVM (overall volume limited by podHD amp volume and no attenuation) with FULL patches in normal volume mode, with amp volume adjusted by attenuation on the hotplate. Master volume on the amp was set at around 3oclock in both cases. To be honest the tones I can achieve with these methods are pretty comparable but I accept that neither method fully utilises the amps tubes. I'll look at attenuation with PREamp patches tomorrow.....
Could someone finally clarify for me how the master volume on the DT amp works when in LVM? Is it still only controlling power amp gain or does it somehow control preamp gain as well in LVM. Which volume (master on DT, amp volume on DT or amp volume on podHD) is best to control volume in LVM to achieve good tone at home levels?
Also, in normal volume mode, do those with DT amps tend to keep the amp's master volume at the same setting for all patches and adjust overall "loudness" with the amp volume or are you adjusting master volume on the amp depending on your podHD patch?
Re: Another DT25 volume/ LVM question...
on 2013-04-11 07:12:22
I've been gigging 2 to 3 nights a week for over a year with HD500 and DT25 mostly in pubs and clubs of typically 50 to 300 people and still searching tweaking for the holy grail, but mostly happy with the sounds.
I found your post interesting and am curious about your tests with LVM and the hotplate. I've used the hotplate in the past with a Marshall half stack, and loved it. I've considered going that path again but would like to believe it's all possible within the HD and DT.
It's my understanding, from reading the manual and other blogs, that in LVM, the DT doesn't use it's valves for power amping at all, but switches to 'modelled' power amping which is why I'm keen to hear what you think when you've tried the hotplate with pre models in the HD. My gig patches are all pre, and I leave the amps volume at one place for all the patches all gig, and have saved the patches to be volume matched to suit this principle. So much simpler and quicker, and keeps the show rolling at the press of a footswitch! The DT master volume won't change the preamp gain structures in any way.
The main issue I have, is that even with preamps in the HD down around 35 to 40% on the 3 main models I use ( 45, 800, and treadplate ), my amp is plenty loud enough with the drums at only 9 to 10 oclock, and I firmly believe I'm missing out on the sweet valve warmth I hoped for from the DT by not driving it harder. This is why I'm curious what you think of your line6 combination with the THD hotplate.
I've just tonight at home, pulled out the path B mix to mute which reduced volume overall. I'm hoping this a good thing and will allow me to turn up the amp to get the same db output from the speaker cab tomorrow night at the gig. Not sure if this affects my tones at all... hope not! I've saved the same setlist in 2 places within the pod HD500. One with path B at 0db, and the other muted. Path A on both left at 0db.
I've been searching the blogs tonight for insight into what the mixer really does for a HD to single DT setup.
Re: Another DT25 volume/ LVM question...
on 2013-04-11 10:34:33
Hi Adam, thanks for the reply. You've brought up some interesting points. I've now tried the DT25 + preamp models on podHD with the THD hotplate so will give you my (subjective) impressions.
1) In short, the DT25 attenuates very well with the hotplate which gets preamp patches that were very loud to begin with down to useable home levels.
2) At and beyond -8db of attenuation I need to switch on the "bright" and "deep" switches to maintain the tone. The tone stays true to the unattenuated version down to -12db. AT -16db and more attenuation there is an obvious deterioration in quality of tone which is thinner and fizzier, but still useable. I'd say that at -16db and more the tone is comparable to and probably slightly inferior to a Full model HD patch in LVM (at equivalent overall volume). Therefore, at really quiet volumes where -16db plus attenuation is required the main benefit of using the hotplate rather than LVM is in keeping all the same patches and not requiring a seperate bank of tweaked patches with full amp modelling for use in LVM. Like you, I've kept the DT master volume constant (2'oclock) with all my preamp patches to reduce variability.
3) To elaborate on the above point, I have found that it is simply impossible to switch from a full amp model patch that sounds good in LVM to a preamp amp version of the same patch for use in normal volume mode without having to significantly tweak several parameters, essentially making a new patch. This requires use of two banks of patches (one full and one preamp) with different volume, pedal and equalisation settings which are always going to differ despite hours of tweaking in an attemp to standardise the tones. Hence the main reason I bought the hotplate.
4) The L6 link connectivity guide for podHD-DT Series indicates, as far as I can tell, that the valves still have some influence on tone with the amp in LVM as long as not in stanby- see section 4-6. Relating to the amps direct output, the manual states that with "Low volume mode on, Amp on (not in standby) direct out signal consists of the "full" amp model and the analog amp", the latter presumably meaning the tubes. The manual states that in standby there is no analog amp, just modelled preamp and poweramp. I assume that the signal fed to the amps own speaker in both modes is the same, therefore some tube influence on tone in LVM with amp on. No way of proving this however.
5) I too have had difficulty dialling in the "sweet spot" valve tone, just beyond breakup point with the cleaner HD amp models. To be honest, if you are having difficulty with this at gig volumes I can't see how an attenuator will help- my understanding is that they are good for maintaining the ideal tone at lower volumes. This isn't a problem for the likes of the JCM800 and treadplate gain monsters which are, in my experience, the most plug and play of all the amp models. The issue lies with the fender and similar low gain amps such as the Deluxe model, which I find to have the most pleasing clean tones of the lot. Even at high volumes I find that the tube breakup yet still clean-ish blues sound I'm after with my strat is only really up to scratch when I add a clean boost (with the boost comp model) or light overdrive pedal. Even then its not nearly as good as I'd expect from a real Fender blues junior or Deluxe reverb amp. Like you, I'm still searching for the holy grail on that one.
6) I find that the main downside of this excellent line 6 setup is probably also its main plus point- versatility. Recently I've tended to spend more time tweaking patches than properly practicing! There are just too many variables and you get lost in a fog of limitless combinations of settings in HD edit. Who knows if that sweet spot is best obtained by tweaking the amps master volume, modelled amp gain/ volume or modelled pedal drive etc etc?? I'm almost considering switching to a single channel valve amp like the pro junior with no master volume simply to allow some sanity to prevail! This also applies to using the setup with a hotplate.
7) Never used the amp with a mixer so can't comment on that.
Re: Another DT25 volume/ LVM question...
on 2013-04-12 19:46:26
Really appreciate your feedback here tinman1, and mostly agree. Apologies for the mis info regarding LVM's utilisiation of the DT's valves. LVM is fine, but sounds very digital to me. Points 3 and 6 are amusing because I reckon most users of this gear are probably in the same boat, always tweeking / adjusting / and spending more time playing guitar tech than playing guitar! For me it was like that just with the pod before for about a year before I even bought the DT25 which I foolishly thought would somehow just make it all so much more Rock'n'Roll simple. Instead, it added to the confusion!
Just wanted to clear up point 7 though about the mixer. I was refering to the mixer block in HD500's chain. Path A and Path B, not an exernal mixer. I never paid much attention to it until recently when I wanted to find a way to get my DT25's power amp working harder when gigging. I don't believe the DT25 is that impressive ( in relation to valve warmth and response ), until master is up at about half volume or more ( like any valve amp really ), and a lot of pub / club gigs I've previously had the master volume down around 10 oclock mostly to sit nicely volume wise with the drummer ( who hits pretty hard ). Anything more was generally too loud and affecting FOH's pa mix adversly.
This is why I started considering attenuation again. Playing alone at home at any given volume is quite different to playing with bass, drums, and vocals, where all kinds of exta sounds / frequencies are added to what we hear, and I've dialled in patches at home in preparation to playing with the band, that end up needing further presence or eq to sit the way I would like them when playing with the band. So before buying an external attenuater, I thought I'd experiment with the mixer in the HD500 chain.
A typical patch chain in my HD500 for covers work is;
input 1 my guitar, input 2 set to Variax ( supposed to be less external noise bleed, but I can't hear any difference when set to 'same' ) > compressor > overdrive > chorus > pre amp model ( usually JTM45 or 800 ) > mixer block >short delay > long delay > reverb, L6 link, DT25 > 2x12 cab. Most of my fx can be switched on or off with the top row of pedals 1 to 4, one of which toggles between short or long delay. So it's the mixer block that I'm struggling to get my head around in relation to what it does or doesn't do to a single DT head.
Hear's what I did find;
Previously I'd never even messed with the mixer block because I've never set up dual pre amps or fx requiring stereo panning, but when I muted mixer Path B, the sound didn't change at all, but it got noticeably quieter out of the speaker cab. I'm guessing it halved the HD's output?, assumably by 3db?. Anyway, it allowed me to turn up the master volume on DT25 to get volume back to where it started. I couldn't really do this longer than it takes my wife to get from the house to my shed haha, so last night at the gig was the real test to see what really changed.
The good news is everything sounded exactly the same but the amp came to life without being any louder overall. It sustained longer, feedback ( when wanted ) seemed effortless to get and control, all the characteristics we hope for from a valve amp were there because the power amp was driving harder. It was the happiest I'd ever been with my gig rig, and I'll be holding off on the attenuater and utilising the HD's mixer block more.
I can't find much blog on the mixer block in relation to any of this application because without a DT head, pod HD's master volume takes care of all this, and with a DT head we're steered toward Low Volume Mode. At gigs with tight noise restrictions where I've previously used LVM, I've opted just for the HD sent both to a powered monitor for me, and to the pa mixing desk. I just don't hear the value in the DT25 head unless the valves are running hot. It's all so subjective, but we can only use our ears to judge what we like. I've really enjoyed your blogs. Keep rockin'!
Re: Another DT25 volume/ LVM question...
on 2013-04-13 00:29:00
Very interesting re the mixer settings. As it happens I have a podHD300 which doesn't have that functionality. I've considered switching to the 500 but don't think I'd use the extra functions as I tend to keep effects pretty minimal, rarely more than 2 at a time. I am jealous of the huge bank of customtone patches for 500 users though!
Sounds like you may have cracked your volume issues by adjusting that setting, fantastic!
It would be great if someone could enlighten me a bit more about my original question re the function and influence of the different volumes on tone and valve activity while in LVM. Anyone?
The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.