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NinoScholz

HD with Tube Power -Considering upgrading my Mesa 50/50

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So i'm getting some spending money to play with from my tax return shortly, and i'm considering upgrading my Mesa 50/50 power amp. I'm pretty happy with my tone and the 50/50, but sounds like other tube power amps could be better. I generally run Pod HD preamp models into the 50/50 then into V30 loaded Randall cabs, so i'm using the Pod like a preamp with built FX.

 

Has anyone in Pod HD land out there upgraded from the Mesa 50/50? I'm considering the following...

 

- Mesa 2/90 -Sounds like this may have the tone i'm after, but also over 10lbs heavier than 50/50

 

- Randall RT-250 - Intriguing choice - El34 and 6L6 in same amp. Mixed reviews. I do like Randall as a brand. 

 

- VHT2/50/2 - This gets rave reviews, but is also supposedly the most transparent, not necessarily what i'm after. I like what the 50/50 adds to my tone.

 

- Any EL84 20 watt power amp - never liked EL84's so probably won't go this route - but a light 1U power amp is attractive.

 

- Matrix solid state - not likely, but i'm open to listen to reviews.

 

I'm open to any other suggestions and would especially like to hear from those with rack tube power experience...thanks!

 

Oh yeah, no 3u or 4u monsters, gotta be 2u or smaller

 

 

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If it was me, I wouldn't change a thing.  Atleast wait and install the new firmware when it comes out and maybe tweak the tone with the new Global EQ.  The only thing I'd suggest is try running a second cab since you have a stereo power amp and play with some stereo widening type effects.

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Space...thanks for suggestion. That may be getting a bit out of my price range but if one shows up under a grand ill be checking it out for sure.

 

Joel - interesting you say that since that is what the little angel on my shoulder says. Its the little cartoon devil telling me I need a new power amp. Ive already gone through a ton of cabs and speakers and found the ones i like, so that part is set. The 5150 model coming soon interests me for sure. Will keep your advice in mind when contemplating hitting that "buy it now" button.

 

So, anyone else upgraded from a 50/50?

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Here's another suggestion.  Tubes and Bias.  I use a pair of Marshall JCM900 amps and only use the power section for my PODHD.  I've found that the type of tubes and the bias settings for those tubes has a significant impact on the tone.  I've used Mesa tubes and didn't like them.  I thought they were too harsh and the tone was somewhat flat and unresponsive.

 

I also used Ruby tubes and they were ok but not what I really wanted either. 

 

I found that the LS Groove tubes sounded the best when biased slightly on the cold side.  The M's are ok and never get the R's.

 

This is what worked in a Marshall amp for what I was looking for so what you may need could be completely opposite.  But tubes and bias make a difference.  It's not hard to do and I'd help you with Bias charts and where to find the tools you need and how to do it.  The main thing is - be careful and don't shock the crap out of yourself.  Even though it's very easy to do there is a rick of injury and death when working with high voltages.  Gott'a have a disclaimer...

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Joel - I've got JJ's from Eurotubes in there now, I bought the retube kit when i first got it but they were plug and play. I've been wanting to be able to bias amps for awhile now so this may be a good time to get the gear required and learn how. I do the typical soldering and other tweaking so I think with some patience and alot of caution I should be OK - The only thing is I think you have to install a bias pot on these amps as it's fixed - i'd get a tech to do that I think. 

 

Maybe I can bias it a little hotter or something and see how it responds. Also could be nice to replace one side with some different tubes - would be great if it took EL34's but as far as I know just 6L6's

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You can run EL34s or 6L6s, you just need to set the bias correctly.  When I first starting doing this I thought the hotter the bias the better the tone, but for me it was the other way around.  I guess what I'm saying is, don't go into this with any pre-conceived ideas.  You may find that what you think should work doesn't.

 

btw - I tried JJ tubes also.  They were the only tubes I ever threw in the trash can - without hesitation.  Lots of people rave about them so they must work in something other than what I have.

 

Here's some useful links:

http://www.srs-webstore.com/pages/biastool.html   - Great bias tool

http://www.dougstubes.com/   - Great place to get tubes and very helpful in selecting them

http://www.thetubestore.com/   - Good tube place too and lots of good information

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Another option is an Atomic Reactor. I have a 2/12 that sounds pretty good and is quite loud. Personally, I stopped using it when I upgraded from the Tonelab to the pod HD, as I found the tubeyness unnecessary, but they are certainly a viable product.

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Thank bill - If i didn't already have my cabs all worked out i'd consider the Atomic - I like the all in one idea for sure, but love my 3 Randall 1x12's stacked behind me on stage!

 

Thanks again Joel - all good info. I have decided to bring it to a tech once we have a break in our gig schedule to have him install the bias pot. By the way i've always had good experiences with JJ's, at least for the glassy cleans and punchy distortion I normally go for. But i have not tried that many brands. They were an improvement over the stock Mesa tubes - which were pretty old, and I liked them in a few other amps. I try not to get to much into rolling tubes honestly but it sounds like the bias can make a really big impact - plus i should learn this anyway.

 

In the meantime, it's hard not to drool over VHT power amps - people seem to rave about them like they are the greatest thing ever. 

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Have you tryed to use your pod with a Line6 DT amp? ive got the DT/25 and it really does sound great  in my little music room.

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Have you tryed to use your pod with a Line6 DT amp? ive got the DT/25 and it really does sound great  in my little music room.

 

I've considered it, but really need a rack power amp. Just really convenient for me right now to use my 6u rack for everything. If they made a rack version, i'd definitely be considering it.

 

I tried some different preamp models at rehearsal last night. I was pretty impressed with both the Soldano and a boosted JCM800 patch i made (vs my usual recto model for rhythm). That helps a little with the GAS knowing other models can work well live for me. I think getting the 50/50 modded with the bias pot is the way to go.

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