Jump to content
Hziak

Amps as Power Amps?

Recommended Posts

Hi, 
I've seen a lot of topics about power amps, but not so many about what makes them any different from the power amp side of a regular amplifier... 
To make this thread a little different, I want to talk bang-for-buck a bit with my situation and answer the question of why not just always use a bass head for a power amp? 


I want to have the option of outputting line-level or hooking up to a cab in both of my bands, one where I play guitar, the other I play bass. It's not economical for me to buy two amps and cabs when I've already got a helix, but for an alarming amount of local venues, I need that cab-compatibility. So I started thinking about a dedicated power amp when I realized that FX loops are basically just a shortcut to the power amp built in to the amp. Is there a even a difference between the two things?
 

My assumptions are: 

  • A 150w bass amp will cost a fraction of what a 150w power amp costs, same generally with higher wattages until you get to fancier models.
  • Any amp with an FX send has intrinsic value greater than a power amp because it is both a fully capable power amp and a fully featured amp
  • If you're not using the preamp section, bass or guitar, it doesn't matter...
  • A bass amp will generally have higher wattage than a guitar amp, so bass amps have greater compatibility across cabs than a guitar amp, just maybe it's a little louder... 

 

So what's the magic sauce in a power amp that would make me spend $400-1200 when I could get more value for the same or less on a bass head?
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's only one rule in play here - 

"IF it SOUNDS good (to YOU), it IS good."

 

Everything everybody else says is just opinion.

You know the saying about everybody having one......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/6/2021 at 9:19 PM, rd2rk said:

There's only one rule in play here - 

"IF it SOUNDS good (to YOU), it IS good."

 

Everything everybody else says is just opinion.

You know the saying about everybody having one......


I appreciate the response, but it doesn't really answer any of my questions. I'm trying to assess the technical viability of the rig concepts completely independent of the subjective aspects at the moment. Specifically, what's the highest amount of mostly-flat versatility that I can get in hardware for the most reasonable price to cab up my helix between both bass and guitar cabs, and why is or isn't it a bass amp that has a power-amp in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's fine to use a bass amp as soon as you dont need to drive the preamp. A bass cab also is fine, but a lot depends in what speaker and what cab. In general, your assumptions are correct (and not really unusual, especially in the old days...).

 

It will sounds better or worse, bad or good? There you go with the r2drk answer. :)

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 5/6/2021 at 4:52 PM, Hziak said:

So what's the magic sauce in a power amp that would make me spend $400-1200 when I could get more value for the same or less on a bass head?
 

 

If there's a special sauce that makes the separate power amp worthwhile vs a dedicated bass head, it's that power amps are designed primarily for PA use, and are therefore designed to be FLAT. The whole point of amp modelers is to emulate guitar or bass AMPS (pre and/or power). What you amplify them with should be FLAT and presented to the listener through an FRFR speaker system (like a PA) if you're using a cabinet simulation, or a cabinet designed for the application (bass or guitar) if you're NOT using a cab sim. 

 

Why do you think that the dedicated power amp solution would be so expensive?

Crown XLi 800 300W 2-channel Power Amplifier $279

2-channel Power Amplifier, 300W Continuous/ch at 4 ohms, with Flexible I/O, Selectable input voltage, Forced air cooling
 
 

Crown XLi 1500 450W 2-channel Power Amplifier $349

2-channel Power Amplifier, 450W Continuous/ch at 4 ohms, with Flexible I/O, Selectable input voltage, Forced air cooling
 
 
And you get a two year warranty on them!
 

I say there's no objective answer beyond the above because some bass players play through guitar heads, and some guitarists prefer bass heads.

Then there's the venerable SUNN Coliseum PA heads that both guitarists and bassists swear by.

 

FWIW - I play guitar and bass since 1963. I've run the gamut on this. I currently use a Powercab212 (stereo is WAY cool) for guitar and a HR FRFR112 for bass.

If I played in a punk band I'd use an SVT and Fridge for bass and any POS amp for guitar.

If I played in a metal band I'd use an SVT and fridge for bass and some kind of Marshall or Mesa stack for guitar.

If I played in a worship band I'd be using in-ears.

 

Application is all. All of the above is IMO/IME. YMMV.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think maybe the first thing you may want to consider is abandoning your assumptions about what's required for guitar or bass based on the way things have generally been done over the last 40 or 50 years.  Clearly the rules have changed as RD2RK points out.  The world of amps and cabinets has been, if not displaced, then augmented significantly by the preamp and FRFR arrangement.  I'm a big supporter and adopter of this new modeling world, but even I was hesitant to accept that a bass operates in exactly the same way as guitar when my band went to a completely amp-less stage using preamps and going direct to the mixing board and depending on the FOH speakers and good quality stage monitors, but it very clearly works, and works quite well.  The number of folks using the same arrangement as RD2RK of Helix to a 12 inch FRFR speaker for bass exemplifies this change dramatically.

Bottom line, there is no magic sauce...there's only personal preferences and what will work best in your situation.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we've failed to answer your original question which was what makes a standalone power amp different from a guitar amp power amp. Typically guitar amp power amps are tube power amps. That may or may not be a good thing depending on how you are using your Helix. I think solid state power amps are common in bass amps.

 

I haven't used one myself but the Tech 21 Power Engine Deuce Deluxe is what I would get if I was playing both guitar and bass with Helix and wanted a more traditional cab-like amp-in-the-room thing. If you want an actual guitar cabinet/speaker that works for bass and guitar, Quilter has been putting a Celestion BN12-300 (which is a bass speaker) in their Mach 2 Combo 12HD, which is a guitar amp. So a power amp with a March 2 HD Extension cabinet or a bass cabinet with a similar speaker might be an option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tons of great info here, thank you, everyone!

 

20 hours ago, rd2rk said:

Why do you think that the dedicated power amp solution would be so expensive?

 
'ya know, my googling yielded a ton of $800-1600 power amps, threads where people only talked about really premium brands and the little pedalboard amps that only go up to 50 watts. Never saw the Crown stuff... Hadn't thought too hard about how leaving "guitar" out of the search terms is fine, too, since as long as it's flat, it's... the same... The old "What's the difference between an office chair and a gaming chair? - $200..."  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Hziak said:

Tons of great info here, thank you, everyone!

 

 
'ya know, my googling yielded a ton of $800-1600 power amps, threads where people only talked about really premium brands and the little pedalboard amps that only go up to 50 watts. Never saw the Crown stuff... Hadn't thought too hard about how leaving "guitar" out of the search terms is fine, too, since as long as it's flat, it's... the same... The old "What's the difference between an office chair and a gaming chair? - $200..."  

 

Seymour Duncan, Quilter and Orange (and others) make pedalboard amps at higher wattages, but you'll pay as much for a 200 watt mono amp as for a 300w per channel stereo PA type power amp. If you want a little mini thing on your pedalboard vs a rack sized unit, that's where those come in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...