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VTypeV4

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About VTypeV4

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    Audio Specialist
  • Birthday 03/01/1983

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    North Staffordshire

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  1. I once paired my 600SMX with 4 cabs - a Martin Audio 18" sub and a Trace 1153 (1x15) on one side and a 1048H (4x10 & HF) plus a 2103H (2x10 & HF) on the other.. It was an experience!! 😀 Regarding your 500 (much like my old 600), it is - as suggested further - up two separate power stages offering 250w / 4 ohm / channel.. The later 600w Series 6 and SMX versions were very much the same just with an additional (but probably unnoticeable) 50w per channel..
  2. The old Fender design is also similar - my Bassman 135 is somewhat 'interactive'.. My advice is to keep twiddling and see how you go plus contacting Ashdown to ask about the EQ mod may be a good move also. I tried a CTM100 in Brighton a few months back and found the EQ quite gentle but managed to dial a useable sound (in the shop at least) reasonably quickly. I rather liked it and would probably work quite well for me but I don't need another valve amp.. Best of luck.
  3. VTypeV4

    SSL SiX 

    I rather like the look of this too - I'd probably benefit from a pair of WA 1176 or UA 2LA2 far more but.. Having said that, I don't have £1k+ spare atm...
  4. Ssl 1 by VTypeV4, on Flickr SSL Super Posh by VTypeV4, on Flickr So, this has been fun - haven't had chance to mix on it yet sadly but it's been great for tracking!
  5. Both the V4 and Bassman 135 on recording duties these last few weeks - both looking and sounding great! V4 lipa by VTypeV4, on Flickr 135 Lipa by VTypeV4, on Flickr
  6. No worries, as you can see I've had a long-term affair with the V-Types - my first being the 4808 combo back as early as 2002 or thereabouts. As such, I considered it was time to share my thoughts with the community here. 😀 The Bassman 135 is altogether different on pretty much every point of comparison which has surprised me since day one. I was rather expecting a 'smaller' V-Type and that I would get a similar overall character from the Fender but it seems somewhat more 'lazy' in it's delivery. I purchased it as I got a great 'oldskool' sound out of it - one that seems to just happily sit in a mix that requires anything that's not a a particularly modern sound - it works perfectly with a Jazz bass as I'm sure you would well expect. It does work with the Warwick too but the jazz seems to just suit it a bit better. About 12 months ago, I did some recording with a friend on some soul style music he was making. The 135 fit the bill perfectly giving a soft, gentle delivery with a Jazz bass through the 15" Goodmans loaded WEM cab I took with me. By contrast, had I have taken the V4, I'm sure it would have done a great job but I knew the Fender would deliver probably (I might got shot for saying this!) at least as well as an Ampeg Portaflex. The NE-1 and LMB-3 help to give a certain sound that I like also (I never leave home without them) but the core tone of the Fender is generally smooth and very much a 'vintage' one. Also, I usually use it with a JBL loaded 2x15" which is equally vintage - those old 140s have a certain sound to them. To my ears, they're very complimentary and work well together. When playing the V4 through the same cab, the Trace takes much more authority and control over the drivers in a way that I can only describe as 'making them behave' giving a tighter, punchier character to the sound. It's really hard to describe sounds in words sometimes but the Fender has a far more vintage voice, it has a softer, less controlled delivery - it's mostly a gentle sound that doesn't overly bite with extreme brightness even if used with modern cabs with HF components. I feel the V-Type isn't particularly an old style sound and I'll stand by it's closest sound by direct comparison would be an EBS. And of course, volume; the 135 doesn't play as loudly or cleanly as the Trace - it's 4x 6L6 power stage just doesn't deliver the same size, weight or stones to that of the big '88s in the V-Type. The Fender does compress very nicely although it doesn't outright drive - partially due to it's Ultralinear output transformer and circuit design - or break up like a 'normal' valve amp but it does get a bit growly when pushed hard. As a final note, I'd say if you were looking for a smaller valve head, the Fender is definitely up there - vintage without being silly expensive although compared to a modern amp, is rather basic. It's been 100% reliable too. Matching 135 grill by VTypeV4, on Flickr Oldskool cool but not really a comparison to a V-Type..
  7. All 3 fenv46 by VTypeV4, on Flickr Very enjoyable comparing the two V-Types!
  8. Thanks for the reply, Thodrik. Yes, the pre-amp stages (and indeed PCB) are identical between both the V4 Mk2 and the V8. I too found it rather peculiar that the 'all valve' amp featured diodes in the overdrive circuit. I can't imagine it was a cost cutting exercise - maybe it was designed like this to give that harsh, angry and distinct type character? It's not something I use regularly but it's great as a party piece, loads of fun. I was trying to think of alternative words to describe it's sound but 'prickly' is about the best I can muster.. The EQ on the V-Types is very much 'variations on a theme' rather than something that has parametric / semi parametric or big graphic equalizer. These can completely change the tonality of an instrument like an EBS or indeed Trace Elliot's own GP7/12 series. On the EBS front, it was the closest and fairest comparison I could make - it sounds odd that a hybrid / fully SS amp should carry the closest character to an all valve amplifier. I think it may have something to do with how the sound is delivered and not meaning to sound silly but the 'size' and 'weight' of each note has alot to do with the V-Type character, not simply a pre-set EQ curve, bit of distortion or indeed compression. I appreciate that sounds a little 'away with the fairies' but I think you'll catch my drift..? As suggested above, the V-Type bares little sonic resemblance to my Bassman 135. I appreciate it is only just a 'traditional' Fender but even so, the 135 doesn't deliver the notes in the same way even through the same cab. The closest thing I have to a 'traditional valve amp' is the custom one my step dad built many years ago - modified Marshall 50 watt circuit jacked up to make about 60w using KT77s with Linear L50 transformers and chassis parts but the Trace seems to have little in common with that either. Beavis nearly by VTypeV4, on Flickr As for the cabs, I think the V4 was designed to use one or two whereas the V6 could power up to four or two 810! That would be killer! I'm not sure about using it 8 ohms - some amps are rather sensitive to a mis-match - Marshall to give an example whereas most Fenders don't much seem to care - BFM of the speaker world has said they used to use Bassmans at one and two ohms without so much as a popped fuse let alone fried valves and O/T. My V4 can be fuss pot even with different cabs of apparently the same impedance sending the bias off either too hot or too cold although whether the V6 is as much of pain, I couldn't say. I'm sure you'll find many a conflicting report across the web - sorry I can't be much help with that. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on these lovely old amps. 😀 As it used to say in the old Trace Elliot catalogue - 'Land of the jolly green giant' although mine is arguably more black than green but I digress!!
  9. Trace Elliot V-Type V4. All 3 fenv46 by VTypeV4, on Flickr Brief history: Introduced in around 1996, the original Trace Elliot V-Type range were very much something of a juxtaposition in comparision to the then current model ranges. The all solid-state 7-band ranges of SM/SMC and flagship hybrid 12-band SMX models were very much the pinnacle of tone shaping, control and sophistication at the time. The V-Types took an altogether different approach using a much more traditional setup with simple rotary controls using a Fender style EQ, a far less garish livery and an emphasis on a great core tone without complication. The original V-Type head was an all valve affair sporting the original pre-amp (as can be seen on the V6 in the picture) coupled to a 220w (4x KT88) power stage. This model later became the V4 when it's larger stable-mate the V6 was introduced around '97 / '98. The V6 had a larger power stage claiming 400w from 6x KT88 output valves. Trace Elliot also complimented the range with sealed (as opposed to the usual vented) speaker cabinets comprising a 2x15, 4x12 and an 8x10 with Celestion speakers all carrying the same livery as the amplifier heads. Allied to the all-valve types, hybrid heads known as the 300H and 600H (300w and 600w respectively) appeared as well as 300w 4x8 and single fifteen combos completing the range. By 2000 Trace had decided to update the range with an enameled all-black and green livery (more in-line with the then new 7 and and 12 band series) with bold chromed control knobs. They also chose to slim the range down with deletion of the hybrid heads and combos. The new series started with the monstrous V8 model which had a more advanced version of the V-Type pre-amp now complete with a dedicated overdrive / boost facility and a valve controlled compressor coupled to an 8x KT88, 400w output stage. I remember David Jacob demonstrating the V8 at the guitar show in Birmingham when I was 17 - both him and the amplifier were stunning. The new V4 model was later added and was essentially a V8 with a smaller 4-valve, 200w output stage and a couple of detail differences. This second generation of V4 was available as a head, a 1x15 or 2x10 combo. These models are extremely rare with (according to Paul Stevens - former Trace Elliot designer - now at Blackstar I believe) only 45 in existence - 15 of each variation. The head variant is the subject of this review.. Spec: All valve 200w 4x KT88 output stage (4 or 8 ohm) 7-valve pre-amp stage Fender style EQ with deep, bright and mid shift controls Overdrive with dedicated gain and level control (foot switchable) Valve controlled compressor (foot switchable) Active and passive inputs Master volume Series FX loop Unbalanced line out (jack) Balanced DI out (XLR) Option to mute power stage for recording (no speaker required) Half power switch User adjustable bias (Trace Elliot called it VOBIC - something like Visual Output Bias Indication Circuit) with blue, green and red LED to indicate idle status Front panel: From left to right we have the active and passive inputs (jack only), a gain pot, a bright switch then the overdrive controls which are a second gain then level control. This is activated by either pulling the 'gain 2' pot or via the foot switch. A red LED illuminates on the panel when this is active. Next is the EQ section with a deep switch, then a bass, middle and treble trio with the middle knob being a pull switch for a different character. The second to last control is the compressor which has a switch for in / out and a control which is simply a threshold - a blue LED lights when gain reduction is occurring. Lastly is the master volume knob and furthest right is the stand-by switch. A Fender style green jewel lamp shows the status of the power. Worthy of a mention here are the visible valves - the valve furthest to the right is an EM84 indicator valve (also known as a magic eye type) which has two luminous strips that fluctuate to indicate output power. Rear Panel: There's lots of options on the back too with the first being the main on / off switch complete with IEC (kettle style) electrical input. Next are the VOBIC LEDs, test points and recessed trim pot. Switches for the output stage for on / mute and full power / half power are to the left of the speaker connectors (jack / XLR) whilst to the right is the impedance switch with options for total loads of 4 and 8 ohms. Towards the right there is a jack socket for foot switching the drive and compressor options. Second to last is the DI output on an XLR socket with switching for pre / post EQ and ground / lift. Lastly there are 3 jack sockets one of which is an unbalanced line out and the last pair a series FX loop. Sound: It sounds incredible - simple as that! I use it in conjunction with a Yamaha NE-1 and a Boss LMB-3 in the FX loop and a pair of SWR Goliath Jr3 (2x10) - that combination gives me the sound I hear in my head and that I've always chased. The EQ section albeit Fender based is a somewhat different than the sound of my Bassman 135 - unsurprisingly, the Trace Elliot is a bit more Trace Elliot. I always considered that if you didn't know it was a Trace, I doubt that you'd mistake it for a Fender amplifier. It's a little more 'hollow' (but not particularly scooped) and a bit 'bigger' sounding with a natural warmth in the bottom end. As to be expected of an old-style passive EQ, the controls are interactive to a degree but not frustratingly so. The 'bright' switch works particularly well adding a degree of sizzle especially when the amp is used with cabs with HF components - it stays on for most situations with me. In contrast, the 'deep' switch doesn't appear to extend the bottom end so much as pull out some of the lower mids. It's good for a heavy dub type sound but for normal finger style, it loses just too much definition for my tastes so I tend to leave that switched out. Lastly, the mid shift gives a bit of a bump across most of the mid-range - it seems to emphasize everywhere from as low as 250Hz to around 2kHz - great on a noisy stage but I usually leave this switched out. Regarding the overdrive facility, well, it's a bit 'prickly' to say the least! Given the 'all valve' topology of the amplifier, interestingly the overdrive itself is derived from back-to-back diodes although the gain staging is valve based. Activated by the 'pull' on the second gain knob, it's range can take you anywhere from punk trash and clang to Muse type sounds - with the tone rolled off on the bass, quite a convincing 'Deeper Underground' type sound can be coaxed from it. It can be really difficult describing a particular tone or timbre with words but the closest I can find are along the lines of 'hairy', 'prickly' and outright 'gnarly'.. With the updated version of the V-Type pre-amp, Trace Elliot decided the addition of a valve style compressor would be a welcome and useful addition. I absolutely agree - it's very smooth and unobtrusive but adds a certain fatness and definition to each note. Judging by the blue LED accompanying the compressors' in / out switch and threshold control knob, the fixed envelope appears to have a very slow attack and release time - this probably is at least partially responsible for the 'fatness' of it's character. According to Trace, the input for the compressor is side chained against itself, the control being a high-passed version of the original presumably so excessive bottom end doesn't overwhelm the control too much. I'm unaware of the circuit topology but Trace Elliot suggested it was based on 'vintage studio type compressors' so I'd have though some sort sort of variable Mu type possibly? It's fair to say, the V4 has it's own sound which is shared with it's other V-Type siblings although by it's very design, has most in common with top-line V8 model. Personally, I haven't found much that is similar to a V-Type, strangely I think the closest thing in terms of a 'straight sound' comparison would be an EBS TD / Faffner rather than anything that would be seemingly closer - Fender Bassman, Marshall JMP or Hiwatt 200 for example. To my ears, the Trace Elliot is cleaner, less clangy and more modern than those vintage amplifiers although I'm sure parts of each could be seen in parts of it's design. Probably worth mentioning also is that it will play very loudly through most cabinets. Conservatively rated at 200w RMS, this relatively small figure - by today's standards of 1kW amps the size of credit cards - is more than capable of playing every gig situation I could imagine - I've never needed it flat out even through less than perfect speakers. The power stage with 4x KT88s says pretty much everything about the power on tap - I rather liken it to subtle air scoop and exposed drive pulley in the bonnet of a vintage supercharged American muscle car. I have pinned the master volume on more than a few occasions just to see what happens and it's an experience - especially through the Trace 1084 (8x10) I owned for a while! Totally wild and not very me if I'm terribly honest but definitely worth it for a laugh. I did read elsewhere on the internet that in common with some of the earlier line of Trace Elliot amplifiers with valve output stages such as the VA and Twin, Quattra and Hexa, the V-Types actually clip their driver / inverter stages before the power tubes clip. Whether this is true or not, I can't say - it was on Talkbass written by Psycho Bass Guy who did seem knowledgeable on such things. Build Quality and Reliability: The build quality is superb - the upholstery is spot on with no apparent joins or blemishes, the bright chromed corners, vents and knobs give a great contrast against the black and green panel. The enameling is spotless and still in great condition even 18 years after it was built. The V4 badge centered on the front grill is also finished to a superb standard and is usually the first part the eyes are drawn to on initial inspection. Electrically, big transformers, thick, isolated PCBs, ceramic valve sockets and gold plated jacks all point to these being a truly premium quality product. Trace Elliot seemed to put a great deal of effort into the build quality of these amplifiers even if other products in the range at the time weren't quite up to their mid-eighties hey-day. Moving on to reliability, it seemed to have a period of eating fuses randomly during it's initial settling down period - I owned it from new as it was purchased as NOS in 2003 from Gavin at GM-Audio who looked after all the warranty and parts after Trace Elliot closed. At the time, it was carted here, there and everywhere and did lots of gigs nationally. After about twelve months, I changed the output valves to the then new 're-issue' Tung Sol 6550 type valves which also worked really well but did little for the occasional fuse consumption. It appears that they're sensitive to different speaker cabinets and the slight impedance differences (even with the correct matching 8-8 or 4-4) can cause the bias to run too hot and eventually take a fuse. I always carry a little screwdriver to adjust it just in case I wind up using someone else's speaker cabinet - it's different with every cab but inspite the inconvenience, it hasn't done a fuse for years and the EHX KT88s installed 3 / 4 years ago are still doing very well. Final observations: It's reasonably heavy (24Kg) and is around the typical size for a large valve amplifier so bulk and weight with only a central strap handle may be an issue for some users but the visual impact and more importantly, the tonal characteristic are completely worth it. Having also previously owned a 4808 combo and currently having a V6 on loan, it's been very interesting to compare the V4 against both. It's been a good few years since I let the 4808 go so I'll compare on the V6. The V4 was a little smoother than the V6 but it terms of their core tones, there was next to nothing in it - tolerance in the components and different valves probably account for any subtleties in the character. I'd happily gig either (or both!) for any show. There's not a massive amount difference in terms of power between the two - the V6 does play a little louder before breaking up but there really isn't that much in it - 3dB assuming both are making their claimed horsepower seems about right. It's a little sad to say that less than 12 months after mine was built, Trace Elliot as we knew it no longer existed having been closed down by parent company, Gibson. It seems unlikely that anything like the V-Types will be made again - Peavey who now own the name seem to be using the Trace Elliot brand as an outlet for the latest in small, light and powerful amplifiers so whilst it's great to see that we can now once again buy a new Trace Elliot, my interests and affections will always lie with the older line of products. 135 and V4 by VTypeV4, on Flickr As a final note, if you come across the opportunity to try one, I'd recommend it as I found the sound I was always searching for. UnderwarwickV4 by VTypeV4, on Flickr
  10. It's a terrible condition! I've owned lots over the years - from memory: Boxer 30 712SMC 2103H AH300SM AH300SMX 1153 1048H AH600SMX V-Type 4808 V-Type V4 head (Mk2) 1084 AH400SMX 715 GP7 (late model) Twin Valve combo I'm currently still in possession of the V4 although everything else has come and gone. Pick of the bunch would be V4, the 400SMX and the Twin Valve although all three are lesser spotted these days. I've also taken loan of a V6 at this time which is a lovely bit of kit and as expected, very much akin to the V4 but minus the compressor and drive facility..
  11. I put my 02R (and other mixers that I love, hate and indifferent to) saga into Accessories & Misc section too..
  12. Beavis nearly by VTypeV4, on Flickr Beavis nearly by VTypeV4, on Flickr Beavis nearly by VTypeV4, on Flickr I had some work done on this old thing the other week - it's been not quite right for a little while. I decided to invest in some different valves as well as a re-bias and top to bottom service to bring it back up to scratch. It previously ran Chinese ECC83s and a pair of the old style Chinese KT88s but I fancied a change and having had good experiences with the JJ 6L6s in my Bassman 135, I coughed up for a trio of JJ ECC803s and a pair of their KT77s.
  13. Hey Mike, thanks for the reply. Not had a go with a dLive but I do rather like the iLive - it's a tough call between it and the CL5..
  14. Some more snaps of the live work with TOH again, using rather more modern digital mixers than my 'vintage' selection.. Toh Dec 18 v2 by VTypeV4, on Flickr Toh Dec 18 v2 by VTypeV4, on Flickr Toh Dec 18 v2 by VTypeV4, on Flickr Toh Dec 18 v2 by VTypeV4, on Flickr Toh Dec 18 v2 by VTypeV4, on Flickr
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