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Power Amps? The what the wherefore and why?


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If you have a power amp with a good input sensitivity you can muck about trading preamps for little cost.

 

A 2 channel one gives you a spare amp for redundancy support. Monitor amp goes down, keyboard amp blows a fuse, you're the savior.

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1 minute ago, fretmeister said:

To use with a different preamp.

 

A standard bass head has a Preamp and a Poweramp in it.

 

But if you can't get what you want in a single box, having separates might get you there.

 

So I have a LMIII which I bought specifically for its clean/unbiased sound to use along with my DG BK7U (among others).

 

Would a power amp provide a cleaner tone for my BK7U & other FX than the LMIII?

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1 minute ago, Downunderwonder said:

If you have a power amp with a good input sensitivity you can muck about trading preamps for little cost.

 

A 2 channel one gives you a spare amp for redundancy support. Monitor amp goes down, keyboard amp blows a fuse, you're the savior.

 

Thanks for the input. But a lot of what you said there is lost on me as I'm not, nor ever have been, a gigging bassist. I'm more a sort of hobbyist who only plays at home (for the time being).

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4 minutes ago, FarFromTheTrees said:

 

So I have a LMIII which I bought specifically for its clean/unbiased sound to use along with my DG BK7U (among others).

 

Would a power amp provide a cleaner tone for my BK7U & other FX than the LMIII?

 

Possibly. Preamps and FX pedals are not the same thing so it depends on your entire signal chain.

 

But you can experiment with the kit you have - run your BK7U straight into the FX Return on the LM3. That will bypass the LM3 preamp.

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1 minute ago, fretmeister said:

 

Possibly. Preamps and FX pedals are not the same thing so it depends on your entire signal chain.

 

But you can experiment with the kit you have - run your BK7U straight into the FX Return on the LM3. That will bypass the LM3 preamp.

 

Ohh right! 😅

 

I'll give that a shot in a bit. I had wondered what the FX return was for. It's Not something i've ever needed to know about thus far haha.

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13 minutes ago, FarFromTheTrees said:

 

Ohh right! 😅

 

I'll give that a shot in a bit. I had wondered what the FX return was for. It's Not something i've ever needed to know about thus far haha.

 

 

FX loops are generally for some types of FX pedals. Traditionally time based FX like chorus / delay / reverb etc. That way those FX are in the signal chain after the internal preamp

 

Bass>Amp input> FX Send > reverb pedal > FX return.

 

The most common approach for guitarists is to put overdrives / fuzz etc in front of the amp, and then the reverb / delays / chorus etc in the loop. But You can turn any amp with a loop into just a poweramp by sending a signal from something else - like your B7KU or a Line 6 Helix etc etc.

 

Many bassists don't use the loop at all and just put all the pedals in front. Bass>pedals>amp.

 

There's no rules really. It's all just options to find the tone you like best.

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31 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

 

 

FX loops are generally for some types of FX pedals. Traditionally time based FX like chorus / delay / reverb etc. That way those FX are in the signal chain after the internal preamp

 

Bass>Amp input> FX Send > reverb pedal > FX return.

 

The most common approach for guitarists is to put overdrives / fuzz etc in front of the amp, and then the reverb / delays / chorus etc in the loop. But You can turn any amp with a loop into just a poweramp by sending a signal from something else - like your B7KU or a Line 6 Helix etc etc.

 

Many bassists don't use the loop at all and just put all the pedals in front. Bass>pedals>amp.

 

There's no rules really. It's all just options to find the tone you like best.

 

That's really helpful. Thanks very much!

 

Just as you say, I have my setup as bass > pedals (8 of them) > amp.  And while it sounds good that way, I couldn't help but wonder how it would sound via a power amp once I found out about that they're a thing.

 

Cheers!

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48 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

The advantage of keeping the LM3 is that if your pedals go down in a future gig you still have a working system to get you through to the end.

 

Well that's certainly true! I'll think on it, though i'm not likely to look to join a band anytime soon. Thanks for the help :)

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To support content here, until I went the pre/power route, I don't think any one head actually produced what I wanted tonally.  For years I used a variety of kit, Hartke (endorsed),Trace, SWR, Ashdown; none of this really gave me the dirty clank grunt I desired.  Light-bulb moment here was sticking a Bass POD into the effects return of an Ashdown MAG (cue angels singing).

 

Next thing was to reduce the size and weight of everything, so I filled a short 4U Gator rack with a Sansamp RBI, a Korg Tuner and a Matrix poweramp.  Heavenly,  That I could just carry one box it was just win/win.

 

(Despite my desire to go more lightweight/smaller, I eventually chopped all this in and went with a Darkglass AO900 head.  I like the power it provides, but tonally not so much, so I'm back to running a couple of @Tech21NYC stomps into the effects return.   If they'd make a GED head like that VT Bass 500 thing they made a while back, I'd just go with that.)

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23 hours ago, FarFromTheTrees said:

 

Thanks for the input. But a lot of what you said there is lost on me as I'm not, nor ever have been, a gigging bassist. I'm more a sort of hobbyist who only plays at home (for the time being).

 

That's pretty much your answer there. No intention to be dismissive, but you're almost certainly wasting your time (and your money) if you go the preamp + power amp route. That's a solution (one of many) to issues encountered when playing live. If you do end up on stage, and it's amazing how often that's the outcome 😎, then re-visit this topic one you have a couple of dozen gigs under your belt.

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20 hours ago, Owen said:

The LM3 fx return trick works. Don't fix it. There is NO CHANCE that at playing at home volumes you will hear any difference. 

 

I dunno, I crank it up loud quite often haha. 

2 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

 

That's pretty much your answer there. No intention to be dismissive, but you're almost certainly wasting your time (and your money) if you go the preamp + power amp route. That's a solution (one of many) to issues encountered when playing live. If you do end up on stage, and it's amazing how often that's the outcome 😎, then re-visit this topic one you have a couple of dozen gigs under your belt.

Not dismissive at all. I welcome your input.

 

I already have the preamp in my B7KU and it sounds fantastic through the FX return. I much prefer it already. 

 

Thomann have a power amp that's quite well reviewed for £150. I'm tempted to try one, then if I like it i'll sell my LMIII and buy some other bass goodies that i've had my eye on with the change. I would like to upgrade my BK7U to the v2 version.

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I've had mixed experience with power amps from Thomann, including one that started emitting showers of sparks before catching fire in the middle of a country & western gig, but the most pleasant surprise I've had in ages was

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/334387167184?_trkparms=amclksrc%3DITM%26aid%3D1110006%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D238392%26meid%3D917a7f0b8ee44f5385317286705ce2b5%26pid%3D101195%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D233645394188%26itm%3D334387167184%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2047675%26algv%3DSimplAMLv9PairwiseWebMskuAspectsV202110NoVariantSeed&_trksid=p2047675.c101195.m1851&amdata=cksum%3A334387167184917a7f0b8ee44f5385317286705ce2b5|enc%3AAQAGAAABEIIp3bTCXFAKw6S9crk9CpCrrtOgadqFiC10NVPbN0936eprYVB4SXfDa52e1mbPLDW8ro3fGQu%2F2vb5HwnsBryEo8JPOIoqExMG2vjEAsrUdVOBhKTK4T80B%2BWjs2bT2tB6euVOgqWZ9Ah%2BmXDW3clgzpSDYvlCs9Y9Rl5rIf%2FOhXUr51CGcpwqh7RjNEvaJJmw4U0jRFEUAQ1glZiLUtqKm%2F1av%2FXPJe02AwJQxUQqurau3To8fZLhsvjhBqAulOLYXfFVBASw5G5zwAMAeTku42qZkCQ2JcFw0mFN3bdZaZLEdqB18uGsFREQMrsFpmGNdvZztNkUUkxgUQRRSYTaxn%2FSfCBgJrveldalupf6|ampid%3APL_CLK|clp%3A2047675

 

I bought the 2-channel 2600W 'New Generation' and I've been delighted with it. My default option for power amps is to buy ludicrously expensive Powersoft Digam units, so I keep an eye on the cheap clone market from the Far East. This was my fourth attempt at buying a cheap-as-chips lightweight 1U power amp from China and, if this one is anything to go by, they've finally cracked it.

 

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2 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

I've had mixed experience with power amps from Thomann, including one that started emitting showers of sparks before catching fire in the middle of a country & western gig, but the most pleasant surprise I've had in ages was

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/334387167184?_trkparms=amclksrc%3DITM%26aid%3D1110006%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D238392%26meid%3D917a7f0b8ee44f5385317286705ce2b5%26pid%3D101195%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D233645394188%26itm%3D334387167184%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2047675%26algv%3DSimplAMLv9PairwiseWebMskuAspectsV202110NoVariantSeed&_trksid=p2047675.c101195.m1851&amdata=cksum%3A334387167184917a7f0b8ee44f5385317286705ce2b5|enc%3AAQAGAAABEIIp3bTCXFAKw6S9crk9CpCrrtOgadqFiC10NVPbN0936eprYVB4SXfDa52e1mbPLDW8ro3fGQu%2F2vb5HwnsBryEo8JPOIoqExMG2vjEAsrUdVOBhKTK4T80B%2BWjs2bT2tB6euVOgqWZ9Ah%2BmXDW3clgzpSDYvlCs9Y9Rl5rIf%2FOhXUr51CGcpwqh7RjNEvaJJmw4U0jRFEUAQ1glZiLUtqKm%2F1av%2FXPJe02AwJQxUQqurau3To8fZLhsvjhBqAulOLYXfFVBASw5G5zwAMAeTku42qZkCQ2JcFw0mFN3bdZaZLEdqB18uGsFREQMrsFpmGNdvZztNkUUkxgUQRRSYTaxn%2FSfCBgJrveldalupf6|ampid%3APL_CLK|clp%3A2047675

 

I bought the 2-channel 2600W 'New Generation' and I've been delighted with it. My default option for power amps is to buy ludicrously expensive Powersoft Digam units, so I keep an eye on the cheap clone market from the Far East. This was my fourth attempt at buying a cheap-as-chips lightweight 1U power amp from China and, if this one is anything to go by, they've finally cracked it.

 

 

Sparks and fire huh? Well that certainly isn't ideal bloody hell.

 

Thanks for the recommendation there. I've added it to my watch list to keep tabs on. I'll certainly consider those :)

 

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1 hour ago, Happy Jack said:

I've had mixed experience with power amps from Thomann, including one that started emitting showers of sparks before catching fire in the middle of a country & western gig, 

 

This is why you need to play in a metal band, the punters would think it's part of the show!

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On 05/05/2022 at 09:54, FarFromTheTrees said:

Just tried bypassing the preamp via the FX return as suggested and it sounds amazing. It makes quite the difference!

 

Now I'm considering selling my LMIII and getting a power amp instead haha.

 

Markbass has a parallel FX Loop when you plug into Return it does not bypass preamp just turn  any EQ knob LM III for confirmation.

But with LM III EQ settings at noon the flavor of your pedal will be dominant. 

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On 05/05/2022 at 11:41, FarFromTheTrees said:

So I didn't know Power Amps were even a thing until recently (I just play at home for my own enjoyment).

 

Why would you choose a Power Amp over a standard bass head? 

 

 

Don't know if you got your question answered or not having had a quick read through. I'd say power amp have been used historically to amplify vocals, keyboards, drums, brass etc. Guitars and Bass amplifiers tend to have preamps to colour the sound with EQ and various other effects and functions. A power amp is a completely clean sound with no colouration. Bass players have started using power amp setups now that there are a myriad of preamp pedals and multi effects units on the market which create the tone they want. A standard bass amp has a preamp and power amp in one unit.

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Posted (edited)

Bear in mind the input sensitivity as well as not all preamp pedals put out a high enough voltage to get the most out of a power amp. They’ll still amplify it but won’t get full output

Edited by Waddycall
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Actually also bear in mind that getting a power amp is a top of a slippery slope into building a rack set up. I first bought a power amp quite recently to use with my line 6 bass pod and have since ended up buying a 4u rack case and two different preamps ! No regrets though🙂

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Power amps are designed to provide lot's of clean power for PA systems. They are almost all stereo amps. A bass amp is just one with the pre-amp and a power amp in a single box. The advantage of the power amp is that you can buy very high powered amps if you wish and because more are sold they are often a cheaper way of getting very high power. The price per watt tends to be less.

 

Many people like fiddling and are very interested in having what they think of as 'the best'. Just look at anglers, car modders and the like and you can see they spend a fortune on Gear Aquisition Syndrome and musicians too can suffer from GAS. I've seen great bassists with the best of everything and great bassists with the pile of tat they have played for 40 years. there isn't right or wrong. There was more point to this when bass amps were less powerful but as you've already found out the output stages are clean and if you go through the fx loop you don't need to spend on another power amp.

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