Master volume vs power soak

Discussion in 'The Workbench' started by waltschwarzkopf, Jan 14, 2022 at 9:55 AM.

  1. waltschwarzkopf

    waltschwarzkopf Member

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    Hello, World!

    I’ve been thinking about a way to get natural OD at bedroom volumes and was thinking about the following.

    Although both, the master volume and power soak, reduce the output volume, they operate in very different ways.

    The master volume, on one hand, sends some of the pre-amp current to ground, and lets through the “needed” amount to the power amp, resulting in a lower volume. (Let’s assume there there is no power soak connected)

    On the other hand, a power soak will dissipate some of the current after the output transformer, meaning the the speaker will receive only a fraction of this and therefore have less volume. (Let’s assume that there is no master volume here)

    Some argue that a power soak “sounds better” as you get all the current flowing through the output stage and really get the tube(s) cooking. While others say that a master volume is the way to go as you can regulate the output without the need of additional devices.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK?
    Which method you prefer and why?

    Cheers,
    Walt
     
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  2. LyseFar

    LyseFar Member

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    What you want with your Marshall - at least the older ones is to get the nice overdrive from the power tubes. There is only one way to get that -> Volume up.
    The Marshall Master volume models overdrives the pre-amp tubes and it sound different. Still very good.
    I use a loadbox/attenuator on my JMP but you will never get bedroom volumes from this.
     
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  3. junk notes

    junk notes Well-Known Member

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    variacs and dual voltage OTs? :D
     
  4. fitz288

    fitz288 Well-Known Yinzer Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a 100w Marshall with a master volume.
    I have a re-amp that I've used on various 5/15/20w amps to drive them at "bedroom" volume.
    "There's no replacement for displacement" - loud tone at low volume is a simulation.
    When you remove the speaker's contribution from the signal chain, there's a loss that cannot be compensated for.
    I can get usable tone with pedals on a tube amp at a whisper.
     
  5. Chris-in-LA

    Chris-in-LA Well-Known Member

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    I prefer a MV for bedroom levels. Either that or a small amplifier. Not so sure that your description of a MV is accurate. The MV on my JCM’s let you add extra tube gain in the preamp section. So, preamp gain as opposed to power tube breakup.
     
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  6. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Youre thinking too hard on this, do whatever is most convenient for you and the amp is capable of. Ive had equal luck getting good tone through master volume, attenuator, and OD pedals, it depends on the amp you have. What amp are you talking about?
     
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  7. PelliX

    PelliX Well-Known Member

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    Option 3: iso-box. Just sayin'.

    Mic it and set it to any level you want, all while the amp and speaker can be doing whatever you want.
     
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  8. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Well-Known Member

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    Why not both? Master volume amp into a power soak. That way you can balance preamp (single ended) overdrive with power stage (balanced) overdrive, and get a tonal blend that neither by itself can offer.

    "Loud tone at low volume is a simulation"....well, consider this: What's your favorite recorded guitar tones, ever? Pick the album/CD/8-track/reel-to-reel tape it's recorded on and play it back on the sound system of your choice, at any volume you want, from whisper quiet to speaker blowing madness. You're hearing THAT tone at the desired volume. Is that a simulation? No, you're hearing the actual tone that was recorded.

    I think what we'd all want to have is to get that amazing tone at any volume level we want, any time. Doesn't really matter how it's done, it's just the results that matter. Maybe that requires a combination of master volume and power soak and re-amping and mic'ing up specific speakers in specific ways and feeding that output to your headphone output on your mixing console.

    Whatever it takes to get you there, gets you there. But there are almost limitless combinations that MIGHT take you closer to, or farther away, from that sound. Experimentation on your part will be required.
     
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  9. zachman

    zachman Well-Known Member

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    Use an attenuator set to LOAD, Crank your amp to the tone sweet spot and take the line out of the attenuator to a stereo power amp or a head for mono, or (2) heads for Stereo, or Dual mono-- then adjust the listening level w/ the Power Amp's volume control. VIOLA!!! The BEST way to do what you want.

    Some have mentioned that the speakers play a huge part and they're correct, However; Even at mouse fart low volumes-- you can still make the tone HUGE. You can hear me stepping on the foot switch buttons and picking acoustically because I was playing with the volume SO LOW

    ex.
     
  10. TXOldRedRocker

    TXOldRedRocker Lech-rechaun Gold Supporting Member

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    MV with pedals.

    If you go the other way, I have a Tone King Ironman II mini sitting in a cabinet I don't plan to ever use again. Already sold my Weber and My Tone King Ironman II.
     
  11. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Long time no see! Hows your store going? You been playing any gigs?
     
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  12. zachman

    zachman Well-Known Member

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    Aloha. I closed the shop and moved to Arizona to help w/ aging in-laws. Then-- covid hit, so I've been in Limbo for a bit. I was planning on opening the shop up here, but right now-- things are strange w/ the covid scamdemic madness going on-- even gigs are non-existent for me at this point. Tis the Season of Limbo, BUT-- I'm still playing for the same reason I started playing in the 1st place... I LOVE the guitar, so that's keeping me from getting too bored
     
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  13. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    Wow I cant imagine trading Hawaii for Arizona! :erk: All is well here on the east coast! :yesway:
     
  14. zachman

    zachman Well-Known Member

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    Well, Family comes 1st, so... Here I am. ;) Hawaii's just not the same place I grew up anymore
     
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  15. Gene Ballzz

    Gene Ballzz Well-Known Member

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    Not a Power Soak, but the hands down best passive attenuator you gotta build youself (or have a friend with the simple skills build for you) and it the fabulous design by our own @JohnH , for about $100-ish! Combine it with getting your amp dialed into its tonal/response "sweet spot" and adjust the actual volume to the environment. Of course, as alluded to earlier, once you completely lose movement of air at true bedroom volume levels,...........? This is true with any volume reduction method, but this attenuator design keeps all of the character, feel and tones of your amp, all the way down!

    The build schematics are in the first post of this massive thread and some recent layout refinements and packaging ideas show up around page #110. The whole thread is worth the read and the little bits of chaff and over your head tech stuff are easily skimmed past. best and most liberating pieces of gear I've ever owned in =50 years of Screechin' & Squawkin' with guitars through tube amps! If you can use simple hand tools, a drill and a soldering iron, you're there!

    https://www.marshallforum.com/threads/simple-attenuators-design-and-testing.98285/

    Trust Me On This One!
    Gene
     
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  16. johan.b

    johan.b Well-Known Member

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    This argument has been going on since the first master volume amps appeared.... you're not likely to find concensus today or any time soon... find what works for you and run with it....
     
  17. waltschwarzkopf

    waltschwarzkopf Member

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    Thank you all for the tips and for getting this thread going!

    I guess I should have started with this... I have a Harley Benton GA5 which is an Epiphone Valve Jr clone with an EQ (bass) knob. Sounds great at all volumes, but breakup is only achieved past 12 o'clock and that is a bit loud. I thought about some mods to make it like the AX84 P1 (HO) or like the Marshall Class 5. But before I take its guts apart and start resoldering, I wanted to try a power soak.

    I'm actually building a cabinet to turn it into a combo with a spare Celestion Vintage 30 that I have.

    This is a great tip. I had seen it before, but I thought that it was overkill, and wanted to build a fixed (two-resistor) L-pad, but after your comment, I'm going to give it a try for sure!
     
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  18. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    You could buy a $100 Bugera attenuator and be done, if you dont like it send it back.
     
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  19. Marcomel79

    Marcomel79 Well-Known Member

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