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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2008, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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Preamp + Poweramp users

How many of you guys use a Preamp and Power amp instead of just using a combo or head. Do you feel there are any advantages to this setup? I am always interested in alternative ideas...
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 12:25 AM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

Yeah, I've been using a TriAxis / Stereo 2:90 rig for quite a few years now - I guess for me there are two big advantages to this particular rig:

1) the TriAxis stores 100 patches and can be controlled by a MIDI footcontroller

2) I play in stereo, and I love that.

Also in some ways there is a flexibility that comes with the split setup - I could try a Stereo 50/50 for a different sound, or a 20/20 for smaller gigs, the TriAxis lets me do stereo inserts between the pre-amp and power amp, and (if I could be bothered) I could actually tap into any/all of the TriAxis parameters using continuous control language from a MIDI expression pedal - try that with a Marshall JMP 100!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 02:09 AM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

I'm using a Mesa 2:90 poweramp with a Mesa V-twin and an Engl 530.. the V-twin's for those creamy and smooth leads and crisp cleans; advantages the Engl pre couldn't touch but for mid- to hi-gain distortion, the 530 handles. Using a switcher, I can access 7 modes: 4 on the Engl and 3 on the Mesa and I have 100 patches to store any setting I program.
As to why I dig this setup, custom tone! I also have an interest in how different preamps react to different poweramps. Plus midi control is fun. I need speakers for this unloaded 4x12 cab I have and I'll soon be playing in stereo...

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 02:49 AM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

I went to a rack set up for convenience - I can have everything in the rack plugged up permanently. My rack sounds great, and I do like messing about with stereo set ups.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 10:43 AM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

i'm not speaking for anyone, but the sound of an amp is what ultimately gets me to checkout counter. head or rack gear.
my first rigs were rack gear for years and rack gear only. yes very convient with all the preset freedom you could handle and flexibility thats associated with having rack gear.
then i played a mesa dual rec. dont like the 3 channel limitataions but i still sent my rack gear packing. but thats the sound i wanted and liked so i had to live with it. now i will be purchasing rack gear again, now that i can personally get high gain sounds comparable/quality to that of the dual rec.
picking up a randall rm4 preamp rack with modules, most likely going with a 50/50 mesa poweramp(6l6's) and some half a$$ processor for now. it was just a matter of time before i went back to rack gear where the rack preamps started pumping out as much or more gain than those dual recs. so i'll be happy to get my flexibility back in a rack setup. i def have a pref. but at the end of the day if your not happy with your sound or dont know what you need to do to get there/it.... then it doesnt matter what gear you like, want or have, you still wont be happy
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 12:58 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

The RM4 is a great unit, and nicely combines the best of a head and a rack unit. I'm really pleased with mine.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 04:32 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

Years ago all I would use were stereo rack systems (Hughes and Kettner Access Preamps and ADA MircroTube amps) that through the Ground Control floor controller and expression pedal, allowed me continuous control over parameters within the preamp as well as the effects units I used (Alesis Quadraverb Plus'). I also did a lot of MIDI interfacing with my rack and sequencers (synths primarily - Yamaha SY77 and W7's). For cabs I used 2 - 5150 Peavey Bottom cabs.

After lengthy programming on the synths end, while playing a prerecorded song, they could perform program changes both to my preamp and to the Quad's effects that were preprogrammed into a given patch. I just needed to play and the channel changes occured via the synths' internal MIDI clock to go from one preamp sound to another while changing (say) mix rates of the chorus or delay decay or master volume control.....on and was pure fun at home, though not practical in a live setting (as you're confined to the length of the sequencers program).

I also loved the fact the effects could be dialed in without much or any loss to your original tone as the effects ran parallel with the preamp (although running series was also an option). It made me learn to run dry and appreciate the lack of effects in my sound. But whenever they were needed, a sweep of the CC pedal brought whatever preprogrammed effects I needed "in".

Head/Cab combos aren't bad but I don't think I'd go that way anymore. It'll make me miss my rack and I'd end up either selling it or buying a duplicate to go stereo and even then I wouldn't have realtime control over my base tone other than channel switching....

Right now mostly what I do is record, so I'll stick to my different little amps (Peavey's and Vox's) and buy different mics until I decide whether or not to take that giant leap again - it's money I'd rather sink into the studio.

Last edited by Freedom777; 07-04-2008 at 04:34 PM. Reason: forgot to mention the controller
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 05:31 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

To me having a amp head is to confining and your limited to what that amp sounds like, with a rack setup you can tweak and change things to your liking and swap out things and add things and mix around things to find your sound. another great thing is rack setups tend to sound good at low volumes unlike heads which need to be cranked or needing a power soak.

I love the Triaxis..

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 07:02 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

I'm using a Mesa 2:90 poweramp with an Engl E580 preamp that allows 256 patches midi switchable and sounds unbelievable.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2008, 09:37 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

i used to be a preamp + poweramp guy. loved my digitech 2101 and it sounded pretty good running through a peavey classic 60/60. then one day i realized i really only used about 3 basic settings: clean, slightly dirty and lead (ok, and maybe a more distorted rhythm, but really i can just use the lead channel for that). after trying my first marshall head, i got rid of the rack gear (although i still use the digitech for home recording) and started building a pedal board. the simplicity of just using a head is what i enjoy, although, honestly, i am still kinda going the 'preamp + poweramp' route in theory since i'm running exclusively through the clean channel and have a tubescreamer and a distortion pedal for gain stages.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-08-2008, 09:39 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

Originally Posted by Freedom777 View Post
Years ago all I would use were stereo rack systems (Hughes and Kettner Access Preamps and ADA MircroTube amps)
How are those H&K preamps? I haven't had the chance to try one... I'm curious though...

Also I agree with Robb, in that having a rackmount rig allows me to customize what I want in it and what I want to make up my sound. Like having a pedalboard, except I don't like things on the floor (except my giant MC-1 footswitch, haha). I'm currently playing an old ADA MP-1 classic through a Mesa Simul-Class 2:90 and BBE Sonic Max.

On that note, anyone have suggestions for good/relatively inexpensive rackmount delay/reverb unit? Looking for something new...
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-08-2008, 10:21 PM
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Re: Preamp + Poweramp users

I've used the Access preamp and I'll never again buy another...I've found their distortions so wide in tonal possibilities I can't see myself using another...from very smooth thick OD, to crystal clear cleans, to John Sykes sounds, to NIN sounds....the presence control is so *there* when you need it. Live it just can't be beat...all that low vol tone is projected through your rig. I also used the Aural Exciter with Big Bottom to get my point across...deadly to any sound even on the MP-1.
I've used the Access to record (direct) through its built in dual RedBoxes....which anyone that's used them can tell you they're awesome. But, because it's in the preamp, you only have one cab sound which if I remember correctly is the 4x12...the sound is huge on tape though...takes a little more to find your live sound when recording direct.

The Tubeman Plus is for an non-programmable preamp (if you don't get the midi option) one of the most versatile. If you like distortion that's clear meaning cut through the mix Eq'd, (cork squeek sounding as I call it) you'll love this...again it's cleans are beautiful...

These two are my favs altough I've never owned a Tubeman+, I've tested many of them (I worked for H&K in PA. and IL.), and it's still out there for the mid 3's and I just saw an Access go for just over $400...mind you USED they used to go for $800-900 about 10 years ago (yeah it's been a while) they were about $1200...

Try one, you'll never go back....make teh tri-amp sound like a girl crying in flea market...

You won't be disappointed.
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alesis quadraverb , amp head , bbe sonic , expression pedal , john sykes , mesa dual , midi foot , midi footcontroller , rack pre , rack setup , rack system

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