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Mass Produced vs Hand Wired - Is there a difference in volume?


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I've been playing a Marshall DSL20C with a Celestion Neo Creamback.

Recently, I traded for Steiner's Lil Dawg Pug Reverb amp.  This is a Marshall 1974 with the tremolo/vibrato removed and replaced with an onboard tube driven spring reverb.

The Marshall is a China made, PCB board amp with lesser quality components.  It sounds good, but there is a definite difference between it and the Pug.

The Pug is hand-wired, using large transformers and high end components.  While the wattage is 18w vs the Marshall's 20w and both being 1x12 amps, the PUG is WAY Louder and musical.  The distortion is much more natural, even when a couple of overdrives or a distortion pedal in front (JHS Andy Timmons AT+ which is a Marshall in a box, Earth Quaker Plumes - modified tube screamer, and a GK Yorkshire - Timmy Clone).

I had a similar issue years ago when I had a Peavy Valveking 20w head and a Jet City 20w head.  The Jet city had massive transformers and was super loud, although less feature rich than the Peavey.  Peavey is PCB board while Jet City is printed circuit board surface mounted components.

So does the beefier transformers make the difference?  Hand-wired vs circuit board?

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51 minutes ago, DetroitBlues said:

I've been playing a Marshall DSL20C with a Celestion Neo Creamback.

Recently, I traded for Steiner's Lil Dawg Pug Reverb amp.  This is a Marshall 1974 with the tremolo/vibrato removed and replaced with an onboard tube driven spring reverb.

The Marshall is a China made, PCB board amp with lesser quality components.  It sounds good, but there is a definite difference between it and the Pug.

The Pug is hand-wired, using large transformers and high end components.  While the wattage is 18w vs the Marshall's 20w and both being 1x12 amps, the PUG is WAY Louder and musical.  The distortion is much more natural, even when a couple of overdrives or a distortion pedal in front (JHS Andy Timmons AT+ which is a Marshall in a box, Earth Quaker Plumes - modified tube screamer, and a GK Yorkshire - Timmy Clone).

I had a similar issue years ago when I had a Peavy Valveking 20w head and a Jet City 20w head.  The Jet city had massive transformers and was super loud, although less feature rich than the Peavey.  Peavey is PCB board while Jet City is printed circuit board surface mounted components.

So does the beefier transformers make the difference?  Hand-wired vs circuit board?

Quite a few different potential variables here - a mass produced amp might be designed around lower voltages with longevity in mind; especially taking into consideration the smaller/cheaper components likely used within. Also, the speaker used can make a big difference in volume (or at least perceived volume) too... some speakers may have heavy doping or designed to be less efficient (lower sensitivity; either intentionally to get a desired effect, or potentially due to cheaper construction).  

For beefier transformers; bigger transformer shouldn't directly correlate to volume, but rather more so tone potential (and some level of interactivity with the power tubes and distortion). A smaller or poorly designed transformer can crop off or fail to reproduce as wide of a range of frequencies... of course, we could be teetering into cork sniffing territory here... in some scenarios, size doesn't really matter and/or a smaller OT might be intentionally used to get a certain desired effect (so bigger doesn't always necessarily mean better). The construction/design of the transformer may have a more noticeable impact - a mass produced amp could use an output transformer with a winding ratio designed to not push the power tubes too hard (for longevity and/or less distortion), which could mean potentially lower volume (like using a 5k primary/8ohm secondary instead of a 3.4k primary/8ohm secondary). Again, lot's of variables here, just sharing some overly generalized feedback. 

Again though, lot's of potential variables though... sometimes it might just be some boutique goodness coaxing you into turning the volume up just a little higher. 

 

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In the early days of amps, long before wave soldering came to the industry, components were hand assembled on a circuit board.  The amps were simple and sounded lovely!  As electrical engineers entered the fray, circuits became more complex and economics entered the mass produced market.  I get the sense that circuit boards entered the market right about the same time as cheaper components.  I've read but never aligned with the hand-wired V circuit board difference.  Case in point Soldano's SLO; a legendary sound that is circuit board based.  At the same time, KBP810b has created many tasty hand-wired masterpieces.  The difference, I believe, are the individual components.  The less cost, generally, means higher tolerances allowing the sound to escape.

I believe in big transformers for many reasons.  Empirically, every sweet amp I've played has big iron.  I've had bad amps with big iron so it's not a sure-fire test.

KBP810 nailed the speaker factor.  One might add the cab size too.

I've seen but never calculated amp wattage.  There is a formula that takes into account the power in the circuit.  I believe that is where the # of amps associated with a circuit originates.  You can get a flavor of how many amperes from the power tube type.  6V6 ~ 7W, EL-84 ~ 9W, 6L6/5881 ~ 25W etc.  There's only a 3db difference between a 50W and 100W amp.  Don't sweat the petty stuff and don't pet the...

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P

7 hours ago, Steiner said:

In the early days of amps, long before wave soldering came to the industry, components were hand assembled on a circuit board.  The amps were simple and sounded lovely!

PishPosh!    We don't need not stinkin' circuit boards!

https://images.reverb.com/image/upload/s--_ycwtZ2N--/a_exif,c_limit,e_unsharp_mask:80,f_auto,fl_progressive,g_south,h_620,q_90,w_620/v1498352956/zgi24uuayqeucnotcpuf.jpg

Edited by TalismanRich
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Speaker differences can make a large impact on volume. As far as point to point vs PCB, if the components are of equal quality and identical values with identical transformers, speaker and tubes then they should be very close in tone and volume. The mass produced amp will usually suffer from cutting quality for profit and as an end result the tone suffers. There is no reason a mass produced amp can’t sound amazing if that is the main focus. 

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