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Thread: 1W vs 15W??

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    1W vs 15W??

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    Hello,

    I have a Laney 212R guitar amp. It has two power modes, one is 15W, other one is 1W (in fact "<1W"). Is loudness the only difference between them? Or 15W supposed to sound better? I can't really tell if it's better or just louder. Is there anything wrong with recording with the 1W input? 15W is pretty loud. (And I got the one with 2 speakers for no reason like a moron)

    If watts only change the loudness, why do people pay a ton for big amps? Thank you.

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    Trust your ears! Does it sound better to you? Then its better.

    If you're looking for what other people think, I've read some interviews with various artists (Ratatat, Queen) that have said that tiny amps are great for recordings and actually sound louder in the context of a mix.

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    If was wasting some time in a city yesterday, waiting for apple to fix my computer. I walked past a music shop and heard a guitar being played so I went in and discovered the guy behind the counter playing through a toy like thing that looked like a Marshall stack but about ten inches tall.

    Sounded fine in the street.

    You need to think about what happens when a loudspeaker does it's stuff. At basic level, it moves air, compressing it and then sucking it back. Producing air pressure changes you hear as sound. Big speakers move more air and they can compress/decompress it more. However, they move quite a bit so the changes in pressure are not quite the same as with a tiny speaker doing little compressions. Think about blowing up a kiddies swimming ring. First breath goes in with no effort, last breath hurts your lungs. Lots of watts are needed to move lots of air, and an 8x 10" cab does it differently to a single 21" sub. Every different system of generating differences in air pressure is unique in how it sounds. Stick your Marshall stack on the top of Mount Everest and I doubt you would be impressed with the sound, as the air is thinner.
    Your laney uses the same speaker and amp so the two settings will be very close in tone and just louder. Technically, moving more air works the cone harder and depending if it's made from plastic, paper or metal, subtle things happen, and it will sound different, and of course higher volume works the amp harder and it may start to distort too. Turning down my guitarist friend's amp makes it sound cleaner. I like it, he hates it. My 8 x 10" cab never works hard and seems to me to sound the same at master volumes from 1 to around 6. To make it change it needs whacking up, and then people complain their insides rattle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phy61 View Post

    If watts only change the loudness, why do people pay a ton for big amps? Thank you.
    No...it doesn't just change loudness.
    It changes compression, it changes headroom, it changes how the frequencies are translated out the amp through the speaker, it also changes how the speaker works, and it changes how your guitar and you interact with the amp and speaker.

    Until you actually buy or play enough amps, and also some bigger wattage, higher end amps...words will never accurately describe what you will hear.
    I've got a bunch of amps...a couple of them are 20W combos, the rest are all 50W, and I've got a 100W getting built.
    I tried some 5W amps way back, then got rid of them and never thought about them again.

    You can get some nice tones out of 5W amps...you get some nice tones out of amp simulations...but regardless what some folks will say, none of those can actually measure up to or sound like a high end, higher wattage amp, when opened up right up to the brink of distortion, and if you stand close to the speaker, you can feel the air move on your legs...or if you dial in a clean tone, the notes just take on bigger than life, bell-like purity and clarity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phy61 View Post
    Hello,

    I have a Laney 212R guitar amp. It has two power modes, one is 15W, other one is 1W (in fact "<1W"). Is loudness the only difference between them? Or 15W supposed to sound better? I can't really tell if it's better or just louder. Is there anything wrong with recording with the 1W input? 15W is pretty loud. (And I got the one with 2 speakers for no reason like a moron)

    If watts only change the loudness, why do people pay a ton for big amps? Thank you.
    There's an experiment in there!
    The guys have explained already but you might find it interesting to make the same recording twice, on 1W and 5W, with everything else the same,
    then volume match them in your DAW afterwards.
    Maybe even use a DI recording, piped out/in twice, so it really is the same.
    I bet you'll be able to tell them apart!

    Small amps definitely have a place; Brian may is a great example with the little hifi speaker/transistor amp he used for a lot of his lead tones,
    but that wonderful little amp is never going to sound, or feel, like his wall of AC30s.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Some people believe more louder is always more better.

    The only issue is what is the SPL level that they provide where you are listening.
    Are you outside in a big ball park? Or are you inside in a small room??

    If you hit 75 --80 then they are plenty loud enough.
    Some people think they are better starting at 90-100 or so. Those folks are either deaf or going to go deaf andor have tinnitus too.
    You're mixing apples and oranges by talking about safe "listening" level.
    The question was about how an amp will sound at lower wattage VS higher wattage, and about using expensive amps...especially in a recording situation where you can use a 100W amp dimed, and still not destroy your ears by simply using headphones or having the cab/speakers in a different room...etc.

    You can't really imitate a cranked 100W Marshall with a 1W amp...you can get a ballpark sound, maybe, but it's not going to sound the same...but these are old debates, and everyone can just use what they like, though until you've actually experienced the differences, you can only guess.
    It's not about "louder is always more better"...it's about getting the right sound, and sometimes you can do it with lower levels, other times, you need to crank it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Depends on your goal.

    My priorities are first - save my hearing. Or what is left of it. My ears hurt at over 80 and I wear ear plugs if that is at all possible.

    Second get the best sound possible. And this is subjective. Some people do not think it is good unless it is louder.
    Again...you're mixing up several different considerations into one thing.
    You can certainly save your ears, and still record a 100W guitar amp dimed.
    If you play out...if higher guitar amp level is needed and/or preferred to achieve the desired amp tones...you can still do that and protect your ears with quality SPL-reduction earplugs or higher quality in-ear-monitors that you can control the level of to taste.

    Your ears hurting doesn't mean you have to stand in front of a 100W guitar amp dimed, and suffer the pain.
    Put the head next to you and the cab in another room, mic it...and close the door.

    Just not understanding what point you are debating other than to say you want to save y our ears...which you can, without sacrificing any tone at any loudness level.
    It's not just that some people think louder is better...but that for some tones, louder works better when you are trying to dial them in.
    Sounds to me like you don't care about tone and all that...and you just want to save your ears...OK...but that's a different discussion.
    Last edited by miroslav; 07-23-2019 at 13:17.

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    I'd imagine an amp operating at its extremes would probably be less dynamic than one running at nice listening levels. ^^
    Miro's right, though..Loudness war, compression, hearing loss; They're not really the issue.

    The sound of a recording of a loud amp, regardless of the playback level, is different to the sound of the same amp recorded quietly.
    Whether better or worse is the subjective part but I don't think there's much debate around the idea that there are some sounds you just won't get with a quiet amp.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Whether it's better or not depends on the amp, and the sound you want.

    The rest, I'm afraid, isn't really relevant to the original question.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Loudness war is a concern to millions of TV viewers and many other media consumers. Witness the pushback by groups making standards to stop it.

    Hearing loss is a big issue. Wait till you have problems and you will realise that in spades.

    Compression is mostly a matter of taste and not a real issue.

    To me I do not really care that much about the sound of an amp. Certainly less than I care about my hearing and having to fiddle with the knob to make things quieter when the track on the CD changes.

    If it matters to you then of course crank it up if you think that sounds better.
    You are now yet again introducing one more topic ("the loudness wars") that has nothing to do with the original question and discussion.

    Just to refresh...we are talking about tube guitar amps, and does the tone change or quality of it improve when you switch from a 1W amp to a higher wattage amplifier, and/or ones that cost much more.
    It's not about what SPL levels damage your hearing, it's not about mastering for loudness, and it's not about always saying that "louder is better"...
    ...and while I agree with you that what tones sound better to you or me, is certainly a subjective thing...that too is not what the thread is about.

    The fact remains (and what the OP was asking) is that often amps with more wattage capability will have more headroom, and they will be able to work more efficiently across a wider range of tones, and in most cases the higher quality amps will improve even more on those differences.

    So to answer the OP, again...no, it's not that just you only get more loudness when going from a 1W amp to a 50W amp...there's a lot more in play.
    How anyone chooses to use those options and tonal difference, and which ones they prefer or how loud they prefer to play them...is a personal choice...but I will also say again that you don't need to sacrifice loudness (when desired for certain cases) in order to save your ears. As already described in previous posts...you can play loud for the sake of getting a certain tone... and not damage your ears, by using a variety of ear protection.

    All the other topics you introduced that we are not talking about here...are all valid topics...and maybe you can start new threads that will talk about them.

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