#1
I read that bigger amps have bigger transformers, and that's better. But why? What exactly does having bigger transformers do?
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#2



More windings? More iron?





Edit: I'm not so sure there is a direct relationship between 'big transformers' and higher wattage amps though. I believe you could have a small'ish wattage amp with big trannies just like you could have a high wattage amp with smaller trannies. Not saying that is ideal by any means. Smaller transformers are probably cheaper. Compare a 100w Valveking and an 18w Marshall JMP or clone for example.

Edit 2: Not sure how all of this relates to tone though. You'll have to let the smart people address that. But maybe think of guitar pickups in a similar fashion. Cheaper pickups may have less windings (copper is expensive) and done by a machine where more expensive pups may have more windings and done by hand. (Not sure if that is a good analogy or not).
Last edited by 311ZOSOVHJH at Jun 30, 2013,
#3
Uh oh. I feel like I'm about to get drowned in math that I'll nod my head to and pretend to understand.
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#5
I'm no expert, but my guess is that higher wattage amps need to use larger diameter wires to carry the high current, and the transformers need a larger core to avoid magnetic saturation.
#6
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH

Edit: I'm not so sure there is a direct relationship between 'big transformers' and higher wattage amps though. I believe you could have a small'ish wattage amp with big trannies just like you could have a high wattage amp with smaller trannies. Not saying that is ideal by any means. Smaller transformers are probably cheaper. Compare a 100w Valveking and an 18w Marshall JMP or clone for example.

Edit 2: Not sure how all of this relates to tone though. You'll have to let the smart people address that. But maybe think of guitar pickups in a similar fashion. Cheaper pickups may have less windings (copper is expensive) and done by a machine where more expensive pups may have more windings and done by hand. (Not sure if that is a good analogy or not).


I'm talking specifically about the amps that come in full power and half power variants, like most Marshalls, etc.. I've read that the half power amps have smaller trannys to cost cut? I assume that higher wattage actually needs bigger trannys, otherwise why wouldn't they use the smaller ones? idk.
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#7
^ I still say it has more to do with tone. Splawns (Marshall clones) have half power switches. That is a big selling point.


Here are some small trannies:





Here are some big trannies:




for reference

That just happens to be a 50w and 100w amp respectively but again - the transformers chosen has more to do with cost/value = tone ratios not watts.
Last edited by 311ZOSOVHJH at Jun 30, 2013,
#9
Dumbed down answer.

A higher wattage amp requires a larger minimum size transformer to handle the wattage. But plenty of companies don't cheap out on their smaller amps and have fairly sizeable transformers in still. Some companies have similar size transformers for both 50w and 100w versions (Soldano for example, except the SLO and decatone which just have massive transformers in)

A bigger transformer means better transfer across the full frequency range, most commonly resulting in better bass response but it can affect the higher ranges and improve the overall sound quality in general.
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#10


@311 The trannys in my JSX and 6505 are both "big". They're definitely taller than the power tubes.
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#12
This is the back of a 100W Marshall SL-X



Are those small then?
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Last edited by Offworld92 at Jun 30, 2013,
#13
Quote by Offworld92
This is the back of a 100W Marshall SL-X



Are those small then?



See my 50 watt SL-X has the same trannies. I would say those are still pretty big, just deceiving due to the orientation.
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#14
It's just headroom, man. You're less likely to blow an OT if it's oversized aren't you? Particularly the wire. Lose your load running at half power and you're more likely to walk away unscathed.
If the tranny core is too small it can saturate magnetically and cause distortion and inefficiency but you shouldn't be getting into saturation on any amp really unless it's very poorly designed. Again though, a bigger tranny is more headroom.

Size isn't everything either. A transformer made out of cheaper steel has to be bigger than one made of higher grade steel. So is the transformer big because they are allowing headroom or is it just a cheap piece of shit? Without knowing what it's made out of and/or you've looked at the specs you have no idea.
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#16
Nothing.
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#17
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
^ you probably will if Craig sees this


My post is more for the non-techie common folk


ftfy

the funny thing is that i asked a very similar question years ago that boils down to 'how do transformers effect tone'. in particular i was asking about different output taps on the transformer.

no one really answered.

i don't really know for sure the answer.

i can tell you transformers are made to change the specs of an input electrical current to the output electrical current of the transformer. transformers work off of inductance, which effectively transfers an electrical current via magnetism. there is a primary coil (it's the input basically) and a secondary coil (output), each coil is wrapped around something like a metal bar and the coils are separated from one another by space but connected by a 'core' (material that connects the metal bars holding the wires). running an alternating current through the primary coil induces a magnetic field that induces an alternating electric current in the secondary coil. (i am sure you know the basics of this, i just briefly state this for reference later)

one use for a transformer in tube amps is 'stepping up' power coming from the wall (input is 120V) to a high enough voltage to fire up your tubes (output is ~400V).

as best as i could tell the job of the Output Transformer (OT) is match the impedance output from your power tubes to the nominal impedance provided by the speakers. this properly loads the circuit so that it can perform properly and transfer power more efficiently.

assuming the quality and design of the transformer is similar then bigger transformers should have a heftier/bigger core and most likely more wire wrapped around core. more wire/bigger wire and a larger core would effect how the much current you can handle/transfer, it'd effect the size/shape/density of the magnetic field and could provide an environment for less flux leakage. this should also effect how the signal is conveyed from the primary to the secondary and have tonal consequences.

maybe this effects how much current it takes to saturate the signal or maybe there is some frequency attenuation from primary to secondary based on the surface area of the core and coils? maybe certain imperfections in transferring an electric signal through the use of a transformer add tonal elements?

all that being said, i have no idea how a bigger core or more wire would manifest itself tonally. qualitatively i just seem to notice nice big transformers seem to have tighter low end, lot's of attack and a stronger clean tone. whereas my wimpy transformers tend to have a squishier or more absent low end, tend to break up easier, and have a more saturated tone when breaking up.

this post was probably useless.
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Last edited by gumbilicious at Jun 30, 2013,
#18
Quote by gumbilicious
this post was probably useless.

Nope. It was a great post.


Quote by gumbilicious

all that being said, i have no idea how a bigger core or more wire would manifest itself tonally. qualitatively i just seem to notice nice big transformers seem to have tighter low end, lot's of attack and a stronger clean tone. whereas my wimpy transformers tend to have a squishier or more absent low end, tend to break up easier, and have a more saturated tone when breaking up.

I certainly can't explain it but this is all I was getting at.