#1
Drove tonight for 3 hours so I can go and pick up my new amp of choice---Peavey 6505 Mini Head. Feeding it into not so great 4x12 Marshall MX412, but it sound fantastic! I was so excited about this amp, especially for basement use. 100+ Watts is too much I found...unless I want a divorce, lol...

So, the new amp can be switched between 20w - 5w - 1w. Since I'm pretty new to tube amps (went through a Fender Jr, then a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe II, and now it's the Peavey and no more need for pedal distortion). As a newb, I've got a question for you guys.

Assuming I want to run it at somewhat low volume, what is the difference between:

-- running it at 20w, but with the post-gain (volume) down

versus

-- running it at 5w (or even 1w), but the volume up?

I tried both ways at perceptibly the same volume, and I can't really find a difference...or maybe I like the 20w a little more, but barely.

Can someone explain to me what's going on, and why would I ever use 5w or 1w.

Thank you!
#2
My wild guess is that when down to 1w and you turn the volume up the phase inverter of the power amp starts to distort and compress? Gives you power amp distortion earlier compared to 20w. Unless that is your thing keep it at 20w. We have said many times here that wattage does not matter, just turn the volume down. Unless small form factor is what you desire (unlikely since you have 4x12) lunchbox amps are quite pointless.

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Last edited by MaaZeus at Jul 8, 2015,
#3
Thanks a lot for the reply! I think I understand now, although I'm yet to "understand" it with my ears. So, the distortion in the amp can come from two places: the pre-amp and/or power amp. And supposedly it should sound different.

So, to get the best of both worlds at the same time, I need enough gain on the pre-amp, and enough gain on the power amp. I guess that's where the 5w and 1w can come handy---ability to push the power tubes enough to distort, but without breaking the windows (or getting a divorce). Please---correct me if I got it wrong!

Damnit, it's 11pm and kids asleep... I'll experiment in the morning, can't wait.
#4
Basically yes. Though if the wattage switch is just PPIMV (dont know what the switch thingies usually are) only the phase inverter starts to distort but thats still power amp distortion. Modern metal tones rely on preamp only and keep the power amp clean (hence the high wattages), classic rock tones like ACDC is bit of both pre and power amp but as you might guess the volume needs to be insane to get that with big amps.

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Bugera 333
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#5
Pretty much, yeah. That's why it's nice to have a little Fender Blues Jr lying around. You can get that bluesy power tube distortion, the kind that gives you amazing dynamic of pick attack, from completely clean to pretty damn snarly just by digging in harder, without being painfully loud. In order to get the same kind of breakup from an 85 watt Twin Reverb, you're hitting noise levels that will have neighbors 4 or 5 houses down calling the cops.
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#6
Try the wattage switches and see what you think. To my ears there isn't much difference in tone at all so turning the master down works fine. Trust your ears.
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#7
Think of the multiwatt as more of a tone, response, voicing tool instead of a volume tool.

1w can get VERY loud.
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#8
Quote by Cajundaddy
Try the wattage switches and see what you think. To my ears there isn't much difference in tone at all so turning the master down works fine. Trust your ears.




I think they're supposedly tinkering with the power saturation but who knows what it is doing, so just go by your ears.
#9
Thanks guys. I'll experiment some more tomorrow. In the meantime, here is what they say in the manual:

"POWER OUTPUT SWITCH: This three position switch controls an attenuator which allows the maximum output of the amplifier to be switched between 100%, 25% and 5% of rated power. Therefore, between 20 watts, 5 watts and 1 watt. This enables the user to drive the power stage hard, therefore producing the characteristic power amp overdrive, but without such loud volumes being produced by the speaker.
On the lower settings it may be necessary to slightly increase the Resonance and Presence controls for the desired tone. This is due to the change in damping factor when the speaker is driven less."

Further down in the actual specs:

"Power attenuator: Three setting switch for 100%, 25% and 5% of rated power. (20W, 5W and 1W respectively.)"

A question I'll throw in here just in case someone has an opinion: when using this switch to change the wattage, should turn on the "standby" before switching, or it doesn't matter?
#10
If its honest to god attenuator then you should get power tubes to distort too. Play the amp on clean and slowly turn the amp up in 1w mode and see when it starts to break up. Compare it to doing the same in 5 or 20w mode. Of course warn your wife before doing so.

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Cort EVL-Z4 + X2N
Cort EVL-K47B

Marshall Valvestate 8100
Randall RG1503
Bugera 333
Peavey Rockmaster preamp

Line6 Pod X3
#12
first off, HNAD!

i think that wattage is very misunderstood generally by most people. i am no engineer but take it as it is from me as i have read up on it one time or another, one watt at 1m through a V30 is ~101ish dB. ****ing loud. also 100 watts is twice as loud as 10 watts. etc.

my egnater rebel had a wattage knob from 1 to 30, and it did hardly nothing. my orange from 30 watts to 7 doesn't do much, maybe a tiny if i am really pushing it (volume wise). what is noticeably is less headroom.

the wattage lowering thing is kind of gimmicky in most cases, but i haven't tried the 6505 MH so i can't say for sure about yours.
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#13
With my Traynor, there is a 40 watt and 15 watt selection. The 15 mode gives off a higher gain and serms more trebley. Also if it was in 40 watt mode, and I switch to 15, I have to turn the master up a bit to reach the same volume as the 40.

So basically, from what I understand, you can drive the tubes to their full capacity at a lower volume.
#14
Quote by esky15
With my Traynor, there is a 40 watt and 15 watt selection. The 15 mode gives off a higher gain and serms more trebley. Also if it was in 40 watt mode, and I switch to 15, I have to turn the master up a bit to reach the same volume as the 40.

So basically, from what I understand, you can drive the tubes to their full capacity at a lower volume.


they are way too loud for full capacity powertube distortion. even 1 watt is pretty damn loud.
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#15
If your 6505+ mini is anything like my 6505+ 112, then it will be very hard to get it into power tube distortion, because it's not really designed to do that. Perhaps the 1 or 5 watt settings would help with that. But @ 60 watts on my amp, I've tried to get power tube distortion on the clean channel and still couldn't achieve it when my ears began to bleed from the ridiculous volume. It's supposed to stay clean in the power section to emphasize tight riffs driven by lots of preamp gain. But again, perhaps the mini is designed a bit differently. Personally, I think the wattage settings are a gimmick that every amp manufacturer making lunchbox amps feels obligated to include in their lunchbox amps -- especially the high-gain platforms. I could see it being a benefit on circuits designed more for the blues/light to medium gain rock crowd though.
#16
This morning I had a chance to play with it a bit more. 1w, pre-gain at 1 (the minimum audible), crancked up the post gain gradually, looking for the point where it will start to break up (power tubes distortion). Used my Fender Strat (fat, with HSS configuration). Duncan SSL-1 in neck and middle, Duncan Invader humbucker in the bridge. Nothing else connected to the amp (except for the MXR Noise Clam in an X pattern). Well, the single coils never broke the power tubes, all the way to max post-gain. The humbucker bridge is really hot, so at max I felt like it's breaking up a little, but not much. That's at 1 watt. Obviously, moving the pre-gain to even 2 (from 10) immediately starts distorting even at lower post-gain...but that's pre-amp distortion.

I never tried to do the same at 5w and 20w, because I figured if it barely breaks up at 1w at full volume (louder bedroom levels), then it's pointless with the other power settings.

Seeing that the power-amp distortion is so minuscule, I concluded that I'm best setting it permanently at the full 20w and forgetting about that switch. At 20w, I can move between 0 and 3 (out of 10) on the post gain and still remain married to my wife. Obviously, during the day I can crank it up more, nobody would care if they're not at home

My previous amp was a combo (Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III), and it was almost unusable at home above volume at 2 (I used the Wampler Triple Wreck with that as the gain channel is crap on those Fenders). Mind you, that was a 40w driving one speaker. As I find out now, having the 4x12 cab now with the Peavey 6505 Mini Head at 20w sounds so much better at such low volumes---the sound is full, the bottom end is tweakable to my liking. I dig this amp so much so far! And I'm gonna sell all of my distortion pedals now (Wampler Triple Wreck, Wampler Sovereign, Suhr Riot clone, Fulldrive Fulltone 2, Zendrive clone, Biyang Fuzz Star--which i never use anyway)... Happy camper I am
Last edited by corsara at Jul 9, 2015,
#17
Were you using the "clean channel?" The preamp feeds the power amp so there needs to be an adequate signal to drive it. If you turn the master volume to 10 and have the gain at 1, that's close to having a non-master volume amp at 1 which isn't enough to drive most amps. Amps without master volumes have a fixed preamp gain and it won't be so low. Try putting the post at 10 and incrementally increase the pre. See where it starts to break up. And then go to other wattages and you'll notice they don't break up at the same point if everything is working as it should. When you do that, the pre becomes the volume control.
Last edited by JELIFISH19 at Jul 9, 2015,
#18
Ok, I guess I did it all wrong then, thanks for explaining. Yes, I used the clean channel, but yeah--did it wrong. I'll try again with the experiments..
#19
Alright, so now I think I did it correctly.

1w, neck single coil: post-gain at max, pre-gain gradually increased, starts to break up with a really nice growl at about 6 (out of 10). Tried at 20w with pre-gain at 6 and post-gain increased just a bit until I get to the same volume, and the distortion feels completely different, which confirms I'm getting into power tube distortion with the initial try.

Now here's the kicker:

Same experiment at 5w, post-gain at max and slowly increasing the pre-gain---starts to break up at the same point on the pre-gain (around 6). Louder overall volume, of course. Wasn't it supposed to break up at a different point?

Didn't experiment with 20w, that gets perceptibly much louder too quickly, at which point my ears just hurt in that small room and I cannot distinguish between the sounds.
#20
Quote by Cajundaddy
Try the wattage switches and see what you think. To my ears there isn't much difference in tone at all so turning the master down works fine. Trust your ears.


+1

if you're at really low volumes there's probably not a whole lot of difference in where the distortion is coming from so just use your ears.
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#21
Quote by corsara
Wasn't it supposed to break up at a different point?

It is breaking up at a different point if it's louder. The whole point of attenuators and multi-watt switches is so you can get that kind of breakup at lower volumes. The lower volume means you can turn it up more to get more distortion. You also might notice differences in how the amp feels and that it's more compressed in lower the lower wattage settings.