#1
This is sort of a newbie question. But I'm been to concerts (Muse) where a Diezel VH-4 was being used, and I've heard the Peavey 6505. Both of these have been described as high gain amps. What makes them sound so different? I always thought "gain = distortion" in my mind, but it is probably "gain leads to distortion." What is it in the Diezel that lets it get such a high gain sound without it turning into distortion like the 6505?

I'm just curious, I'm not looking at buying either, as it would be wasted on me.
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#4
gain can be like basically another volume knob, but usually its distorition too
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#5
yeah gain leads to distortion, it isn't distortion.

they sound so different because they are different. other parts, different voicings maybe, other speakers,...
Last edited by The red Strat. at Aug 8, 2007,
#6
gain is the amplification factor, basically the ratio of output over input. the more you turn the gain knob up, the more overdrive/distortion you get, basically. Distortion is just more extreme overdrive.

Both the 5150 and vh4 are high gain amps, and both are capable of producing distortion. High gain just means you can get a lot of distortion from them.
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#7
gain on an amp is essesntially the volume of a signal. in the pre amp the more volume, or gain, the more distorted the sound is. post gain, or master volume, controls the volume in the power amp which amplifies the signal and makes it louder
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#8
Quote by antareus
What is it in the Diezel that lets it get such a high gain sound without it turning into distortion like the 6505?


High gain and distortion are the same thing, the difference between the amps is the tone, not the gain, the VH4 has a much smoother sound with more low end in it while the 6505 is a harsher sound, more like a hot-rodded plexi (having been designed with help from EVH), with more crunch to it.
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#9
Quote by soybomb
gain on an amp is essesntially the volume of a signal. in the pre amp the more volume, or gain, the more distorted the sound is. post gain, or master volume, controls the volume in the power amp which amplifies the signal and makes it louder


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#10
Quote by Dave_Mc
gain is the amplification factor, basically the ratio of output over input. the more you turn the gain knob up, the more overdrive/distortion you get, basically. Distortion is just more extreme overdrive.

Both the 5150 and vh4 are high gain amps, and both are capable of producing distortion. High gain just means you can get a lot of distortion from them.

exactly, to elaborate:

gain, distortion, overdrive, drive, ect, are all interchangeable terms to describe the same thing.

like dave was saying, turning the gain up is increasing the strength of the signal in the pre-amp section of your amp. when this happens, try to imagine a sine wave, now push it through a tube. when the aplitude becomes to large, it won't fit through the tube anymore, so it gets "clipped," or "compressed," the clipping/compression is the distortion you hear.
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#11
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#12
Non guitar electronics:

Gain: the ratio between the input and the output of an amplifying (or attenuating) circuit. Frequently controlled by feedback across an op-amp when used in pre-amp circuits. The gain of a power amp is often fixed.

Drive: The absolute voltage level being applied to an amplifying circuit's input. of interest when compared to the capabilities of that circuit.

Volume: Subjective term referring to how loud a sound appears to be to a human listener. it is related to but different from Sound Pressure Level. It is controlled by adjusting the clean Gain on an amp, and the E.Q. of the signal passing through it. (Bass sounds affect the subjective impression of Volume more than Treble Sounds).

Master: A term used to denote a gain (or Volume) Control at the end of a pre amp chain, before it enters the Power-amp circuitry (or at the start of the power amp.)
It may be adjusting the final level of the signals from several sources or signal paths.


when amplifying a signal (in a clean circuit) the Gain is the term used for the ratio between the input level or power and the output level or power.
Drive is used to refer to the level of the signal being fed into the amplifying circuit (it drives the circuit). in the black box that is a guitar amp or distortion pedal these terms do not get used with these meanings.

In my Laney Guitar amp it has 2 distortion channels. on those channels the knob which controlls the amount of distortion is labeled "Gain" on the low to medium distorition chanel and "Drive" on the medium - High distortion channel. The 2 chanels are Identical except for the fact that the one labled "Drive" has a higher gain ratio on it's pre-amp.
On that particular amp the signal from those 2 circuits is then deliberately fed into a Valve. It is designed to allow you to control the level by which the valve is overdrive to produce a valve distortion.

In analogue transistor circuitry that valve could be replaced with a transistor chosen for "nice" distortion characteristics.
The push buttons which select your chosen channel allow the signal from only one of the volume knobs to enter the Valve

In my amplifier the signal then passes through an E.Q. circuit. Then the signal paths are split again to allow the "Master" or "Volume" to be set for the 2 channels independently (activated by the same switch as before). This volume knob is identical to the previous one, but it is used to feed the signal into circuitry which will not cause further distoriton - as it is prevented from being overdriven again.

From there the signal passes (through) the optional reverb circuitry and then into the Power Amp. The Power amp amplifies the signal to much higher voltages, with the ability to also deliver high current, enabling the signal to be passed to a loudspeaker.


If an amplifying transistor is able to multiply an input signal by 5x (ie 1V in gets 5V out) but has a limit of 5V output. It will behave like a clean amplifier when driven with a signal of less than 1V. If you feed it 2V you will get a very distorted output, as the higher peaks of the 2V signal will be reduced to the 5V max.

In some silicone circuits this acst like a brick wall filter. it's all or nothing. This sounds very harsh.
In Valve circuitry this effect is much more gradual and produces a more pleasant form of distortion.
#14
Gain does not equal distortion. Gain can cause distortion. As Dave said, gain is the amplification factor. The knob labelled gain just controls the amplification earlier in the circuit than the volume knob. By increasing the amplification early in the circuit it causes the following stages in the preamp to be overdriven. This clips the tops off the signal and causes distortion.
The volume control is post preamp gain. If you turn it up a lot it causes the power amp to become overdriven and the signal is then clipped by the power valves.
The term "high gain" simply means that a lot of amplification can occur in the preamp causing the preamp tubes to be overdriven more easily and create higher levels of distortion.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Nov 23, 2011,
#15
Quote by Cathbard
Gain does not equal distortion. Gain can cause distortion. As Dave said, gain is the amplification factor. The knob labelled gain just controls the amplification earlier in the circuit than the volume knob. By increasing the amplification early in the circuit it causes the following stages in the preamp to be overdriven. This clips the tops off the signal and causes distortion.
The volume control is post preamp gain. If you turn it up a lot it causes the power amp to become overdriven and the signal is then clipped by the power valves.
The term "high gain" simply means that a lot of amplification can occur in the preamp causing the preamp tubes to be overdriven more easily and create higher levels of distortion.

Exellent answer! I always find it amusing on UG how many incorrect answers people pipe up with as fact on topics like this untill someone comes in and puts sets the record straight. I think it helps to visualize clipping and the difference between overdrive and distortion and fuzz by looking at the clipped waveform, here's a good article with a diagram of the waveforms. Overdrive is softer clipping than all out distortion and fuzz.
#16
Whoever first labeled a guitar amp's knob 'gain' needs to be beaten. I'm sure the conversation went like this:

"Let's label it gain, since that's what its really doing; adding gain to the preamp circuit."

"Couldn't that be confusing though, since that's the method and not the result?"

"Guitarists are largely intelligent and will surely be able to understand the distinction."

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#18
Quote by Cathbard
Gain does not equal distortion. Gain can cause distortion. As Dave said, gain is the amplification factor. The knob labelled gain just controls the amplification earlier in the circuit than the volume knob. By increasing the amplification early in the circuit it causes the following stages in the preamp to be overdriven. This clips the tops off the signal and causes distortion.
The volume control is post preamp gain. If you turn it up a lot it causes the power amp to become overdriven and the signal is then clipped by the power valves.
The term "high gain" simply means that a lot of amplification can occur in the preamp causing the preamp tubes to be overdriven more easily and create higher levels of distortion.




Quote by tubetime86
Whoever first labeled a guitar amp's knob 'gain' needs to be beaten. I'm sure the conversation went like this:

"Let's label it gain, since that's what its really doing; adding gain to the preamp circuit."

"Couldn't that be confusing though, since that's the method and not the result?"

"Guitarists are largely intelligent and will surely be able to understand the distinction."



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#21
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