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AER or...

JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
Hey gang,

I'm thinking about getting an AER (either a compact 60 or an alpha) and wanted to get some opinions about the differences between the two. Specifically I'm concerned about the 40w to 60w difference and how that plays out in the real world of gigging. Any opinions, good and bad, are welcome.

I've also just posted this if anyone has an AER and is interested in a possible trade of some sort:
I've got guitars, other amps, books, a banjo, mandolin, accordion, electric bass, trumpet, and any amount of other junk, as any of you who've been in my apartment can attest!



  • djadamdjadam Boulder, CONew
    Posts: 249
    I haven't played the alpha, but I wouldn't want less power than my C60 has. I've played a few gigs where I've had the volume nearly all the way up, particularly outdoors.
  • MontereyJacquesMontereyJacques ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2011 Posts: 81
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,747
    Actually, I ended up going for a Schertler David; it should be here in a few days.

  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Well, my Gypsy brothers.... as an audio designer... whose hobby is guitars... I feel the need to give you a peek behind the proverbial curtains... I can tell you straight out that despite what you've been told by various manufacturers, the difference between a 40 watt and a 60 watt amp in this context is not as much as you'd think.

    That's not to say that there aren't differences between the two amps - potentially very significant differences - but the specification of 40 vs 60 watts is irrelevant in this context because it's a smaller difference than you'd think - and moreover - it can be fudged a lot. The lowest note on a guitar is about 80hz... your average 5" to 6" pro monitor speaker is between 89db & 95db efficient depending on how it's tuned. IE: if you're standing 1 meter away from it - and you put one watt into the system with broadband signal, it''ll produce 90 - 95db. As you double input power - the sound pressure level raises 3db. So - if you assume the driver is a relatively inefficient pro driver - (assume 90db) that means that the 40 watt amp will have a theoretical max SPL of just over 105db and the 60 watt amp will have a theoretical max SPL of just under 108db. Also, the number can be fudged... as you halve impedance, you double output! So, one amp may be rated 40 watts into 8 ohms... and the other may be rated 60 watts into 4 ohms. What this means, is that the 60 watt amp might also be called a 30 watt amp if it was rated at 8 ohms. Sound confusing? It is - and that's why amp manufacturers never mention this stuff. The more important question (which amp manufacturers will never tell you - because it's much more subjective and so much harder to sell) is how much work they've done to make sure that the transducer system (the speaker cabinet) is able to handle the power across its effective frequency spectrum - and how clean the low level amplification circuits are (the preamps) and how stable the amp is across a range of inputs and outputs (so that it functions well in the real world - not just on an oscilliscope)

    The problem with audio equipment in general - is that most of the things that really make them function well are hard to describe without some understanding of electrical engineering - so manufacturers make big deals over things that are easily quantifyable.... such as watts, speaker size and etc... because simplicity sells. If one company goes into lengthy detail about all of the great design work they've done... and another company says: "Mine's bigger" ... 7 times out of 10... the customer will buy "bigger"

    It's not that they think we're idiots - these concepts are not rocket science. it's just that they know most people don't have a lot of time to make their decisions and are looking for clean unequivocal objective reasons to make a purchase decision.

    So - what does all this mean? It means that the only way to really choose an amp is to ask around and play and listen to all of the amps you can - and then choose one that works really well and forget about all of its specifications the second you buy it.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • MontereyJacquesMontereyJacques ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2011 Posts: 81
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    HiWatt... ah yes... Aren't HiWatt amps the reason "The Who" was called "The Who"? Pete Townshend would introduce the band a few songs into the first set but he'd already deafened the first 20 rows of the audience so everyone was looking up at him screaming: "You're The Who?"

    The power supplies in those magical creatures were different beasts altogether. Power caps the size of salt-shakers and transformers that you could beat a Rhino to death with. (and those were the ones in the small amps) It reminds me that there was a time when volume knobs went to 11!

    Now there is a concept - using classic HiWatt tube amps for Manouche music. I don't know if they'd make good Gypsy amps, but they'd be wonderfully loud & clear Gypsy amps!

    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • BohemianBohemian State of Jefferson✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 303
    Thnaks for the info Bob,

    So based on your inside track.. what would you consider to be a "best buy" in a 40-60 Watt amp.

  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    I don't know that I have an inside track. I just wanted to make sure people understood that amp ratings are not really relevant. The HiWatt amp that MJ spoke of probably had a 16 ohm speaker - as many HiWatts did (and still do) and so his 30 watt amp into 16 ohms ... assuming it was stable at higher currents (very likely given its topology) would be called a 60 watt amp if run into an 8 ohm cab & a 120 watt amp if run into a 4 ohm cab.

    At any rate, I've heard the guys around Portland play on different sizes and shapes of AER & Schertler amps with great success. A couple of the guys play Crate TX series with great success. I wish I could remember what Larry's amp is... I think it's a Strawberry Blonde - great sounding amp, whatever it is. The thing that seems to make a whole lot more difference than amp is preamp & pickup combination. Guys with great pickups and great preamps have a whole lot easier time plugging into whatever is available and getting their preferred sound at a healthy volume. EQ is fairly important. I've heard guys with Kilobuck AER & Schertler rigs sound strident (in a bad way) because they kept turning up their midrange until things sounded right to them sitting behind the amp.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is no substitute for playing an amp with your pickup & your guitar at a volume similar to what you'll need to do a gig. Everything else is just conjecture - and get a friend out front to help you dial things in and keep you honest encase you get the urge to crank your volume or EQ until you feel you're "really getting heard" during a gig - because if you're sitting behind the amp and hearing a balanced sound... chances are that you're etching the beerglasses of the people sitting in the tables closest to the stage.

    And $$ doesn't necessarily translate into good sound. I auditioned an $18,000 media player today (network connected CD player with a great big hard drive and top of the line soundcard) some local gents brought it in and wanted us to sit town and give it a listen with them... and it sounded really unimpressive. We A/B tested it against an XBox360 setup as a media server and the XBox just smoked it - way better sound (and the Xbox is not the greatest frontend component - though better than you might think) It did have a really nice looking cabinet though... milled from a solid aluminum billet etc...
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    Great work Bob.

    I think this brings up a good point. That being no matter how much research is done and how much you spend there is the perception of the listener. We can't spend enough to convince some one "out there" that it sounds great. If it sounds bad to them they don't care what system you are running. On the flip side I have played live and hated my tone but had people coming up to me telling me how great it sounded! So it is very hard when it comes to what we know should sound great and what really does in a real life situation. Also learning your system. I am still trying to figure out my Scherlter system. It seam like every time I think I have the settings down there is another thing that needs some tweaking. Be that pickup placement, EQ, amp placement, pre amp gain... it goes on and on. And seems to change even in the same room on a different day.

  • CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
    Posts: 269
    I imagine you guys have already heard about these:

    Probably not too useful for GJ, but still pretty cool.
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