Other Amps

Micro Amps Any You Have One?

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I too have succumbed and subscribed to the Hotone Nano Legacy series. I consider them cute, but I don't think they're what Geoff means by "funny miniature amps."

The obvious dividing line here is whether a device has speakers or is just a ridiculously compact "head" (which describes the Quilters, Hotone Nanos, and the mini-Mooers). Seymour Duncan and several other vendors make some upscale preamp/amp-in-pedal devices that really can be all the amp you need (assuming you have speakers).

Maybe the nicest of the lot is Custom Tones' line of Ethos (Clean, Fusion, Overdrive) devices. Some are just preamps, others have power amps built in. Tonally, the line hangs its hat on emulating Dumbles, with that singing sustain. But they're fabulous clean (as I suppose Dumbles are too, not that I'll ever have the chance). You can also pay up to 700.00 for a fully tricked-out pedal-sized Ethos with integral 30-watt amp.

So all these are the opposite of bad sounding miniature amp replica, but the question Spike raises is indeed the question: what speaker complement does it take to bring these to life? From my own experience, it has to be pretty much the same speaker(s) you would want for a normal-sized amp. The cab Powdog built me with a Neo 12 works great with the Quilter and the Hotones. Sounds like an amp - IS an amp - and weighs less than the "real thing." Physically about the size of a small combo, though. Certainly 10s are viable here (as they are in combos).

I've played through mini-amps (wouldn't quite call them micro) with 6s and 8s, alone and in pairs. The Vox DA-5 is about as small as you can get, I think, for something that "sounds like an amp." And it can even sound like a good amp (there are some dandy models and great effects) - but it always sounds like a good amp through a home stereo. Bax's Yamaha, likewise. It sounds more spacious than the Vox (because it has two speakers, I think, and does some stereo imaging), and has great tones. But it's still lacking in real amp presence.

I mean, you can gig with it, and sound fine in a combo where you're only covering midrange and some highs and don't expect or need either clean tube bottom or bellbottom-flappin' stack...but still.

In my personal definition, I guess, anything 5 watts or less running through smaller than a 6" speaker is a toy, and not even very satisfying to practice through. Use headphones.

Any of the Quilters are killer. Even the MicroBlock 45 is plenty enough for small gigging through your personal definition of the smallest qualifying speaker.

The Hotones, at 5 watts, aren't quite in the same league - but they're not only "suprisingly loud" for their size and wattage, they don't even feel deficient. They feel more like miraculous, and I think they're quite handsome. (Or, OK, cute.) I have the British Invasion (which does a Vox awfully well) and the "Mojo Diamond," which is supposed to be tweedy. I guess it kinda is, though it's not going to fool many experienced ears. Still, it captures the character and is perfectly usable.

Most of the others in the 10 (or 12?) amp series knock off really high-gain shredder amps which are of no interest to me, but I expect I'll add the Purple Wind (Marshall) and stupidly named Siva Boogie (a Bogner Shiva knockoff) to the little lineup on my amp shelf. The Siva is particularly interesting to me because its gain section only gets barely dirty - nother words, it's a micro amp that intends to replicate the clean voicing of a boutique amp. I like that idea, and give Hotone credit for pursuing a clean character amp in a market mostly populated by shredding gainstations.

At around 100.00, the Hotones are well worth checking out. They're amazingly equipped: in addition to gain, volume, and 3 eq knobs on the front, the back gives you headphone jack/line out, aux input for play-along, 2-jack effects loop, and a speaker output which auto-senses and plays into anything from 4 to 16 ohms. They have a satisfying billet-block heft in hand, a cool-looking transformer/heatsink assembly on top, and appear to be well made.

They're fun to collect, too, I guess.

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I was fooling around this morning with a few of bluetooth speakers plugged into my multi-effects pedal. One of them was pretty good. You need volume to get away from boxiness.

I have one of those white Boss Cube lite Monitors that I will have to plug in this evening.


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