Home (amp tone and effects placement)

Designers, you can see from the reviews I've collected of low-watt tube amps, that people absolutely love all these low-power tube amps -- they sound *great*. Why are so few offered? This is a major potential growth market.

The Guitar and Amp Buyer's guide lists a huge variety of some things and almost no models of other possible equipment. There are all the 50 watt amps you could imagine. There are many guitar multieffects processors. There are many speaker cabinets and a fair number of speakers to load them with. Zillions of guitars and basses. Many 15-watt transistor amps. Finally, a fair number of 15-watt tube amps. And a few inductive loads and speaker simulators. But there is a huge gap between the line-level effects realm and the loud realm of 15-watt power tubes and speakers. I would like to see a seamless array of guitar gear filling in that gap between line-level and loud amp. I'd like to see, for example, the H&K Blues Master (aka Crunch Master). That is an "effect" that contains a several-watt tube power amp. But it's discontinued I suppose due to lack of demand, due to lack of awareness, poor marketing. I'd like to see a rich mixture of low-wattage speakers, power tubes, and multieffects processors -- packaged as effects pedals, rack units, guitar amps, and all-in-one configurations.

There was an Amp Summit covered in Guitar Player March and April 96. The October Solidbody Summit article characterizes tube heads as mad scientists and wild-eyed prophets. A cartoon guy is jamming inside a crystal ball -- his guitar is looking cool and emitting notes -- but how? It is not plugged into an amp. I'll never understand those guitar guys. I've always been an gear head.

Effects makers are alienated from power tubes. There is a bad, habitual segmentation in the industry between effects designers and amp designers. We need to bring effects and amp technologies together into an integrated system and offer a rich variety of configurations.

It would be a huge breakthrough if we could get 80% authentic good cranked amp tone at line level. I know that this can be done, because I've driven a Greenback with a Pro Jr 15 watt amp and it got unmistakable cranked-amp sounds -- but there was still too much noise in the room. A reasonably good job can be done of my goal, and it's really not that hard. Because it can be done, it should be, and I am sure there will be a huge demand for various low-wattage power tube gear. I'd like to see a lot more research in speakers too. The Greenback is the lowest wattage 12" speaker around, and considered one of the best. Why not try smaller speakers, with even low power ratings, to match the new 5-15 watt tube amps?

It's *fine* that there are a thousand 50 and 100 watt amps to choose from -- but there is a huge pent-up demand for 1-15 watt amps. I'm not saying that 5 or 15 watt amps can be 100% as good as a 1970 Marshall stack for all situations. There is a need for these type of products, but almost no one is producing them yet. I and many others hope that the designers will produce these items soon, so that we can play around with reasonably good cranked-amp tone at very low room noise levels. There are other tonal factors besides power tubes and speakers, but those other factors are easy to deal with. The room noise level factor is the worst problem with today's guitar gear. There are other problems, like getting a perfect reproduction of someone else's great tone, but the *main* problem in guitar equipment is the age-old: "My amp doesn't sound good unless it's cranked, but I can't crank it at home." I suspect there are many more home guitarists than performing guitarists, so the gear industry would do well to cater to those who want some sort of cranked amp tone without other people hearing.

A power-tube oriented redesign of the Digitech 2101

Digitech should insert a power tube and inductive load in the middle of their 2101 multieffects processor, between the distortion effects and the digital effects. The load and low-pass filter would only be provided as a fall-back measure, for when convenience is all you care about. The preferred alternative would be to plug in a speaker cabinet and mic, bypassing the load and low-pass filter. The speaker cabinet could be a speaker isolation cabinet containing the speaker and mic. Digitech should package the power tube and inductive load inside the effects unit and make available a speaker isolation cabinet designed for portability and ease-of-use. The 2101 now has effects and a speaker simulator. This design adds the following to the 2101:
o Programmable *power tube* saturation and bypassable inductive load
o An optional low-wattage guitar speaker to drive fully, and mic
o An optional speaker isolation cabinet to contain the loud guitar speaker
o Easy switching between inductive load and speaker isolation cabinet

My latest, mostly rack-mount, guitar processing rig I'm considering:

distortion effects
H & K Blues Master or Kendrick 5-watt amp
6" speaker in speaker isolation cabinet (size of a small moving box)
eq, level, echo effects
clean amp
full-range monitor

Since no one is making this as a prepackaged system, my challenge is to package these components as ergonomically as possible. This is essentially the same as my previous experiment with a Pro Jr, Greenback, speaker double-isolation cabinet, mic, RP10 and 2101 effects processors. That experiment was a complete success, but was really complicated and unwieldy.

Designing my *own* system is not my only concern. Just in general, I would love to see a more complete *spectrum* of products and new technology combinations, new combinations of all this: speakers, tubes, effects, analog, digital, new and used, racks, pedals, mics, combo amps, separates, high-power, low-power, loud and quiet. All guitarists would have a greater range of choice, including many combinations of tubes unlike what we've become used to.

I am now pretty confident that the pinnacle of tone requires a power tube connected "directly" to a hard-driven speaker, with no emulation, simulation, or load. Assuming that you have to have a stressed speaker and no artificial load, for first-class tone, then the problem becomes simply a problem of scaling down the power amp and speaker. So I would like to see many speaker isolation cabinets to choose from, and very low power amps, and research in low powered speakers and enclosures. The small amp craze will hopefully carry us all into the under 10 watt field of new guitar gear approaches and new concepts of what a tube amp is.

I'm really counting on the gear designers and marketers to offer innovative cranked-tubes-and-speakers products. There is such a huge, obvious gap in guitar gear... why, oh why do all small amps in the stores have to be transistor amps? In the good old days, a beginer's amp was the 5 watt Champ. We're finally about to arrive there again, but hopefully with more options.

J. wrote:

>Now, I've agreed with all your concepts of the "power amp distortion in
>an effects unit" concept. But the 5-watt amps, you're speaking solely of
>recording with, right? There are plenty of small clubs without PAs where
>a 30 watt amp is still necessary. Now granted, if the club does have a
>PA, the 5-watter is still all that's necessary (imagine hearing Led
>Zeppelin on their first album tour, with Jimmy Page playing that old Tele
>through that little Supro he was using), although many that have been
>built couldn't stand up to the strain of touring--I know my VibroChamp

>Carry on your fight, though. I couldn't agree more that there should be
>more 5-watters available--imagine if there were all different
>configurations out there, maybe one running an EL84 instead of the 6V6
>that's usually used; different, more complicated preamp designs, the
>power amp between distortion and echo, like you said. I like the idea,
>and I've been reading your diatribes as often as I can (although, with
>their length and the fact that I'm limited to 60-minute sessions, I
>haven't gotten them all). I've said for a while now that if I were in
>the process of recording (which I'm not, being between bands and all),
>I'd be using the Champ more than my Super Reverb, most likely.

>Let the 5-watt amp creation begin.

5 watt amps would be good for many things that a 15-100 watt amp would be unwieldy for. You could "practice" with it, play through it at home while working on ideas, jam to records with it, record with it, tour with it. If it breaks on tour, get a backup. They should be offered in every conceivable packaging from a black box with only in/out jacks, all the way to a multi-channel amp.

One of my newest concerns is speakers. If a speaker has to be driven hard to sound good, how can we "drive a speaker hard" without blasting it? Maybe a 6" speaker would sound great and bassy in the right cabinet. Look at the advances in bookshelf speakers and small studio monitors. Often at home, you don't *want* thundering low bass anyway.

The guitar gear industry is biased too much towards performing guitarists and large venues, guitarists who play with loud drums. I would like to see quiet, scaled down drum kits and electronic drums used for small get-togethers.

The conventional thinking is that small amps can't sound just like big amps, so we should not bother with them. But actually, small tube amps sound great in their own way. They give a touch sensitivity at a low volume; they produce a great dynamic response and roundness not otherwise available at low volumes. Whether or not they sound as good as a cranked large amp, they sound better than many other approaches for quiet saturation. I want to have access to a cranked tube amp tone around the house, whether it's a cranked 100 watt amp with an 8x12 cabinet or a 5 watt amp with 8" speaker.

There is no good reason why there are almost no 5 watt amps. It's only due to the lack of demand and people's acceptance of transistor amps as "practice amps". What we need is a boycott of transistor amps, particularly the 10 and 15 watt "beginner amps". Instead, factories should be mass producing many 5 watt "personal amps" -- not practice or beginner amps -- to bring the price down. There should be low-wattage, inexpensive tube amps, but never a "beginner amp".

A Laney 15 watt amp lists for $300. We are very close to offering a 5 watt tube amp for $100. I bought my Fender Pro Jr. 15 watt tube amp for $200 new. A 5 watt amp could be even cheaper. They could at least bring the price down to $175. Then everyone could afford one. If manufacturers would quit wasting their energy making transistor amps that no one wants to hear, they could concentrate on economy of scale for small tube amps.

>Fulltone runs a 68 marshall into a 4x12 with 2 mics direct to tape really hot... no tiny simulation is really going to sound that cool.

>he was using an echoplex before the amp and i know you hate that

Yeah, I consider that sequence a "special effect" to be used rarely, rather than the preferred normal sequence. Echo before amp saturation causes beats, audible especially if you slowly bend a note.

>i'm fairly certain there are lower wattage 12"s out there. didn't certain
>old fender,gibson etc even little voxes use 12"s rated lower than the
>greenback? i think it was just an obsolete thing hwne most amps were
>regularly under 30 watts back then so i'm pretty sure speakers like that
>are out there.

I've even thought of buying a crappy little transistor amp just to get the speaker... but there must be a way to order these speakers new. I've been looking, and *all* the guitar speakers I can find are 25 watts and up. In fact, there are only a couple as low as 25 watts. 35-60 is more typical.

>I also think there should be way more options available but
>given teh way things always cost way toomuch as soon as they ome out it
>will likely be several years before what youa resuggestingwillikely be
>cost-effective for the people who need themmost.

Now's the time to start making these available, even if they cost too much, like the Kendrick 5 watt tube amp for 500 or so. I know what they are thinking: "Hey, since it's unusually small, we can charge *more* for it... except I guess no one is that stupid. Too bad. Damn, we'll have to charge less for it than our 30 and 15 watt amps."

>a lot of things about what's available suck right now so
>i don't think they're going to devote a lot of time to it when they still
>are trying to come up with a better fuzzbox people will definitely buy .

$100 effects and small transistor amps come naturally to the manufacturers. Tube amps require expensive components -- tubes and sockets. And they break.

>well-nobody ever accused the guitar industry of being too smart about
>market research.

Right on. One person implied I was invading the turf of the professional designers by declaring a new unfulfilled need. These professional designers don't like to hear that other people who are not pro designers have better ideas than they do. The gear industry has a herd mentality. I've heard this attitude from more than one designer. If I were a designer, I would welcome ideas from others. The designers need to be put in their place. They innovate in some ways but not in others. If I've never heard of electric guitar, and I have a great idea for an ergonomic approach to getting cranked amp tone, they should respect the caliber of my ideas independently of my professional designer credentials. The designers or marketers are not doing a really good job. They take a few years to hear and respond to popular demand.

>Look how pathetic companies are with reissuing things
>in high demand that they stupidly discontinued. Boss still hasn't
>reissued the damned tremelo/pan pedal-one of their greatest pedals they
>ever made that people ask for and half of Nashville and most alternative-rock
>guitrists actually use and say so in magazines. For 2 years nobody was
>making tremelo pedals and then the Tremodillo came out and then 15 other
>companies came out with tremelo pedals and Boss *still* hasn't gotten the
>drift. The Ibanez Iceman, Bass 6 guitars, how long?

Time is the major issue. If the user group strongly demands a product, eventually it will be produced. We need to make our wants known loud and clear.

>As for recognizing the truism that most guitarists don't play out much if
>at all, despite the obvious fact that guitarists who don't play out
>usually have more money to spend on this stuff for the simple fact that
>they have real jobs and don't get excited to make $30 and a free pitcher
>of beer to live on.

Good point, that's the sort of thing I have in mind. The industry is biased too much to performing musicians.

Of course the products I'm suggesting will be welcomed by performing musicians as well as home hobbyists or whatever other approach guitarists have.

>I suppose I should start a new thread on alt.guitar.amps asking all the guys who
>actually do this stuff [the designers] who they really think their customers are.
>Is it the 24 year-old guy with no regular job who lives in a van and owns
>3 pairs of socks, a pair of jeans, leather jacket, band t-shirts they
>couldn't sell, and 2 Les Pauls and a cab, or the 40 year-old guy with a real
>job, college students with time on their hands and teenagers who aren't
>paying rent. The last 3 groups have exactly the need you are describing
>and the poor schmucks who perform get 90% of the attention from Marketing, for no good
>reason except that the other 3 groups somehow envy them. oh well.

>I'll be impressed if the damn thing comes out and if it's cost-effective
>I'll certainly buy one but i'm not holding my breath and i'm not likely
>to pay more for a tiny system that may sound a lot better than what i'm
>using now but nowhere near as good as what will be demanded of it.
>essentially the cheapest simplest answer might just to have somebody
>design a comically inefficient 12" speaker where 90% of the power pumped
>into it is "wasted" as heat or something instead of translating into high
>volume. Why couldn't this work? Why can't somebody make a theoretically
>stupid speaker that sounds good but simply won't operate as efficiently
>as any speaker currently made? Plug a 30 watt amp into it and the
>damn thing sounds as loud as a tiny "beginner's practice amp"?
>Seems easy, perhaps if they hire 15 year-olds for minimum wage to design
>a high end speaker they'd get it exactly right by accident and just not
>throw it out

It's easy to picture guitar equipment designers are bumbling fools who happen to get it right once in a while. More than enough years have passed since I first read the Groove Tubes book about how wonderful the 5 watt Champ sounds. We've had 10 years for the designers to get the idea, "Hey, just because an amp is small or low-power doesn't mean it automatically should be conceived as a crappy, amateur, beginner's amp -- why not offer tubes like we used to?" In 10 years, only one company, Kendrick, has come up with the *obvious* idea of selling 5 watt tube amps.

Then look at the way preamp tubes in effects units have been marketed as the tonal salvation of the world. Anyone who experiments with amps must realize that the most unique saturation characteristics happen in the power amp and speakers, not in the preamp. A transistorized guitar amp is not going to sound like a tube amp by adding a 12AX7 -- this should be obvious to marketing, product development, and the design engineers.

No, I have no particular respect for the product ideas of professional guitar amp and effects designers. Sometimes they are inspired, but they often miss the boat and spend too much attention copying the rest of the herd of designers rather than listening to their potential customer base.

___good page____

Larry Meiners has a BSEE, has worked for technology firms for fourteen
years and is a business consultant in Silicon Valley. He wants to expand
his work to include marketing and product development for guitar and amp
manufacturers. LAMeiners at aol.com.


I have a BSEE as well and have written about new product ideas. I have been
posting a lot on the Net, and have been exchanging email with Keen
(effects guru), Craig Anderton, Kevin O'Connor, Randy of Digitech, and
others, gathering and promoting information about getting cranked amp
tone at low room-noise levels.

I believe and hope that the next hot trend in electric guitar gear will
center around low-wattage power tubes. Power tubes will be packaged in
innovative new ways. The goal is cranked-amp tone at low room-noise
levels. The customers for this gear include all electric rock
guitarists, not just stage and studio guitarists. The potential number
of guitarists is huge, held back only by the mediocrity of guitar tone
when not using a cranked tube amp. If anyone could easily get cranked
tube amp tone without blasting above the level of an acoustic guitar,
many more people would buy and enjoy electric guitar gear, and the gear
industry would greatly expand.

When you play through a multieffects processor into a turned-down amp,
two things are missing: saturating power tubes and a hard-driven
speaker. However, there are ways to saturate power tubes and move a
speaker at low room noise levels, such as using a 5-watt tube amp and a
speaker isolation cabinet. A speaker isolation cabinet is the
equivalent of an isolation room in a recording studio, or a loud space
to put on a show. The alternatives to using a speaker isolation cabinet
to get good tone are an expensive, inconvenient studio, and an
expensive, inconvenient concert hall.

One theory is that an inductive load and low-pass filter (such as the
part of the ADA Ampulator after the power stage) can replace a guitar
speaker and cabinet. But the majority report is that a hard-driven
speaker is a major part of good amp tone.

If a stressed speaker is mandatory for cranked-amp tone, then the only
serious way to get great tone with low room noise levels is to use a
speaker isolation box. So far there are only 2 mass-produced isolation
cabinets I'm aware of: the Demeter brand, which takes a 12" speaker, and
the Micro Room, which takes a 6" speaker.

A real winning combination is a low-wattage tube power amp driving a
speaker isolation cabinet. But even a "small" amp such as 15 watts, and
even a solid speaker isolation cabinet such as a box within a box, is
still too loud, and cumbersome. We need even smaller tube power amps,
and scaled down speakers and cabinets. Kevin O'Connor is about to offer
a rack mount 1-10 watt tube power amp. Kendrick offers a 6 watt tube
combo amp. The MicroRoom uses a properly scaled cabinet and 6" speaker.

So, small speakers and speaker isolation cabinets should become a
booming new type of guitar gear.

Various packagings of power tubes should be another booming area of
guitar gear. Many companies should offer the following, packaged in an
effects pedal or rack unit or multieffects unit:
o power tube
o output transformer
o inductive load
o optional low-pass filter (speaker simulator)
As a better alternative to the inductive load and low-pass filter, such
devices should routinely offer a direct speaker output and mic return,
which would bypass the load and filter. This could be used for driving
and mic'ing a standard open-front cabinet, but would be especially
practical for a speaker isolation cabinet.

I connected such a setup in the "effects loop" of the Digitech 2101
guitar effects "preamp", with complete success. I put the following in
the effects loop, which is located between the analog, distortion
effects and the digital, time-based effects:
o A Fender Pro Jr. 15 watt tube amp
o Celestion Greenback 25 watt guitar speaker
o Homemade speaker double-isolation cabinet
o Shure SM57 dynamic mic
o In-line XLR-to-1/4" adapter

This whole setup worked but had poor ergnomics -- too many cables and
separate pieces. But it proved a point: you can construct the
equivalent of a professional studio with amp isolation room and post-amp
mixing facilities by silencing the speaker via speaker isolation
cabinet, and by providing level, eq, and effects controls completely
after the speaker, for full control over the whole amp sound.

A power tube, inductive load, and low-pass filter could be provided in
packaging approaches such as an "effects" unit. The load and low-pass
filter would only be provided as a fall-back measure, for when
convenience is all you care about. The preferred alternative would be
to plug in a speaker cabinet and mic, bypassing the load and low-pass

The Hughes & Kettner Blues Master (aka Crunch Master) nearly fits this
model. It contains a several-watt power tube, a load, and a low-pass
filter. It also enables you to bypass the load and filter, directly
driving a speaker with the output of 5 watt or so output. You can take
the mic'd signal and send it for further processing: level control, eq,
echo, and reverb.

I would like to see many products -- "amps", "effects", and "pedals" --
that include a power tube, load, and low-pass filter, but also enable
you to use a speaker isolation cabinet instead of the load and low-pass
filter. Along with these type of products, we need a much greater
selection of speaker isolation cabinets, including scaled-down cabinets,
small (4", 6") speakers, and double-layered isolation boxes.

Also, comparable to high-fidelity all-in-one stereos, companies should
offer compact all-in-one guitar processing rigs that have all the
following stages in a single box, smaller than a 4x12 cabinet:

o foot controller
o distortion effects, and eq and level controls
o low-wattage tube power amp
o speaker, speaker isolation cabinet, microphone
o level and eq, and echo effects
o solid-state power amp
o 100 watt full-range monitor

This is more complicated than a 60 watt traditional amp, but it is no
more complicated than the studio setup used for professional guitar
tone. When you include the mixing board and isolation room as part of
the "stripped down, dirt-simple" traditional amp, you see how much that
old amp approach actually relies on additional equipment and
facilities. A speaker isolation cabinet is simply the equivalent of an
isolation room in a studio, or a concert hall or other loud space in
which to play a show. The solid-state power amp and monitor is simply
the equivalent of the power amp and monitors used in the control room of
the recording studio, or the PA amp and PA speakers used in a concert.

The real goal is not amp-in-a-box, but rather, amp-and-studio-in-a-box.
To include the studio isolation space, mixing controls, and monitor
system in the guitar rig, you need to add a speaker isolation cabinet,
solid-state power amp, and full-range monitor speaker.

By now, we have learned that preamp tubes are not sufficient for a
cranked-amp tone. You need saturating power tubes and a hard-driven
speaker. There are various shortcuts you can take. Each one cuts down
the quality of the tone. If you use a power attenuator to feed less
power to the speaker, the tone suffers some. If you skip the speaker
and use a low-pass filter, the tone suffers some. If you eliminate
saturating power tubes, the tone suffers some. Designing new packaging
of guitar processing components requires an understanding of the
compromises when any component is merely simulated. There is a tradeoff
between convenience and tone. Loud amps in the studio are toneful but
inconvenient. Effects processor preamps straight into the mixing board
are convenient but have 3rd-rate tone.

There is a huge lucrative gap
right now in guitar gear, which would involve a smart compromise between
tone and convenience in order to fill the massive latent desires of
millions of current and potential guitarists. Guitarists now want a
great selection of products with low-wattage power tubes. The so-called
"small"-amp craze has only begun to point the way. What people want, as
the favorite compromise, is big amp tone with preamp convenience and low
room-noise levels, much lower than 15 watts. Such product approaches
centered around low-watt power tubes and properly scaled-down speaker
systems provide two-thirds of the convenience of a practice amp combined
with a multieffects processor, and two thirds of the cranked-amp tone of
a large, loud guitar amp in a studio isolation room or concert space.

This optimized combination of preamp and cranked-amp qualities provides
the greatest overall artistic power, and makes it available to all
guitarists, inviting many more to take up guitar. It reduces the
hassles and increases the tone.

Eventually these product trends will meet up with computers and the
Internet. For example, a sequencer could simultaneously switch the
o Guitar effects
o Guitar amp tone
o LEDs on the fretboard of a Fretlight guitar
o LEDs in the keys of a keyboard at a remote site

Effects programming could be done on a computer screen rather than
through tiny front-panel buttons and displays.

All these technologies would make it easy for inexperienced musicians to
play complex jams together and sound great. For products in general,
there should be two approaches offered: simple, with great presets and
little flexibility, and complex, with many presets and much
flexibility. Compare the complicated Digitech 2101 effects processor
and the new ergonomic Digitech 2112 effects processor.

Ampulator, low-watt amps, spk iso cabs

Ampulator (at Harmony Central)

Does the ADA Ampulator have an output that can directly drive a guitar
speaker? If so, how many watts is it? I hear it uses a preamp tube in
a power-amp configuration.

The Hughes & Kettner Blues Master (aka Crunch Master) is the same type
of device, with fewer controls. It has an EL84 tube and can directly
drive a speaker. I don't know its output wattage. I imagine it's
between 1 and 5 watts.

Goodall's H&K offerings

I am buying low-watt tube amps to drive a speaker in a speaker isolation
cabinet. I am considering using a tube radio amp section or the Blues
Master speaker output to drive a speaker hard in a speaker isolation
cabinet. Then I would apply echo and reverb, as well as final level and
eq control. Finally, I'd probably use a solid-state amp and full-range
monitor to hear the finished results. This is like the guitar portion
of a pro recording studio, packaged into a system.

I have had excellent results with a 15-watt tube amp driving a 25-watt
Celestion speaker in a speaker isolation cabinet. But this approach
still generates too much room noise. So here's how I'm thinking of
preserving but scaling down this approach. Use only a 5-watt tube amp,
and use only a 6" speaker, in a balanced, scaled-down speaker isolation
cabinet. Another nice thing with low wattage is that you can use a
crisper-sounding condenser mic without thrashing it, rather than having
to use a narrow-sounding dynamic mic.

We're probably about to see many 5-watt tube amps hit the market. They
should also design properly scaled-down guitar speaker cabinets to
match. I think the speaker needs to be stressed. I doubt a 25 watt 12"
speaker driven by a saturating 5-watt tube amp would sound the
greatest. Maybe a 6" 10-watt speaker in a properly scaled cabinet would
sound better, would sound more cranked, round, and smooth. Anyway, if
you're using a speaker isolation cabinet, a smaller speaker would
probably generate less room noise than a 12" speaker, when both are
driven by a saturating 5 watt tube amp. But where can you get a 5 watt
tube amp?

o The Hughest & Kettner Blues Master offers a direct speaker output at
low (?) wattage
o Kendrick Velo...(?) is a 6-watt tube amp
o The amp designer grapevine reports that several people are working on
5-watt tube guitar amps.
o Tube radios are available in the rec.antiques.radio+phono newsgroup.
o The ADA Ampulator might have a direct speaker output with perhaps 2

The Demeter speaker isolation cabinet takes a 12" speaker.
The MicroRoom speaker isolation cabinet takes a 6" speaker and happens
to have a power attenuator too. But I think it's better to use a 5 watt
amp in the first place, rather than use a 50 watt amp and then attenuate
the output 90%.

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