Quantcast
Why do mic tube preamps cost so much more than tube guitar amps? - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Why do mic tube preamps cost so much more than tube guitar amps?
Old 18th January 2013
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Why do mic tube preamps cost so much more than tube guitar amps?

So I'm touring the PRS Guitar factory, and go into the amp r&d area. After talking to a couple of engineers and going over the guts of their tube amps, I realize that these guitar amps are at least twice as complex as microphone tube pre amps. On top of that, the PRS amps made offshore are very, very cool and substantially less.

It seems to me that we've been paying a 'mic preamp' premium for a very long time. Is there any relief in sight?
Old 18th January 2013
  #2
Kas
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Because engineers have more money and need better gear with better S/N and distortion stats. Guitarists just need it loud and WANT distortion. This is easier and cheaper to achieve.
Old 19th January 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Surely one can find expensive tube gtr amps as well?
Old 19th January 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 
doncaparker's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Try to make a tube mic preamp as noise free as a transistor based mic preamp, as opposed to the cacophony of hiss and buzz that is tolerated in even the best guitar amps, and that might give you a sense of why tube mic preamps are more expensive than guitar amps.
Old 19th January 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Marcocet's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Guitar amps are all super bandwidth limited and most are intended to distort pretty early. It's a completely different thing. Plus there's a much bigger market for guitar amps.

Anyway, you're overthinking the whole process of pricing. If you imagine you can build one as cheaply as you can build a guitar amp give it a shot! If it works well bring it to market and then you can choose where to set the price but I have to imagine that by the time you got to that point you'd be pricing it close to everyone elses.
Old 19th January 2013 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It's extraordinarily simple:

1) Supply & demand: the number of guitar amp customers vs. the number of tube pre customers.

2) Economies of scale: the sheer buying power and labor costs of corporations like PRS/Marshall/Mesa vs. mom-and-pops like LaChapell/Shadow Hills/Fearn.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 20th January 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I'm glad this question was asked because, as a guitarist entering the world of recording, I had been wondering the same thing. All of the replies make sense too. The greatest irony in music gear is that millions of dollars have been spent (and billions of dollars earned) making guitar amplifiers technically "sound bad."
Old 20th January 2013 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
hasbeen's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I was wondering the opposite. Have you seen the prices of some of the boutique guitar amps?
Old 20th January 2013 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hasbeen ➑️
I was wondering the opposite. Have you seen the prices of some of the boutique guitar amps?
I was thinking of bring that up but decided not too. There are more components that go into a guitar amp (power amp and speaker) so that will add to the price. They are also not "production" amps. Are there mic preamps built on a "custom" basis?
Old 20th January 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Hi
Low quantity builds of anything are expensive. A Mic pre would typically have 2 pretty expensive transformers (One in one out) and a power transformer although a lot smaller than in a guitar amp will also be expensive as it probably has a mumetal case to stop it making everything hum. You can't even get a guitar pickup within several feet of some guitar amps, never mind the amount of hum reduction necessary to have it a few inches away.
Matt S
Old 20th January 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I paid $1500 years ago for my LA610...and between $1800-2300 for each of my amps that were bought new.

I think the concept is flawed. You can buy a tube mic preamp for $100-300. This is the equivalent of GC type guitar amps. Also, tube guitar amps are ABOUT distortion...tube mic preamps are about fidelity. Any fool can wire a tube to drive into distortion--you can get tube preamp pedals for less than $200. So, those are the two reasons. Not comparing apples to apples...and that distortion versus euphonic fidelity is not really just semantics.
Old 20th January 2013 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
The greatest irony in music gear is that millions of dollars have been spent (and billions of dollars earned) making guitar amplifiers technically "sound bad."
I think you are confusing bad with inaccurate. Sounding good or bad is completely subjective, where as accurate is a technical term. It could technically be exhibiting extremely inaccurate reproduction yet still be sounding fabulous.
Old 21st January 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
A lot of OTS tubes are really too noisy to use in a high fidelity preamp. They have to go through a selection process (read: $$$ from manual labor) to find the good ones. Back in the 1970s you could buy GE 7025 which is a selected low noise 12AX7, no such thing exists today.
Old 21st January 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
What kind of cheap tube amps are you buying? Hand wired good tube amps are $12-1500 easily and go up from there.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama ➑️
What kind of cheap tube amps are you buying? Hand wired good tube amps are $12-1500 easily and go up from there.
$1500 for a hand-wired tube amp? Sign me up!

My Diezel VH4 was well over $4000.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #16
Village Idiot
 
Labs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hasbeen ➑️
I was wondering the opposite. Have you seen the prices of some of the boutique guitar amps?
This...

Gustav
______
Build your own gear
Old 21st January 2013
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaylorD ➑️
$1500 for a hand-wired tube amp? Sign me up!

My Diezel VH4 was well over $4000.
Dr. Z for one.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama ➑️
Dr. Z for one.
I think Dr.Z and Diezel both make great amps but they are very different from each other. The reason for the price discrepancy is the Diezel VH4 is roughly 4 Dr.Z's built into one head.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
I think Dr.Z and Diezel both make great amps but they are very different from each other. The reason for the price discrepancy is the Diezel VH4 is roughly 4 Dr.Z's built into one head.
The Zs are about as simple an amp as you can get- I don't think they make a channel-switching amp. Diezel is pretty well the opposite- the other guitarist in my band has a Diezel Herbert, so I'm quite familiar; it does everything under the sun, is MIDI controllable, multiple effect loops, etc.

I usually use a NMV AC30. (And a fleet of pedals.) Totally opposite approach, amp-wise, but I digress.

Some of the single-channel boutique stuff is quite affordable as far as good guitar amps go; the Zs, for one; I remember looking at some Top Hats a couple years ago and those weren't bad at all, etc. The really crazy expensive stuff tends to be either things like the Diezels- a do-everything box- or Dumble clone-types (Fuchs, Two Rock, etc.)
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maschinenraum ➑️
The Zs are about as simple an amp as you can get- I don't think they make a channel-switching amp. Diezel is pretty well the opposite- the other guitarist in my band has a Diezel Herbert, so I'm quite familiar; it does everything under the sun, is MIDI controllable, multiple effect loops, etc.

I usually use a NMV AC30. (And a fleet of pedals.) Totally opposite approach, amp-wise, but I digress.

Some of the single-channel boutique stuff is quite affordable as far as good guitar amps go; the Zs, for one; I remember looking at some Top Hats a couple years ago and those weren't bad at all, etc. The really crazy expensive stuff tends to be either things like the Diezels- a do-everything box- or Dumble clone-types (Fuchs, Two Rock, etc.)
That's what I was trying to implying. I guess I was being too subtle.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k ➑️
It's extraordinarily simple:

1) Supply & demand: the number of guitar amp customers vs. the number of tube pre customers.

2) Economies of scale: the sheer buying power and labor costs of corporations like PRS/Marshall/Mesa vs. mom-and-pops like LaChapell/Shadow Hills/Fearn.
True dat. Try pricing up some custom-design chassis and panels, and you'll find that the box is the most expensive part of any design. It's mostly the tooling that runs the price up. It's not necessarily all that expensive to run a lot more sheet metal through once setup has been paid for. A guitar amp also has a lot more space inside, and a lot lower tolerances for noise. It just takes less refinement to get an acceptable design.

As has been pointed out, the more stuff you cram into a guitar amp causes the price to go up dramatically, even if it amounts to a just a couple more tubes in actual components. Preamps sell a lot fewer units, too, so markup has to be proportionally that much higher just to pay for the real estate to house a couple of engineers.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
That's what I was trying to implying. I guess I was being too subtle.
Dr. Z doesn't make a channel switching amp; his philosophy is instead of compromising features to get different sounds, just use a different amp. While I know some folks like the all in one like Diezel or a Bogner, I'm in the camp of give me the amp that does the one thing better than anyone else; if I need a different sound, i'll get a different amp or mic them both up.

Personal taste. I also doubt that anyone looking at a Z would ever bother looking at a Diezel and the other way around.

Probably a better comparison in cost would be a Dr. Z to a single channel preamp, and a Diezel to a quad preamp...
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama ➑️
Dr. Z doesn't make a channel switching amp; his philosophy is instead of compromising features to get different sounds, just use a different amp. While I know some folks like the all in one like Diezel or a Bogner, I'm in the camp of give me the amp that does the one thing better than anyone else; if I need a different sound, i'll get a different amp or mic them both up.

Personal taste. I also doubt that anyone looking at a Z would ever bother looking at a Diezel and the other way around.

Probably a better comparison in cost would be a Dr. Z to a single channel preamp, and a Diezel to a quad preamp...
I got away from the mic preamp/guitar preamp comparison. You're right about Dr.Z and Diezel appealing to a different clientele. However, I tend to like polar opposites, I own a Mesa Boogie Roadster but I would love to get an Orange Tiny Terror or Dark Terror. I realize they aren't a Dr.Z but they also aren't a Mesa.
Old 9th February 2013
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
microphonics

why has nobody mentioned microphonics"? this is the noise within the tube that adds distortion, more than the desired distortion of a top-end tube pushed. tube dealers test each unit, guarantee that ones they charge a lot for have very low microphonics, a factor less important in guitar amps. there may be some mumbo jumbo here, but it's a real factor. this is at least part of the answer.
Old 9th February 2013 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifesize ➑️
why has nobody mentioned microphonics"? this is the noise within the tube that adds distortion, more than the desired distortion of a top-end tube pushed. tube dealers test each unit, guarantee that ones they charge a lot for have very low microphonics, a factor less important in guitar amps.
Microphonics in a tube are exactly that - the tendency for a tube to respond to vibration. It's much more of a factor in a guitar amp, which is subject to higher vibrations, than it is in a preamp.
Old 23rd February 2013
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
So that's the way it has to be; mic preamps will just cost more.

As far as high gain guitar amps go, I started off with an Ampeg V-4 in the mid '70s, so clean gain has been the norm for me. Funny thing, I was speaking with a Manley Audio tech/officer at NAMM about clean gain and my old V-4 when he gave me the story about the Manley/Ampeg connection. How cool.

At any rate, Manley is a prime example of this thread. One day I will pay the big bucks for the Massive Passive, and just be done with it.
Old 23rd February 2013 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
BudgetMC's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaylorD ➑️
$1500 for a hand-wired tube amp? Sign me up!

My Diezel VH4 was well over $4000.
This guy's my amp tech... he makes some sweet amps.

http://allenamps.com/
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 54 views: 8456
Avatar for airmate
airmate 24th April 2006
replies: 1 views: 1409
Avatar for Space Nugget
Space Nugget 8th June 2009
replies: 15929 views: 1529060
Avatar for Ragan
Ragan 11th January 2019
replies: 19708 views: 1561385
Avatar for mathirio
mathirio 4 hours ago
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump