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Acoustic amps...I need to buy one, but which?


Jinder
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Well the Roy wasn't the solution. Bizarrely, even with the gain fully turned down, singing at something approaching gig volume into a vocal mic causes the Overload light to come on and clipping to be induced. 

I've tried three mics, my live go-to Sennheiser E865, my backup AKG D7 and a Rode NT1A I had in the studio and all three suffered from the same issue on every channel. 

I wasn't put off by the fact it weighs roughly the same as the average family car, but was somewhat perplexed that whilst the cabinet was hewn from mighty Baltic ply, the grille fabric appeared to be made from the most fragile of sheer tights. My first thought was "I mustn't let the cat get anywhere near this!".

It sounded great for guitar, though. Hugely disappointed that it won't do the job and totally dispirited in my search for an amp that might fit the bill. Back to awkward powered speakers on stands and fussy mixers I guess.

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4 minutes ago, Jinder said:

Well the Roy wasn't the solution. Bizarrely, even with the gain fully turned down, singing at something approaching gig volume into a vocal mic causes the Overload light to come on and clipping to be induced. 

I've tried three mics, my live go-to Sennheiser E865, my backup AKG D7 and a Rode NT1A I had in the studio and all three suffered from the same issue on every channel. 

I wasn't put off by the fact it weighs roughly the same as the average family car, but was somewhat perplexed that whilst the cabinet was hewn from mighty Baltic ply, the grille fabric appeared to be made from the most fragile of sheer tights. My first thought was "I mustn't let the cat get anywhere near this!".

It sounded great for guitar, though. Hugely disappointed that it won't do the job and totally dispirited in my search for an amp that might fit the bill. Back to awkward powered speakers on stands and fussy mixers I guess.

Darn it. So sorry, Jinder. Thought surely that Schertler was your answer. I’ve never had the problem with vocal mics you have described but I’m guessing I didn’t have to turn things up very high in my small venues. 

Onward and upward!

 

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Bummer, dude.  Round and round you go.  I have a Schertler David Deluxe (no longer in production) that sounds terrific and has a -10dB switch on the input to knock down a high level input.......is this missing on the Roy?  Nice feature to have......seems you could use one on that amp.  If you play stages with in-house sound systems you can feed a DI out of a stage amp and reduce it to a monitoring system.  Not the case in all rooms though, I know.

And, not to rain on your parade, but we as players/performers are our own worse critics and I don't think an audience is nearly as particular about perfect fidelity as we are.  You might consider this and reduce some of your stressing over this amp search.

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That is disappointing for you. Doesn't seem to be right though with all the good word the amp has received.

So you either have a dud or you are doing something wrong...

Did you try it at a shop? Or has it arrived direct from Manufacturer? Guitar sounds great, you say, so the UK power setup must be ok. No extension speaker lead hanging out? Ohm problem? Do you use xlr connectors with your mics? Or PMG? Some inputs these days can electronically make their own mind up on settings depending on the plugs... wrong phantom power?

 

Do you have a SM57/58 to try?

 

BluesKing777.

 

Edited by BluesKing777
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Thanks all. I've checked everything with connections and setup, I'm using XLR cables with my mics, all is the same as I've been using with my previous rig for several years. I'm utterly perplexed that the gain stage is so hot-even with my passive Sunrise pickups I'm not having to turn the gain up very much at all before the clip light comes on. 

It seems odd that there is so little headroom. Either the minimum input gain level is too high or the OL light is coming on too early and giving a false reading. Either way, something isn't right. I've emailed Schertler so will await their reply, if there is nothing that can be done I'll have to send the amp back. Unfortunately because Schertler have no distribution in the UK I've had to order it from Germany, so returning it is likely to be an expensive and inconvenient process.

Between the Mesa Rosette that couldn't handle vocals without the power amp section freaking out, the AER Domino that had a faulty pad switch on channel 3, the AER Compact XL that had such overpowering upper mid presence on the vocal channel (and no midrange control!) that it was barely useable and the Roy that can't handle a balanced mic signal, I'm starting to think my quest for a decent amplifier is going to be fruitless.

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Hey Jinder - Seems like a product engineer is needed to see what you're doing and what's going on.  I gotta believe there's something wrong with the Schertler - I've heard a couple of songs of yours and although they're better than the average bears, they are not so wildly different where I would think an amp would work for everyone else except you.  If you just didn't like the sound, I could understand, but the thing isn't functioning right. 

I guess the only other thing I would try would be another Domino - it seemed like that was a good one except the faulty channel, which hopefully you could get one that worked correctly.

Sorry for your hassles - hope something works out alright.  This should be an exciting exercise (new equipment yeah!) but geeze it's been a trial for you.  Something good will come of it.

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15 minutes ago, billroy said:

Hey Jinder - Seems like a product engineer is needed to see what you're doing and what's going on.  I gotta believe there's something wrong with the Schertler - I've heard a couple of songs of yours and although they're better than the average bears, they are not so wildly different where I would think an amp would work for everyone else except you.  If you just didn't like the sound, I could understand, but the thing isn't functioning right. 

I guess the only other thing I would try would be another Domino - it seemed like that was a good one except the faulty channel, which hopefully you could get one that worked correctly.

Sorry for your hassles - hope something works out alright.  This should be an exciting exercise (new equipment yeah!) but geeze it's been a trial for you.  Something good will come of it.

Thankyou...I certainly hope so. I just want something that works properly and sounds good. I liked the Domino but when something doesn't work properly out of the box, I tend to worry that after a a year or two of gigging even a perfect example would cause trouble. The Domino is also astonishingly expensive, I bought the last one in the UK under £2000 (£1899 from GAK), but after I returned it I noticed they are now all around £2250, which seems a stratospherically high price for an amp.

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You are within your rights to have the shiztens! What a drama.....

On the back of my Boss VE8, there is a tiny little overall gain knob - the Roy doesn’t have something like this hiding at the back? Or a screw adjust?

Speaking of Boss, they have a couple of acoustic guitar/ vocal amps that have most of the controls on my VE8 plus an amp and speaker combo. I know it is way ‘lower rent’ than what you have tried, but who knows? It may work! Boss Acoustic Singer Pro is 120 watts......

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

Edited by BluesKing777
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On 9/3/2019 at 10:21 AM, BluesKing777 said:

 

You are within your rights to have the shiztens! What a drama.....

On the back of my Boss VE8, there is a tiny little overall gain knob - the Roy doesn’t have something like this hiding at the back? Or a screw adjust?

Speaking of Boss, they have a couple of acoustic guitar/ vocal amps that have most of the controls on my VE8 plus an amp and speaker combo. I know it is way ‘lower rent’ than what you have tried, but who knows? It may work! Boss Acoustic Singer Pro is 120 watts......

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

Thanks BK! Alas the Roy doesn't have a gain control hidden anywhere other than the one on the mixer which doesn't turn down far enough.

I'm returning the Roy as neither myself, Thomann or Schertler know what's wrong with it, and I'm not prepared to ship it back and forth to Germany for repair. Too much time and expense when I should be able to plug and play when spending this much money!

I've gone for one more amp-shaped roll of the dice...the Hughes & Kettner Era 2. 400w RMS/600w Peak, similar layout to the Roy but three less channels and quite a lot lighter. Comes with a tilt stand and gig bag and is apparently very dynamic and great for vocals too. Should be here tomorrow. 

If the H&K isn't the ticket, I'll give up on the amp idea and buy another pair of powered speakers, although the prospect doesn't appeal anywhere near as much as an amp based solution.

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2 hours ago, Jinder said:

Thanks BK! Alas the Roy doesn't have a gain control hidden anywhere other than the one on the mixer which doesn't turn down far enough.

I'm returning the Roy as neither myself, Thomann or Schertler know what's wrong with it, and I'm not prepared to ship it back and forth to Germany for repair. Too much time and expense when I should be able to plug and play when spending this much money!

I've gone for one more amp-shaped roll of the dice...the Hughes & Kettner Era 2. 400w RMS/600w Peak, similar layout to the Roy but three less channels and quite a lot lighter. Comes with a tilt stand and gig bag and is apparently very dynamic and great for vocals too. Should be here tomorrow. 

If the H&K isn't the ticket, I'll give up on the amp idea and buy another pair of powered speakers, although the prospect doesn't appeal anywhere near as much as an amp based solution.

Good luck Jinder, fingers crossed for you!

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1 hour ago, billroy said:

Good luck Jinder, fingers crossed for you!

Thankyou! It's powerful, built in Germany and has a pad switch on both channels...it comes across as some sort of middle ground between an AER and a Schertler. I'm excited to try it, and have a good feeling about this one. My favourite setup is my SJ200 with a Sunrise, into my Boss AD10...that's my "A-Team", and I just need something equally brilliant and inspiring at the end of the chain. Hopefully the H&K will be the ticket, after all these travails!

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Another one gone!

I hope the H&K works out and it isn't your mic or something! 

Anyway, do any of the previous manufacturers of junk ever get back to you and tell you what happened? You know, for future reference and all that.

Too late but the manual for the Roy is out - it does have the variable input electronics I mentioned. I prefer a switch, thanks...don't want no machine deciding everything. Bet you that is what is going astray.

from  manual:

1.1. MIC INPUT This input is electronically balanced for XLR type connections. The new MIC/DYN channel is now conceived for any kind of signal sources. You can plug in vocal microphones. The electronics will adapt to any situation. No special action is required 1.2. INSERT This stereo jack plug enables the connection of an external device (compressor, equalizer, etc.) in series to all the outputs 1.3. 48V The amplifier’s XLR input provides 48V phantom power for use with a condenser microphone. Most condenser (and dynamic) microphones, along with some preamps, can be safely phantom powered. In certain cases however, phantom power can cause damage to a device. This tends to occur with unbalanced microphones, preamps or stompboxes that have been modified for balanced XLR use. For any doubt, please contact us to check the compatibility of your audio device before using the amplifier 1.4. GAIN This variable gain preamplifier adjusts the sensitivity level to ensure the best possible processing of the MIC signal through the channel. It is important that this input level should be set and optimised in the best way to achieve the cleanest sound possible 1.5. OVERLOAD This LED (when lit) indicates that the level of the inputsignal is too high and it might introduce distortions 1.6. HIGH, MID, LOW These controls are devoted to high, medium and low frequency regulation. Offering cut and boost of ±15dB, they allow a wide range of tonal variations to be explored. Parametrics MID regulation, offers the possibility to cut or boost a frequency range between 300Hz and 3,3kHz. When the controls are positioned centrally there is no cut or boost of the selected frequency band 1.7. MULTIEFFECT This rotary control sets the level of the selected effect on the channels 1.8. REVERB (AUX) This rotary control simultaneously sets the level of the digital reverb on the channels and the level of the signal sent to AUX OUT. 1.9. VOLUME This rotatory control regulates the channel volume

 

 

Anyway, too late, sorry - could be anything. Sure you don't want to take your mic to a shop and try some amps in person?

 

BluesKing777.

 

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14 hours ago, BluesKing777 said:

 

Another one gone!

I hope the H&K works out and it isn't your mic or something! 

Anyway, do any of the previous manufacturers of junk ever get back to you and tell you what happened? You know, for future reference and all that.

Too late but the manual for the Roy is out - it does have the variable input electronics I mentioned. I prefer a switch, thanks...don't want no machine deciding everything. Bet you that is what is going astray.

from  manual:

1.1. MIC INPUT This input is electronically balanced for XLR type connections. The new MIC/DYN channel is now conceived for any kind of signal sources. You can plug in vocal microphones. The electronics will adapt to any situation. No special action is required 1.2. INSERT This stereo jack plug enables the connection of an external device (compressor, equalizer, etc.) in series to all the outputs 1.3. 48V The amplifier’s XLR input provides 48V phantom power for use with a condenser microphone. Most condenser (and dynamic) microphones, along with some preamps, can be safely phantom powered. In certain cases however, phantom power can cause damage to a device. This tends to occur with unbalanced microphones, preamps or stompboxes that have been modified for balanced XLR use. For any doubt, please contact us to check the compatibility of your audio device before using the amplifier 1.4. GAIN This variable gain preamplifier adjusts the sensitivity level to ensure the best possible processing of the MIC signal through the channel. It is important that this input level should be set and optimised in the best way to achieve the cleanest sound possible 1.5. OVERLOAD This LED (when lit) indicates that the level of the inputsignal is too high and it might introduce distortions 1.6. HIGH, MID, LOW These controls are devoted to high, medium and low frequency regulation. Offering cut and boost of ±15dB, they allow a wide range of tonal variations to be explored. Parametrics MID regulation, offers the possibility to cut or boost a frequency range between 300Hz and 3,3kHz. When the controls are positioned centrally there is no cut or boost of the selected frequency band 1.7. MULTIEFFECT This rotary control sets the level of the selected effect on the channels 1.8. REVERB (AUX) This rotary control simultaneously sets the level of the digital reverb on the channels and the level of the signal sent to AUX OUT. 1.9. VOLUME This rotatory control regulates the channel volume

 

 

Anyway, too late, sorry - could be anything. Sure you don't want to take your mic to a shop and try some amps in person?

 

BluesKing777.

 

Unfortunately here in the UK (certainly in my area!) Music shops with a range of gear are vanishingly rare, to the point of being almost non-existent. 

I'd have loved to do as you suggested, but nowhere has the kit I'm after.

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Well, to paraphrase what I said in the J200 amp thread, my Hughes & Kettner Era 2  arrived today! First impressions are very good. Great tone and a very musical EQ section, lovely FX, not devastatingly loud for a 400w amp but more than enough for most applications and projects mightily well. Easily the best acoustic amp for vocals I've used, and will handle my input gain levels even when I engage full lion's roar mode! Can't wait to try it at this weekend's gigs. It feels very well made, is solid (but SO much lighter than the Roy!) and comes with tilt stand and an excellent padded slip case.

I really hope this is the one, especially as I narrowly cheated death this morning when returning the Roy! The box Thomann packaged it in was absolutely vast, and the bang shoot was so damn heavy that all 6'7" and 18st of me struggled to carry the box. I missed my footing on the post office steps and staggered off backwards, largely out of control, and just missed being hit by a moving car...not my most elegant moment 🤣

 

 

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Hi all,

           Sorry for the delay in updating this...the H&K is fantastic! By far the best acoustic amp I've ever used and head and shoulders above all the others I've tried in the last few weeks.

After all my travails, the H&K was the last roll of the dice in the amp arena-I figured if it didn't work out, I'd give up the amp quest and buy a new pair of QSC 10.2s. However, I'm SO glad I stuck it out and rolled the dice on the H&K...it's an absolute beast.

For an amp rated at 400w RMS/600w Peak, my initial impression of the H&K was that it isn't as loud as I expected when sitting next to it, but in reality (and in live situations) it has absolutely startling projection and dispersion. I've never had to turn the master past 1pm, and have spent the past weekend playing to rooms of 80-120 people.

It's a very smooth amp which employs a type of subtle limiting compression which is more musical (to my ears) than the more squishy manner in which AER amps compress their output. It has superb dynamic range and headroom, and takes percussive playing and looping in its stride. For example, I regularly play a cover of 'The Weight', and for the solo section I loop up rhythm guitar, a percussive part and a pitch-shifted bass part, then solo over it with overdrive, delay and compression. The H&K handles this stuff with aplomb and sounds huge-it's designed to be capable of doubling as an upright bass combo, so it has a TON of bottom end on tap when required.

Vocally it excels too-The Shape and EQ Shift switching along with the very musically voiced three band EQ offer enough shaping to accommodate for any difficult room acoustics and make both vocals and guitar sound distinct, crisp and yet warm and full at the same time. The main issue I had with my AER Compact XL was the vocal tone, the Domino was very good but the XL suffered from a thin, nasal vocal quality that had that "telephone" tone, especially when the amp was raised off the ground. The H&K is huge and lush sounding in comparison.

I'd say the H&K is as close as I've heard to a high quality powered speaker with a very high quality and versatile mixer system onboard. Very similar tonally to the Schertler Roy, warm and lush but crisp and defined with great clarity and colour.

At just over half the price of the Domino, I think the H&K represents superb VFM. It has a pole mount too (something I wasn't looking forward to DIYing into the Roy), and I may consider getting a second Era 2 to run as a pair of powered speakers for when I need to fill a very big space.

Obviously reliability wise it's too early to call, but it feels solid as a rock and seems to be road tough. I'll certainly be putting it through its paces over the coming months so will report back, but in summary, at this stage it's an absolute winner.

   

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It sounds impressive, Jinder!

German tech. Do they make any acoustics? Probably not, more in to electronics. (nothing to do with anything but my old (German) car has a horn that scares the whole town if it pressed gently , HONKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!! LOOK OUT etc. I leaned on the horn of my newer (German) car and it goes 'beep' like you would expect from a Fiat Bambino or something!)

Like you said, early days - the foibles come later. My Genz has a headphone out in the back of the amp and a switch to turn off the speakers. I wanted a sep volume control, so had to go buy a junky on e in a skinny lead and of course the vol knob is scratchy. (My old Mesa B had a vol for the headphone, know idea how many would have used it). I thought to face the amp out in front of me on L for LOUD and use my in ear monitors without blowing my head off.

Oh, they don't sell H&K here....

 

Edited by BluesKing777
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  • 1 year later...

An update on this, two years down the line…the Hughes & Kettner was very good, but after a year or so developed a fault in the high pass filter circuitry and would randomly lose tweeter function midway through a gig, which could only be remedied by switching the amp off and back on again. Not a huge issue at home, but as a stage amp it rendered it somewhat useless!

I sent it back for repair, but H&K couldn’t fix it, so I accepted a refund on the amp. 
 

The H&K was not an inexpensive amp, so I had a little cash to play with. I figured that the one amp I hadn’t owned was the industry standard, the AER Compact 60. It has a dual concentric speaker so no tweeter (I didn’t like the phaser crossover point on the tweeter equipped Compact XL) and I’ve borrowed C60s as guitar monitors for bigger shows several times in the past, with superb results. Why not give it a try?

So, earlier in the year I ordered a brand new Compact 60/4, the latest iteration. It’s a superb amp and has been faultless since I’ve owned it. It is LOUD (I’ve used it as a single source for audiences up to 200, and have never had the master volume past 11 o’clock!) and really crisp. Super hi-fi sound. Beautiful to sing through, too. It has a very gentle compression/limiting at extremes which is rather like singing through a good LA2A comp/limiter in the studio. 
 

In fact, I like it so much that I used the leftover funds from the H&K refund to buy a secondhand Alpha Plus from a friend of a friend. The AP is the same size as a C60, but 50w rather than 60w, and has a global EQ and FX level rather than each being individually adjustable for each channel. It’s the halfway house between the little 40w Alpha and the 60w C60, and is a superb second amp, or extension speaker to turn the C60 into a stereo setup/mini PA.

The power and dispersion of these amps is remarkable. The wattage rating doesn’t reflect the SPLs at all. My 60w Compact 60 is significantly louder than my 400w H&K Era 2 was…top job, AER!

I should also mention that their customer service is second to none. I’ve had really great chats with them via social media and they respond readily with answers for all manner of questions. Superb.

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Only saw this thread because it was revived yesterday, but wish I had seen it a couple years ago.  I have had an AER 60/2 for about ten years or so and found it great for the solo acoustic gigs with guitar and vocal.  Could've saved Jinder a lot of hassle - but glad he came to a good solution in the end.

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4 hours ago, Twang Gang said:

Only saw this thread because it was revived yesterday, but wish I had seen it a couple years ago.  I have had an AER 60/2 for about ten years or so and found it great for the solo acoustic gigs with guitar and vocal.  Could've saved Jinder a lot of hassle - but glad he came to a good solution in the end.

Thanks TG! The Compact 60 is a revelation isn’t it? So good. Every time I fire it up I’m impressed all over again. The 50w Alpha Plus is great too. Great kit!

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