All of this bliss was quickly interrupted, when some bar-owner, roommate, recording engineer, wife, friend, bandmate, and or neighbor loudly stated “CAN YOU TURN THAT THING DOWN!?” and, of course, your immediate reply was…” No, I can’t, because it will ruin my “tone”.
Nearly 70 years now, engineers have tried to solve this conundrum by presenting players with various pre-amp distortion devices, pedals and or other gimmicks and effects in an attempt to solve the problem of an amp that is too loud…Now, FluxTone has a truly authentic solution. It allows your amplifier’s output stage to go to full power, create all those wonderful power tube overtones, and then it attenuates the sound level in the room by varying our speaker’s efficiency.
FluxTone is the first in line to say that some of these effects sound cool, look good, even have solid electronic theory. Many artists however, have been left wanting a more accurate solution. Finally, that original question, “How can I lower my volume without killing my tone?” has been answered.
We at FluxTone have a new patented system and method, called VMT.
When you combine a FluxTone speaker system with any guitar amp, new or old, the Variable Magnet Technology gives you an adjustment of 25dB that allows you to finely tune the SPL (Sound Pressure Level) with no effect on your touch, tone, or feel. It does all this without requiring your amp to do any more work than it is designed to do! Imagine dragging out your old “50 watt plexi head”, turning all the knobs to 10, plugging in your favorite stringed tool, produce that great tone, all the while having a normal conversation in the same room, especially with your band-mates!
OK, OK, I know. You’ve heard this all before. Well lets take a moment to understand where these overtones, that we are so interested in, come from.
Unlike a transistorized amp, a tube amp cannot be directly connected to a speaker. It needs something to match the output tubes to the speaker. This device is called an Output Transformer. It is a dynamic magnetic device, just like your speaker is a dynamic magnetic device. These two components team up to form a symbiotic relationship, that is called the Magnetic Circuit. When the output tubes of your amp are pushed past their power supply limits, this Magnetic Circuit begins to “ring” and generate overtones that did not come out of your guitar. These new overtones are forever mixed with your guitars original tones and the speaker converts all of these tones to sound waves, and it is at this point (after your amp has distorted) that VMT adjusts the level of what you hear. If you turn the volume/or gain controls on the amp down, the output tubes don’t get pushed as far, the magnetic circuit won’t ring, and the overtones will not be made.
FluxTone, just like many other companies, has experimented with all sorts of methods to solve this age old riddle. But alas, only the VMT gave us the range of control, and transparency, we were looking for. Here is a short list of some of the systems we built, tested, and unlike our VMT system, found that they changed the original waveform:
- We tried varying the power supply limits, to get the amp to break up at a lower volume, (using variable and or regulated power supplies). In this circuit topology the power is being scaled back to the output tubes, “Power Scaling” has become the phrase that the industry uses to describe these kind of circuits. Although some of the sounds were interesting, we noticed that once you start operating a tube out of its intended range it changes the way it performs…hence it was just another sound effect. The main problem with this method was, it did not drive the output transformer to its design limits and the most desirable overtones were never created. Our customers noticed some major “tonal” deficiencies and sent us back to the lab.
- Then we broke the magnetic circuit by inserting various nonmagnetic power consuming devices i.e.: power-eater, load-box, heat-plate, sound-brake…etc., in line with the speaker. What we discovered was, that when we used those devices, the ringing stopped and all those delicate overtones were gone and different less desirable sounds were manufactured, not to mention you have one more thing to hook up, and maintain. Need I say anything about all that heat that is generated by those big resistors? We continued our search for something a bit more eloquent, while lowering the volume authentically.
- Experimentation with various Master Volume Control circuits was next. We found we could turn down the gain of the final amp section, and overdrive the preamp section. This usually created class A distortion. Although class A distortion has it’s own set of sounds, they were not as “fat” as those generated when the output stage is ringing, and hence the crunch was not the same.
- We built and tested many low power amplifier circuits and discovered that while they broke up at a lower SPL, they were still too loud in the bedroom and at the recording studio, and not loud enough on stage to be heard over the drummer. We wanted our customers to be able to operate in both arenas with a single amp! You see by thinking outside the 65 year old box, FluxTone’s VMT “system and method” allows you to adjust the speakers ability to be loud, not the amplifier. So even your new low power boutique amp can be brought down to a whisper.
Finally I would like to drive home just how much a control of 25dB really is. To put it in perspective, most earmuff-style hearing protection devices provide around 22db of noise reduction. Most people, and sound engineers, say that a gain of 6dB in SPL seems to be twice as loud as before. This means you need 4 times the power to get twice as loud! That is because Every time you DOUBLE the power of an amplifier you only get a 3dB gain. Conversely stated if you cut the power of an amp in half it only gets 3dB quieter…so lets look at a 25dB change in SPL…..lets start with 32 watts of power from the amp, and lets say the speaker is producing 110dB of sound with that 32 watts.
(keep in mind only the 32 watt level produces the tone we are trying to preserve)