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Active tone controls or passive control after preamp?

Started by Fossilshark, May 16, 2016, 08:02:12 AM

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Is it worth using active tone controls or is it easier to just use passive tone controls from fender or marshall?

What are the pros/cons of each?

J M Fahey

It depends on what you want to achieve  ;)

For clean and controllable audio, think PA/Recording mixers, or acoustic guitar / keyboards , active rules.
Way more flexible, free from interaction, wider range, tons of possible configurations, etc.
Just don't let signal clip.

Now for Rock guitar amps, passive works better, because clipping does not affect them, in fact they can easily modify frequency response *after*  some clipped stage, while with an active in the same situation you must be very careful not to clip/saturate the tone control stage itself.

Only place where active is still good is in some amps or pedals (think Sansamp) where distortion is already made, equalized, cooked and ready to serve; in that case an active tone control at a later stage allows fine tuning of the final sound, say your speaker is buzzy/dull thin/muddy ... up to a point you can tweak that.

Now if speaker is absolutely unsuitable, it won't make a miracle either.

I often read and get personally complaints by some kid who bought some Digital Wonder pedalboard or simulator (think POD / V Amp / etc.) , sets the sound: "Metallica playing live at Madison Square Garden with 6 100W Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier driving 12  4x12"cabinets  full blast" , plugs it into his 10W 6" speaker practice amp and doesn't like it.
Not even if he plugs it into his open back single 12" Bandit or Valvestate 80 , so "the pedalboard must be malfunctioning, huh? " or "it's cheesy Chinese junk".

Think again, no amount of EQ will turn a mouse (or a cat) into a lion.

That's why, in practice, a simpler but honest amplifier (same Bandit of VS 80) can perform better , say at a rehearsal or Club situation, simply because it does not bite more that it can chew.


Thanks that helps alot for when i design my preamp.