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Hughes and Kettner "Sound Machines"
The Hughes and Kettner "Sound Machines" - Sound Spectrum Series are rack-mount units are low power (Micropower) guitar amplifiers, built in miniature. Most contain 2 tubes each, with pre-amp and power amp valve stages. This category of products are known as micropower guitar valve (tube) amps. Hughes and Kettner were the first or one of the first to produce this type of product. They produced
four main products:
- Zed Zepplin, Black Sabbeth, Deep Purple
Tube preamp with solid-state power amp
from fat bottom funk, jazz, blues to over-driven rock
The H&K Sound Spectrum series are used to create various types of distortion. The common terms used to describe the type of distortion an amp or an effect gives out are:
Typical of Marshall valve amps
Sounds like breakfast cereals crunching
Combined with guitar tone
-- typical of early Fender valve amps
The ultimate distortion/overdrive comes from tubes which are overdriven so that it creates a smooth singing sound. Nothing can mimic tubes, although there are a million different "tube-sound distortions" available, they just can't make the real sound of valve produced distortion. This is why H&K in the Sound Spectrum Series has used real valves to produce the distortion/ overdrive tones. With H&K Sound Machines there is no simulation, "it is the real deal."
The Metal Master (Metal Shredder)
Designed to produce a metal sound typical of the 1980s. It adds in some transistor based distortion on top of the valve distortion, which the typical tone of early metal rock.
The Crunch Master (Blues Master)
Produces the mild overdrive crunch tone typical of an early Fender valve amp.
Produces a higher level valve overdrive, as was typical of Marshall valve amps.
Hughes & Kettner manufactured these low power Sound Spectrum Series (Sound Machines) amps from around 1988 to 1992.
The chart below shows the features for each H&K Sound Spectrum Series unit.
Overview of H&K Micropower Tube Amps
Another option for getting a real guitar tube-amp
sound at low volume is to get a tube amp with an extremely low power output. Such low-wattage
amps are fully functional and are capable of powering a 4x12 speaker cabinet, but with a power rating of 5 watts to below 1 watt.
The most popular micropower guitar tube amps used to be the discontinued Sound Spectrum Series produced by Hughes & Kettner:
These days there are dozens of companies producing
low-power guitar amps.
How Can Low Wattage Produce Great Sound?
To make more sense of this, it's helpful to understand the relationship between watts and volume. You need to decrease the wattage of a guitar amp by a factor of ten to reduce the perceived volume by half.
Perceived volume requires ten times more watts to double the volume, which means:
An amplifier half as loud as the 100W is not 50W, but just 10W. From a practical standpoint the wattage ratings has more to do with how many speakers an amp can power and how powerful those speakers can be.