By Bob Pletka 06/28/11 We see all kinds of amps come in from local players including the occasional behemoth like the Sound City 200 Plus. The customer request on this particular amp was maximum clean power (maybe for Wembley Stadium??!!!) and in this case we always look to the JJ KT88’s. We loaded up the front end with the JJ ECC83S’s that were all right at 100% in gain on both triodes with the PI tube being current balanced. Since headroom was the mission we set the KT88’s up at about 35mA per tube and let them cook for a while. These amps usually have about 700 volts on the plates and this amp was no exception, very healthy! We tube up amps for local players almost daily and part of the procedure is making sure they sound like they should at all volumes. It’s one thing to see an amp make power on the bench, but hearing and feeling it doing what it’s made to do is another. So after the KT88’s were up to temp and the bias looked right it was time to play the beast. Everyone conveniently evaporated leaving me standing around talking to myself. (not unusual…) I didn’t mind, I had the amp plugged into one of my old SUNN 4X12’s loaded with V30’s, it’s non-ported and gets tortured regularly. I plugged in one of my old 70’s Paul’s and dialed the volume up to about half, nice, very nice! It’s a bit like a few of the Marshall 200’s we’ve had thru here and played in the past, but the Sound City seemed to have a little sharper attack more like the big Hiwatt’s, where the big Marshall’s are a little more breathy. The EQ on the Sound City was more responsive than on a big Marshall and the clean sound was huge with a great sparkle and a fat, thunderous low end. Once I dimed it out and lit up a few Townshend-esk power chords, I was basking in the wash of 200 watts of tube power! It’s almost like electricity in the air, your body vibrates and your skin itches, IT'S GREAT! The KT88’s pulsed a nice blue color just like they were talking to me. It broke up nicely when cranked even though some of this was from the V30’s in the oversize SUNN cab, the combination worked well. After a few minutes of 120 plus decibels, the amp had proven it was ready to go. Everyone else said it sounded real good, out in the parking lot… A few hours later my ears were back to normal and the fun was over. I really wish every guitar player who has not had the opportunity to play a big tube amp really cranked could do so, even if only for a few minutes. There is nothing like it, and once you have done this, then every time you listen to a song by the WHO, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, or the like, you understand and relate to the music in a new way. Bob
Sound City 200 Plus
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