April 12, 2011
Transformer Shoot Out
by Daniel Claytor
Click to hear these samples:
Weber output transformer
All and all not bad. The bottom is a bit boomy but it’s an easy fix. I did have to dial the bass down for the recording. The distortion seems loose and undefined. My dad likes the thickness, but he's all about some Slow Hand's "Woman tone." If you’re on a budget definitely not a bad buy.
Heyboer output transformer
Clean is decent but this is probably my least favorite of the bunch. Way too muddy and grainy when distorted. I don't like the feel of this transformer, and it has some weird mid-harmonics. It never seemed happy no matter how I set it.
Classic Tone output transformer
Clean is fantastic. Has great rich mids and terrific high-end sparkle but the bass is a bit thin. This transformer has a nice sweet spot but turning the knobs all the way up or down doesn't have much effect on the sound. So it's not as versatile as I would have liked. Still a little loose on the distortion but with good clarity. Definitely a great buy.
Hammond output transformer
Great Clean. The controls were very responsive but not what I’m going for with this amp. For whatever reason this pulls out all the Stevie Ray tones. My Tele always sounds like a Strat when using this transformer. It's nice but not right for this rig. If I build a Fender in the future I might do another shoot out, and Hammond would definitely make the lineup.
Marstran Radiospares output transformer
I played this up a half step… whoops… and I blew fuse at the end of the recording and that’s why the demo is a little shorter than the others. The overall tone is harsh and I couldn't get it smoothed out to save my life. The highs and mids are really sharp and spikey. The very top is shrill and thin. It also had some strange harmonics that just aren't pleasant.
Mercury Magnetics Radiospares output transformer
This is by far the most versatile transformer out of the bunch. You can dial this thing any which way and it sounds great. The bass is full but not boomy. The mids are rich and smooth. The highs sing and sparkle but aren't thin. The harmonics are ideal and even across the board. The distortion is the tightest and no matter how hard the amp is driven each note still has clarity. The touch sensitivity is unreal. With the amp almost dimed you can play soft and hardly hear any distortion. Then you can bang out a chord or dig into some lead and the amp will scream. Yeah, it may cost four times as much, but as the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."
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