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Anybody ever use a Countryman Type 85 to record a tube amp direct?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Guitarfreak, May 5, 2011.

  1. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I am curious if anyone has done this with success. I have read the manual that comes with it and it states that you can plug the speaker tap from a tube amp directly into the amp input and put the switch to "speaker" mode and it will safely record amps up to 1700w and it doesn't matter what ohm tap you use from the output transformer's secondary.

    I have done this a few times when I don't have the liberty to plug into my 4x12 cabinet and shake the walls next door. It works fine at first, but within about 15 or 20 minutes I can detect a sort of plastic burning smell and I get scared and turn the amp off. The smell seems to be coming not from the amp itself, but from the Type 85 unit, or perhaps from my plastic cased hard drive which is placed on top of it. Any idea what the risk of doing this is? I am somewhat comforted at the fact that the smell is not coming from the amp, but it's sort of a catch 22 because if the Type 85 fails, then so does the amp...

    The amp is a Peavey 5150 120w tube guitar amplifier. I am using the amp in 8Ω mode, but maybe I should use 16Ω instead? Would that make it any safer? I am not so comfortable actually doing this even though Countryman states without doubt that it is capable, so I would love any advice or insight on the matter.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The Countryman Type 85 should be able to cope with the signal from a speaker output of your guitar amp when the front panel switch is in the "speaker" position. However, the rear-panel ground lift switch should be in the "open" position to avoid a parallel path to ground for the speaker current.

    What the 85 is not is a substitute for a loudspeaker. You must have the loudspeaker connected at all times, particularly when using a valve (tube) amplifier. If you want not to make a sound, you could try a high-power load instead of a speaker, but this may result in a sound that is different from having a speaker connected.
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Oh, I see what you are saying. It sounds more like this function is for live sound reinforcement than as a quiet recording solution. So essentially what I've been doing is running my tube amp without a load attached... possible damage done? I have contacted Countryman twice about this, once through email and once by phone and they have yet to get back to me, which worries me a bit. My amp still sounds fine through the cabinet, should I assume that no damage has been done and just don't do it again? I don't have an external load/power dissipation box and have no plans to get one, so I guess I'll just kill the idea of doing this as it's not what I want to do. For what it's worth, the speaker cable from my amp was plugged into the Amp input, the switch on the front in Speaker mode, and the switch on the back was in "open" position. Now I am just worried that the smell could have been my transformer burning up...
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    It was probably from the resistor network that takes the "heat" from the amp's output. You should look at something like the Marshall Power Brake (discontinued, but still out there) or the THD Hotplate (especially this one). These are designed for what you want to do.
  5. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    That's alright, those boxes are quite a bit expensive for how much use I would actually get out of them. I have a number of distortion boxes that I can run straight into my DAW to get a usable practice sound from, I just thought it would be cool to hear my actual amp sound while practicing silently instead. So amp's transformer can be assumed to be fine so long as the Type 85 didn't fail in the process?
  6. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I made a few phonecalls today and got some answers which I hope to be definitive. The guy I spoke to at Countryman said the same, it is not presenting a load. He also said that its failure rate is infinitesimally small, almost impossible to overload the Type 85. He also reminded me not to plug the amp into the "amp" input, because that's an output, but rather to plug it into the "Inst" input. I asked him if the amp's transformer could have been damaged and he said that it's a possibility, though he didn't think mine had been damaged. I then called the tech guy over at Peavey and he said that if the transformer were damaged that I would know it.

    Thought that might be helpful to somebody reading this.

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