EVH 5150 Iconic Combo - Does The Signal Stay Fully Analog?

ARMOR.NEPTUNE

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Hey all,

I apologize ahead of time if this is a dumb question. I have been doing some research into the EVH 5150 Iconic Combo. It looks like some of the preamp stages consist of transistors (instead of the usual tubes in a standard tube amp). Does this mean my guitar signal gets converted to a digital signal at any point? Or does the guitar signal stay analog the whole way through the amp? If the guitar signal does get converted to a digital signal at some point, does this mean there is technically some latency when playing this amp?

Thanks!
 

tedtan

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The literature states that the Iconic Combo has a “complex, multistage hybrid preamp section”, which doesn’t state one way or the other.

But if you’ve determined that the hybrid preamp consists of tube and transistor gain stages, that would be all analog (a combination of tube and solid state).

Do you happen to have a schematic for the combo?
 

drb

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Don't know if it gets converted to digital anywhere but I'm sure I read somewhere that the solid state input is particularly good because it can react more immediately than a tube input. I highly doubt you could notice any latency on it, regardless.
 

CanserDYI

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My brother in christ, don't start this, the amp sounds great, there's not gonna be any latency that you feel, it matters none if it is digital or analog, and frankly I'm not sure any of us would benefit any from even knowing that information.
 

GreatGreen

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The Iconic does not get AD/DA converted internally. It's a fully analog amp. And, no AD/DA conversion means no latency.

The transistor in this case is simply a small device used to amplify the guitar's signal at the amp's input to be sent to the preamp tubes later in the circuit. And because the transistor is at the amp's input, it's not even a component that generates distortion. Again, it just serves to amplify the raw guitar signal to send to the other preamp tubes down stream in the circuit, and it's those preamp tubes that generate the distortion in the amp.

The transistor in this amp also does not convert analog to digital or vice versa. Transistors don't do that. Transistors categorically do not convert analog signal to digital or vice versa. They also do not inherently add latency to the signal.

As for amps in general, even the saggiest, mushiest sounding analog amp that's being overdriven as hard as possible is not going to have any latency. Everything in analog amps always propagates at the speed of light, whether the amp feels stiff or loose. "Sag" in the context of amps doesn't mean time sag, it means electrical sag, meaning that the integrity and clarity of the signal is what gets impacted when you hit the strings hard.
 
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ShredmasterD

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transistors are analogue devices. they only become "digital' when used for switching, on/off as in 1's and 0's., not amplifying a signal. latency comes from the use of massive arrays of microscopic transistors used in switching mode, this is called a cpu. the iconic is not a plugin or software using a cpu for processing. there will be no perceptible latency. many marshall amps and others use this same approach of combining tubes and transistors at various stages of the signal path to achieve clipping, ie; distortion.
 
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Metaldestroyerdennis

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True but I'd say the latency isn't perceivable. Probably at worst low ms and at best microseconds
It's more like nano to micro but yeah pretty much.

Any amplification device (or passive device with a nonzero phase component) will add latency at some to all frequencies. Transistors, tubes, capacitors, inductors (read: transformers) all introduce very measurable delay to electrical signals. Trace length (cables, wire, connectors, etc.) also affects latency. Just orders of magnitude less than the ms that digital conversion would.

It is common practice to use inverters to delay signals. Transistors can and are commonly used for this purpose.
 

sleewell

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My brother in christ, don't start this, the amp sounds great, there's not gonna be any latency that you feel, it matters none if it is digital or analog, and frankly I'm not sure any of us would benefit any from even knowing that information.


:high five:


Can you imagine them releasing an amp with enough latency that only the real OG internet wizards could detect meanwhile the rest of the dupes out there are dumb enough to just be playing the amp and having fun with it? Rofl the grassy knoll of the amp world haha
 

Wiltonauer

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It's more like nano to micro but yeah pretty much.

Any amplification device (or passive device with a nonzero phase component) will add latency at some to all frequencies. Transistors, tubes, capacitors, inductors (read: transformers) all introduce very measurable delay to electrical signals. Trace length (cables, wire, connectors, etc.) also affects latency. Just orders of magnitude less than the ms that digital conversion would.

It is common practice to use inverters to delay signals. Transistors can and are commonly used for this purpose.
Oh, yeah, that totally reminds me: A linear system can’t respond immediately to an input signal, not really. The wider the bandwidth, the faster it can respond. You can see this in action by looking at the time-domain response with a step or pulse input. You’ll find that, the higher the bandwidth of the circuit, the cleaner those steps and impulses generally look at the ouput of the circuit. You can get better performance with wider bandwidth, but there are practical limitations. In one class we decided that, in order to have infinite bandwidth, the circuit would have to be able to predict the future. 🤣
 

NoodleFace

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It's more like nano to micro but yeah pretty much.

Any amplification device (or passive device with a nonzero phase component) will add latency at some to all frequencies. Transistors, tubes, capacitors, inductors (read: transformers) all introduce very measurable delay to electrical signals. Trace length (cables, wire, connectors, etc.) also affects latency. Just orders of magnitude less than the ms that digital conversion would.

It is common practice to use inverters to delay signals. Transistors can and are commonly used for this purpose.
Yeah I'm an engineer too (computer) so I get it. Never really looked into amp designs so was just guessing
 

GreatGreen

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lol no

souce: ee degree

Oh right my bad. Light usually travels through material at a sluggish 97% the speed of light or so. How grossly incorrect I was, especially for the purposes of this discussion where we're comparing the latency of tube amps to the latency of a tube amp that also happens to use a transistor in front, and then tubes.

And the picosecond level latency added by that single transistor is definitely significant and comparable to humanly perceptible millisecond delays inherent in AD/DA conversion, huh. You seem very smart and not at all like you're just being overly pedantic.
 
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Metaldestroyerdennis

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Oh right my bad. Light usually travels through material at a sluggish 97% the speed of light or so. How grossly incorrect I was, especially for the purposes of this discussion where we're comparing the latency of tube amps to the latency of a tube amp that also happens to use a transistor in front, and then tubes.

And the picosecond level latency added by that single transistor is definitely significant and comparable to humanly perceptible millisecond delays inherent in AD/DA conversion, huh. You seem very smart and not at all like you're just being overly pedantic.
terribly sorry for calling you out for making things up. please forgive me internet stranger
 

GreatGreen

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terribly sorry for calling you out for making things up. please forgive me internet stranger

Apology accepted. And thanks again for muddying the waters and only adding to the confusion of the person who started the thread in the first place instead of, you know, understanding the point of the OP's original question and being helpful by contributing information that is actually useful.

Try not to take the majority of your career to pay off your debt for that fancy ee degree you love telling everyone you have.
 
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amptweaker

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Hey all,

I apologize ahead of time if this is a dumb question. I have been doing some research into the EVH 5150 Iconic Combo. It looks like some of the preamp stages consist of transistors (instead of the usual tubes in a standard tube amp). Does this mean my guitar signal gets converted to a digital signal at any point? Or does the guitar signal stay analog the whole way through the amp? If the guitar signal does get converted to a digital signal at some point, does this mean there is technically some latency when playing this amp?

Thanks!
Hey, no problem with asking questions, and it's not dumb. I see several people have steered you right, but thought you might want it from 'the horse's mouth' :)

...digital systems all have some latency, since the computer can't do the math to the waveform instantly. Quick answer is no, the Iconic signal path is never digital....except for the wet part of the reverb which is multiple delays anyway, and it's mixed in using analog. That's it. Even the speaker simulator is analog circuitry and has no latency(of course if you go into a computer, then that will add a little depending on your system etc).

When I designed the Iconics, the goal was to hit a really low price point to get back to Ed's original goal on amps....to make something with his tone that also was within reach to regular folks. So with tube availability and cost, I took out some of the tubes that are in less important or problematic positions and replaced them with high voltage transistors. I've done a lot of solid state amps over the years.

The first thing was we removed the duplication of clean and Lead tubes, since many stages were wired the same...it's much cheaper to reconnect things with relays than to throw more tubes in. Then I removed the input tube and swapped it out with a high voltage transistor circuit, matching the tone we got from JJ's in the input like Ed preferred. This tube is always the culprit when having feedback issues, so that problem was virtually eliminated. Then we used some solid state circuitry to deal with the effects loops and reverb, and finally swapped out the phase inverter with a high voltage transistor one. The end result is that there's 4 stages of preamp gain, and all of them are used in the critical stages of the preamp where all the distortion is created.

Hope this helps clear it up,

thanks
James Brown
 

ARMOR.NEPTUNE

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Hey, no problem with asking questions, and it's not dumb. I see several people have steered you right, but thought you might want it from 'the horse's mouth' :)

...digital systems all have some latency, since the computer can't do the math to the waveform instantly. Quick answer is no, the Iconic signal path is never digital....except for the wet part of the reverb which is multiple delays anyway, and it's mixed in using analog. That's it. Even the speaker simulator is analog circuitry and has no latency(of course if you go into a computer, then that will add a little depending on your system etc).

When I designed the Iconics, the goal was to hit a really low price point to get back to Ed's original goal on amps....to make something with his tone that also was within reach to regular folks. So with tube availability and cost, I took out some of the tubes that are in less important or problematic positions and replaced them with high voltage transistors. I've done a lot of solid state amps over the years.

The first thing was we removed the duplication of clean and Lead tubes, since many stages were wired the same...it's much cheaper to reconnect things with relays than to throw more tubes in. Then I removed the input tube and swapped it out with a high voltage transistor circuit, matching the tone we got from JJ's in the input like Ed preferred. This tube is always the culprit when having feedback issues, so that problem was virtually eliminated. Then we used some solid state circuitry to deal with the effects loops and reverb, and finally swapped out the phase inverter with a high voltage transistor one. The end result is that there's 4 stages of preamp gain, and all of them are used in the critical stages of the preamp where all the distortion is created.

Hope this helps clear it up,

thanks
James Brown
Hey James, thanks for the informative reply! That really helps. My EVH 5150 Iconic Combo got delivered yesterday and I am in love with it.
 


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