52 Amplifier Heads, week 14—THD Univalve

One thing that has been enjoyable for me as I research different amplifier heads each week is learning what tube or valve options are out there. Some amplifiers have 6L6 tubes, some have EL34 tubes and some have the KT66 tubes. What does someone like me (with limited understanding of the tube types) do with this information?  Perhaps someone like me needs to get themselves an amplifier head like the THD Univalve that lets you switch the tubes quickly and easily without a need to re-bias the amp. Cool right?

The official website looks very light on information (with an awesome PDF spec sheet and manual to download), but looks can be deceiving. Click that little More button and the website has a mountain of information contained within itself. You even get a fancy cross-hairs cursor to help you pinpoint the useful information you’re looking for! There’s so much to learn about this little head. But don’t let the word learning put you off. When it comes to amplifiers, learning is awesome and fun. All the cool kids are doing it. I am also.

For example, I discovered this information!

  • Single output tube that can be switched between 6L6, EL-34, 6550, 6CA7, 6V6, 6K6, KT-90, KT-88, KT-77 and KT-66
  • Twin preamp tubes that can use any combination of 12AX7, 12AT7, 12AU7, 12AY7 or 12AZ7
  • Built-in Hot Plate Power Attenuator
  • Class-A amplifier
  • Volume, Treble, Bass and Attitude knobs
  • Attenuator control
  • Hi/Lo voltage switch
  • Power and Standby switches
  • Light bulb.

The Attitude knob is a pretty cool sounding feature. With the attitude turned up, the amplifier sounds grittier. With the attitude dialed down, the amplifier sounds brighter. The attenuator is another handy feature on this amplifier head. Using this allows you to achieve full power distortion at any volume level. Reap the benefits of the tube setup without waking your neighbours or sleeping children. Of course if your children or neighbours have been annoying you, go hard!

The final feature I like the sound of is the light bulb on the front. I don’t like this purely because it looks pretty or allows me to locate the amplifier in the dark. No, I like this feature because it doubles as noise reduction tool. When the light is on, your noise reduction is on. If you don’t want to use this feature though, you have the ability to simply turn it off. Like a light switch!

I can imagine owning this amplifier head and a collection of tubes. “Today I think I’ll play with a classic British tone”. Easy, swap the tubes and away you go. New amplifier sound. Plus, imagine having a shelf full of tubes! You’d be the envy of all people who know how cool a tube collection is. I’m one of those people.

Disclaimer: I’ve not played through this head. I have not experienced the sound or tone of this head other than through video. That doesn’t matter. It looks awesome, it’s obviously played by winners and I want one.

THD Univalve
THD Univalve
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