The Louder & More amplifier is the result of a unique partnership in Sweden between Björn Juhl, the “Mad Professor”, and Aleksander Niemand of Tubewonder fame. Currently, Make’n Music is the only US dealer with amps in stock. This amp is available as a head or a 1x12 combo, and is a limited edition, signed by Björn and Alex. In this collaboration, Björn designed the preamp, while Aleksander’s task was the tube power amp, FX-loop and power supply.
Tell Me More
For this review, we’ll be checking out the combo version. The amp features a solidstate preamp with a single ECL82/6BM8 tube power section. The power is variable, from 1 to 3.5 watts, making it the perfect amp for studio recording, band rehearsal or just practicing in the bedroom. It features two footswitchable modes for the single channel preamp: Neat (Clean) and On the Rocks (Gain). A serial/parallel FX loop is included, which can be used as a lead boost when no effects are plugged in. The combo amp has an Eminence Red Fang Alnico high-efficiency speaker, which accounts for the loud.
The combo cab itself has a couple of interesting design features. It looks like a scaled-down, classic slant 4x12 cab. The speaker baffle is recessed and protected by an external concave front baffle covered with grill cloth. This external baffle has seven vertical slits that according to Aleksander work as sort of acoustic Fresnel lens, dispersing the acoustic energy of the high end to provide wider coverage and less directivity without compromising tone.
Three knobs control the Louder & More amp; they’re appropriately named Louder, Smooth/ Rough, and More. All knobs literally go to 11.5 according to the panel (Nigel Tufnel will be jealous). Louder is like a master volume placed after the preamp and loop; according to Björn, this leaves the preamp wide open and sensitive to the guitar’s volume control. Smooth/Rough provides tonal control and midrange balance. The very inventive More knob controls a continuously variable Triode-Ultralinear-Pentode mode for the power tube. As you turn the More knob clockwise, the output power goes from around 1W in triode mode to 3.5W in pentode mode, with varying degrees of ultralinear. Besides the reduction of output power in triode mode, it also adds a presence boost as the knob is turned to UL/pentode mode.
A quick word about Triode-Ultralinear-Pentode modes for those who may be unfamiliar with the concept: The terminology refers to the way the output tubes are used. Triode mode is considered to be more pure, with less distortion. The output and distortion decrease, and the bandwidth also decreases slightly, along with the damping factor, so it’s a warmer sound overall. Pentode mode is considered to be more dynamic and more neutral, with more extended highs and tighter bass. A lot of guitarists prefer pentode mode for more rocking tones. The nice (and innovative) thing about the Louder & More amp is that it allows you to adjust continuously between modes, and shape the tone to your personal taste.
Turn it Up ‘til the Police Come
Now, let’s get down to what you really want to know—how does this amp sound? I plugged in my guitar—a Gibson Lenny Kravitz Flying V with ‘57 humbucking pickups—and was amazed at the tones and power coming out of this little 3-watt amp. The tones are versatile enough to satisfy any player’s style. The Neat setting provides a nice clean tone that is warm and well rounded, with crisp highs but a deep low end. It sounds nice enough unaffected, but adding some effects through the FX loop can only enhance the brilliance. The On the Rocks setting is where the Louder & More amp really shines.
Kicking in the distortion is where you really feel how powerful this little amp is. First of all, the distortion was thick and creamy, yet still versatile with adjustments to the Smooth/ Rough and More knobs. I was very surprised at the volume coming out of the amp—this thing can get loud! I did the “jam test” by using this in a rehearsal setting, and the Louder & More had no problem being heard over a loud drummer. The tone remained powerful and clear. So even though it sounds great cranked up, it sounds equally fantastic at a lower volume, which your neighbors or significant other will definitely appreciate.
It also records very well in a studio setting—if a little on the dark side, which is actually a good thing. I’ve always preferred to record a darker amp that I can brighten up later if I want to, instead of the opposite. I really liked the sound of the Eminence Red Fang speaker, which is what the amp was designed and voiced around.
What’s Not to Love?
For my personal preferences, there were only a few minor drawbacks with the amp, which really aren’t a big deal. Because of the way the amp chassis is set up for either a head or combo configuration, the control panel on the combo is facing up and the rear controls are mounted on the back underside panel. This means the controls for the effects loop (send and return jacks, level and mix knobs) as well as the power cord and footswitch jacks are mounted upside-down and hard to see. I had to completely tilt the amp forward on its face to access the panel. However, the jacks and controls are all something that you would set and forget, so you probably wouldn’t need quick or constant access to it during a performance anyway. It didn’t come with a manual, which would be nice for a quick explanation of the controls and specs, and perhaps some sample settings. Speaking of the power cable, that was not included. I soon found out that US power cords are pretty costly for the Swedish company, so they are actually saving us money by having us buy them domestically instead of charging us their cost. Makes sense to me.
The Final Mojo
Potential buyers have to keep in mind that this is a boutique amp manufactured in Sweden, so it may be a little pricey for some guitarists. However, Louder & More’s target audience is the more experienced aficionado of high quality boutique gear, not a first-time buyer. You do get what you pay for!
Overall, the Louder & More amp is a winning combination for the Swedish team of Björn Juhl and Aleksander Niemand. It is a versatile, powerful and innovative amplifier that stands out from the rest. It definitely lives up to its name!
you want a high-quality portable amp that is versatile and powerful enough to stand up to its larger counterparts.
you think Louder = Bigger and have no taste for less... wattage, that is.