Hand-wired vs. PCB Amps: Which Should You Choose?
Musicians are meticulous individuals. They’re always in pursuit of perfection, which is why they’re always on the lookout for the best gear that can help them improve their sound. This has led to some rather innovative pieces of gear that help musicians push the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of music-making.
Now, one thing that musicians (guitarists in particular) can’t seem to agree on is whether it’s better to have a hand-wired amplifier or one with a printed circuit board (PCB). And while we don’t claim to have all the answers, we’ll be laying down the pros and cons for both to help you figure things out for yourself.
So, read on to know more about hand-wired and PCB amplifiers.
Pros and Cons
Before we proceed, let’s get one thing out of the way: handmade does not automatically mean better. While hand-wiring amps allows for a certain accuracy in design that we’ll detail later, a well-designed PCB can (at the very least) keep up with its handmade counterpart.
While we’re on the subject of PCBs, it’s important to note that one of the biggest upsides to using PCB amps is the price point for these pieces of gear. Thanks to automation, the manufacturing process is streamlined saving the companies that produce them a lot of time and resources. Ultimately this leads to a more affordable product, thus making it more accessible.
While the common misconception is that manufactured products are lower in quality, this isn’t always the case, as manufacturers nowadays are starting to make better quality products. Now, one of the biggest drawbacks to using PCB amps is the fact that the components may come loose due to the heat generated by the amplifier. However, today’s manufacturers can opt to use metal core PCBs, which provide both structural stability and greater thermal dissipation. This has greatly helped reduce the inconsistency brought about by heat, as the metal cores provide more heat resistance, meaning the amps that make use of this technology are less likely to fail. And considering automated PCB manufacturing is set to improve as the industry is ripe for innovation, PCB amps will also surely get better down the line.
The biggest advantage that hand-wired amps have when compared to PCB amps comes in the form of point-to-point construction. Point-to-point construction is often seen as the best way of building an amp, as it means that all its components are soldered and manually fitted for optimal tone and sound quality.
However, manufacturing time and the use of high-value resources are the trade-offs when producing these amps. These costs are passed off to the consumer, resulting in higher prices.
From a value standpoint, PCB amps are probably best for musicians that are just starting out due to the accessible price point. Professional musicians may prefer the hand-wired amps, as they don’t mind spending extra for the craftsmanship that goes into making these amplifiers. All in all, the choice is completely up to you as there is little to no difference when it comes to properly designed PCB amps and hand-wired amps.
If you’re looking for more insight on the best gear for musicians to use, you might want to check out the reviews up on our website!