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Weber Economy MiniMass Review

Date:September 24, 2004Maxon OD808
Manufacturer:Weber VST

The Fender Champ is a small 1x8 combo pushing about 7 watts which is perfect for household use... only if your wife is deaf. A 7 watt amp is only 10% quieter than a 70 watt amp which is not much and the whole point for low wattage amps is to get that cranked amp sound without disturbing the neighbors or others in the house. This is where the Weber Economy MiniMass comes into play.

The Economy MiniMass (eMiniMass) is available directly from WeberVST for $45 and comes standard with RCA connectors as the Champ uses RCA versus standard 1/4" and set for 4 ohms. The eMiniMass is also available with 1/4" connects, different ohm ratings and a optional second output (direct recording line). The eMiniMass is rated for amps 25 watts and less, treble compensation and MASS bypass included. The MiniMASS employs an actual speaker motor for realistic interaction between the attenuator and the output circuit of the amplifier. The attenuation is continuously adjustable from zero to over -50db. By turning the speaker control to minimum (maximum attenuation), the unit may be used as a dummy load for testing or for DI use.

Testing the Economy MiniMass

economy mini mass To test the eMiniMass I hooked the unit up to my silver face (SF) Champ which recently had new capacitors and JJ tubes from Eurotubes installed. A Sennheiser e609 Silver was used to mic the Champ which was connected to a M-Audio Audio Buddy mic preamp into a Delta-66 and recorded using Cakewalk PA9 (I definately need to upgrade).

I set the volume on the Champ at about 8.5, treble at 9 and bass at 10. Using a Tokai Soundstream on the neck pickup I fired the Champ up and quickly got yelled at for to much noise (even at 40 you get yelled at). This lead the eMiniMass to be engaged with the dial set at 2.5 and I was most pleased with the sound as there is nothing better than overdriving a power amp...almost.

Time for more overdrive! I placed my AnalogMan modified TS9 in front of the Champ, set the drive and tone about 9 o'clock and cranked the level. The result is a very nice overdriven sound from the Champ, not really that much different just pushed that extra little bit - kinda like an amp that goes to 11.

The sound clip below is a basic blues lick, first section is the Champ and eMiniMass with the second lick using the Tubescreamer to push the amp.

Sound Clip Champ with MiniMass

Weber Economy MiniMass Features

economy mini mass There is not much to this device. Amp connector, speaker connector, rotary dial for attenuation and a bypass switch. I noticed if you set the dial to 10 there is no attenuation, you can switch the unit off/on and not notice any difference. The unit is small enough to sit in the back of the Champ's cabinet out of site.

Sennheiser e609 Silver

I like the e609 over the standard SM57 for 1 simple reason - no mic stand - you simply drape the e609 over the top of your amp. The mic only pics up signal on 1 side, I've been able to record and talk with out my voice being picked up by the e609.

Final Opinion

The sweet distortion heard coming from your favorite guitar player is usually derived from power amp saturation. The only way to get power amp distortion is to crank the volume but even the Zvex .5 watt amp can be to loud for the house. For those with low wattage (25 watts or less) tube amps the Weber Economy MiniMass is just the answer and at $45 (US) it's cheaper than most distortion pedals. Some may get into the argument that the THD Hotplate is the attenuator to get but it's over $250 which is more than most Champs cost. For $45 the eMiniMass is the best tone investment I've made.

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