Archive for the ‘Tube King-Series’ Category

Ibanez TK999HT Tube King Distortion

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

TK999HT

What is it?
Ibanez TK999HT Tube King Distortion. Made in china, late 00’s.

Not sure if the TK999HT is currently in production anymore. Ibanez site doesn’t list it and many european internet shops don’t have it on their listings. At least not any more. This high gain distortion is somewhat impressive by its appearance. The box is huge and heavy. The rubber pads on the bottom plate are something like 40mm in diameter, while the box itself measures 15x15x5 cm. Enclosure isn’t aluminium.

As the features go, we have the usual drive/level controls, a three band EQ with low/mid/high controls and a presence switch. Since the amount of gain is very high, there’s also a “Void” control. This is your noise gate. Other Ibanez boxes have had the same feature, name some high gain distortions from 7-series. The box feeds itself on a 12V AC power supply and has its own transformer and rectifier diodfe bridge inside.

TK999HT-guts

In a sense, this configuration reminds me of those hybrid guitar amps that exploded in popularity in the 90s. In fact, this comes pretty close, minus the output amplifier. Dirk Hendrik has drawn a schematic of this one too – here. Even without the noise gate and power supply section, the design is taken one step further from the basic boxes we see more often. In essence, we have input buffering, followed by driver amp and gain control. After those there’s two tube driver stages, a buffer to decouple the tube. After that, there’s presence switch and tone controls. All three tone controls have their own cutting/boosting gyrators. Followed by output buffering. Void circuit in on mode, is attached in parallel with the effect circuit. Dirk’s schematic doesn’t disclose what’s the voltage being fed to the tube, but it sure isn’t the same 12V DC being fed to to rest of the circuit. Complex and somewhat impressive.

If i was to come up with one, biggest negative side to the design, it would definitely be the location of the tube. The ventilation is sufficient, but the previous Tube King boxes had the tube in plain sight, making it simple to swap for another type of tube if desired. This time the tube is placed so that it’ll require disassembling most of the insides to get to the tube. Somehow reminds me of older cars versus newer cars. One should be able to change the burned out headlamp by oneself. At least in my opinion.

How does it sound?
Modern High-Gain. Maybe slightly too modern and too high-gain for my personal taste. Due to amount of gain, the noise gate (or Void) is a good thing to have. While this may be a bit too much in distortion department, the output level is high enough to use the unit as a soaring lead monster. Due to it’s nature, i don’t see myself using this for base sounds on any set of settings. But as a solo distortion? Yup. In that scenario the pedals shines. And bright.

Ibanez TC999 Tube King Compressor

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Ibanez-TC999

What is it?
Ibanez TC999 Tube King Compressor made in Japan in the 90’s.

It’s been quite long since i got this unit and took the photos (so sorry about the quality). Got this as semi-functioning unit in a trade. Problem was with the enormous amounts of hiss and interfecence when pedal was engaded. Dirk has posted a schematic up on his site, and i follewed that to see if power supply filtering had gone bad. Nope. Since the hiss was still there after i swapped the filter caps for new ones with same value, but higher voltage rating. Surely, the design isn’t meant to be used with a battery, but it did occur to me to try out the simplest possible diagnostic for power supply issues. Run it with a battery and see if the noise goes away. Yup. It does. Problem solved. Do not use a crappy power supply with this one. Some noisy squish is still present on high sustain settings, but i suspect that to be a feature. Other issues with pedal were your standard non-pedal enthusiast home made fixes. Like fastening the jack with superglue after someone had taken the threads off from the jack. Never. I mean Never fix anything with superglue nor hot glue. Please. Two of the knobs are not original, but that doesn’t slow us down too much.

Ibanez-TC999-Guts1

Mini analysis of the design shows that the tube is there to offer the BA6110 VCA SIP chip the pre-compressed tube sound input that a good compressor wants. Dynamics of the voltage controlled amplifier is better (at least in theory) than with the standard silicon amplifier. No, the tube isn’t creating the compression. The tube is there to provide enhanced dynamics for the otherwise near standard modern Maxon/Ibanez compressors with VCAs. For the controls, the Sensitivity is basically a gain control before the tube grid. This sets the amount of signal passed to the tube. Attack and Sustain are controls for the VCA parameters, more or less the same as we’ll find in Soundtank compressors. Master is your overall volume control. The stomp switch for Boost sets the input gain of the tube for two different settings. Pretty straight forward.

Ibanez-TC999-Guts2

Two stacked boards look like most Maxon designs from the 80s and 90s. Neat, but somewhat dull. Overall, it is a compressor that has some good thinking and engineering involved in its design.

How does it sound?
Loud and mellow compression, with some noisy squish when sustain is maxed. The boost isn’t as clean as i hoped, but it’ll be enough for many purposes. Design part left me a bit puzzled or hoping to get more out of it. Guess it’s safe to assume that new ideas do not necessarily go hand in hand with “better”. It’s not bad sounding compression, but you’ll be better of with Ibanez CP5/CP10/CPL, Digitech Main squeeze or Marshall Ed. But yes. It has a tube in it. You’ll need to weight if its Mojo or brutal usability you’re after. You’ll get a better sounding booster out of almost any cheap boost pedal.