After the successful line of Model T replicas, we decided to go ahead and create something on our own with our new amp designer Jens Zander of Zander Amps. Jens has over 25 years of experience when it comes to tube amps and is a well-known tube aficionado in northern Germany that specialises on modding amps and designing custom circuits for his clients.
We started from scratch and collected everything we would like to see in a high-powered amp with high preamp gain and tidy, thick lows but also featuring a clean channel that works great with tons of pedals in front. First, we ditched the 150W-ultra-linear-idea because we wanted more power, more dynamics and more musicality, so we went for a classic 250 watt circuit with four KT88 power tubes. The power stage is ridiculously powerful and moves more air than any amp we played in person. It's for people that like the over-the-top sound. It's the limit of what most cabs can handle.
When designing the preamp stage we tested a ton of Jens' creations, multiple amps next to each other and selected every feature that must be included in the perfect amp. All of Jens’ designs have a special sound. A blend between old school rawness and high gain, keeping every frequency intact and having a switchable EQ section to alternatively give the amp a mid-focused or a more modern feeling sound.
We wanted an extremely clean pedal platform but also the JPTR typical gain we are known for. To not sacrifice any tonal capabilities, we decided to divide the gain structure into two channels. That way channel 1 is very clean like in non-master volume amps and channel 2 is voiced after raw British amps which might feel familiar. To make the amp more flexible, both channels have separate deep- and bright-switches to make the channels work for you. As an example, you can run channel 1 super clean and use the bright boost to get a sparkly clean sound. You can then switch to channel 2 with the deep boost engaged to achieve an absolutely massive, heavily distorted sound.
With the basic sounds covered, we wanted to give the customer more features because we saw that this creation we had before us is an amp that ends the search for an amp that could accompany you for a lifetime. Every high gain sound could benefit from a boost, so why not build the perfect matching tube boost straight into it? We also had to include a tube buffered FX loop for transparent use of delay and reverb.
And so, it was time to build the first prototype...
After getting the first Titan through a few hands we noticed that the boost which was located on the back of the prototype has to be on the front to adjust the value on a fly in a stressful live situation. We also noticed that the FX loop has to be on the back along with the remote-switch connector to clean up the look. Of course, the channels and the boost are not only switchable on the amp but with a footswitch as well.
While designing a hifi power amp, Jens had the ground-breaking idea to update the bias controls on the back so that it enables the user to keep an eye on the bias setting and to check if it’s set correctly. This facilitates power amp tube changes and biasing done by the customer without the help of an amp tech. The LEDs indicate if each tube gets its perfect bias or not – so the tubes can always run in their optimal range.
With the goal to build an amp that will cover a wide range of sounds and work great at many different performance situations, the last thing missing was an power attenuator to make it work for studio use or even practice situations. All external attenuators will cut the power behind the output transformer to reduce the volume. This will wear out tubes faster. Our design throttles the circuit in a way that is less demanding for the power-amp tubes to suit the Titan’s colossal power to the given situation. Despite the attenuator we’ve still kept the 250W power stage fully intact so you can have the compression of a dimed power stage but with the clean lows and headroom still intact, which other amps physically can’t deliver with an external attenuator. A further downside of many classic power soaks and attenuators is that the speakers will get a thinner sounding signal, which is the last thing we wanted.
Our attenuator system has 3 options:
- 250 W is for all the full stack lovers that can’t get enough of pushing boundaries
- 50 W mode is the preferred setting if you like pure, old school harmonic power stage compression.
- 12 W is the studio mode where you can handle your amp while still being in the room.
After all those tweaks we can now present the final version of the Titan!
CONTROLS AND FEATURES
- 4x KT88 250W RMS
- 5x preamp tubes:
3x ECC83 for gain stages
2x ECC82 for boost and FX loop
- 2 seperate channels
- Bright and deep switches for each channel
- 3 band EQ with vintage or modern voicing
- 4/8/16 Ohm output
- Three-step stage attenuator (200W/50W/12W)
- Tube buffered FX loop
- Footswitch included
- 59cm x 45cm x 42cm at 32 KG
The front panel of the Titan features two channels with seperate Gain and Volume controls. They share a common EQ section which lets you adjust Bass, Middle and Treble . When the Bass knob is pulled out, the Tone Shift is activated, which switches the amp from its classic mid-forward sound to a more modern one. Even though both channels share the EQ, they both have a Fat and Bright option, which you can activate by pulling out the corresponding Gain and Volume controls. The level of the Titan's tube-driven Boost can also be adjusted here and activated by pulling the knob. Apart from those features, you can switch the channels, plug in your instrument and power up the amp here.
On the back of the amp you can plug in the power cable and select the voltage. The fuses, the remote-switch connector and the FX loop Send and Return can also be found here.
This is the Titan's bias control where you can adjust the tubes on your own without help of an amp tech. If the power tubes are running properly, all indicator lights are off. In case one or more LEDs light up, please check the bias setting: simply turn the trimmers until all control lights are off. If this does not work, the power tubes must be replaced. During the first hours of operation, the characteristics of new tubes change, so the setting should be checked and adjusted more often. If you can't get the lights to turn off, the power tubes need to be replaced.
Pictured here are the speaker outputs as well as the resistance selector where you can set the Titan's output resistance according to your cab setup. The power attenuator is located here as well. It is possible to adjust the amps power and switch it down to 50W or 12W according to your needs. Obviously you can also just leave it at 200W for maximum power.
Right now we are in the process of creating the first serial versions of the Titan. We intend to build 5 units this year.
The TITAN is the last amp you’ll buy, an amp that will work in every situation. It will replace multiple amps in your studio, practice room or even your living room if you have deaf neighbours. We did something magical and powerful with sounds clean purists while simultaneously fulfilling gain lovers’ dreams. The Titan has the wide range of options and sounds a modern amp should have with the clean looks and easy adjustment of an old school workhorse. This amp is built using only the highest quality components, delivers 250 watts of pure tube power and is more than capable of total sonic annihilation.