This triumvirate of AMT Electronics preamps share a lot of common features, providing slight but essential differences for the discerning player. ie: obsessive tone geeks like you and I.
SS-11A & SS-11B PREAMPS
First let’s check out the SS-11A and SS-11B preamps. These fully valve-based 4-stage overdrive pedals each feature twin 12AX7 preamp tubes with three separate channels – Clean, Overdrive and Lead, the latter two appearing under a shared ‘Drive’ category. You can select between Clean and Drive with the chunky footswitch on the left, and toggle between Crunch and Lead with the right switch. There’s no bypass, but this unit is not designed to be used like an on/off distortion pedal. Each pedal has an effects loop which is always engaged. The pedals are designed to be used as a true preamp – that is, either feeding an amp’s power amp via a preamp input/effects loop return jack, or feeding an actual rackmounted power amp. There’s also a switch to select between amp and mixer outputs, so you can crank these babies through your desk either live or in the studio. The mixer output features a transistor-based guitar cabinet impulse response emulator to provide a natural-feeling response. I tested the pedals both ways – through a Marshall DSL50 and various AVID Mboxes – and the results were great either way. Recordists will appreciate the ‘plug in and simply sound great’ nature of the emulated out, while live players will dig the ability to completely revoice their amp by effectively excising their existing preamp and replacing it with one of these bad boys.