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Post new topic Milkman Half&Half/ Sarno Black Box
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Author Topic:  Milkman Half&Half/ Sarno Black Box
Theodore Wells


From:
Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 30 Aug 2019 1:46 pm    
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Any Milkman Half & Half owners using a Black Box in conjunction with their Half & Half?
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Tucker Jackson


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 30 Aug 2019 7:43 pm    
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I have a friend who runs a Black Box with his Half & Half. He thinks it makes the rig sound even better. Maybe he'll see this post and give some details.
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Michael Stephens


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 31 Aug 2019 2:23 am    
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I used to use a BB with a fully solid state amp, but haven't felt any need at all with my Half & Half -- has really nice, plenty warm tone. Getting great feedback from folks hearing it at gigs.
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Mike Terry


From:
Galesburg Il
Post  Posted 31 Aug 2019 4:03 am    
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I'd always used a Sarno Black Box with my Nashville 112 & my MB200. The Milkman Half & Half sounds so good i've never even tried hooking up the Black Box.
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Mathew Peluso


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 31 Aug 2019 7:33 am    
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I use a BB in front of my Half & Half. It makes enough of a difference to warrant keeping it on my pedalboard. As is the nature of the BB, it's really subtle. It's more about the feel for me but it also seems to simultaneously excite and tame the highs. And I love having the vari-z knob for tweaking things on the fly. I hadn't planned on using it with the Milkman but already had a BB so I did some A/B'ing. I really miss it when it's out of the chain. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Hey, Tucker!
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David Nugent


From:
Gum Spring, Va.
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 3:59 am    
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From what I understand, the concept behind the Black Box is that the 12AX7 tube is the first item that the pickup signal sees. When used before the volume pedal, can see where it may be beneficial in that context. If installed after the VP however, would think that it would then become redundant, the signal seeing the tube in the BB and then repeating in the Milkman preamp section..FWIW: Have a Peavey 'Classic' which like most 'Music Man' amps, features a solid state preamp coupled with a 6L6 power amp section, the Black Box really enhances the tone of this unit.
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Mathew Peluso


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 9:01 am    
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Good point, David. I've always had the BB as the first thing in my chain, then volume pedal to effects to amp. It's not truly doing its thing if there's anything in between the pickup and BB.
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Theodore Wells


From:
Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 10:26 am    
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So I've been playing through a Walker Stereo Steel for the past 5 years with a Sarno Black Box between my steel, Williams S-10/BL 705 PU and VP. I recently acquired a Milkman Half and Half with a 12" MM speaker and was initially surprised by it's lack of warmth and found the only way to tame things and round off the sharp edges was with the Black Box. Obviously 2 completely different amps with the Walker SS/TC Elec. M one, being played through a 15" JBL that have a ton of play time through them.
I guess my surprise was based on comments and reviews from owners of the Milkman Half & Half accessing great tone from the first few hours of plugging in. It's taken me quite a while to find sounds that I find pleasing which are generally at a fairly low volume. As my main gigging rig I still go for Walker SS probably out of a need for consistency in what I'm used to hearing.
I know the Milkman is a fine piece of equipment and Tim puts his heart and soul into all of his products so please don't interpret this as a bash on Milkman. Just interested in other MM owners experiences. Thanks for all your comments so far.
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Tom Dillon


From:
La Mesa, California, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 11:29 am    
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Theodore,

Like you, I've used a Stereo Steel with closed back JBLs quite a bit and it's still my favorite amp overall. I also have a Milkman Half and Half head with a Telonics 15 in an open back cabinet. I had a similar experience with the Milkman compared to the SS. I found a usable sound with it using either cabinet, but the Stereo Steel always sounds better to me. Eventually, I started bringing the Milkman to gigs because it's so light and simple, and it's plenty loud. After a few gigs with it cranked up it sounds much better to me. I think it's just about getting used to it.

Recently my band went to in ear monitors. After trying several other things, I settled on a Sarno Revelation rack with Neunaber reverb and cab sim pedals inside. This sounds really great direct to the PA with or without a powered speaker for stage volume (but I rarely take a speaker to gigs anymore). Since the Rev has the Black Box circuit built in, I hooked just that section up to the SS and MMHH just to try it out at home. It was a subtle improvement I'd say. Nothing dramatic.
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Tom Dillon

MSA Legend, On-Trak, Stereo Steel, Milkman, Sarno, Dr. Z, fiddles


Last edited by Tom Dillon on 9 Sep 2019 12:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 1:16 pm    
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(skip to last para for the bottom line if you like)
I've had pretty much every Milkman over the years...he kept coming out with the "next better thing"....from 85 watt Pedal Steel, through a bunch to the 40 Watt Pedal Steel Mini, to the Half and Half, and now to The Amp...

I found the black box to be totally required on any solid state amp I tried, to make it even listenable, but quickly gave up on them...just a personal taste for warmer vs, colder tone.

The BB effect was inaudible on the all-tube Milkman amps...and I'd disposed of it before I went to the combination tube/solid state ones, but I really didn't notice any degradation of tone. It is true that the BB is more obvious in a real A/B comparison, of course.

the Pedal steel Mini was the only one where the tubes made a truly huge difference - because it could be played loud enough for the final power stage to get cooking, and there it was amazing.

As long as it is only the preamp that is running hot, it shouldn't make a whole lot of difference what the power stage is...after all, when you mic the amp you really are running through a PA final stage, which is solid state....

BUT THE BIG THING I FOUND is that the speaker needed a lot of break-in to mellow out...telonics breaks their speakers in before shipping, but everything else really needed a bunch of serious power for hours, to mellow out and get warm...so don't dismiss that as a possible issue - it is easy to form an opinion before break-in and not change it later even though the tone is better...
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Clinesmith Frypan, 1954 Oahu Diana
Ben Bonham Style 3 Tricone & Style 3.5 Weissenborn
Milkman The Amp, Fishman, ZT
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Theodore Wells


From:
Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 7:54 pm    
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Thanks a bunch Tom and Steve for your insight. Totally agree on speaker break in and just getting used to a different amp sound. Have been playing ipod music through the MM as often a possible. Also started using this
Tara Labs-Cascade Noise Burn-In.
https://www.taralabs.com/cascade-noise-burn-in
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 8:13 pm    
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theodore -
thanks for the burn-in link! I'm getting a new speaker in a couple of days and this is perfect! throw a blanket over it, put it in a closet, and let it rip...
I'm going to get a Jupiter 10" ceramic in a Mojotone Tweed Champ-size enclosure ...... should be perfect light-weight companion for The Amp - I now have a Jupiter 12" in a Mojotone Lite Princeton-size, and it is great, but why not go even smaller if I can? Or run them both together for a blended tone...and The Amp goes to 100 watts with two speakers...
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FOR SALE: MSA Superslide 6/7/8 string
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www.facebook.com/swingaliband
Clinesmith Frypan, 1954 Oahu Diana
Ben Bonham Style 3 Tricone & Style 3.5 Weissenborn
Milkman The Amp, Fishman, ZT
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Corbin Pratt


From:
Tennessee
Post  Posted 5 Sep 2019 5:27 am    
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I tried a Black Box in front of my Half and Half. I didn't really notice enough difference to warrant keeping the BB. When I first got my HH, I had a little trouble dialing it in. My mistake was that I was treating the EQ section like a Fender tone stack. The mids are very different in the HH. Don't be afraid to crank the treble and mids on this amp. It really opens it up. Also, you're going to want the volume to noon. If it's too loud, use input 2. All in all, it's a really great amp that sits well in a mix.
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76' Emmons Push Pull SD-10, Milkman Half and Half, Strymon Pedals, Kemper
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Chris Willingham


From:
Idabel, Oklahoma
Post  Posted 6 Sep 2019 7:07 am    
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[quote="Steve Lipsey"]
the Pedal steel Mini was the only one where the tubes made a truly huge difference - because it could be played loud enough for the final power stage to get cooking, and there it was amazing.

Off topic, but this is the truth! I just put a d120 in my PS mini, which was really, really great, but some NOS RCA tubes on top of that pushed it over the top.

I've also got The Amp, which I run into a QSC K10 (to hang with loud tele players and heavy handed drummers) and I run a BB with it before the volume pedal. Subtle difference, but it's there.
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Mullen G2 Del signature 9x5, Milkman Pedal Steel Mini and a bunch of fiddles
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John Limbach


From:
Billings, Montana, USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2019 5:51 am    
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Theodore:

Thanks for the link to the burn in disc. I'm going to give it a try. I also have an audio function generator with a sweep function on the bench and sfter reading the Tara Labs articles I may play around with that too.
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