Blackstar Patents - DPR – What is Dynamic Power Reduction?

Blackstar Patents - DPR – What is Dynamic Power Reduction?

DPR stands for Dynamic Power Reduction. This is a patented Blackstar feature that appears on a number of Blackstar amplifiers.

The DPR feature allows you to achieve cranked valve amp style overdrive and compression at bedroom levels. This feature gives you all the tone and feel of an amp running full tilt.

DPR works by adjusting the voltage across the power stage of the amplifier. By reducing this power, the amps overall volume drops but this introduces the natural tube distortion, amplifier sag and compression that you would hear if you turned a 100w amp up full.

This allows you to achieve these cranked amp sounds, at a lower volume. Perfect for home use, studio use or even just achieving a cranked amp tone on stage without the volume. When you couple the DPR with the ISF you can dial in a range of tones from a small cranked American combo to a loud, roaring British sounding full stack.

The DPR control allows you to bring the amps overall output down to 10% of its total rating. In the video, I used the HT20mkII which is a 20w amp. The DPR button on this amp allows you to switch it down to 2w mode.

This feature is also available on the Series One amps as a continuous power reduction control. This means you can sweep through the whole range of wattages from the amps total down to 10%. For example, the Series One 200 is a 200w head. Using the DPR control, you can dial it anywhere from 200w down to 20w and everything in between.

This is a dynamic feature and unlike traditional attenuators, doesn’t put anything between your amplifier and your speaker. Interesting an attenuator between the amp and speaker adds an additional stage for the signal to travel through which in turn affects the tone you hear. DPR does not add this stage do the tone and feel of the amplifier is retained.

In the video we look at a few different DPR settings and tones.

Clean Tone

DPR 20w

In this mode, the amp delivers the full headroom you’d expect. Clean tones remain clean up to the upper edge of the clean channel volume, where a hint of breakup creeps in. In this mode the amp is not compressing because it has the additional headroom. Compression and sag are only introduced when this setting it really pushed hard.

DPR 2w

In this mode you can hear the headroom dropping. This means pushing the volume will introduce breakup sooner in the volume pot range. In 2w mode the amp is also more sensitive to playing harder which will also introduce breakup.

DPR 20w – With Overdrive Pedal

If you push the clean channel with an overdrive pedal, you still have the full compliment of the amps headroom. A light gain overdrive or a clean boost might introduce a touch of breakup and push the front end of the amp harder, but will not give you full saturation. To achieve full saturation, a high gain overdrive would need to be used.

DPR 2w – With Overdrive Pedal

In the 2w mode, the overdrive or boost will fight against the headroom and give you a more compressed breakup. The boost will create tube distortion at a much lower level because of the lower headroom.

Overdriven Tone

DPR 20w

In this mode the gain knob is really responsive. It saturates and compresses at higher settings in line with the amps headroom, but on lower settings it remains open sounding and dynamic.

DPR 2w

In 2w mode the gain knob pushes the amp a little sooner because you are running at 10% of the total power. It is easier to saturate the amp at lower volumes in 2w mode.

DPR 20w – With Overdrive Pedal

Putting an overdrive or boost into the amp at 20w mode not only hits the front end a little harder causing some breakup and compression, but it also boosts the volume (Providing you’ve got some headroom left on the master volume). Depending on how loud you are running the amp, and how loud the boost is, you can get a more compressed tone with additional saturation.

DPR 2w – With Overdrive Pedal

With the DPR set to 2w on the overdrive channel, and an overdrive or boost put infront, the amp will compress even more than just pushing this channel. You will have the amp compressing and causing sag from the drive channel, coupled with the additional input signal from the overdrive pedal.

This is great is you want to get a high gain, low volume tone.

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.

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