Marching Into a New Infinium: TheToneKing.com checks out Bugera’s new tube technology.

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Since Bugera announced their new technology at NAMM 2011, the guitar forums exploded in a chaotic maelstrom of claims about what Infinium would do to change the world of tube amps. Like everything else you’ll find on forums, truth and misinformation were both argued with equal vehemence. So, what’s the deal with Infinium? What does it mean for the future of guitar amps? Don’t worry loyal members of the TTK community. TheToneKing.com is here to give you the low down on Bugera’s new rides.

First, a word about biasing:

A tech can write an entire encyclopedia set on the subject of biasing. But here’s a basic one-sentence definition that’s sure to get me some angry mail:

Biasing is setting the voltage or current in a circuit to provoke a desired response from particular point.

Phew that wasn’t so bad. Was it? Anyway, tube amps are biased according to what type of power tube is being used. Different amps have different biasing needs. Many amps are ‘fixed biased’, which basically means if the amp comes to you with EL34s it will always have EL34s unless you pay to have it moded. Self-biasing amps ‘self-regulate’ the cathode current across the tube, making it possible to replace tubes without any other adjustments. Unless you are one of the select few who have a dual-biasing amp, or even know what the hell a dual-biasing amp is, you’re restricted to using only one type of tube in your amp at a time. Enter Infinium.

Infinium makes it possible to mix and match EL34s, 6L6s, and 6550s in any combination to create your own unique tone. And, since it automatically biases the current for you, you get all of the benefits of any of the aforementioned tube types in any combination you want without having to sell off your first born to pay a bench fee. Honestly, I’ve never heard an amp with a combination of different power tubes. So, the jury is still out on what these unique tones are going to sound like, but the key word here is ‘variety.’ And you know TTK likes variety.

Bugera’s new technology doesn’t stop there. It automatically adjusts current levels to distribute the current more evenly across all of the tubes, optimizing performance of your tubes while giving each tube up to 20 times more life. This is good news for those of us who replace our tubes every two years or so, once they have out-lasted that ‘sweet spot.’ Let’s face it, if our tubes live longer, so will our bank accounts.

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That ‘sweet spot’ will also last longer when the amp biases the current levels, compensating for the effects of aging. And, if a tube does ever breath its last, an indicator on the back of the amp will let you know which one croaked and needs to be replaced.

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OK. So, now that you know what Infinium is, you’re probably asking, “Which amps are they gonna put this Infinium thingy into?” Well, the short answer is, “All of them.”

Two new models, the TriRec and the Magician, will be introduced with the Infinium feature. But, it will also be included in Mark II versions of all of Bugera’s old school models, including; the 333xl, 6260 series, the 1960 and the 1990. Basically, they’re revamping their entire line with this new technology.

The TriRec is a combination silicon diode/valve based 100 watt rectifier amp. Knowing that some players prefer the sound of a solid state rectifier because of the tight bass response while others opt for the “sag” that you get with a valve based rectifier, Bugera threw up their hands and basically said, “why not both?” Bugera’s TriRec gives you the option for either the brutal punch of a solid state, or the grace and warmth of tube, or a combination of both.

With three preamp channels, each with three-band EQ, Presence, Volume and Gain controls, your can create whatever tones please your palette.  And with five 12AX7 pre-amp tubes, the amp will have the room to go from cleanest of cleans to the screamest of screams. And, as I mentioned before, how you set up your power amp stage is pretty much up to you.

The TriRec is not just another pretty face. The back of the amp has all the modern features of an Adjustable Line Out, Impedence Selector, FX Loop with send and return levels, and MIDI IN/THRU.

For the boutique lovers among us, Bugera offers the Magician, a three-channel 85 watt 12” combo that boasts everything from vintage clean to killer crunch. In addition to Infinium technology, the Magician also allows you to choose between multiple class modes (either Class A or combination Class A/AB). The back also offers the option to run the amp in either Pentode, for a clear powerful punch, or Triode mode, for a mellower sound. Built to integrate seamlessly with your favorite stomp boxes, the Magician’s effects loop features an on/off status for each channel that can be recalled whenever that channel is selected. Fitted into the chassis is a 12” Bugera speaker, handmade in the same factory as the amp. Even though it’s modeled after a highly sensitive vintage Alnico speaker, it weighs only a fraction of the old back busters.

Both of the amps carry the Varipower feature that gives you that saturated tube sound at lower volume. It’s not exactly clear if this works like other attenuators (like the THD hotplate or the Marshall Powerbrake), but Bugera claims that the output power can be adjusted from 1 Watt to whatever the max wattage is without losing that saturated tone.

If even half of what Bugera claims about their Infinium technology is true, tube amp technology is going to undergo a huge change from here on out. By taking the issue of biasing out of the equation, Infinium opens up loads of new and unique opportunities in our never-ending search for tone. Bringing another new road for The Tone King to drive with windows down and music blasting.

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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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