Worship Leader Magazine interview with Pat Quilter, creator and founder of Quilter Labs. Pat Quilter is the founder of QSC audio products, the world’s leading privately held pro audio company. Under the new company Quilter Labs, he has just released the MicroPro 200, the first in a in a new generation of solid state amps that truly capture the sound and feel of a vintage tube amp in a lightweight, versatile amplifier.
WL Mag: What made you decide to start Quilter labs as a company making guitar amps?
Quilter: My original interest was guitar amps started in 1967. I built a bass amp for my younger brother’s band. I naturally started in solid state as that was the “happening thing” but I did build tube amps for several friends and family. We tried building guitar amps until the mid 70’s but we missed the boat for guitar amplifiers, so we turned to pro audio, turning Quilter sound into QSC audio. My role became senior power amp designer. 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of the company and we had Epiphone make a limited run of QSC labeled guitars to celebrate. I’d been thinking off and on about guitar amps, so I designed a lightweight combo-12 to go along with the guitars, and that’s when I started seriously looking into manufacturing a line of guitar amplifiers again.
WL Mag: What separates your product from others on the market?
Quilter: Solid state amplifiers have claimed to capture the warmth and feel of vintage tube amps but nothing has ever quite hit the mark. The dynamic behavior just wasn’t there. When you try one of our amps, you will see that it actually sounds and responds like a vintage tube amp. We’re not trying to devalue classic tube amps – we want to preserve collectible amps by offering a “daily driver” that you can take anywhere and sound great. Using a Fender blonde on a gig is like driving a ’57 Chevy, it’s fun, but you’re putting hard miles on a classic piece that should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Also, the 8” speaker is something you don’t usually see in high power amplifiers, but a modern 8” speaker actually sounds clearer and more articulate than many traditional 10” and 12” speakers, especially when coupled with our unique power electronics.
WL Mag: What is class D amplification?
Quilter: Class D amplification is a new kind of solid state technology that greatly reduces unwanted heat generation, and therefore enables us to make lightweight, cool-running amps with unprecedented dynamic headroom. The technology has been proven over the last decade in ultra-powerful, and expensive, pro-audio amplifiers, but now the technology is there to bring the benefits to a more personal power level. A chassis that feels and looks like a practice amp now delivers more reliable power than amps weighing ten times as much. This technology will become increasingly common, but there are some special tricks required to make it sound as rich and musical as the best classic gear.
WL Mag: Are you working on anything new right now, and what kind of product ideas do you have for the future?
Quilter: People have been asking for a bass amp for a while; we’d love to make a compact and portable bass amp that’s lightweight. We’d love to develop a full-range amp for keyboards and acoustic guitar, and possibly a battery-powered amp in the future. And you’d be surprised how many players want my “micro-bass” if we could make them at a reasonable cost.
WL Mag: What is your vision for Quilter Labs?
Quilter: We want to make an amp that sounds like a tube amp that you can use every day, that’s lightweight, compact, sounds great and works anywhere. We want to give people something that they can really use. We also never want to sacrifice price for quality. There’s a lot of low quality stuff on the market; the world doesn’t need another low quality product. One of the enduring “Californisms” is you can be an expert but still have fun. I recently made a battery-powered bass with a built in amplifier and speaker just for fun….and the back chamber is made from a cooking pot. (Pat pulls out the bass and plays a few notes, which surprisingly sounds terrific) We all work hard to make a great product, but we like to have fun too.
For more information about the MicroPro 200 or other Quilter products visit www.quilterlabs.com.