Ironman II Mini - it's pretty good!

jellodog

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I got myself an Ironman II Mini a couple of weeks ago.

The Mini version is just rated for 30 watts & 8 ohms; unlike the larger 100w multi-ohm Ironman II which is also an impedance matcher. Didn't want to go full Powerstage reamping just to get my Princeton Reverb into a sweeter, hotter spot at home.

I've already got a low sensitivity speaker, so the Princeton is pretty usable clean tone around 2.9 on the (no master) volume dial anyway - but of course I wanted to try going further and push it more.

Well, I've heard so many depressingly bad attenuators over the years that I had tempered my expectations to: "I guess, I'll just try and knock 7 dB off without significant tone loss and just accept that". I had braced myself for disappointment, even though the Ironman II is reactive and I've read enouraging things.

I'm now happily cruising at -15 dB of attenuation and I'm super pleased! I've got a fairly high boost into the front of the amp and volume dial on 4.5. Sounds great. -18 db of attenuation also sounds great. No noticeable tone loss AFAICT.

-22 dB is also just about "fine", but I don't think I'd want to take it further than that. I have no need to anyway.

Now this is with a Fender BF amp. I have no idea if it would be as good with higher gain amps. Usual caveats apply... no speaker compression... Fletcher Munson ... yadda yadda.

Here it is in use (yellow monster for scale) :


ironman_jellodog.jpg



Note: Although the unit has a battery compartment and 9v adapter input, it doesn't need power to attenuate. It's passive. Power is only there to light up the "solo" LED to indicated you're at a "boosted" level of attenuation.
 
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Very nice! I know a lot of amps have gotten better and better on the master volume side of things but these are still super useful. I wish there were more 4ohm options for this :unsure:
 
Very nice! I know a lot of amps have gotten better and better on the master volume side of things but these are still super useful. I wish there were more 4ohm options for this :unsure:

The more expensive "full" Ironman II does 4, 8 & 16 ohms, but perhaps you are just wishing the more affordable "mini" was also available in 4 ohms?
 
The more expensive "full" Ironman II does 4, 8 & 16 ohms, but perhaps you are just wishing the more affordable "mini" was also available in 4 ohms.
I have (mostly dumb because of all the idiot things I want to do with tube amps) reasons. But yes to what you just said :whistle :grin
 
I've been thinking lately that it doesn't have to be an either / or choice with master volumes or attenuators.

For example, even though the master volume was pretty good on my Boogie Mark Five: 25, it really didn't sound quite as good until you got it above 10:30 on the dial and 11am was even better. I really wish I'd had this attenuator when I owned that amp, but it just wasn't as sweet below 10am where I needed it in a medium-sized room (even with no neighbours at the time!).

I feel that a hybrid approach of "fairly good" master volume with only a few dB of attenuation might have been great for that amp. It's gone now, though.
 
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I have (mostly dumb because of all the idiot things I want to do with tube amps) reasons. [...]

Take a line-level tap off the attenuated signal and send it elsewhere for "further processing", for example? This mini version has a line out; haven't tried it though.

You've got me curious now. You always seem to have unusual setups or are cooking up plans for them 🙂


willem dafoe scientist GIF
 
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Take a line-level tap off the attenuated signal and send it elsewhere for "further processing", for example? This mini version has a line out; haven't tried it though.

You've got me curious now. You always seem to have unusual setups or are cooking up plans for them 🙂


willem dafoe scientist GIF
Here's what I want to work exactly as I describe it. Spoiler tag for dumb stuff :whistle

IRs, synths and post fx in the loop. Speaker out to my F12 cabs. XLR out of the VII to FOH carrying all this. I don't want to mic a flat cab with a 57 that's doing trumpets and guitar tones

:bag


As of now; there is a phasiness coming out of the XLR out when I engage fx in the loop. I have some testing to do so I can't pinpoint the cause just yet.
 
Very nice!!! I’ve been thinking about getting a proper attenuator since I noticed that my Bugera PS1 runs considerably warmer with my Jet City amp than it does with my Marshall. I don’t know if it means anything as it works just fine but the thought remains…
 
Very nice!!! I’ve been thinking about getting a proper attenuator since I noticed that my Bugera PS1 runs considerably warmer with my Jet City amp than it does with my Marshall. I don’t know if it means anything as it works just fine but the thought remains…
Two weeks ago, I used my Bugera attenuator with a 50w Plexi for a show and it overheated and died after about 45 minutes. Thankfully the amp wasn't harmed.

I have a Rivera Rock Crusher and a SPL attenuator but decided to use the Bugera because it was smaller. Big mistake. I threw it in the garbage.
 
IRs, synths and post fx in the loop. Speaker out to my F12 cabs. XLR out of the VII to FOH carrying all this. I don't want to mic a flat cab with a 57 that's doing trumpets and guitar tones

:bag


As of now; there is a phasiness coming out of the XLR out when I engage fx in the loop. I have some testing to do so I can't pinpoint the cause just yet.

giphy.gif
 
Just been playing the Princeton before bed. The Ironman II has been life-changing for me. I use it every day.

I wish I had tried this device 3 or 4 years ago. It would have saved me thousands of dollars and a lot of wasted time.
 
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Just been playing the Princeton before bed. The Ironman has been life-changing for me. I use it every day.

I wish I had tried this device 3 or 4 years ago. It would have saved me thousands of dollars and a lot of wasted time.
Call me intrigued given how much we usually agree gear wise. My only experience with this was built into a Falcon Grande amp and I thought I (the attenuator) like most everything else about that amp that I was SOOOOOO pumped for, sucked balls. So I'm wondering if maybe it was just that amp, not the attenuator. In the Falcon Grande, anything more than 2 clicks in of attenuation (I think that was around 9dB?) and it just started to add a TOOOOON of compression and clipping. Like, to the point that it started to sound/feel like I had an overdrive pedal on by four clicks in.

God that amp was such a disappointment.
 
@Boudoir Guitar All I can say is that the attenuation sounds very natural to me. And this is coming from someone who plays mostly on his own and really notices and gets upset when things sound off because my guitar tone is very exposed without a band present. I am the opposite of upset with this Ironman II - I'm overjoyed!

I'm mostly using -11 dB to -15 dB which is 3 or 4 clicks.

-11 dB last night, with PRRI volume on 4, but significantly boosted in the front - so maybe equivalent to a Princeton on 4.5 with no pedals. Single coils. Playing with light to medium pick attack and not digging in or bashing out chords, I noticed transient spikes of 81 dB in the room... but most of the playing was averaging around 76 dB and still sounded satisfying to me and the tone was full, natural and rich.


My low sensitivity 10" speaker already shaves off 3 dB though (when compared to the average 12").

I see that the current Falcon Grande has the Ironman II. Could your Falcon Grande have had the first version of the Ironman if it was a few years ago?

My taste, critical faculties and hearing could suck, I suppose; but I've definitely not heard any clipping or excessive compression at those attenuation levels.

I keep bouncing between this attenuated Princeton setup and my FM9. They are both satisfying in different ways; I've finally got my primary FM9 patch dialled in to a spot where I don't feel the need to fiddle with it anymore.
 
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I do love the simplicity of the Princeton though and if I'd had this attenuated setup years ago, I probably would not have bought a Helix or an FM9 or tried out other amps that addressed volume issues, like the TMDR and a bunch of solid state stuff.

Ach. Lessons learned... such is life ... yada yada.
 
@Boudoir Guitar All I can say is that the attenuation sounds very natural to me. And this is coming from someone who plays mostly on his own and really notices and gets upset when things sound off because my guitar tone is very exposed without a band present. I am the opposite of upset with this Ironman II - I'm overjoyed!

I'm mostly using -11 dB to -15 dB which is 3 or 4 clicks.

-11 dB last night, with PRRI volume on 4, but significantly boosted in the front - so maybe equivalent to a Princeton on 4.5 with no pedals. Single coils. Playing with light to medium pick attack and not digging in or bashing out chords, I noticed transient spikes of 81 dB in the room... but most of the playing was averaging around 76 dB and still sounded satisfying to me and the tone was full, natural and rich.


My low sensitivity 10" speaker already shaves off 3 dB though (when compared to the average 12").

I see that the current Falcon Grande has the Ironman II. Could your Falcon Grande have had the first version of the Ironman if it was a few years ago?

My taste, critical faculties and hearing could suck, I suppose; but I've definitely not heard any clipping or excessive compression at those attenuation levels.

I keep bouncing between this attenuated Princeton setup and my FM9. They are both satisfying in different ways; I've finally got my primary FM9 patch dialled in to a spot where I don't feel the need to fiddle with it anymore. I do love the simplicity of the Princeton though.
It was a few years ago, but pretty certain it was the II. My experience with it was NOT subtle. It wasn't like "oh, there seems to be a little tone suck here" but really dramatic like "who turned the gain knob from 3 to 6?!?". So maybe there was just a fault or something weird about how that specific amp interacted with it. Glad it's working well, because there is nothing more fun than just plugging into a Princeton and playing!!
 
It was a few years ago, but pretty certain it was the II. My experience with it was NOT subtle. It wasn't like "oh, there seems to be a little tone suck here" but really dramatic like "who turned the gain knob from 3 to 6?!?". So maybe there was just a fault or something weird about how that specific amp interacted with it.

Yeah, that does not sound right at all! That's a real shame.
 
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