Teach me about attenuators

metropolis_4

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I’ve never owned or used one before but I think it’s time for one.

What do I need to know?

How much difference is there between different ones?

How much do they affect tone and feel of the amp?

Do some work or sound better than others?
 
I've actually never used a "real attenuator" before like a Rivera rockcrusher or a Weber Mass attenuator. The two I have, the PS-100 and WAZA tube amp expander both connect your amp to its built in reactive load then reamps that loaded signal to a power amp. PS-100 is tube powered and WAZA is solid state. Both are cool but I definitely prefer the PS-100 when A/B'ing, though many swear by the WAZA.
 
That does look pretty good. It’s a cool concept, I’m guessing you could also use that to power a signal from a digital modeler to a speaker cab?

Absolutely!

I use mine to power my FM9 going into either a closed back 1x12 or 4x12 and it sounds great with both. Instant amp in the room tone.

It can not only power your modeler but can attenuate high power amps, provide 50 watts of amplification to low power amps, and add an effects loop to vintage amps or modern amps without one.

It's a hell of a piece of kit.
 
All I know is way back when I played my buddies 100 watt vintage Plexi thru his Power Brake, the tones it enabled that amp to get at lower volumes were amazing! He's had it a long time and still uses it in his live rig, playing small rooms.

I was so turned on by the concept that I wired up some old, I guess they were made of something like ceramic, resistors between my amp and the speakers, and until they started to melt, those tones were also glorious. I think they came out of an old TV, and were about 3/8" square, by maybe 2.5" long. Can't remember what the values were. My little electronics experiment.
 
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That does look pretty good. It’s a cool concept, I’m guessing you could also use that to power a signal from a digital modeler to a speaker cab?

Yup. You can bypass the reactive load and just go line in/out. That’s how I used my QC. Worked fantastic. What’s really cool is being able to use both simultaneously, so I could run my amp into the RL and modeler into the line in, and create some awesome hybrid setups. It’s a great piece of utility kit.
 
Is the PS-2a basically half a PS100?

Yup. You can bypass the reactive load and just go line in/out. That’s how I used my QC. Worked fantastic. What’s really cool is being able to use both simultaneously, so I could run my amp into the RL and modeler into the line in, and create some awesome hybrid setups. It’s a great piece of utility kit.

Oh that’s really cool. A hybrid setup would be so perfect for me.

There’s this one problem I always have where I want my amp set on edge of breakup where I can hit it harder or back off, and that works for 90% of a show. But then there’s always that one funk song where I need to strum hard with a super clean tone and it’s just not possible.

Being able to switch to a modeler for that funk clean strumming thing would be perfect
 
Is the PS-2a basically half a PS100?



Oh that’s really cool. A hybrid setup would be so perfect for me.

There’s this one problem I always have where I want my amp set on edge of breakup where I can hit it harder or back off, and that works for 90% of a show. But then there’s always that one funk song where I need to strum hard with a super clean tone and it’s just not possible.

Being able to switch to a modeler for that funk clean strumming thing would be perfect

Yeah I think the primary difference besides the wattage is the PS2 has one channel, whereas the PS100 has two configurable channels. But, the PS2 I think can do dual cabs where the 100 is a single cab out.
 
The short and sweet: resistive loads suck, reactive loads are better, none of them are perfect.

Good reactive loads would be things like Fryette stuff, Suhr Reactive Load, Tone King Ironman, Bluetone Loadbox etc.

Fryette Power Station is nothing more than a reactive load -> a pretty neutral tube poweramp in one compact but heavy box. I don't like how noisy the fan is at lower volume. I have been rather disappointed with Fryette support too. When it works it's a nice unit.

You can build your own PS by simply running a loadbox with a lineout to any other amp. The main benefit over a straight attenuator is continuous volume control and possibility for post-amp effects.

I've given up on attenuators and loadboxes and just use master volume amps now. Or digital modelers. I have found I don't care about old school amps, I don't care about powertube distortion. Recording is easier with a modeler. So attenuators don't do much for me.
 
Torpedo Captor X or Mesa CabClone IR.

/thread

IMO reactive loads are the greatest thing to happen to guitar players technology-wise since the Dual Rectifier. I can sit here and record my tube amps, pushing glass, absolutely cranked at 11 pm with my kids just a room or two away sleeping, and no one knows the wiser.

Plus with so many IR options, I have like 8 different people’s version of my 4x12 to choose from or I can create my own IRs should I so choose. It’s truly amazing.

Plus the Captor X has a 3 step-down attenuator if you really need it, but IMO attenuators have a tendency to mess with tone and I have found that to be the case with every one I’ve tried. I do want to try the Fryette Power Station 2 sometime soon though. The idea of the opposite of an attenuator to be used with mini amps is a killer idea.
 
If you want a really good attenuator where you are able to have variable levels of attenuation and don’t care to have use IR’s outside “the box”… I highly recommend the Tone King II. The bigger one has a very nice sounding analog cab sim built in that I prefer over a lot of IR’s.
 
While you try to decide what attenuator you need...

If your amp has an effects loop, you can put a volume pedal, boost, comp, eq, OD, etc in the loop and use that pedal as a way to bring down your overall volume.
 
You can apparently run a splitter with the PS-100, and use two cabs. But IMO, that's kinda janky, and it bugs me. Still, I've used the PS-2 with a Mark V:25, and it was extraordinary. Not only does it make the V:25 louder and yet give you more control, it imparts some juicy, big-bottle tastiness to the tone too.
The best of the actual attenuators I've used (the Fryettes, after all, are NOT attenuators) is the Mesa CabClone IR+/Powerhouse. They sounded really good and natural to my ears, far better than the old shitty HotPlates.
 
Yeah I think the primary difference besides the wattage is the PS2 has one channel, whereas the PS100 has two configurable channels. But, the PS2 I think can do dual cabs where the 100 is a single cab out.

You can apparently run a splitter with the PS-100, and use two cabs.

Cab-Link-cover-1.jpg


https://www.radialeng.com/product/cab-link
 
If you're 8 ohm... https://shop.fractalaudio.com/x-load-lb-2-load-box/
Although I don't think this attenuates the signal really?

Edit: The LB-2 can be also be used to reduce the volume of your amp by diverting half the power into its load. Connect one 4 ohm output of your amp to an 8 ohm speaker. Connect the other 4 ohm output to the LB-2 Amp In jack. This will present two 8 ohm loads in parallel to your amp which is equivalent to a 4 ohm load. Half of your amp’s output power will go the speaker and the other half into the LB-2 reducing the volume of your amp by 6 dB.
 
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