Attenuator Thread

colchar

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There are all kinds of requests for info on attenuators here, so I thought it might be an idea to create a thread where info on the various attenuators could be collected for easy reference.

We have our own JohnH attenuator, the various Weber models, Tone King, the Torpedo Captor units, the Jet City Jettenuator, the Jettenuator knockoffs, and of course the Marshal PowerBrake. There will be others that I have forgotten.

So maybe people can take the time to list which attenuator they own, what amp(s) they are using it with, and what they think of it. That way those looking for info have a one stop resource for info.
 

colchar

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I'll start.

I have a Jet City Jettenuator that I use with an Orange AD30. I also recently picked up an SV20H but have had little time to mess around with it because work is stupid busy right now, so I won't comment on how the attenuator sounds with the SV20.

With the AD30 it does a great job of knocking a really loud amp down to TV levels (if I want the volume that low). Yes, the sound is a bit compressed when the volume is that low but it still sounds good. The fact that both channels have master volumes probably helps, but I can turn those up and still knock the sound right down.

So this attenuator does exactly what I need it to do. I have no experience with other attenuators so cannot compare it to anything else.

A complaint with many of the knockoff versions of this attenuator (Harley Benton, etc.) is that they get really hot. I have checked the heat on the Jet City version and it doesn't get hot at all, like never. So if the increased heat is an issue for anyone (ie. for safety reasons?) then go for the real thing and not one of the cheaper knockoffs.
 

FleshOnGear

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I currently use the Tone King Ironman II with all of my tube heads. It works great, in my experience. Once you engage it at -3dB attenuation, it rolls off the upper treble a bit, but it’s not that bad. Then it sounds exactly the same all the way down to it’s highest level of attenuation - save for speaker distortion. It’s very effective.

In the past I’ve owned a THD Hotplate and a Weber Mass 200. The Hotplate was OK, but I don’t remember much about how it affected the tone of my amps. The Weber cut off a lot of low end. I used it with a JCM2000 DSL100, and I lost a lot of low cabinet knock with the Weber, so I sold it. That was my experience, anyway - I know the Weber attenuators have a lot of fans here.
 

GregM

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I'm a tight ass so I've only owned two . A Carl's speaker soak and a Bugera PS1 .
The Ps1 for me is awesome . I only have a 20watt master volume amp ( the sc20h ) and a dsl5cr .
I got the speaker soak to crank the dsl5 in green channel and it worked pretty good . I got the Ps1 for the mini jcm , then tried it on the DSL . It was awesome .
Then when I got the mini jcm I could up the master and lower the gain to get really good sounds .
Probably not a must have ( the SC sounds great either way , but just cleaner dirt with the Ps1 if that makes sense )
 

C-Grin

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I have used attenuators over the years and never been happy with the results. Currently I have the Bugera which is very close to the Jet City. I also have an Emminence Maverick speaker which has an adjustable magnet which “attenuates” the volume up to 7 or so db. I used both on my 5e3 clone and my brown deluxe clone for a long time. In both cases the tone is affected substantially with a loss of highs and a general sense of that “blanket over the amp sound”. To some degree it can de compensated for by simply adjusting for more treble, using an EQ pedal or even turning the tone knob up on an overdrive pedal.
Then I asked a friend to build me the John H design and all is right.
 

Geeze

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I have the Ironman II to use with a Marshall 1959, 1987, a Satellite 'Cuda [his take on a JTM45] and a Satellite Atom [his take on an AC30 that had a love child with a 1987]. These are all NVM amps.

I've used it in a couple of configurations with the speakers in the room at townhouse friendly levels and in a windowless bathroom without any shared walls at several levels of cut [0/-3/-6dB] depending on how hard I want to run the amps.

I've found swapping around with speakers can also help to shape the sound. Of these - GBs / CBs / Scumback Ms & LD Js and EVM12L's at max for me attenuation of -15dB the EV's are the favorite. In the iso room GB's and Scumbacks are king.

Russ
 

Buc McMaster

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Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away I used a Scholz Power Soak with a 100w Marshall Super Lead. Thing got hot enough to fry eggs on and, attenuation be damned, the neighborhood was nearly destroyed by the roar of the full stack and the police often brought donuts and coffee. I have no further experience with attenuators which is why I run 20w amps today.
 

keennay

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I own an Aracom PRX150 DAG. This has a 6 setting volume knob & min/max variable switch on the front, with input / output impedance & bypass switches on the back. I use it with my Cameron amps, as well as Cameron Aldrich modded Marshall JMP 2203, and would never sell.
 

colchar

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I have used attenuators over the years and never been happy with the results. Currently I have the Bugera which is very close to the Jet City. I also have an Emminence Maverick speaker which has an adjustable magnet which “attenuates” the volume up to 7 or so db. I used both on my 5e3 clone and my brown deluxe clone for a long time. In both cases the tone is affected substantially with a loss of highs and a general sense of that “blanket over the amp sound”. To some degree it can de compensated for by simply adjusting for more treble, using an EQ pedal or even turning the tone knob up on an overdrive pedal.
Then I asked a friend to build me the John H design and all is right.


When I briefly tried the SV20 with the Jettenuator I still found the amp to be really bright with lots of high end. There could be a number of reasons for that - guitar (Tele, so bright on its own), speakers (V30s, also bright), the cab (2x12 H&K cab that is a bit smaller than my current cab with Greenbacks), etc. - but the point is that I was still able to get high frequencies.
 

fitz

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I've also had the Carl's tone sucker, and the Bugera pillow suffocator.
Wound up trading in both for the GC discount when I was getting some new gear.
My current and only attenuator is a BadCat Unleash V2.
It's a class D re-amper, so not exactly an attenuator.
Bought it mainly for having the effects loop for my amps without one.
It works fantastic at setting an amp where you like the tone and playing at any volume.
But as has been said, there's just no way to substitute speaker mojo at a decent volume.
I'm also kinda in the 20w amp is perfect for home use state of mind.
I can crank my 20's, and I do.
 

purpleplexi

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I had a hotplate. It looked cool..... Used it with a JCM combo. Didn't realise how much it stole until I unplugged it one day.
Had this one -


which I believe is a version of the JohnH one. Still didn't like it - everything sounded squashed and lifeless.
I'll prob get an Ironman but I hang back because I prob won't like it. I never find a fuzz I like either - or a treble booster.
For me the LBB is still the winner. OK I know I'm losing power valve distortion but for home use at least it sounds realistic. If ' preampy'.
 

JohnH

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I had a hotplate. It looked cool..... Used it with a JCM combo. Didn't realise how much it stole until I unplugged it one day.
Had this one -


which I believe is a version of the JohnH one. Still didn't like it - everything sounded squashed and lifeless.
I'll prob get an Ironman but I hang back because I prob won't like it. I never find a fuzz I like either - or a treble booster.
For me the LBB is still the winner. OK I know I'm losing power valve distortion but for home use at least it sounds realistic. If ' preampy'.
This is a good thread!

BTW, that audio storm is a totally different design to ours, the only common factor is that it has some switches in a box!

If anyone is interested and able to take these attenuator reviews a stage further by posting recordings, Id suggest a short looped riff, amp set at high volume where you like it most and record attenuated and then at full speaker volume with attenuator bypassed or out of circuit. Make sure each recording is clear, then normalize them to the same volume level on the DAW . To do this you need to have a reasonable mic that can work close-miced to the speaker, and some kind of interface or USB mixer but I reckon most of you would have such. My first attempt at this is on post 1 of our Workbench thread:


I reckon the ideal is that when attenuated and unattenuated tracks are both played at they same volume, they sound identical, at any attenuator setting. That's what I go for!
 
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jcm800gridlock

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I’ve owned two Dr. Z Airbrakes, a Rivera Rockcrusher, a Bugera PS1, and a THD Hotplate 16 ohm.

I bought the Airbrake to use with an early ‘80s Marshall JCM800, the Rockcrusher for my Marshall 1962HW, the Bugera to use with a Marshall SV20H, and the Hotplate for my Marshall 1987.

The only attenuator that has worked well for me, is the THD Hotplate with my 1987. With the THD Hotplate, there is not too much tone suck until you get down to the -16 db range and higher. Even at that level of attenuation, with the treble and bass switches, high attention is still very useable.

I should specify, I am not running my 1987 wide open with the THD, normally at home, 1/4 to 1/2 on the volume and using a J-Rockett Dude OD for more overdrive. Still sounds good to my ears.

Since using the THD Hotplate with my ‘73 1987, I hardly want to use my other three amps.

Maybe try a Fryette Power Station down the road, but I would probably still have trouble justifying the PS’s price, now with the Hotplate working as well as it does.

E38A6F41-DFA1-4B29-9B05-26FE607FEBC8.jpeg
 
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Rodical

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I own the -8 and -16db Thd Hot plates, and the purple Rivera Rockcrusher... Don't believe they are making the Thd any more, but would recommend, and recommend the Rivera... Both do well, never any problems... Let's you crank the volume...
 

colchar

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This is a good thread!

Thanks. I hope it becomes a good resource for people here. If it takes off, maybe we can get it stickied.


BTW, that audio storm is a totally different design to ours, the only common factor is that it has some switches in a box!

If anyone is interested and able to take these attenuator reviews a stage further by posting recordings, Id suggest a short looped riff, amp set at high volume where you like it most and record attenuated and then at full speaker volume with attenuator bypassed or out of circuit. Make sure each recording is clear, then normalize them to the same volume level on the DAW . To do this you need to have a reasonable mic that can work close-miced to the speaker, and some kind of interface or USB mixer but I reckon most of you would have such. My first attempt at this is on post 1 of our Workbench thread:


I reckon the ideal is that when attenuated and unattenuated tracks are both played at they same volume, they sound identical, at any attenuator setting. That's what I go for!


I don't have the ability to record, but sound clips are a fantastic idea.
 

C-Grin

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For better or worse here is a very crappy raw vid with no editing, I did attempt to match volumes up but obviously not. But any-who mic placement and amp setting are the same (just Or20c no effects) with the exception of in the first section the amp is on the low power setting but attenuation is by-passed. the second and third section is on 20 watt mode with attenuation attempting to match the level of the low power setting.
1st section amp alone
2nd section John H
3rd section Bugera PS-1
 
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