Marshall Power Brake vs. other power attenuators?

Matthews Guitars

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Today I received a Power Brake (in white) that I bought off ebay recently. It arrived in great shape, and I quickly hooked it up and began to play with it.

It works, and I'm very pleased with its performance so far. Running it at the quietest setting that isn't the zero setting, my Superlead I'm running through it into two cabinets is quiet enough that I wouldn't hesitate to play it with other people in the house. It's not quite "playing while other people are sleeping" quiet, but it's more than good enough. Just close the door to the room and it shouldn't bother people who are already awake.

There's hardly any tonal difference as compared to running straight with no power brake. I'm pleasantly surprised.

But now I'm curious. If I want a better attenuator at some point, what's the next step up from this model? And how will it be better?
 

Tatzmann

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The Powerbrakes are fairly good to my
ears too. They squish a little, but dont cut
bass or highs like other devices. To my ears
the Rockcrusher always sounds more open
then others...ofcourse there are the Aracoms,
but they are just way overpriced and i dont
think they are much better.

Id say keep the PB or try a Rockcrusher, search
for some Neil Skene clips on here, he had nice
ACDC type Sound going with the Rockcrusher.
 

jeffb

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I was going to say pretty much the same thing as @Tatzmann

I bought a PB when they were brand new and used it for 15 year or so. It worked really well my 1987x, Rivera, MESA, etc. And frankly it worked way better than some of the big name attenuators I've owned since.

I settled on a Rivera Rockcrusher a few years back which I think tonally fares better than some of the other big names out there that I owned, and more importantly- it gets the "feel" better than much of it's competition. It offers some basic but very effective EQ "polish" in the "warm" and "edge" switches and is overbuilt.

If I upgrade, I'll likely try out a Captor X, or if I could swing it, an OX- something that's designed around using with cab IRs. I'm sure I can do the same somehow with the outs on the Rivera, but I'm completely clueless how to set up a recording rig to my laptop with it, what software to get, etc etc. I'm old school. Heck my laptop may not even be able to handle it.
 

slade

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I hear that the Fryette Power station is really good. What I ended up doing is using my Mxr 10 band eq and backing down the volume on it.
 

pedecamp

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Today I received a Power Brake (in white) that I bought off ebay recently. It arrived in great shape, and I quickly hooked it up and began to play with it.

It works, and I'm very pleased with its performance so far. Running it at the quietest setting that isn't the zero setting, my Superlead I'm running through it into two cabinets is quiet enough that I wouldn't hesitate to play it with other people in the house. It's not quite "playing while other people are sleeping" quiet, but it's more than good enough. Just close the door to the room and it shouldn't bother people who are already awake.

There's hardly any tonal difference as compared to running straight with no power brake. I'm pleasantly surprised.

But now I'm curious. If I want a better attenuator at some point, what's the next step up from this model? And how will it be better?
There was a member here years back that owned every popular attenuator out there, he had maybe 15 of them, and he said the Marshall Powerbrake performed the best out of all of them. Then I read about the Bad Cat Unleash and how it had 2 footswitchable volumes and an effects loop, thats the one I want! but its only good for 60 watts. They stopped making them during covid so Im out of luck. I spoke to the owner and he is developing an Unleash that can handle 100 watts, should be out in about a year and a half.
 

FutureProf88

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I'm fond of the Tone King Ironman. You still get a little bit of the loss in the high and low tails, but it's not awful and the amp "feels" very natural through the Ironman. I've played a Rockcrusher and a Hotplate prior to the Ironman. The Rockcrusher felt really good to play but with certain amps there was some sort of weird ghosting that happened. The Hotplate sounded really nice to play but it seemed to change how the amp responded if you were doing something like playing softly. It's tough to describe.

But the Ironman, while it sounds good, also allows you to use non-matched amps and cabinets because you can set an impedance for the input and output. There is a "solo boost" feature available via a footswitch that gives you a couple db boost in output volume, it has a pretty nice sounding direct out, and it has a ton of attenuation levels. All else held equal, the extra (useful) features alone make it a great studio companion.
 

Browneyesound

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I prefer my Webber Mass 150 to the Powerbrake, I found the treble to be kind of fizzy with the powerbrake when attenuated more than a few clicks down. I sold the powerbrake a long time ago.

I have read about a mod to improve the tone of the powerbrake, which I would have probably done had I still had it.

The Mass150 power handling is marginal with a superlead, so I also use a 16 ohm “silent cab” (I made from a Webber mass magnet) in parallel with the mass if I use the superlead. It’s fine with the JTM45.
 

Gunner64

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The mod I saw was to put a jumper across the non polar cap, I tried it and removed it. The powerbrake is pretty good just the way it is..that is using it to just take a few dbs off. Ime Any attenuator will smush things up taking a 50 or 100w amp full bore down to bedroom levels.
 

V-man

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I have a Captor X, my only (owned) attenuation experience. where it excels is headphone usage with 6 IR cab options at the turn of the dial. Those on the sniffer site describe attenuation as OK in terms of coloration and cite the OX (which others then poo poo). My guess is it is fair to good overall but nothing compares on a price-to-features basis. I am curious about the Boss TAE.
 

matttornado

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The mod I saw was to put a jumper across the non polar cap, I tried it and removed it. The powerbrake is pretty good just the way it is..that is using it to just take a few dbs off. Ime Any attenuator will smush things up taking a 50 or 100w amp full bore down to bedroom levels.
I tried that mod too years ago and didn't like it.
 

Tatzmann

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Edit: misinformed post.
 
Last edited:

rolijen

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I have a Captor X, my only (owned) attenuation experience. where it excels is headphone usage with 6 IR cab options at the turn of the dial. Those on the sniffer site describe attenuation as OK in terms of coloration and cite the OX (which others then poo poo). My guess is it is fair to good overall but nothing compares on a price-to-features basis. I am curious about the Boss TAE.
Great YouTuber demo of the TAE
 


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