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Hey Everybody.

Ive currently got a marshall dsl 40c. Due to the fact that I primarily play at home, I find I am unable to get the amp above master volume 3 without going deaf. Due to the master being so low, the gain sounds fizzy.

I am after a slash, led zeppelin type tone and have come to the conclusion that getting an attenuator would be my best bet for achieving these sounds as the amp needs to be fairly cranked.

Will the attenuator achieve what I am looking for tonally even if its set to low volumes? Or should I look for a smaller amp?
 

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Doesn't that amp have a low power option already?

My JCM2000 is a 100 watter and its low power switch works great for home playing. If I can tame a 100 watt Marshall you should be able to tame a 40 watter.
 

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I am after a slash, led zeppelin type tone and have come to the conclusion that getting an attenuator would be my best bet for achieving these sounds as the amp needs to be fairly cranked.
Leave the amp clean and get a good marshall-in-a-box pedal. I recommend the Fulltone OCD or empress distortion.
 

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Dr Z Airbrake....... Can't go wrong.
 

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I used attenuators for years. Tried a number of types on marshalls, a 69 head and 800 series combo. The only two I found to really get true tone with very little to no colouration was 1) the Ultimate Attenuator-very good at bringing the volume down and keeping the tone intact without extra switches, but needs to be externally powered.
2) Alex's Attenuator. I kept this one. About the same size as the Ultimate, but no external power source needed. Both very good at attenuation without colouring the sound.
The only colouration you might notice with either one is very slight, and only because the speakers aren't being pushed with volume, but I didn't have to add any bass or treble. Sounded great.
 

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I was going to say that maybe one of those Slash 5W 112 combos (SL5 ?) would be a better fit for you, but even the 1W Marshall mini-stack I had was surprisingly loud. And it sounded very compressed (translation = crappy) on the 0.1 W setting.

If you decide to go the pedal route, check out the Ramble FX Marvel Drive (this nails mid-60s plexi tone & the controls actually work like a jumpered 4-hole Marshall) and the Lumpy's Albion (it's Jimmy Page in a box). This being said, if you can't turn up the level of the pedal enough your tone will still be too fizzy.

P.S. Any OD pedals that can be run at 18V will give you a little more clarity & headroom/less fizziness.
 

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Any attenuators I've tried have been purely resistive (years ago) - and turned the amp's sound to crap at more than 3 to 6 dB of attenuation. YMMV. I use a PS re-amper now and I haven't heard anything better yet, but it's the price of another amp, so not practical to buy for just one situation. Mine makes 6 or 7 other amps more usable, so it was a fit for me.

If you're luck, Mr. @traynor_garnet will chime in. I think he may be the foremost authority on attenuators here. He's had lots of experience and I think he is a very fair judge of what works and what doesn't.
 

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If you're luck, Mr. @traynor_garnet will chime in. I think he may be the foremost authority on attenuators here. He's had lots of experience and I think he is a very fair judge of what works and what doesn't.
Thanks for the compliment but I would never refer to myself that way LOL Maybe just a guy who has spent way too much time and money trying them out :)

The problem with these types of threads is that everyone's definition of "low volume" is different. Does it mean TV volume, keeping up with a light drummer, are you alone and just protecting your hearing or trying not to bother others in your home . . . ?

At any rate, most of the attenuators are pretty good for a few dbs of reduction. If you are looking to really tame the amp down to TV volumes and not sound like crap, however, you need a more expensive unit. The Power Station is the best I have heard for really low volume stuff, but be aware that the cranked up sound we all love is the combination of a cranked up amp and speakers getting hit hard with a lot of power/signal. You lose the second part when you use a lot of attenuation and it does matter/change the sound.

It sounds like you want bedroom volumes and don't need to control a big amp for jamming. If you want your amp volume lower than your yelling voice, I would suggest going with a pedal rather than an attenuator. There are so many awesome Marshall in a Box pedals out there I'm sure you will find a great solution. OTOH, if you are playing at the same level as a loud unmiced singer belting it out, an attenuator may work well for you, but get a good one. As for getting a smaller amp, even a 1 watt amp is loud when cranked wide open; you could play along with a drummer! The final option is the Smicz TAC tube adapters. They will convert your current amp down to about 4 watts and, in combination with your Master Volume, may get you where you want.

If you search the site you will find my reviews of a few different attenuators and the Smicz TACs.

Happy hunting,
TG
 

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Excellent post, @traynor_garnet . I agree with all of it. Especially the part about pedals for low volume gain tones.

Tubes, by nature, were designed from the get-go to deliver loud clean audio. It's only us crazy guitarists that want to override that 5 or 6 decades of engineering by making tubes sound like they are totally overloaded at TV volumes. Tubes just aren't the answer for this application, IMO, even the small ones struggle with this - 5 watts is crazy loud when cranked, 1 or 2 watts is probably still louder than desired. Even with expensive options added to the signal path, tubes aren't at their best in this scenario. Pedals or (heaven forbit) modelers are far more appropriate.
 

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There might be another option.

Up above I mentioned my JCM2000. It is the TSL122 model which is a 2x12 combo. That amp has a VPR (virtual power reduction) switch that takes the amp from 100 watts down to 25 watts. It also has a master volume control for each of its three channels. Finally, it has an effects loop (two of them actually) and therein lies the secret to getting even quieter sounds if you wish. The amp has an effect level control for each channel and, if you plug a patch cable into the loop (there are various ways to do this so it is best to experiment to find the one that works best for you), that effect level control works as an additional master volume. So, essentially, you can have gain and volume controls on each channel plus an additional master volume control by using the effects level control. On top of that there is the VPR switch mentioned above. I can easily play this amp late at night when others are sleeping without disturbing anybody.

They are very good amps that give up a wide range of Marshall tones (they have one of the best Marshall clean channels that I have heard) but, due to the internet echo chamber and a bias drift issue on the early models, they have developed an underserved reputation as not being very good (people claim that the JCM2000 DSLs are better than the TSLs but I think they are about equal with the TSL simply having a third channel to give it more flexibility). But that undeserved reputation means that the prices for used ones are low (I got an unbelievable deal on mine) so you could sell your DSL40 and buy a TSL122 and probably have some money left over. Check with L&M and see what their used inventory is like throughout the chain, especially for former rental units (you can always do what I did and buy the extended warranty which will cover any issues on an amp that may have been abused as a rental). Or just keep an eye on your local classifieds as one will surely pop up before too long.

And if it matters to you, these amps were made in England whereas yours is made in Asia (that doesn't matter to everyone, but does matter to some).

If I were you I would search out a TSL122.
 

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Hey Everybody.

Ive currently got a marshall dsl 40c. Due to the fact that I primarily play at home, I find I am unable to get the amp above master volume 3 without going deaf. Due to the master being so low, the gain sounds fizzy.

I am after a slash, led zeppelin type tone and have come to the conclusion that getting an attenuator would be my best bet for achieving these sounds as the amp needs to be fairly cranked.

Will the attenuator achieve what I am looking for tonally even if its set to low volumes? Or should I look for a smaller amp?
I've been battling the same problem, with an amp that has a master volume. So I've picked up two attenuators, a Palmer PDI06 and a Rivera Rockcrusher. Both worked great at solving the exact problem you described. And they both sound equally fantastic since they are reactive, and not just resistive. In the end I decided to keep the Palmer and am selling the Rivera, which does more than I need. I hope this helps, cheers!
 

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I have the Marshall class 5 and at about 3 or 4 it starts to get far too loud for a bedroom. Into my cab I play it at 2 and it's plenty loud but clean. I have the first generation which does not have the low power switch. But I read you can safely plug any cab you want halfway into the headphone jack. )usually around 100 ohms) You can crank the amp to ten and it is not extremely loud on my 2x12 because both speakers are rated at close to 103db its getting into a bit too loud. I found 7 to be a good volume and it breaks up nicely but it is fizzy because of the fake attenuation. I'm thinking of getting a zen drive to pair up with my Timmy. And go back to playing it at 2.

But then again, once I finish my 18 watt build I may just put the class 5 up for sale.


Why is it that my 5 watt marshall is at least twice, (probably even more than that), as loud than my 40 watt fender?
 

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The truth is that most good attenuators will cost almost as much as your amp is worth. I'd try before I buy if you decide to take that route. But personally I'd just get a smaller amp if It was my decision. 5 watts is plenty for bedroom use.
 

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Why is it that my 5 watt marshall is at least twice, (probably even more than that), as loud than my 40 watt fender?
My first thought is - there's something wrong with the Fender.

The difference between the two power levels, all other things (speaker efficiency, distortion levels, etc) being equal, should have the Fender being 9 dB louder than the Marshall. 9 dB is significant, you should definitely hear the Fender being noticeably louder. But, again, that's if the speaker efficiencies are the same and one isn't cranked into distortion while the other is played clean.
 
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another infamous double post
 

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the dB rating of the eminence legends are at 97.x whereas my 2x12 has 102.3 and 103. To me a 40 watt amp should be 8 times louder than a 5 but I'm sure it doesn't work that way. and the Marshall speaker which I believe is a celestion g10f-15 is only 97 db as well. I can't play the class 5 at much more than 3. I can play the Fender at about 5 comfortably
 

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To me a 40 watt amp should be 8 times louder than a 5 but I'm sure it doesn't work that way.
You are right, it does not. :D. In simplest terms, it takes 10 times the power to double the perceived loudness. This is roughly what you would have with your 5W compared to 40W, if both played full clean power into the same speakers. So best case, your Fender would only sound twice as loud.
However, those speaker numbers make for a huge difference. 5db or more per speaker. So the speaker difference is having as much effect (or more) as the power difference. On top of this if the marshall is cranked and clipping the power amp, I can see how it would sound louder.
 

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Well, I know this is a cheesey way to test, but I downloaded an app to measure db levels. I turned both amps to 3, treble and bass all at noon, the Marshall is about 2 or 3 db louder than the Fender. Not using the cab. So the 2x10 legends in the vibroverb are 97.4 db and the 1x10 celestion in the Marshall is 97 db.

When I was playing the guitar on the fender to get an average reading of strumming a a few bars of a song, the dog stayed in the room, but when I did the same thing on the Marshall he bolted. It is noticeably louder than the Fender VVRI.

The VVRI is either a 35w amp when you look online into 4 ohms. The Marshall is 5 watts into 16ohm. Shouldn't the fact that it is 16 ohm make it quieter?
 

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the sound is only gonna get so good anyway, because at low volumes the speaker isn't pushing much air. although some may not agree, i find s.s. is the way to go for low volumes. i have a sweet 6 watt master vol. amp into a really nice 1x12 but rarely use it because the sound i get from my interface and small studio monitors is better.
 
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