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I know nothing about attenuators so need some advice.

I have a Marshall Vintage Modern 2266C (a 50 watt 2x12 combo) and would like to get the KT66 power tubes working, while still preserving my hearing (I have noise induced hearing loss).

Using an attenuator will allow me to turn up the amp while keeping the volume at a reasonable level but I don't know which ones are good, which aren't, whether to get reactive or passive, etc. so I would welcome any and all advice anyone can give on attenuators.
 

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I have employed many over the years from Rockman, Dr Z, Marshall, THD and Weber. I ended up selling them all. Each had pluses but all had the same minus. You cannot duplicate the tone, all will change the tone of the amp IMO to some degree. You end up fiddling around endlessly. They do what they advertise, but at the expense of tone. I just end up lowering the volume on the amp. There is nothing in the world like a cranked tube amp into a 4x12. It just can't be replicated IMO
 

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The best use of an attenuator is for live shows in smaller venues. All that I have used are good for slightly lowering the volume of an amp while it is set in it's sweet spot. None that I have used are good for creating the sound of a cranked tube amp at bedroom volume levels. The sound is not bad. It is just not the same sound as a cranked tube amp. The best one I've used was a Ho attenuator/re-amper. I used it with several amps in 30 to 50 watt range. It has a 50 or 100 watt SS amp after the attenuator. The sound at bedroom levels was pretty good. It was not the same as a cranked tube amp but to my ears it was better than the others I tried. I sold it when I changed to using smaller 1 to 15 watt tube amps.
 

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I have tried just a couple. Things to be aware of:
1. As mentioned above, do not expect to get the same tone at bedroom volume. I found attenuators were good when bringing down the volume just a bit. The lower you go, the more it affects your tone. I often get lots of fizziness. It's not a nice overdriven sound.

2. Be aware of wattage limitations. For instance, the Swart is good for 20W or less.

3. Most attenuators are not fully adjustable. They step down in increments. Makes it a bit of a challenge to find that sweet spot.

4. Also look into the attenuating speakers from Eminence. I have the Reignmaker. They also have the Maverick. Again, I found it was good at a bit of attenuation.
 

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IME, the less you have to use an attenuator, the better it works. By that I mean if you only need to take a few dB out, they aren't that bad. The more you try to attenuate with one - like to bedroom levels - the worse it impacts your tone (for a variety of reasons).

So to make a big amp a slightly smaller they may work for you. A better choice for gigging big amps is a reamper, like the Ho or BadCat Unleash or Fryette PowerStation. These are all good to great gigging solutions.

If I was looking for quieter levels to play at home or record with, I'd be looking at some of the new power loads coming out from companies like Suhr, Two Notes, Fryette, Radial, etc. The good ones aren't cheap - but the market is getting bigger and more competitive all the time.
 

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I play at home in an apartment. I use a Weber Mini Mass 25 to get power tube breakup with a 15w Fender Super Champ X2. Works good enough for me.
 
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so...getting back to the question from the OP

if you have a 50W amp...you would most likely want an attenuator rated more than 50W, correct? i mean, if you are running it full out, it would put out more than 50W...or, would that rating be enough?

That has always been my question...how to know which one to choose
 

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I'll echo what others have said and note that attenuators sound better the less you actually attenuate the signal. If you're looking to achieve bedroom volumes, you'll have to be prepared for some fizz. I've used the Dr. Z,. Weber Mass, THD, the UA and a couple others I can't recall now, and they all sounded decent at a couple db down, but when you start to really reduce the output, it gets sketchy.

Yes, it was Ho from Vancouver. He licenses the technology to Ultimate Attenuator who does mail order. I'm not sure if Ho does mail order but you could phone him to find out.

Contact | Ho's Electronics and Sound

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+1 to the Ho/UA. I had a UA and loved it. It was definitely the one I used longest, but one thing to keep in mind - the Ho/UA isn't an attenuator as much as it's a re-amping device. It actually takes your signal and converts it to line-level, then feeds it through a solid-state amp to the speakers. This has benefits and drawbacks. I thought it sounded great, but the idea of running all this fancy t00b-amp goodness through a skimpy (and it IS a skimpy) 200 watt SS amp was a little unsettling. If you can get past that and just listen, it sounds great.

I have tried just a couple. Things to be aware of:
1. As mentioned above, do not expect to get the same tone at bedroom volume. I found attenuators were good when bringing down the volume just a bit. The lower you go, the more it affects your tone. I often get lots of fizziness. It's not a nice overdriven sound.

2. Be aware of wattage limitations. For instance, the Swart is good for 20W or less.

3. Most attenuators are not fully adjustable. They step down in increments. Makes it a bit of a challenge to find that sweet spot.

4. Also look into the attenuating speakers from Eminence. I have the Reignmaker. They also have the Maverick. Again, I found it was good at a bit of attenuation.
Very good advice here.

#3 in particular annoyed me. The Dr. Z was fantastic, but it's clicks were a little too far apart sometimes. Keep in mind the Ho and the THD are a little more versatile in this regard.

I can definitely recommend the Eminence Reignmaker. I had one and it did a great job. Sounded incredible and reduced the amount of outboard gear I needed, BUT (and this is a big but), it only shaves off a small amount of volume. Maybe enough for you to get into a usable range, but my JTM45 was still VERY loud running through the Reignmaker, even at full attenuation. Attentuator is again the wrong word here, as what it does is affect the driver's sensitivity, but I guess the term gets throw-around a lot.
 
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While clicking on tangents on youtube for stuff about my amp, I came across this vid.
A 'DIY volume box'. Sorta like a 'master volume' plugged into the send/return on your amp.

 

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so...getting back to the question from the OP

if you have a 50W amp...you would most likely want an attenuator rated more than 50W, correct? i mean, if you are running it full out, it would put out more than 50W...or, would that rating be enough?

That has always been my question...how to know which one to choose
I would err on the safe side and contact the manufacturer. In my opinion, if they call it a 50W attenuator, it should be able to handle an overdriven 50W amp, even if that happens to be more than 50W. Or they should have a note on their website advising otherwise. For example, see how they word this one:
MiniMASS 50w Attenuator
 

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I can definitely recommend the Eminence Reignmaker. I had one and it did a great job. Sounded incredible and reduced the amount of outboard gear I needed, BUT (and this is a big but), it only shaves off a small amount of volume. Maybe enough for you to get into a usable range, but my JTM45 was still VERY loud running through the Reignmaker, even at full attenuation. Attentuator is again the wrong word here, as what it does is affect the driver's sensitivity, but I guess the term gets throw-around a lot.
I've used a Maverick (the American voiced FDM version) for a few years now and it works quite well. The specs indicate a sensitive of from 100 dB WFO to 91 dB fully turned down. That's comparable to making a 50 watt amp sound like a 6 watt amp.

It is noticeable but it wouldn't be bedroom levels for anything but a much smaller amp. That's still pretty loud, if you've ever cranked a 5 watt amp through a 100 dB sensitive speaker, you know what I mean. Like a trumpet player loud.

My DRRI would be comparable to a 3 watt watt amp with the speaker turned right down. It's still pretty loud, when you think a 3 watt amp through a 100 dB speaker will be around 106 dB at 1 meter. A 5 watt amp would be similar to an amp less than 1 watt. So less than 100 dB at 1 meter (and quieter as you get further away of course). That's probably now getting into the realm of "cranked tube amp at bedroom or TV volumes".
 

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I use a Hot Plate on the -4dB or -8dB setting and it doesn't suck much tone

OT, has anybody tried the Ho Tone Enhancer?
 

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I would err on the safe side and contact the manufacturer. In my opinion, if they call it a 50W attenuator, it should be able to handle an overdriven 50W amp, even if that happens to be more than 50W. Or they should have a note on their website advising otherwise. For example, see how they word this one:
MiniMASS 50w Attenuator
thanks for that read! it's what i had always thought, but no one really talks about it

on the other side...i've heard of guys running 100W plexis cranked (ie the Darkness) into an attenuator...but i don't recall ever seeing an attenuator rated higher than 100W, not saying there aren't, but maybe they also go thru attenuators/tubes like pez
 

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Thx for starting this thread Colchar.

A brilliant education in the ways attenuators work!

Knowlege! I love it.

An awesome thread!!
 

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I've used a Maverick (the American voiced FDM version) for a few years now and it works quite well. The specs indicate a sensitive of from 100 dB WFO to 91 dB fully turned down. That's comparable to making a 50 watt amp sound like a 6 watt amp.

It is noticeable but it wouldn't be bedroom levels for anything but a much smaller amp. That's still pretty loud, if you've ever cranked a 5 watt amp through a 100 dB sensitive speaker, you know what I mean. Like a trumpet player loud.

My DRRI would be comparable to a 3 watt watt amp with the speaker turned right down. It's still pretty loud, when you think a 3 watt amp through a 100 dB speaker will be around 106 dB at 1 meter. A 5 watt amp would be similar to an amp less than 1 watt. So less than 100 dB at 1 meter (and quieter as you get further away of course). That's probably now getting into the realm of "cranked tube amp at bedroom or TV volumes".
Yup, this is why the big amps sit around collecting dust. My DRRI, Bassman and JTM never got past 3 or 4 on-stage, and even then they were quite loud. My 30 watt JTM could put out over 110db, which is as loud as a chainsaw. No one needs that!

The era of small amps mic'd up is such a godsend. Keep things lower on-stage, balance sound out more, get things pumping in the FoH. Our shows sound so much better with everything mic'd up and run into the board. Hell, the PA is pumping out 2,500 watts, why not let it do the heavy lifting?
 
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