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A Fryette Power Station review for those with healthy skepticism.

Messages
2,906
UPDATED for my final thoughts after more use (Original review below).

It is a great unit and I see why people love it. It is certainly one of the best options out there.

Having spent more time with it, on my specific rig, I will say the following:

1.) The high end changes when the PS is inline. It's not so much that the high end disappears, but that it changes character. The warm and rounded highs when bypassed become more strident and less open when the PS is engaged (yeah I know, words to describe sound get ridiculous).

2.) I can hear the lack of "oophm" Braciola refers to. I actually think it is a question of re-amping dynamic range. What seems likes unity while picking lightly or moderately doesn't seem like unity when you dig in. There is a lack of "bloom" with the PS engaged unless you crank up the PS a bit. This starts to defeat the point of attenuating.

3.) At really high levels of attenuation I'm not sure it is better than pedals into a clean amp. At moderate levels of attenuation I am not sure it is better than a good MV.

4.) I don't like that the fx loop takes the entire signal. If you have any "tone suckers" in the loop your entire amp sound changes. Not the PS's fault, but a reality.

So there you have it. For me, on my rig, I couldn't justify the expenditure. If you don't have a MV and don't want to mod your vintage amp, if you want to make a small amp louder, and if your fx chain is transparent, it is an amazing unit. When set to unity and A/Bing the unit in and out of line, it is pretty darn close. Your ears quickly adjust and there is no chance an audience member would hear your tone and say, "hey, something is off." There is a real difference, but given how quickly your ear adjusts you can appreciate how great this thing is. In a band mix your are not going to notice any difference.

End verdict: one of the best options out there but don't expect miracles. Those who love it and those who moved on are both right.



Original review:


I have been through a ridiculous amount of attenuators:

Bad Cat Unleash
Alex Attenuator
Aracom Pro and DAG
Ho Attenuator (Ultimate Attenuator)
THD Hotplate
Weber Mass, Mini mass, and Micro Mass
Jettenuator

Most are decent enough and the more expensive units offering better clarity at higher levels of attenuation. Overall, however, I felt none were great at high levels of attenuation and I always went back to my pedals and a clean amp rig for lower volume stuff.

When I bought the Bad Cat Unleash it was current the TGP darling and was garnering nothing but rave reviews. I bought one and returned it because I didn’t like the way it sounded. In a strange herd mentality, I was attacked and belittled with an almost moral indignation because I “dared” to question the Unleash’s perfection (I’m unfortunately not really exaggerating; you can look up the old threads.) From that day on I vowed to avoid the TGP hype train and take every review with a huge grain of salt.

When the Power Station came on the market many of the guys who had lampooned me about the Unleash and sang its perfection, suddenly changed their tune and were raving about the Power Station. All the same superlatives were used and anyone who questioned it, pointed out a potential flaw, or expressed doubt, were attacked just as I had been previously. I read the hyped up reviews and tried to see through the familiar BS and hyperbole. I paid most attention to those who didn’t find it perfect and communicated with them privately in hopes of finding some type of balance and perspective. I was even, once again, kind of attacked here and there for asking questions about the PS and its possible limitations (how dare I!) . . .

Long story short, a used V1 appeared in Canada so I decided to bite the bullet and find out for myself. I plugged it in and discovered that this is one of the best units I have every tried. I’ve only had it a day, and a head cold has screwed with my hearing a little bit, but this a very transparent and responsive attenuator (yes yes I know, it’s a “reamper” but it does actually attenuate your amp before it amplifies the signal again).

I “might” hear a slight change in the upper mids but to be honest it is so close as to be pointless. Also, you can really start to hear how much a slammed speaker contributes to the sound. Any difference I am hearing between the PS and the bypassed signal it most likely due to the amount of energy hitting the speakers. It is the best I’ve heard for REALLY low volume stuff, but at those levels I still think a pedal might be better; time will tell.

Is it perfect? No, but everyone’s definition of perfect would include different features. I will also write about any draw backs of the unit once I spend more time with i (Edit. See post 60). But I am confident to say that the Power Station certainly deserves its good reputation here.

TG
 
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Braciola

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,122
The Fryette is very transparent, however what I don't like about it, is you really do loose a lot of the amps Punch/Thump no matter how you tweak the controls.
 
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ripoffriffs

Supporting Member
Messages
3,145
For all that money you blew on attenuators you could've just gotten one of those Black Heart Little Ant or other 1W (or even 1/2 W Electro Hamonix 44 magnum) tube amps on the market and saved that money for a vacation in the Bahamas during the winter.
 
Messages
2,906
The Fryette is very transparent, however what I don't like about it, is you really do loose a lot of the amps Punch/Thump no matter how you tweak the controls.
I recently picked up a SPL Reducer, and to me it's the best attenuator I've yet to use - and I've been through most all attenuators out there (Rock Crusher, Aracom, Alex's, Weber's, THD, Dr-Z/Trainwreck, Phantom, Unleash, etc..
Unlike the Fryette, you don't loose any of the amps Punch/Thump, ......it sound very natural and uncompressed.
I was completely surprised at how well the SPL preforms, considering it's a simple resistor/ L-Pad design.
Hmm, I'm not hearing that at all but I will play some more and see.
 
Messages
2,906
For all that money you blew on attenuators you could've just gotten one of those Black Heart Little Ant or other 1W (or even 1/2 W Electro Hamonix 44 magnum) tube amps on the market and saved that money for a vacation in the Bahamas during the winter.
Most were bought used and resold for little loss if any. I'm not interested in playing a 1 watt amp, I need some clean headroom and don't like the tone of any of the 1 watt options.
 
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High/Deaf

Member
Messages
633
Most were bought used and resold for little loss if any. I'm not interested in playing a 1 watt amp, I need some clean headroom and don't like the tone of any of the 1 watt options.
Of course, something else this will do that the 1 watt amp won't is make very small amps, like that 1 watter, giggable. I've taken a 5E3 out and played it quite loud while still clean. I'm got more low wattage amps than high, so that's most often what I use it for.

Hey, I'm glad you are liking it so far. I know you've considered this for a while and I think you have a pretty good ear for what you want. I hope it keeps working for you, but I'm also interested if you find some flaws. I, too, try to be open-minded and so far it's done everything I need it to. I'm not much of home recordist and there may be a few weaknesses in that regard compared to a few other products (and maybe fixed in V2).
 

Guinness Lad

Member
Messages
15,865
I had a Bad Cat and I liked it as well, but at the time I only heard it alone. At that point I wanted something which I could use to add more power to a small amp. Once I heard it compared to a tube power amp driving a preamp rather than this I immediately heard a lot of things i didn't like. Once this happened I was forever soured. Soon after I sold it.

It was more than just the Bad Cat though it was the idea of why bother re-amping a little power amp, later I just got a bigger amp, it was a better play.
 

Ilduce

And now for something completely different!
Messages
4,614
It's funny, I have a Power Station and it works fantastic! I just find that I really don't use it as much as I thought I would. The thing is that my main amp, a VHT Pitbull 50CL has such a great master volume that there's little difference between using the Power Station and master volume.

It's kinda a expensive piece of gear to have sitting around for the most part, but I can't bring myself to sell it as I know that it's the "best" at what it does and I'm sure that I'll need it somewhere down the road. First world problems right!? Lol
 

Mtnbkr123

Member
Messages
517
TG - have you tried a RockCrusher? It's not in your list and seems to be one of the only obvious options you have not yet tried.

Stellar review as usual, by the way. Thanks.
 
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Messages
4,408
Thanks for sharing. I also recently just picked up a Power Station (Used V2 from a forum member local to me). It's definitely the best "attenuator" I've heard. I haven't done enough testing with the bypass and operate switch to determine just how transparent it is. But it's impressively transparent, that's for sure.

With most attenuators, you plug in and immediately hear whatever coloration they have and try and decide if you can live with it. With the Power Station, you plug in and go back and forth between "operate" and "bypass" attempting to detect coloration or change in the sound.

Seeng as any coloration is that minimal, it really is extremely good at what it does. Again, I haven't flipped back and forth at unity volume to AB bypass vs operate much with different amps yet. But I'm very happy with it. You just plug in, and your amp sounds like your amp at any reasonable volume.

Here's the thread I put up:
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/first-gig-with-the-power-station-video.1803283/
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,814
The Fryette is very transparent, however what I don't like about it, is you really do loose a lot of the amps Punch/Thump no matter how you tweak the controls.
i'm sure that you do lose that punch/thump, but, well..... i def don't lose it, with more than a few amps.
i can't tell you why from here, but if we were in the room together, it's possible that we might be able to figure it out! but, bygones be bygones, and you've got something that you dig: all good.
enjoy it!
 
Messages
4,408
The Fryette is very transparent, however what I don't like about it, is you really do loose a lot of the amps Punch/Thump no matter how you tweak the controls.
I recently picked up a SPL Reducer, and to me it's the best attenuator I've yet to use - and I've been through most all attenuators out there (Rock Crusher, Aracom, Alex's, Weber's, THD, Dr-Z/Trainwreck, Phantom, Unleash, etc..
Unlike the Fryette, you don't loose any of the amps Punch/Thump, ......it sound very natural and uncompressed.
I was completely surprised at how well the SPL preforms, considering it's a simple resistor/ L-Pad design.
I haven't experienced this either. I've only played it with my Orange OR-80 and Hiwatt DR504, but these are pretty responsive and punchy amps. Especially the Hiwatt. :dunno
 

stratovarius

Member
Messages
9,145
We're dealing with complex systems here and I find that some amps interact with certain attenuators differently than others. I have amps that love resistive attenuators and others that do not. I will say that I never got to hear a couple of my amps in their full glory until I got a PS2.
 

logdrum

Member
Messages
2,120
Punch and thump sounds like a physical thing that can only be done with unattenuated sound. For me the PS actually took out the hiss from the Blue Angel which doesn't really matter when gigging but sucks when recording.
 
Messages
4,408
I have a Fryette V2 and find it pretty true to the amps unattenuated sound. Sure the thump isnt there but one wouldn't expect it to be, given that it's created by a cab working hard and air being moved. Elements which are outside an attenuators realm of activity.
This is a good point, articulated well. When we talk about transparency, the real test is to flip the unit back and forth between bypass and operate to see if there is any difference in tone. But the volume *has* to be at unity. If you have a 100W amp running full bore into the PS, and flip the switch with the PS volume on 3, you're going to loose a huge amount of punch and thump. It's no fault of the PS. It's a consequence of the lower volume.
 
Messages
4,408
Punch and thump sounds like a physical thing that can only be done with unattenuated sound. For me the PS actually took out the hiss from the Blue Angel which doesn't really matter when gigging but sucks when recording.
Took out the hiss?

For me, I find that I have *more* noise when using the PS. It makes sense, as I'm using two high powered tube power amps instead of 1, so there's going to be a higher noise floor.
 

bluejaybill

Supporting Member
Messages
885
The PS is not by definition going to add more noise just because it's a tube amp; it is intended to be transparent, like good hi fi tube power amps of the past, which were intended to be clean. For me so far there has been no increase in noise.

The only thing I notice is that it feels like the PS2 has a bit more compression than the amp by itself. Maybe that's what the OP means by "thump", a descriptive term that I would ordinarily associate with volume. Not a biggie.
 

thosk

Member
Messages
1,858
Took out the hiss from My '68 CDR as well; I find most of my amps are noticably quieter running thru the
PS...even my noisy old '49 Deluxe is dead quiet even when dimed.
 
Messages
4,408
The PS is not by definition going to add more noise just because it's a tube amp; it is intended to be transparent, like good hi fi tube power amps of the past, which were intended to be clean. For me so far there has been no increase in noise.

The only thing I notice is that it feels like the PS2 has a bit more compression than the amp by itself. Maybe that's what the OP means by "thump", a descriptive term that I would ordinarily associate with volume. Not a biggie.
I've personally never heard a tube amp that didn't have some sort of noise floor to it. The PS is a 50W tube amp. When you turn the volume up, you hear some hiss and some guitar signal buzz. It's the nature of the beast. If yours is dead quiet, I'm impressed and I'd like to know what tubes you used as replacements.

I have the volume at about noon when I use mine, and it's definitely got a higher noise floor than with the amp alone. It's not unacceptable, but it's there.
 




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