Attenuator questions

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by fr8_trane, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    I just got an Avatar 45 which is fantastic but also fantastically loud.

    With the MV off and the bright channel at 3 (clean) its the same volume as my 20 watt 6v6 heritage victory on 8. I never put the victory over 6 at any gig so that gives you an idea of the volume the 45 puts out. I play mostly small bar gigs using small clean fender amps like a DR with pedals. I want to use the Avatar with the gain around 7 for a base crunch tone that I can roll down for clean and push with boosts and OD/ fuzz pedals for more gain or leads.

    The Avatar's PPI MV works well down to 3. Below 3 the tone suffers. So my idea was to use an attenuator in conjunction with the MV to get the volume where it needs to be for these small venues.

    I'm looking at the weber mini mass or the Phaez Brink 4:8 because I just spent $1500 on an amp & cab and I didnt want to spend more than $1000. I am not looking for advice on the best attenuator on the market. They all suck tone below a certain reduction level anyway. <$150 is my budget and I'll be sticking to it. The idea is get the MV up to 5 and use the attenuator sparingly to knock off 3-6db. I'm not looking for "bedroom" levels.

    The big question I have is whether an attenuator negatively effects how pedals work for pushing the amp. I have seen a few references in various threads that suggest attenuators ruin the pedal/amp interaction. Boost/OD/fuzz Pedals are a big part of how I will be using this amp.

    The other question is do I really need a 100w attenuator for a 50 watt amp? Would it be dangerous to use a 50 watt attenuator with a 45 watt amp?
     
  2. stratman89

    stratman89 Supporting Member

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    Check out a Dr. Z Brake Lite, good up to 45 watts. I find there is no tone suck and it works well with pedals.
     
  3. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

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    I recently got a Recycled Sound Power Plug Lite for my Pro Reverb. It's simple with only one knob to control the amount of decibels you cut from 0 to 10 in increments of two. $119 (no affiliation). The Pro Reverb is 40 watts. I was told the Power Plug Lite is for amps up to 50 watts and can handle up to 100 watts. So far I've had it a month and I'm very happy with it. http://www.recycledsound.net/index10.html
     
  4. CosbyTron

    CosbyTron Member

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    I have the Weber Mini Mass. I've used it on a couple of different amps and I haven't noticed it impact how the amps take pedals. I haven't tried pushing them particularly hard with a boost or drive, though. Still, apart from less feedback, I don't think the attenuator (at least the mini mass, which uses a dummy load speaker) affects the preamp one way or the other.
     
  5. broken_sound

    broken_sound Silver Supporting Member

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    Having owned a weber mass and a THD hotplate (two of the lesser expensive options for attenuation), I would really suggest search high and low on CL to find a THD. I grabbed an 8ohm for $125 a few months back.

    After owning the weber I was really turned off by attenuators having never tried a higher quality one. My amps always sounded like they were under water, they were super compressed, and lacked all feeling. The THD really helps retain a lot of my amps character. I have an Orange OR50 that I keep the master volume dissengaged and my THD just kills it.

    My two cents.
     
  6. otter5555

    otter5555 Member

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    i've got 2 of these:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/131476301375?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT


    they work perfectly on all my amps, i see very little tone suck and not too much heat produced. plus, you've got 14 days to try it or send it back.
     
  7. Roland G88

    Roland G88 Member

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    Pedals should work fine as the amp is seeing the same signal as always. You are affecting the interaction between the amp & speaker and only losing speaker distortion and the air mass that the speakers push at normal volumes. You may like it or not.
    Doubling the wattage rating is not necessary if you are bringing the signal down a bit but recommended when pushing an amp to the limit while playing very quietly.
    I use a Weber Minimass in my studio with decent results. I'm sure the THD and others at that price would sound a fair bit better.
     
  8. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Thanks guys. Yeah it sounded counter intuitive to me that an attenuator would have any effect on how a pedal pushes the front end of the amp. But there were a couple posts where theOP swore up and down that his pedals were useless with an attenuator.

    I'm pretty sure the juice box and all of the other really cheap attenuators are just an $15 L-pad that someone put in a box.
    http://www.parts-express.com/speake...source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=pla

    Right now I'm leaning toward the Brink 4:8
    http://www.phaezamp.com/ampshop/en/brink-4-8/90-brink-4-8.html

    It uses a parallel inductive load and an intentional impedance mismatch to attenuate the signal. Seems like a much better concept that will be more transparent than static resistance. And its the same price as the L-pad boxes.

    The mini mass reviews are all over the map. Some people say its fine for the first 2 clicks and an equal number say it ruined their tone even at the minimum setting.
     
  9. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

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    Not sure about the technical aspects of it, but it seems like the limitation with the Brink 4:8 is that it is not adjustable and provides only one setting: a 3 db decrease. I experimented with a Power Soak prior to buying the Power Plug Lite and I realized that being able to adjust it was a great benefit. In my home studio I normally use a 4 db decrease and run the amp on "7", but there are some places where I might want a little more than that. I don't think I'd ever use more than an 8 db decrease, because at -10 db it's literally at bedroom volumes, and I never have to play that quietly, but it's nice to be able to switch from -2, -4, and -6 db depending on the venue.
     
  10. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Yup the Brink is literally a half power switch in a little box and its not adjustable. But it is light, cheap, supposedly sounds good and apparently does not get hot.

    My amp ALSO has a great MV so I am not entirely dependent on the attenuator. My goal is to use 2 smaller stages of attenuation instead of running the MV at 3 or just using an attenuator at -6 or -9. I'm thinking with the Brink I could run the MV at 5 which actually sounds great.
     
  11. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Member

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    If you've never tried it, a 1/2 power reduction is not very much. It will not take a loud amp and make it manageable. It will take a loud amp and make it a little less loud.

    Halving the power does not halve the perceived volume.
     
  12. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Yes i understand. Half power is ~ -3db. Half volume is ~ -9db. I also understand that every attenuation device just does not sound good below a certain level of reduction. Thats why I was talking about using an attenuator PLUS the MV. The PPI MV sounds good. I'd just like to run it a little higher than 3.
     
  13. Monstercastle

    Monstercastle Supporting Member

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    I use THD Hotplates and am happy for my needs. I've run them with my Mesa Mark V:25, JVM410, and a few other heads I have. I can knock off a few db and get into the tubes more. There is a tone penalty, especially the harder you clamp down. I find it a good trade off though.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2015
  14. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Member

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    Hey that's great. I just like to make sure people are aware of it. It's not much actual difference in volume.
     
  15. CosbyTron

    CosbyTron Member

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    I've only ever used the Mini Mass, so I can't compare it to the THD, but it sounds about like you'd expect. You may need to tweak the EQ a bit while attenuating (part of the reason it includes a treble boost). I'm sure some negative reviews are well informed, but I have to wonder if some aren't just incorrect expectations vs reality. It sounds like you already have a good understanding of how an attenuator will/won't affect the sound, so I'd save cash and go with the Weber, unless the THD is really doing something particularly snazzy under the hood (no clue, maybe it is, but hard to imagine what exactly. If it's just EQ compensation, you can manage that yourself :) ).
     
  16. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    So after further investigation I'm going with the mini mass 50.

    Why? Because I can run it as a dummy load in parallel with my 8 ohm cab where it will sound more natural than in line with the speaker. The speaker is always directly connected to the amp in this setup. It sees half power or less because the dummy load is soaking up the rest. The other great thing about running in parallel with the speaker is that the Mass will also never see full power from the amp so it will run cooler.

    I still have the option to run it in line if I want or reamp using the line out.

    I get -3db with the Mass @ 8 ohms and -5db with the Mass @ 4ohms.


    Thanks to John Phillips and other TGPer's for turning me onto this parallel technique.

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=108368
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=198445
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  17. pete12string

    pete12string Supporting Member

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    I use the Weber MiniMASS 50w on my Reeves Custom 12PS, Fargen Micro Plex and Fargen Townhouse 5w. I'm VERY happy with it. I think you made a good choice.
     
  18. Imola82

    Imola82 Member

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    Just picked up my MiniMass 50 a few days ago. Yes there is tonal loss, but I bypass it for my cleans and I'm actually getting better cooperation from by amp when peddles are incorporated. Probably because of the higher volume levels I'm setting the amp at and the loss of high frequency...
     
  19. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Yeah folks keep talking about loss of high end like its a bad thing. Marshalls (and most amps really) are BRIGHT. Right now my presence and treble are on 2. On my strat I always keep the bridge tone around 5. Treble is the enemy when it comes to amps - especially distorted amps and also OD pedals.

    Any loss of treble from an attenuator would not be a bad thing IMO. It would also be very easy to just turn up the treble at the amp.

    Now loss of that cranked amp feel is another matter... not sure there is anything you can do about. There is always some compromise.
     
  20. Imola82

    Imola82 Member

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    I keep my amp treble at 2 as well to bring down the harshyness when I turn on some OD.
     

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