Attenuators

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Miles, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Miles

    Miles Member

    Messages:
    3,975
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    Guys and Gals,

    I need to learn as much as I can about them, as I'm thinking of purchasing one in the near future.

    Some of the questions I have are:

    Are they safe you use?

    How do you hook one up in a combo amplifier?

    What are the best ones for the money that are reliable and safe to use?

    So far I've been pointed in the direction of a Weber attenuator or the Marshall Powerbrake, I think a powerbrake runs somewhere around $179, but I'm not sure about the Weber.

    I appreciate your feedback!
     
  2. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,801
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan
    From best to worst in my opinion; Richter, Ultimate, THD, Alessandro, Weber Dump, Weber Mass. I have had all of these. Now I own 2 Richters.

    Do a search there are hundreds of threads going over all the questions you asked.
     
  3. Miles

    Miles Member

    Messages:
    3,975
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    Where can you find a Richter, Ultimate, or THD?
     
  4. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

    Messages:
    3,270
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Location:
    Red Stick, LA
    Dr. Z Air Brakes are cool.
     
  5. callaway_1

    callaway_1 Member

    Messages:
    311
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    HI-TONE Beach
    ultimateattenuator.com

    IMHO you can not go wrong with it!
     
  6. Miles

    Miles Member

    Messages:
    3,975
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    No, but your wallet can. Right now, I'm thinking I'll get the Weber Mass, as it seems to be more true to the sound of a cranked amp at lower volumes and I'm still considering the Weber dump as well. The Ultimate was upwards of $500, and that's way too much money for an attenuator for me.

    Thanks for the feedback
     
  7. hasserl

    hasserl Member

    Messages:
    4,734
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal
    Yes, they are safe when used properly. You should use an attenuator that is matched properly to your amp, i.e. the impedance of the attenuator matches what your amp is designed to work with. Not all attenuators are impedance specific, my advice is to avoid these, or be careful which amps you use them on. There are no attenuators that adjust automatically to whatever amp they are plugged into. Each attenuator places a load on the amp, that load should match the amp. If the maker claims the attenuator can be used with any amp, any impedance, pass on it. Unless you like blown output transformers and arced tube sockets.

    Also, realize that you'll be working the amp harder if you turn it up for gain/sustain and reduce the overall volume with an attenuator. Which is the reason we use them, right? But when you work it harder it will wear faster, so expect to change tubes faster, and all other components will wear faster as well.

    There are two ways to use them.

    Normally the attenuator plugs into the amp where the speaker normally would, and the speaker gets plugged into the attenuator. The amp sees the attenuator as the load, the attenuator either sends the electrical energy sent from the amp to the speaker, or converts it into heat in the case of a resistive attenuator, or into mechanical motion/heat in the case of a Weber MASS.

    Another way to connect them is to leave the speaker connected as normal, and plug the attenuator into the extension speaker jack. This only works on amps that have an extension speaker jack, and both jacks are wired in parallel. If you connect the attenuator like this it loads the amp as a second speaker would, so the impedance load placed on the amp is halved, and you adjust the impedance switch, if equipped, to match. This method would not work on an amp that has multiple jacks, but each one is connected to a different tap on the OT, so that each one is for a different impedance load. On such an amp you would connect it as in the first example.

    There's lots of opinion about this, as someone else said, do a search and you'll find lot's of opinion on this topic. From my experience, if you just want to shave a couple of db's to take the edge off the volume, just about any of them will do the trick just fine. A Weber Load Dump is inexpensive and will work as well as anything else. If you want heavy attenuation things change, and this is where people have vastly different opinions. Different attenuators seem to work better with different amps. Just like with speakers, you can read all the opinions and descriptions as much as you want to, but until you actually plug one in to your amp you'll never know how it works for you. It kinda sucks, but that's the bottom line.

    Again, be very wary of any attenuator tht claims to have universal impedance. It is impossible, it doesn't exist, the makers are relying on the forgiving nature of tube amps and hoping to sell more than enough attenuators to people that will use them on stout amps that won't fail, people that won't ever push their amps hard enough to cause problems, and people that are just damn lucky, to cover the cost and aggravation of dealing with people that have amp failures casued by their products.

    Hope that helps,
    Hasse
     
  8. SAVROHR

    SAVROHR Member

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    I'll sell you my airbrake if you're interested. No need for it after downsizing to my fargen bastage.
     
  9. HeeHaw

    HeeHaw Member

    Messages:
    4,963
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Location:
    VA
    Miles,

    I use a THD hotplate with my 50 watters and my JTM 45. I have really good luck with them. At the highest settings it loses a little bass and treble but the switches on the THD unit add it back in. Also, at higher rates of attenuation you'll lose a litte of the amps feel. I.E. it can feel kind of spongy, but you get used to it pretty quick. I get away with using 50 watters in a church setting this way.:)
     
  10. Miles

    Miles Member

    Messages:
    3,975
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    How would a Dr. Z or Weber make a Mesa Rectoverb combo sound? If you could guess.
     
  11. Giraffecaster

    Giraffecaster Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Austin
    How low do you want to go? Anything more than a few dB off tends to get buzzy because speaker distortion is part of it.

    Doesn't the rectoverb have a good master volume?
     
  12. ChickenLover

    ChickenLover Member

    Messages:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Florida
    Just to clarify/add to something that hasserl mentioned; the Dr. Z Airbrake is 8 ohms. They claim it to be 'impedance matching' (or at least they used to) but it's really just 8 ohms and since many amps can take some mismatch they picked the value in the middle.
     
  13. CocoTone

    CocoTone Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Location:
    Cobourg
    Click on the link in my signature. Its an old Traynor Guitarmate, through a Weber Mass, into a Heritage G12H30. See what you think.

    CT.
     
  14. Zero

    Zero Member

    Messages:
    2,784
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002
    Location:
    United States
    last time I checked they were over $300.
     
  15. lord preset

    lord preset Member

    Messages:
    885
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    If at all possible I would try before you buy if I were you. I tried a Weber Minimass with my BFSR and it sounded pretty nasty to me, but I read accounts from others who were happy with their results with the same amp model. I don't know if the difference was in the listeners or the amps.
     
  16. jay66

    jay66 Member

    Messages:
    643
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I have been looking at the Weber Mini Mass 50 watt. They claim to be able to switch between 4, 8 and 16 ohms. So are they really just 8 Ohms or is this just the Dr Z we are talking about?
     
  17. pjrhd28

    pjrhd28 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,349
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Location:
    phoenix
    Make sure you contact Dr. Z about what impedance will work with the Air Brake. He had the good grace to tell me NOT to use one with a 2.7 ohm load (Fender Vibro King, Victoria V-lux).

    I bought the THD and I am very pleased. In most club situations, the first setting (-4db as I recall ) takes just enough volume off the top so that I can run the Vicky at about 6 (right where its breaking up pretty well) and not be too loud.

    I think there is a consensus that the more attentuation you use, the farther away from the true amp sound you get and that is consistent with my experience.

    What I can say is that it preserves the overall characteristics of the amp much better than putting a pedal in front in order to generate some dirt at a reasonable volume. It seems like every pedal I try does something I'm not looking for, no matter how much I monkey with it.
     
  18. Miles

    Miles Member

    Messages:
    3,975
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    Yes it does have a good master volume. Really? it gets buzzy? I would not have thought that it would
     
  19. Tycho

    Tycho Member

    Messages:
    1,031
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto
    The Airbrake is pretty subtle. Don't laugh, but I bought one to use with my Z.Vex Nano Head, which at 1 watt was still way too loud for the apartment I used to live in. It was only the lowest setting of the Airbrake (I can't remember right now what that's called -- Bedroom?) that really took the Nano down to a level where you could talk over it. The changes on the other settings were noticeable, but much more incremental.
     
  20. callaway_1

    callaway_1 Member

    Messages:
    311
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    HI-TONE Beach
    I blew out my Hot Plate on ebay after trying the UA.

    It was no contest.
     

Share This Page