best attenuator for bedroom use


Silver Supporting Member
i know it's been asked but which attenuator would you recomend for bedroom use? i have a couple of smaller tube amps that are just too friggin loud to play at home (15W).

i have only tried a weber mini mass and it sort of adds this fizzy component that is really annoying.

i figure i'll just drop some cash to get one that works well.

any thoughts? i'm pretty much considerig THD & DrZ.


TGP Tech Wrangler
Staff member
IMO, they all start going south at about 12dB of attenuation.

In other words, they all suck a fair bit of tone at bedroom levels.


The Koch Loadbox 120 II is a really transparent sounding attenuator that has a lot of extra features such as speaker emulator DI and headphone outputs. A bit pricey though, and at that price you could buy yourself a small practice tube amp. It is worth it though.


big hair

I use a THD hotplate to attenuate my 100w plexi. Ok -16db might sound a bit wishy washy but still useable with 100w plexi - I'm sure the device will cope with a 15w amp just fine.


Gold Supporting Member
I have come to the realization that NO attenuator sounds good at bedroom volumes. They ALL get fizzy when you attenuate an amp very aggressively.

A better approach is to get an amp with a great master volume.


Originally posted by Timster
what about the Ultimate attenuator?

Yea that does the best job in my opinion for really low level playing but since it is a reamp system many will argue it isn't an attenuator. It is very expensive as well.

For the same money you can buy a modeling amp and have an approximation of any amp you want at bedroom levels. ;)

Tom CT

Old Supporting Member
I know this doesn't really answer your question, but I'd be more inclined to spend the money on a good OD pedal. As has generally been decided, attenuators don't sound their best at super-quiet, bedroom levels. Of course, that's not really what they're designed for.

Since you own 15-watt tube amps, if and when you play out, you might not need the attenuator, and you'll have the option of dialing in some great OD tones with your pedal. More tone options! :)


Originally posted by Flavum
I know this doesn't really answer your question, but I'd be more inclined to spend the money on a good OD pedal.

I use my Airbrake to take a little off and then adjust volume with an OD, compressor, or some other pedal in the chain. It works great for keeping volume down with my K60. Past a certain level, no form of attenuation will be truly transparent. Probably a combination of effect on tone and moving a lot less air with the speakers.

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Weber MASS

No attenuator sounds great at low volumes /high attenuation but the Mini MASS I have sounds the least bad.

Daddy Elmis

I've owned the Airbrake and the main Weber models (full size mass, mini mass and load dump).

If the mini mass isn't doing it for you, I think you are probably using lots of attenuation and none of the "good" attenuators out there are really going to sound much better (as always, YMMV and others will disagree) at extreme levels of attenuation.

I found very little difference between the Airbrake and the Weber products, except the Airbrake was considerably more expensive and less versatile (i.e., different impedence handling).

Attenuators are really designed to knock a few dB off the amp to control stage volume at the gig or rehearsal. Getting even a 15 watt tube amp to true "bedroom" level is going to be very tough without killing the tone. I play a Pro Jr. (15 watts), a Marshall DSL201 (20 watts) and Reverend Goblin (5/15 watts) and the Goblin is the only one that doesn't have an attenuator (because you can switch to 5 watt mode on the fly).

John Phillips

By common agreement, no attenuator sounds that great when cutting a cranked big amp down to bedroom volume.

But using a dummy load and then re-amping can sound very good.

The interesting thing is that from the point of view of the amp, these are the same thing. Feeding a tiny bit of power out (less than 1%, with a typical big amp and typical bedroom volume) to drive a speaker as opposed to an even tinier bit to generate a signal and drive another amp will make no significant difference to the response of the amp. And yet the two methods don't sound the same...

So it's the effect of the attenuator on the speaker that results in the bad tone, not its effect on the amp.

I'd guess that it's either because the speaker is more heavily damped at high attenuator settings, or being driven from too high-impedance a source... I don't know, but it does explain why using a MV amp with the MV down a fair way and less attenuation can sound better than a non-MV amp with heavy attenuation - even though all the distortion is coming from the preamp in the first case.

I've certainly found that combining more than one method - pedals, preamp distortion/MV, PPIMV, attenuator - or even more than two, gives better results than trying to do it all with just one.

IMO, anyway.


I have to agree with John's solution...I've tried the PPIMV with a Boost and a weber load dump and the results have been good. Now I am getting a another amp so that I can use the same method I've been using but use the line out of the Weber and slave the new amp using the FX loop return......


Silver Supporting Member
geez, thanks for all the responses.

i know it's not going to sound terrific. in fact i expect the highs to be knocked off and for the amp to get that weird compression / gate thing that happens. BUT, my 50W Mini Mass is adding this fizz / buzz thing that is really distracting.

i do play with a band so i actually use these amps but sometimes it's fun to use the stuff at home.

BTW, the one amp i have kept though all this GAS is my Peavey Classic 30. that is such a killer practice / home amp. no need for an attenuator, just turn it down.


no comparison... THD Hotplate

it can be used as a dummy load, so you can practically set it to near silent levels. and the bright / deep switches work fine.

works for most P&W gigs i do, and Lawdy knows, i'm always told to keep it down. ;)


i got a question---
what if you get an amp that is switcable 100w/50w..and when you use different wattage settings dont you have to change the ohms on the spk right? so if you get a hotplate, they only come in a set ohm rating..right? but if i buy the standard weber mass it has a switch for all the ohms setting...4,6.8, if i buy the the hoplate im stuck at using one setting? educate me on this..because ive never used an attenuator:confused:

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