Purchase an attenuator? Or just buy a low wattage tube amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by IceT, Dec 18, 2017.


  1. ifailedshapes

    ifailedshapes Member

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    I live in a very small home with kids, so I understand the dilemma. Honestly, if you're wanting that tone at home, but can't afford the volume, I'd highly recommend something like a Helix or Kemper. The tones are REALLY good on those units, plus you have loads of effects to play with. It's great fun.

    However, if you're opposed to modeling, then I'd recommend two more things. I'll rate them in order of affordability:

    1) Mesa Cab Clone - It will safely load your amp, and the different cab sims work quite well. The thing to keep in mind with this unit is that it will not react like your current speaker. You WILL have to adjust your amp EQ, but you will like the results. Then you can either listen through powered monitors or a good set of headphones.

    2) Suhr Reactive Load & A.C.E. - This is a considerably larger investment than the Cab Clone, and I don't think the incremental tonal difference is worth the additional expense, but that's only my opinion. The Reactive Load will make your amp respond just like it's plugged into a real speaker, and the A.C.E. will let you fine tune the cab sim. If you have money to burn, this is the way to go.
     
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  2. ifailedshapes

    ifailedshapes Member

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    Many players like the tone and feel of driving the power tubes. Using a master volume amplifier, like you suggest, is definitely a solution, but it will require the player to get all of the drive from the preamp, which is a different tone and feel.
     
  3. Alchemist XP

    Alchemist XP Supporting Member

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    I totally hear ya and have used attenuators ... but "driving power tubes" and then knocking their output way down to less than a watt is kinda well, an illusion I guess. Driven power tubes at bedroom volumes, at least to me, has virtually nothing to do with a cooking tube amp spitting out loud speaker rattling tube overdrive. There is absolutely no sound I can't get from a good preamp and an EQ pedal at bedroom volumes that would require driven then throttled power tube overdrive. I guess what I'm saying is power tube drive without volume is kinda similar to the feel of a modeling amp. But that's just me.
     
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  4. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    my solution for a 60 watt tube head:

    weber mass lite ($160)
    Palmer PDI-09 cab filter direct box ($160)

    since you are basically taking your speaker cab out of the equation by NOT pushing the speakers (and that's where arguably 95% of your tone comes from), something like the palmer gives you a chance to take the power output of your amp at 100% BEFORE you attenuate it, and gives you the equivalent of a 4x12 cab miced with a 57 as a line level output.

    then you can attenuate at any level you want, and still get the power output sound of the amp married to whatever level of reactivity you get based on your level of attenuation.

    works like a charm.
     
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  5. Tiedemies

    Tiedemies Member

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    To be honest, 0.1 tube watts at full blast is too loud if someone is for example trying to sleep in any close vicinity. In apartments it's enough to annoy the neighbours, especially at night. I'm always baffled when people are saying stuff like, "Great thing that my amp goes down to 5 watts so I can go full blast at night while the baby is sleeping in the next room!" Yeah, man, I don't doubt that a one bit...

    I get around 90 decibels in the room from my dimed Marshall 1 watters, take that as you will.
     
  6. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

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    I bought a used Boss Katana 50 for $160 used, works great for practice or as a backup to my tube amps on gigs. Might be what you are looking for.
     
  7. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    I had a Mesa LSS and 5 watt mode run like a NMV could be very loud.
     
  8. Coolidge

    Coolidge Member

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    Out of his price range but I ordered a Two Notes Torpedo Live the other day.
     
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  9. gixxerrock

    gixxerrock Member

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    I would at least recommend a pedal with very light overdrive before going the attenuator route. I have a Supro Thunderbolt (35W) and love it clean and with overdrive pedals.

    That said, an attenuator such as Hotplate is a awesome useful tool to have around.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  10. IceT

    IceT Member

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    If I had the money this is absolutely what I'd be going for...enjoy!
     
  11. ertschemi

    ertschemi Member

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    My Vibrochamps are too loud to turn up in my condo. A good MV or Attenuator works better.
     
  12. Teclo4

    Teclo4 Member

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    I just picked up a Radial Prodigy for church use and love it! Since I leave it at church, I wanted something for home and have an SPL Reducer on the way. There's lots of great choices out there these days!
     
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  13. bigben55

    bigben55 Member

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    I was always anti attenuator. "They change your tone too much!" they say! Then I got one, a Dr Z Z Brake Lite. Now, this isn't the answer for apartment dwellers at 1am, but darn if it isn't useful as hell. The knob has 5 positions, 0 thru 5. No attenuation, -2db, -5db, -8db, and -11db. I was warned 3 and 4 does change your tone. It does, it adds some more compression. And really only if youre CRANKING the amp into overdrive. So you turn the bass down and tad and the treble up a tad. Done, fixed, rock on! I use the amp as a pedal platform mostly and use it to adjust my clean volume to the room and it works. I find 2, at a 5db attenuation is about "band level" on my Z28. If I need to go to 3, we ALL need to turn down.

    Unless you are a true golden eared tone snob, the Z Brake Lite wont make you hate your amp LIVE. But even at 4, at which I can crank the amp, play in the basement without my wife yelling at me from upstairs, your apartment neighbors are not going to love you.
     
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  14. rufedges

    rufedges Member

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    I'm done with low wattage and small glass amps, I've been using a scumback attenuator for 3 years now, no issues, passive, and doesn't affect the tone. Even at whisper volumes, awesome. Fryette PS might be an option too.
     
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  15. stickyFingerz

    stickyFingerz Supporting Member

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    Getting an attenuator really opened up the amp - a 5 watter meant to be played loud. I love the tones I’m getting out of it now.
     
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  16. IceT

    IceT Member

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    I've been eyeing one of those...do you use the headphone out as a monitor?
     
  17. IceT

    IceT Member

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    What 5-watter do you have?
     
  18. Teclo4

    Teclo4 Member

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    I haven't tried the headphone out yet. I use the 50% volume reduction switch and that allows me to use my speaker cab as a monitor as long as I keep the master volume up around noon (Matchless Spitfire 15 watt). I'm thinking of switching the speaker from a 20 watt Greenback to a G12H Heritage just to get a little more efficiency so I don't need to push the amp's power section so hard to be heard over the band. That's the only real downside of the Prodigy is that it only allows for 3 output selections. 100%, 50%, and 25%. Not a lot of room for fine-tuning the attenuation.
     
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  19. stickyFingerz

    stickyFingerz Supporting Member

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    Matamp Minimat. Played at apartment levels it sounds dull and the built in attenuator is no match for the SPL. Now I’m getting crisp amp-on-the-edge goodness with all/most the harmonics intact. At low volumes. At last.

    I push it with a Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop or / and a Throbby tremolo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
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  20. Junta

    Junta Member

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    I have experience with both.

    Short answer: attenuator. Especially with a 25 watt amp (the higher the wattage, the more problematic).

    Not cheap, but I would recommend Rivera Rockcrusher. I have a stereo rig, so I use two of the really expensive Recording versions.

    I started out with a 5 watt Blackstar HT 5 watt head. It was way too loud. Master volume turned down, it was a most uninspiring experience. There is a 1 watt version too, but no effects loop.

    Because I wanted to go Stereo, then I bought a Marshall JVM-1 1 watt amp, which goes down to 0.1 watt if needed. At 1 watt, by the time you got the amp to sound really good, it was already too loud. Forget babies sleeping or apartment dwelling. At 0.1, I got what the levels u needed, but again totally uninspiring sound.

    The JVM-1 is a great sounding amp, with its own sound (not much resemblance to a real JVM if you ask me, but that is another matter). There are many people out there who adore their JCM-1 and JPM-1 1 waters.

    So, in the end, I got rid of both the Blackstar and the JVM-1.

    I am now using a Marshall mini jubilee (20 watt setting) and a Mesa mark V:25 (25 watt setting), both with its own dedicated Rivera Rockcrusher Recording.

    I chose the Recording version, well, because I record - that is what I do, so I wanted a non-impulse response solution to be available to me if I wanted. The regular version should not be more that your limit.

    Good luck!
     
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