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reactive vs resistive attenuation ?


lefty dude on hiatus
Platinum Supporting Member
I know the "what is the best attenuator ? " subject has been discussed already on this board, but I am going to try it again with a different spin. My apologies if I am repeating anything here.

I am attempting to build an 18w TMB clone from a kit. This is likely going to be a loud amp and I would like to use it at home at low lovels. Thus, I need to use an attenuator. I am looking at the Weber MASS, Airbrake and Hot Plate to do the job. Right now I am leaning toward the Weber but I know the the hotplates are popular. My questions are:

1. What is the difference between reactive and resistive attenuation and how might it affect tone ?

2. Can anyone identify if the above mentioned attenuators are reactive or resistive ?

3. Is one of these better for clean playing and perhaps another on better for high gain, lead playing ? Any suggestions ?

4. Do most attenuators behave like pedals in that some amps do ok with some attenuators and not ok with others ?

Thanks guys !



I can't help much on that physics! :) But I do have both a HotPlate and a MASS, and I've used both with an 18W clone (which I just rebuilt as an 18W Trainwreck Liverpool) and other amps.

To me, for blues crunch through to metal distortion, the MASS sounds better at extreme attenuation (midnight playing at home - where the speaker is actually outputting milliwatts). But they both sound great at medium and mild attenuation.

Got to say that for clean, I think either is OK. Although I'd probably switch both out and use the amp's own Volume to set the room level for genuinely clean.

I know the MASS has a speaker driver inside, so theoretically, it's going to feel like a real reactive speaker to the amp. I'm not sure what's in the HotPlate?


This is a little off the subject but, I had a Weber Mass for a few days at which point it began to exhibit a low hum (when notes were played) that really got in the way of using it at low volume.

For bedroom volume the tone of the amp was great but the hum really messed things up. I asked Ted about it thinking the thing was defective and he said yes "that's the driver inside making that noise." Returned it.

He makes a purely resistive version now ;) .

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