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Power attenuators
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azimuth
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Had anyone tried one of these?

I see the Hotplate which goes in-between the speaker out and the speaker and then there's some that go in the effects loop (therefore before the power tubes) like the Elliott Tone Dial.

Elliott Tone DIal: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160302396673

It seems to me that the Hotplate is more of a true power attenuator after the amp has done it's thing, whereas the type that goes in the effects loop is more of a post pre-amp volume control.

Has anyone tried that latter? Does it still give you any type of "cranked tone" at a lower volume?

These really seem like 2 very different things.



Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 9:23 am
RE: Power attenuators
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TheoDog
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I use the hotplate. It really opeed up the toen of my Fender DRRI. Before, I was using a compressor to tame the inpt volume. Now I get a better representation of what I am putting into the amp, so I am using my Tubescreamer now to more effectively push, rather than relying on it for any overdrive at all.
The other type of "attentuater" might be useful in a SS power amp stuation. Without any experisnce, I don't see how it could improve an all tube situation.

He who can keep his head when all around are losing theirs... Probably does not understand the situation
Mod Junkie of the International Boutique Pedal Coalition

Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 9:39 am

RE: Power attenuators
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Zug-uitar
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For tube amps the only attenuator's I'd consider are:

THD Hotplate
Weber Mass series
Dr Z Airbrake

I once had a THD Univalve head which had a built in hotplate attenuator. As long as you don't expect absurd levels of attenuation, it doesnt' suck your tone, and it works well.

The Webers use speaker motors instead of resistors to disipate the extra signal energy. Some say they "feel" more natural, but I just don't know. They have a good reputation and cost a little less than a Hotplate.

I don't know much about the Airbrake other than Dr Z and this product have a good reputation.

The only other good option I've heard of is some kind of revised speaker which can vary its efficency with a knob. Dspellman has been posting about it. Apparantly he was impressed by a demo he saw at NAMM. However, its new, not well known and quite expensive.


this rig requires something with a little more kick... plutonium!

Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 9:48 am

RE: Power attenuators
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DCdude
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just remember in the end, it is speaker break up ( from being driven), and air movement...attenuators do help, but the real deal comes from those issues I listed...

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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 10:29 am

RE: Power attenuators
dspellman
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The THD Hotplate is a resistor-based attenuator that turns the amp's power into heat (hence the name). Feel isn't great and the tone will change, but this has been a standard for a long time.

I think the Dr Z Airbrake might also be a resistor-based attenuator.

The Weber MASS uses a speaker motor to attenuate the power, and essentially turns the amp's power into motion. it's got better feel than the Hotplate and would probably be my first choice of these three.

There's a new technology out -- the Ultimate Attenuator -- which looks like it's going to be better than any of the above at attenuating as we know it (pluging something between the amp's output and the speaker). There's a glowing review in Premier Guitar (available on their website).

The speaker technology that Zug referred to is a Flux-Tone speaker. These replace the speaker in your amp (it's also avaiable in a separate speaker cab) with one that has a variable electromagnet on the back. They do this with a variety of speakers, including good old Vintage 30's. It doesn't really attenuate the amp's power -- it lowers the efficiency of the speaker up to 25 dB (dialable from full to zero), which is the equivalent of dropping the power of a 100 watt amp to about 1/2 watt. Feel and tone remain the same, but as Zug mentioned, it's expensive.

And finally, there are ISO cabinets.

Any of these will allow you to crank your amp to get that tone without removing paint from the walls due to volume.

One other comment -- speaker breakup *can* be a component of the cranked sound, but speaker breakup is not something that you do in live performances or on any kind of regular basis. It's done sacrificially, sometimes, to attain a specific tone for recording, and when you're ready to replace the speaker in question. In that case you run the speaker right on the ragged edge of destruction (and often that sound is NOT what you really want), and you should expect to replace them after a session like that. Something like the Russian interceptor jets that were capable of really outrageous speeds...once. And then the engines needed to be replaced. Air movement has little to do with getting the tone you're looking for, sorry. It has more to do with the fun of having your pants flap. In any case, as most older rockers will tell you: protect your ears. The guys who live with ringing ears now thought it was cool to have the loudest band in the land back then...

Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 10:48 am

RE: Power attenuators
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DCdude
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"Air movement has little to do with getting the tone you're looking for, sorry."

I disagree with that...

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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 11:05 am

RE: Power attenuators
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DCdude
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eh..how do you edit a post?

oh well, uh, no reason to apologize dspellman...

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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 12:12 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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Julia_343
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A little warning on the Ultimate Attenuator with the new amps and just one feature.....

* 90 volt or 100 volt "brown switch" -- amps today are designed to work on 120 v here in the states. voltages have crept up over time. For true vintage amps this switch might be fantastic. But some amps that use extensive channel switching might not work at all with this switch engaged -- the JVM is an example. Note: the last statement was not from personal experience -- it was directly from the designer of the Marshall JVM.

And it's the high frequencies that do the time based hearing damage, not the low frequencies. This is according to a Stanford U study back in the 1990s. So watch your speaker beaming and when you're around a drummer, wear ear protection.

-------------------------------------
--- Soudru�ka Julia of the Vocal Assassins
--- Disclaimer: pay no attention to tonal advice from this poster if you are under 30 and play thrash.

Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 1:55 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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papa_lazerous
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Has anyone asked yet, what amp are you trying to attenuate and are you looking to go really quiet or just be able to get a more driven sound? I think this matters with your choice.

I find waiting till all your neighbours are out a few times a week for a proper crank is worth while and keeping it low the rest of the time.

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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 2:04 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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azimuth
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Thanks for all the input people.

My amp is a Traynor YCV40.

I really like the way it sounds loud and I hate wearing earplugs. I even tried some of those attenuating earplugs which still let through the highs but there's really nothing like letting your ears hear exactly what you're playing.

So I keep the volume down some and don't get to fully enjoy my amp.

Just looking for some alternatives to solving my problem and I've always wondered about these power attenuators.



Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 2:39 pm

RE: Power attenuators
dspellman
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azimuth said:



I really like the way it sounds loud and I hate wearing earplugs. I even tried some of those attenuating earplugs which still let through the highs but there's really nothing like letting your ears hear exactly what you're playing.


===================================================


One of the things you have to discover is *what* it is about the amp loud that you like. Chances are good that the actual volume isn't what you're liking, but the feeling that it's loud -- For example, I've run plain old stereos into clipping and had people complain about how loud it was. it wasn't actually all that loud, but the clipping distortion made them *think* it was loud. Meanwhile i've had a much more powerful (by about 20 times) stereo system turned up much louder, but it was so clean at those volumes that no one complained about how loud it was.

Metallica has done the same thing with their new album -- Sony's got so much extra distortion tacked onto their music that some folks think it's extraordinarily loud coming out of run of the mill car speakers. But If you play the version from the game, which doesn't have all that additional distortion, you can listen to it a lot louder.

Pushing the amp into clipping and then turning the volume down is exactly what those flux-tone speakers were all about. It was amazing how some folks thought the amp was really cranking (it was) and loud (it wasn't) when the speakers were actually dialed down quite a way.

Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 3:36 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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dspellman said:

azimuth said:



the speakers were actually dialed down quite a way.


===================================================


what is this you speak of Smiley


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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 4:20 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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papa_lazerous
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dspellman said:



One of the things you have to discover is *what* it is about the amp loud that you like. Chances are good that the actual volume isn't what you're liking, but the feeling that it's loud -- For example, I've run plain old stereos into clipping and had people complain about how loud it was. it wasn't actually all that loud, but the clipping distortion made them *think* it was loud. Meanwhile i've had a much more powerful (by about 20 times) stereo system turned up much louder, but it was so clean at those volumes that no one complained about how loud it was.

Metallica has done the same thing with their new album -- Sony's got so much extra distortion tacked onto their music that some folks think it's extraordinarily loud coming out of run of the mill car speakers. But If you play the version from the game, which doesn't have all that additional distortion, you can listen to it a lot louder.

Pushing the amp into clipping and then turning the volume down is exactly what those flux-tone speakers were all about. It was amazing how some folks thought the amp was really cranking (it was) and loud (it wasn't) when the speakers were actually dialed down quite a way.


===================================================


Wow we got all the mojo words in there..... I especially liked the bit about dialling down a speaker while having the amp really cranking.........aint that the idea of the attenuator Smiley

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Proud Member of the Felony Funny Coalition
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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 6:15 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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DCdude
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I just wanna know what that means...dialing down a speaker?

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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 6:27 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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DCdude
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dspellman said:

One other comment -- speaker breakup *can* be a component of the cranked sound, but speaker breakup is not something that you do in live performances or on any kind of regular basis. It's done sacrificially, sometimes, to attain a specific tone for recording, and when you're ready to replace the speaker in question. In that case you run the speaker right on the ragged edge of destruction (and often that sound is NOT what you really want), and you should expect to replace them after a session like that. Something like the Russian interceptor jets that were capable of really outrageous speeds...once. And then the engines needed to be replaced. Air movement has little to do with getting the tone you're looking for, sorry. It has more to do with the fun of having your pants flap. In any case, as most older rockers will tell you: protect your ears. The guys who live with ringing ears now thought it was cool to have the loudest band in the land back then...

===================================================


thought I knew "a little" about speaker break up, then I read this...then did some googling. and I cant find this anywhere. just lotsa info on using break up to enhance ones tone.

but Im so curious, so I will keep looking and checking back here with hopes of some clarification?

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Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 6:38 pm

RE: Power attenuators
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I'm going to guess. The amp is cranked. The signal to the speakers is reduced, or dialed-down, by the attenuator. Thus you hear the cranked sound at a lower volume and perceive it as being louder than it is. One of those perception = reality.

-------------------------------------
--- Soudru�ka Julia of the Vocal Assassins
--- Disclaimer: pay no attention to tonal advice from this poster if you are under 30 and play thrash.

Post Date: 12/12/2008 @ 6:40 pm


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