School Me On Attenuators

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by colchar, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    Part of the secret of the VM is the speakers. Changing them would fundamentally change the amp.
     
  2. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks.

    The VM does have a MV but I am trying to get power tube breakup as opposed to preamp tube distortion.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  3. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    I used to use a Scholz Power Soak with the Univox 60W tube head in my avatar photo back in the 90s...gigs and at home. I ran the amp with everything dimed but the bass knob and presence knob (bass cut to about 9 o'clock; presence mostly cranked but adjusted a little according to attenuation level and room).

    Probably a cleaner-sounding amp than your Marshall but I liked how it worked okay, even at home levels. It sounded better with less attenuation but the basic character was retained even at lower levels, at least enough that it was still fun to play.

    After about a year of band use it smoked a power tube socket and tube, and I discovered that I missed the grind it had with the (mismatched) old 6L6 tubes it came with. Never sounded the same after fixing it. If you're going to dime it and attenuate it, make sure you or someone you know can work on it.
     
  4. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    There are so many myths and misconceptions about attenuators. There are two things that account for any change in tone when using an attenuator for more than a few DB drop... less speaker movement/cabinet resonance & your own ears perception.

    1: They do not suck tone... If you mic up a speaker and record the same part at varying degrees of attenuation, then compensate the volume at playback - they will sound the same!

    2: The do not suck high end. Again... that is your ears. As you attenuate the signal your ears will perceive a loss of high end... any "bright switch" added to an attenuator is there for your perception, not to keep the tone "accurate and true". Most people will turn up the high end on their amp as they turn it down... it's the same principle.

    3: A purely resistive attenuator does not equate to an non-interactive load. These are just l-pads that work in conjunction with the speaker... the speaker is still interactive... the load that the OT see's is still moving as it always has.

    4: An attenuator itself is not hard on an amp! The wear and tear on your amp is that you have it turned up louder and working harder... nothing more!


    My only advice for an attenuator is that you don't go cheap! A $5 Chinese made rheostat that says "volume" is not a good choice! You need something that can A: match the impedance and B: take the power you intend to throw at it.... plus some extra room in the tank ;). If an attenuator fails it can quickly become a very costly repair!

    Just my 2 cents... (and 37 years of experience with attenuators... live, home and studio)
     
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  5. gtrjones

    gtrjones Tele-Holic

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    I think you'd be happier with a high-end modeler than spending money trying to turn that Marshall into something it's not.

    I have an (old) AxeFX standard. I'm quite happy with not only the tones, and the variety, but the way it seems to respond to changes in pick attack. I've tried the cheaper versions (POD, even POD HD) and it's not quite the same, but IMO, the technology can make it work.
     
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  6. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    This has ^^^^ been my experience as well!

    Here's an example. This link goes to a clip recorded in a club where you have to play VERY low volume. The room is small, very reflective and has a high wooden ceiling. All other bands that were playing at this place were not asked back because they were always too loud. You will notice the drummer is playing with bundle sticks and barely hitting the drums, and that you can easily hear talking over the music. The amp is a Mission 5E3 that is attenuated down to somewhere between 3 and 5 watts, and the guitar is plugged straight in. It sounds the same as with no attenuator, and has the same feel and compression characteristics, just MUCH quieter.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3_VulxghMYFTmZLYTIxa3F2MVE/view?usp=sharing
     
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  7. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

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    To my ears, that sounded great!
     
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  8. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks. The cool thing about a "re-amp" like the Unleash is that it can also amplify as well as attenuate. By turning the volume knob on it's built-in Class D 100w amp, you can get the same sound but go up from the 5E3's 12 watts to 20 watts, 40 watts or more. As long as the speaker you are plugged into will take the extra wattage, it's no problem. So with this rig I can get that same sound at any place I play. If the gig is outside or in a really large room I use it with my 40 watt 57 Twin RI and it works great. I hear the Fryette Power Station is great for this too, but I haven't tried one.
     
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  9. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've used THD Hotplates for many years. I wish they were variable Ohm, but aside from that they've been perfect for my needs at all volume levels. Bullet proof. Best to find them used they are expensive.
     
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  10. Mike_LA

    Mike_LA Tele-Afflicted

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    Ahh, I see. I've never been able to hear the difference between preamp distortion and power tube distortion. As long as my Marshall is growling I'm content.
     
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  11. Richie-string

    Richie-string Tele-Meister

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  12. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

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    I've had 3; a Dr. Z Airbrake, a THD Hotplate, and a Weber Mini Mass. I like the Mini Mass best and sold the other two.

    The Airbrake has 4 pre sets, each with a specific amount of attenuation, and a fifth, bedroom level setting that activates a knob that adjusts the attenuation level. For me, the four pre set levels weren't very useable, and the fifth allowed adjustment only at the bedroom level, which seemed like too much attenuation.

    The Hotplate also has presets for the attenuation levels, and seemed darker sounding, perhaps because it has a built in noise reduction. It has Dark and Bright switches, each with two positions, so the darker sound could be adjusted away to some extent. It was pricy and also worked with only one impedance level, so it was unusable with amps and cabs of differing impedances.

    The Mini Mass has no pre sets, and allows the level of attenuation to be controlled with a knob and to me, this allowed greater control than pre sets. It also has true bypass and switches that allow it to be used with different impedance levels. It also sounds really good.
     
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  13. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If one has an amp with a MV, it is very easy to hear the difference between preamp and power amp distortion....vary the settings. There will be a discernible difference. With a MV Marshall like a 2203 or 2204....yes, I am old school....I find that the MV has to be turned up to at least 6-7 on the dial or I don’t like what I hear....the power tubes are not involved in the process enough for my tastes. I don’t care for a non-MV Marshall 1959 or 1987 with the volume turned down below halfway, either.....and in those amps the output section is equivalent to a MV amp with the MV at max.
     
  14. Member1957

    Member1957 NEW MEMBER!

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    I have a Scumback DB limiter on my Fender Supersonic 22 paid about 450 some years ago. It is a reactance device and works well down to whisper level. Scumback got the design from a guy who sold them on eBay under his name, which I have forgotten.
    I had owned the Weber mass product before and it sucked the high frequency out of my tone. The scumback has a switch allowing some high frequency bypass and very accurately reproduces the amp tone. The Weber product is less expensive.

    I agree the high frequency loss is most likely perception at lower volume, but perception is what it is about. At the same volume reduction the Scumback is perceived to have more high end.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  15. wanderin kind

    wanderin kind Tele-Meister

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    just use the atten money to buy a smaller amp,

    in order to cut volume in half, you need to drop power by 1/4, so you would need to pull 3 tubes just to get to half volume, the neighbors probably want 25% volume,

    hate to see all that wasted heat and burned out power tubes just to get tone at home, (running tubes at 80 W will limit your hours)

    Get a VOX Pathfinder or some cheap wanker amp,

    Ever heard a Redline amp? cool overdrive amp with 4 different overdrives, about 120 US.

    you can build your own dummy load from a speaker with voice coil rub, just cut away the cardboard and spider and epoxy the coil into the gap, you now have a reactive load that makes no noise, which can be inserted in series or parallel with another real speaker.
     
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