Power attenuators, Anyone using them?

Discussion in 'The Squawk Box' started by Harpozep, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    I have had tinitus and nerve damage to my ears most of my life and consequently and necessaraly have to keep SPL kind of under control on the low DB side.
    For years I used a Tom Scholz Power soak to keep amps burning and sound under my control.

    [​IMG]

    A lot of attenuators have come on the market since those dark ages of the early eighties, so I thought I'd start a thread on them.

    I've been mentioning them in other posts and gotten a Weber Mass recommended to me.
    Attenuators

    https://taweber.powweb.com/weber/mass.htm

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Some wise words from the Weber site:
    "You should select an attenuator that can handle at least as much power as your amp puts out.

    Amplifiers are generally designed to operate clean, and most manufacturers specify the output power as clean power. When you run the amp full blast, the output devices actually become more efficient because distortion is not considered. Under those conditions, the amp may be capable of putting out as much as 50% more power than its rated clean power. Be aware of that when choosing an attenuator, because the idea of using an attenuator is to run the amp full blast into power tube distortion and then controlling the level going to the speaker. If you are going to dime a 50 watt amp, you should choose a 100 watt attenuator."

    I'm looking into the THD Hot Plates too, since they seem to be at the checkouts of all the music stores I frequent.

    THD Electronics

    THD Hot Plate Attenuator: Harmony Central User Reviews

    [​IMG]

    I found a great site for links and technical bits about attenuators:

    Adam's Amplifiers: Attenuation

    Anyway, thought I'd post some pics and links in case anyone is thinking of turning it down a tad and actually hearing in their old age:fingersx::)


    The THD and Webers have the added benefit of creating a very usable line out AFTER the tube amp stage!:thumb: How cool is that?


    I like attenuators, even though they do not reproduce exactly the tone of a dimed amp and speaker cab. They are a tool and good ones still keep gobs of tone.
    I wish more amp designers had attenuators built into their chassis. I'd pay a bit more for that on an amp. A good design would have a pure bypass for the tonal purists out there and the times we don't need the attenuator.
    Granted it helps bake and shorten tube life, but that's part of the tube game, innit?:rofl:
     
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  2. tarddoggy

    tarddoggy V.I.P. Member

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    Im pretty interested in the London Power Scaling that Bob R. is using in his amps.
     
  3. jimmydeuce

    jimmydeuce Senior Member

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    I've used the Mini Mass with my Reinhardt. Works great when you just use it to drop a few dB's. Any more than that and it starts to tone suck. I like the treble boost on the Mini better than the bright and dark switch on the Hot Plate. Didn't like the preset dB drops on the Hot Plate either. I've talked to Bob and I think I'm going to have him install Power Scaling on mine.
     
  4. PraXis

    PraXis V.I.P. Member

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    I've googled power attenuators, but still have no idea what they do.
     
  5. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Ok Power attenuation for Amplifiers 101
    A power attenuator, takes the signal from the amplifer and steps it down in one way, or form to give a similar signal to your speakers at a reduction of wattage , Not for Post Phase inverter Master Volume amps , really
    So you can crank your 100 watt Super Monster Tube head, and play it at bedroom levels , In the days before MAster Volume amps and over drive distortion pedals, the way to get broken up or naturally distorted full tube sound was just cranking the amplifier to max or near Max volume for that total tube saturation sound
    Master Volume amps, sought to simulate these sounds by just over driving a pre amp, so volume could be kept lower while achieving distortion/ break up
    but at that point you do not have full amp break up, just the pre amp section
    Attenuators help you get the whole amp going, just some work better , sound better than others
    The Altair was one of the first but it wasnt well designed and led to amp murder, Attenuators are improving constantly , So far talking with and confiring with other experienced musicians as well as using one or two, I have landed on the Webers as pretty much being the best currently offered
     
  6. PraXis

    PraXis V.I.P. Member

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    oh, ok, thanks! makes sense yay!
     
  7. tredfern011

    tredfern011 Member

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    I KNOW I HAVE A LOT ABOUT THE GUITAR TO LEARN. BUT WHAT ARE THEY USED FOR.:wtf:
     
  8. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Tube Amps Power Taming, , Refer back to previous post on attenuators 101 or the better makers sites

    Attenuators

    Dr. Z Amplification Z Air Brake
    and from the THD Site

    What is a power attenuator?
    A power attenuator is a device placed between the speaker output and the speaker cabinet. It acts like a huge master volume control and permits the amp to be turned up most or all the way while absorbing most of the power generated by the amplifier and turning this power into heat. It passes a small part of the power to the speaker.

    Why do I want one?
    Our customers use attenuators because their amps sound good at high volumes, especially with full distortion, but in rehearsal, small clubs, or at home, they can't turn the amp up. They are also used in recording studios for better separation between the instruments, and for use when the speaker sounds best at low levels, or if it can't handle the power output. The Hot Plate® also makes a perfect dummy load.

    We needed a good attenuator for our in-house testing of THD amplifiers. The amps have to be tested at all volumes, clean and pure to wild distortion, and we were tired of our ears hurting. We tried all the attenuators on the market, but they muffled the sound and made even THD amps sound dull. Now our design engineers don't have to worry as much about hearing loss, and neither do you.
     
  9. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    Thanks Don. I shoulda started the thread with that post:thumb:
    Keep'em coming:applause:
     
  10. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    No problem Harpo, The questions were asked after, So I tried filling the void best I could , What I found interesting is that Weber lists DrZ and THD's attenuator sites on his page , how many other guys would put sites for their top two comepetitors on their own websites?
     
  11. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    Good point. He's a class act with no fear inferiority that's for sure.:thumb:
     
  12. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Yes , I dont get squat from Weber for plugging his stuff, He dosent know me from Adam Spit, Same with Roman Rist, BRCGreg, or many who list and or sell here, but I can see integrity and honor and with the latter two, as well as Dave Johnson Total devotion to their craft, Thats what I back it for
    Back to Attenuators 101 Part II
    Weber VS DrZ and THD, What I 've learned and know
    The THD and DR Z are both Resistor type attenuators, Weber has and offers this type of attenuator also, but he is the only one out there using a speaker motor attenuator, and this is the one I have experience with and to me sounds damn good , I have to go by his explaination of why its a better way to attenuate a tube amps, but it makes perfect sense to me
     
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  13. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    Makes sense to me too. My only experience is the old Scholz piece and the internal one in My Mercury.
    The Scholz ate a lot of tone, and has been pointed out ate a lot of good amps along the way.:( Got that confirmed from the guys at Caruso Music. They used to sell them, but changed to the much safer THD line of amps and attenuators.
     
  14. classic

    classic Senior Member

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    I have owned two Hotplates, but my TAD Silencer is more authentic in tone ...

    Röhren, AMP Kits und Lautsprecher - Tube Amp Doctor

    One of my most important parts of my gear ... even on gigs ... :slash:

    The audience will be grateful for wonderful sound at a moderate loudness. :fingersx:
     
  15. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    You know, your last sentence cannot be overstated! :applause::thumb:

    Loud for loud's sake is way overrated, and loud for tone's sake was the price we paid,.until the attenuators caught our attention. Life's full of compromises and I'll gladly make an attenuator part of my sound to save our ears. Sounds like you agree:thumb:
     
  16. classic

    classic Senior Member

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    I agree totally ... and your tinnitus and nerve damages tell me that many of us are dealing severely with their health ...
    I'm hard of hearing too ... the noise started in the late 60s ... for me !!

    So - the 'Silencers' have a special benefit for me ... they're training my hearing and - to be honest - do you really think that the audience can hear the difference if there's a nice sound you're playing ... ???? :naughty:

    ... except the MPs - the Music Police - guys who are playing in a band as well and are blaming you nonstop for your playing style and sound ... but they'll be complaining all the way ... :wtf:
     
  17. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Only other musicians and true deep music lovers are going to really listen for your tone, the rest of the audience is just going to focus on the music over all , There is such a thing as too loud, especially in smaller clubes, Several months ago this "Pro Guitarist" came to my regular blues jam with his 60 watt Blues DeVille, and had it cranked about half way out , Me and the house band harmonica player had to get out of there, the owner was not in the club that night I told this guitarist he was way too loud for the venue later, he did thank me and said he hadnt realized it I have since found the guy is rather self centered
    I go to blues jams , its my present way to stay sharp with other musicians
    but nothing will get you bad looks than blowing others out trying to attain that amp sweet spot , than blowing out others in he process , Volume wars on stage are verging on the truly unproffessional . Attenuators help you retain more true tube overdrive tone without having to blow down the house to get there , I think it also adds a statement of proffessionalism and curtesty
     
  18. Big John

    Big John drinks are on the house V.I.P. Member

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    A little off topic but I also attend a local blues jam about 2x/month, and I also see volume wars like Don says. Because the jam is located in downtown Olympia (state capitol), self-proclaimed big shots from Seattle meander in every now and then and proceed to crank the amp they're using. The host band does one of two things. First, they play really quiet all of a sudden, to the point where Seattle Sleugh can't hear the tempo or chord changes and gets totally lost. If that doesn't work then the host band will step down after one song, and then load the stage with people that will either blow this guy away or that suck so bad on purpose that the guy leaves the stage. It's quite funny to watch. The guest amp is always the smallest amp on stage, so it's easy for the rest of the stage personnel to stomp his ass as a last resort.
     
  19. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    Hopefully a friend and I may soon be hosting a blues jam of our own, I like these remedies, they sound like they would work well Thanks for the input Big John , Good way to derail a thread :rofl::rofl::rofl: And I definitly approve this message :lol::lol::lol:
     
  20. tiedstick

    tiedstick V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    I had plans on looking for a 50 watt Weber for my 50 watt Marshall...So I guess I should go for the 100 watt Weber instead? What if later on I upgrade to a 100 watt amp...will I have to get another attenuator???:confused:
     

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