Power attenuators, Anyone using them?

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

  1. Soldano16

    Soldano16 Senior Member

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    Here's a jam clip done in my basement

    Monty Les Paul replica
    Tom Holmes PU's
    68 50 watt plexi - volume on 7
    Ultimate attenuator - volume just under 1/2
    1X12 openback cab - Scumback 65 watt H55

    no pedals

    recorded with an Edirol R-1

    The boys 15 - Putfile.com
     
  2. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    Here's some info on another attenuator, the Alessandro Muzzle.
    Thanks to MLP member Monster for bringing it to my attention. Just figured it should be posted in this thread since a every attenuator we talk about is in here. Should change the name of the thread to Official Attenuator thread or something :)



    Alessandro High-End Products: The Alessandro Bias Meter
    " The Alessandro Muzzle Power Attenuator is the most transparent power attenuator on the market. The Muzzle allows you to get the tone you need at the volume you want. Insert the Muzzle between your amplifiers output and your speaker input, and adjust the volume to suit any situation. The Muzzle has a 6 position switch to choose from 100%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, or 10% of applied power. Built in meter allows you to easily monitor power delivered to the speaker. Sturdy stainless steel construction and mil. spec. jacks ensure long-term reliability.

    "I've tried them all.....IMO the Muzzle is the most transparent, but the Z Airbrake has more options."

    It has been said that it is A Trainwreck Airbrake marketed under the Alessandro name.

    Here is a bit gleaned from another thread in a different forum:
    Attenuator Recommendations - The TCM Forum


    "FWIW....Ken Fisher designed the original Airbrake. He had George Alessandro make them for years.....then Gerald Weber made them for a short time, then Komet Amps made them for Ken, and finally now Dr Z makes them for Ken. The design of the Airbrake remained the same throughout.

    Although George made the Airbrake originally for Ken, the Muzzle is not exactly the same as the Airbrake. But George obviously knows the Airbrake intimately.

    The Airbrake advertises that it works with all loads, ie 4, 8, and 16 ohms.....however, the Airbrake is working at a constant 8 ohms!! Its because the amps can operate at a slight mismatch....but the Airbrake does not change internally for different loads. Which is why George offers the Muzzle in a load specific manner.....it is the best way for your tone and feel of the amp to remain as much unchanged as possible. (This is also why the THD Hotplate is load specific.)"



    "Not to mention the Muzzle is cheaper at $225 new, and I've seen them down to $175 used. So, I guess it depends on your needs......do you have multiple amps with different impedances? Do you need super low volumes? The Muzzle won't take you down as low as the Airbrake, but the tone won't be good at those attenuation levels anyways. The Muzzle cuts the power to 50%, 40%, 20%, 30% and 10%."


    From :
    Dr. Z Amplification Z Air Brake

    "The all new Z Air Brake:

    The Z Air Brake has two major applications. One is for stage use, the other is for studio or home use.

    For stage use, the Z Air Brake is a useful tool to limit your overall dB level at any time during a performance. Example: the beginning of the night (when the club isn't full) click the Air Brake to a level of attenuation to allow for smooth tone at a lower volume level. As the night progresses, reach back and remove degrees of attenuation until the desired level is reached. This will allow you to manage your amp's overall volume without varying from your amp's favorite settings.

    At home, the Air Brake is useful for lower volume while still allowing for full output tube distortion. The Air Brake has a "bedroom" level control that, when selected, will allow for fine adjustment and maximum attenuation down to 1 watt (with amps less than 100 watts.) "

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Wolf Child

    Wolf Child Banned

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    Anyone get a MASS III yet?

    I can't believe I don't have an attenuator with an '83 jcm 2203 100w head and a 4x12 Marshall in my living room. I thought I was going to have to build a plexi-glass shield to crank this up to the break up point.

    Are these things safe?

    And why are the Weber's so much cheaper than the THD's?
     
  4. dwagar

    dwagar V.I.P. Member

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    I can't believe it either. Your ears bleed much?

    used Hotplates can usually be scored in the $200 range. I don't know about Webers.

    Sure they are safe. A Godsend IMO, especially with a 2203/2204. You won't think about a pedal again. The volume knob handles it all.
     
  5. Wolf Child

    Wolf Child Banned

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    EXACTLY!!!!!!! I am very excited to try one out!
     
  6. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    I emailedc Ted Weber and he got back to me a couple of months back. I asked about the Weber Mass II. He said soon, real soon......

    Stil waiting..
    I really want one since it has tone controls on both the line outs AND the main outs.

    Seems like if you get one it will be all the attenuator you will ever need as it handles a hundred watts and covers all impedances you will likely encounter.

    You need different hotplates for different impedances.
     
  7. toastboy

    toastboy Member

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    I have a Weber minimass and I think it's great!!!
    And If I have understood correctly you can use any impedance cab with
    it as long as the amp and the attenuator impedances match.

    I'm gonna get a 100w MASS for my jmp 2203 too

    IMO they're more versatile than hotplates and a lot cheaper too.
     
  8. JW123

    JW123 Senior Member

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    Ive got a Weber Mass 100 watts. Im running a Mesa Triple Rec with 2 power tubes pulled. It works great. I have my halfstack in the living room. I can turn it down low enough to play and still watch tv with the kids. The line out on mine didnt work well. When we plugged it into the pa we got a lot of weird noises happening. I could only turn the output to 1 or it would overblow the channel. I went back to a mic on my amp, so all the line out tone controls on mine are worthless to me. I say this so if you get one turn the line output all the way off before you plug it into a board and ease it up slowly and see what kind of level you are going to get out of it. But I highly recomend the Weber as an attenuator, Ive used it with 6l6s or Yellowjackets (EL84s) and had great results. These things will preserve your tone and save your ears. And for playing out with a half stack it is essential to my sound way more than any pedal. I dont know why I waited so long.
     
  9. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    THe Weber Mass III is out!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I'll be ordering one soon. Looks like the answer to a lot of situations where tone and attenuation need to be applied.

    150 watt rating that should work like all Webers at all impedances for $250


    "This MASS is unique in that it has an actual tone stack for the speaker signal -- BASS - MIDS - TREBLE. It also has the internal speaker motor for the load, and has a variable line out signal with volume and tone. The unit has two speaker output jacks to support multiple cabinets. The three tone controls can take the signal from whisper quiet to full on with slight humps in the bass, mids, and treble.
    Additionally, the MASS III has an active bypass circuit with a footswitch so you can run attenuated or bypassed.
    The footswitch has a 12' cable, and the power pack for the switching relays is a 6VDC wall wart.
    With no power applied, the attenuator is engaged.
    Like all Weber attenuators, you can turn all attenuator controls to zero, pull the speaker, and just use the line out, making the MASS III an (expensive) dummy load. "
     
  10. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    Thanks for the info.

    I don't see any Ohm selector switches to match the cab?

    P.S: Does anyone know which local store has this? I contacted L&M, they don't carry this brand.
     
  11. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    Well the typical Weber has a number of impedance selections. This new one does not mention it, maybe it works on multi impedances without an external selector? I will have to clear this up. I emailed Ted Weber once and he got back to me right away.

    Here's a typical Weber:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There are clearly marked impedance switches on them.
    Usually that is a given with Ted's designs. I don't see the switch on the III, so I too am wondering what's up. Time for that email I guess.

    THe idea with his attenuators is to get one at least twice the output of your amp so as to keep clipping to a minimum. This is what he has to say about it:

    "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'll be buying a 150 watt one even though my current tube amps are only 8 watts and 30 watts.

    Here's his webpage on the many attenuators he makes:

    Attenuators
     
  12. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    Thanks for clearing it up. :thumb:
     
  13. takmagic

    takmagic Member

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    I never tried one of these devices and don't know too much about them, so excuse my ignorance. Has anyone ever had one of these units fail while playing and 100 watts came blaring out while you were sitting in front of it? Just curious if this is possible or if there is some sorta "fail safe" built into these units. Thanks!
     
  14. Ag_Nathus

    Ag_Nathus Member

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    I have an ultimate attenuator, which is a little different, but I'll help out to the best of my ability! :fingersx:

    Most of these products are mechanical in operation: in some cases they are just a glorified big resistor with some tone-preserving components and a volume pot. So the amp works as hard as if it is all out, but you preserve your output transformer with a resistive load. If they failed, it would be because the resistor element fried, which is a) not particularly likely and b) would simply cut out the sound, not let it through at full volume. While this could fry your output transformer if you are wailing away at 100 watts, it's really no different than if a speaker fails or your speaker cab cable or jack fails, again, none of which is super likely!

    Hope that helps somewhat! In my opinion, if you are using a nice tube amp 15 watts or over, the benefits of attenuation greatly outweigh the risks, especially if you have a wife/kids/neighbors/room-mates/a-will-to-preserve-your-hearing/bandmates-with-sand-in-their-vaginas/soundmen-who-are-NOT-about-to-rock-and-therefore-should-not-be-saluted, etc.

    AG
     
  15. kluson

    kluson Senior Member

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    Happy with my hot plate
     
  16. takmagic

    takmagic Member

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    Thanks Ag_Nathus, that helped a lot! I always wanted to experiment with one of these to hear the "full on" tone of some of my amps. I needed to know an answer like you gave due to the fact that I have bad hearing and tinnitus...I can't take anymore chances! :dude:
     
  17. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    Smart man! No sudden loud noises if you can help it.
    I used my Tom Scholz Power Soak for years with no problems. Modern attenuators like the Hotplate and various Webers sound way better though since they have tone mod circuits for resurrecting the highs.
    Have fun, tell us what you get. Me, I never use stomp boxes , overdriven tubes rule, and my solid state Roland Cubes sound decent too ( No attenuator needed ).
     
  18. 996ttcab

    996ttcab Senior Member

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    The Ultimate is definitely a nice one. Just make sure you get the 200 watt upgrade if you have a 100 watt amp. They also have the plexi switch and a few other upgrades if I recall correctly. I used one at Ardent Studios with my buddies SLO 100 and there was no tone loss with the Ultimate. I you are going to use an attenuator for studio or playing live, I would spend the extra jack for an Ultimate or maybe a Koch just to be safe. Why scrimp on a couple hundred bucks if you have a $ 5,000 rig.
     
  19. somedude

    somedude Junior Member

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    I have a 16ohm Hotplate. I use it for both 16ohm and 8ohm speaker loads.

    Since I'm not planning on running 4ohm or 2ohm loads any time soon I don't really see the issue. Though, if you own both a Marshall halfstack and a Fender combo w/ extension cab I could see you having an issue.
     
  20. Harpozep

    Harpozep V.I.P. Member

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    No problems? Cool.:thumb:
    I know they sell different color ones for different impedances.
     

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