August 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm #9322
I am playing a Mesa Boogie Mark V in a basement. Given my inability to turn it up load I can never hear the sweet spot of the amp. It sounds brittle and cold. I have been researching various attenuators.
I was originally going to focus on the Rivera Rock Crusher. I was told by a guy at my local music store that I should pick my attenutor carefully as my Mark V has two volume knobs (i.e. each channel has a Master and the head has an Output knob). He noted that amps like this can have their tone changed by using an attenuator.
An guidance on the best choice would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
August 11, 2017 at 2:32 am #9323Andi PickerParticipant
Not quite sure where he’s coming from there – all amps can have their tone changed by attenuators – that’s a bit like saying that it can have its tone changed by different speakers.
Pete has done some vids about this and has said that he prefers re-amping units like the Torpedo Reload and the Fryette Power Station, and other fine options are the Rockcrusher and other reactive units. For what it’s worth, I have a “vintage” THD Hot Plate that was well thought of in its day and is now pretty much scorned because it’s just a resistive load, and it still sounds pretty good – when I actually did some level matched recording tests with it I found that it changes sound much, much less than a lot of people would have us believe.
Interestingly, Jim Kelly’s attenuator (now Suhr’s) is resistive only, with no apparent plans to “update” it (according to an email exchange I had last year). Ultimately, attenuators will always change the sound to some extent, but if you can get to play with a few you’ll start to figure out what they do to the “feel” as well.
August 13, 2017 at 5:34 pm #9326FueyParticipant
Rob, I REALLY like the rock crusher recording. They refer to the load as reactive rather than resistive. I crank my Marshall DSL… unbelievable tones. My 1996 fender hotrod 4×10 the same. Just absolutely stellar results.Having an EQ on the output to a mixer is also amazing to help shape tone to the sound board. I think the only thing that I really miss (at bedroom levels) is that thump you feel from speakers being rode hard. It’s not really a sound but how the actual sound pressure envelopes you and rattles your innards.
One thing to note with all of these devices it is imperative to hook them up correctly! Check and double check. Don’t use cheap chords or think you are going to get away with a guitar cable rather than a speaker cable. You hook it up incorrectly and it could (most likely will) spell disaster very quickly.
While I haven’t experienced it yet, you might see a difference in tube life. I haven’t come across this problem yet but we will see. Both of my amps have original tubes, sat in storage for several years and not a problem yet. These attenuators basically allow you to drive an amp up at full throttle (if you like) so I suppose all of that heat could eventually damage the tubes.
If you have a music store that stocks one of these I suggest taking your amp down and giving it a try. You might come up with a battle using there amps with a load box on it. Once again, make sure you connect it correctly. Good luck!
August 18, 2017 at 2:04 am #9327Pete ThornModerator
I’m a Fryette Power Station fan. It has a good reactive load and a 50w reamp built in, and I feel it preserves tone the best out of any available solutions.
August 18, 2017 at 10:31 pm #9335FueyParticipant
Where do I get my hands on one of those? I saw a newer version, but I’m a bit confused on the reamp part. Sorry for being such a noob Pete. 🙂
August 23, 2017 at 10:00 am #9338
Thanks all for the tips. Truly appreciated your time and interest in my post.
December 14, 2017 at 11:22 am #9423
Quick follow-up question. As I understand it amps get their tone from either the pre-amp or the power block itself. As I understand this, if it gets it from the power block you want to play at loud volume to get great tone.
If true – two questions:
1) How does a Mesa Mark V get its tone?
2) Does this affect the use of an attenuator?
January 11, 2018 at 10:32 am #9430Pete ThornModerator
really many newer amps derive much of their tone from the preamp. Anything that you play down low via a master vol- you aren’t really getting a ton of the tone from the power amp, in that scenario, even though it matters still. Speakers are a huge part of the tone also- this can’t be overstated. They are like a big filter on your whole sound.
January 16, 2018 at 5:19 pm #9446Patrick CowlesParticipant
Owning a Fryette Power Station, I can give you an idea about how you’ll use it.
I snagged one based on Pete’s advice, and it’s better than expected.
Specifically, the Power Station 2 has impedance switches for both the amp and speaker, and those switches allow you alternate between 2/4, 8, and 16 ohms; all bases covered, you know?
I was looking at the Rock Crusher as well, and it’s good, but not as fully featured, though it is less expensive.
Here’s how I’ve used it thus far. (I have played my old Marshall cranked up, so I’m aware how it ‘can’ sound, but I do this initial dialing-in on stand-by)
I fully dial-in the amp, and move to the EQ options on the Power Station.
First, I walk the volume up on the Power Station to playing level, then I listen.
What’s missing? What’s too much?
Based on that, I EQ the Power Station’s pre amp switches; they are two 3-position switches for low and high end: flat, warm/bright, deep/edge.
Those help to clean up things between the amp and attenuator, though not entirely.
Next, I move to the ‘Presence’ and ‘Depth’ knobs, which I use to bring the overall tone back to however I want it. (I don’t have to do this often, I have been leaving them at noon for flat response)
It’s expensive sure, but it’s more fully featured than a Rock Crusher.
However, if you don’t need that sort of feature-set (2-16 ohms, 2 means of EQ on the attenuator), get something that is less expensive, unless you don’t care.
Just know that the Power Station is a tube amp, so if you get one, that’s 3 more tubes you have to keep in mind.
PS: The Power Station can attenuate low-power amps to high-power amps as well.
If you ever get a low wattage amp, the Power Station can step it up to appear as a higher-wattage amp.
I tried that with a Peavey Valveking 20MH I have, it works.
So if you ever want a 6505+, buy a 6505MH and this Fryette thing instead!
- This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by Patrick Cowles. Reason: PS
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