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Thread: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

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    Ultimate Tone Member sooperunkn's Avatar
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    Default Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I've got a Mesa Dual Rect pushing a 4x12 celestion cab and I live above a neighbor who goes to sleep at 9pm!!! Guess who needs a power attenuator!!

    Needless to say I NEVER get the opportunity to enjoy the sweet spot of my Mesa (right around 8 on the dial!!) I can't take it anymore... those tubes need to burn!!! So I've done a little research on them. Mostly what I've read (Legendary Tone, Harmony Central...) says that the inferior of the 3 is the Marshall Power Brake. Basically sucks your tone away. The THD Hotplate and the Weber MASS are the 2 best as far as I can tell. The Weber is cheaper and uses an actuall speaker as the load... which is cool. But the Hotplate has some pretty cool features like noise reduction, a cooling fan, and a bass/treble boost.

    So who's used any of these 3? Which would better suit my amp? Are there other brands I should be looking at?
    1978 Lefty Gibson Les Paul Custom (C5 bridge, Jazz neck) with Jimmy Page wiring
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    Raging BB Gunologist some_dude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    A friend of mine asked me something similar to this the other day;

    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Posted by friend
    Q: Do you always use your HotPlates or do you sometimes just lower the volume?
    Quote Originally Posted by Originally posted by screamingdaisy
    Lower the volume? Why in the hell would I do that??? It?s a tube amp; just play it loud!

    Despite what I said above, I do sometimes just lower the volume.


    Treat it just like with a master volume. If you always left your master volume at 2 and used the preamp gain knob to clean up your sound, your cleans would be too quiet. It?s the same with the Hotplate. If you want a nice bluesy clean, you have to turn the gain down and adjust the Hot Plate up (louder) to maintain a comfortable listening level. When I first started using it I couldn?t figure out why my clean channel sucked so badly (when attenuated). It was because I had the attenuation up to high, and kept leaving the guitar on 10 and increasing the gain and/or channel master and/or output to compensate for the lack of volume. Now, I usually set the attenuator at either -12db or -8db (depending on the time of day) and roll my guitar down to around 4-6 when I?m playing clean or mildly overdriven. When playing with high gain however, I have no choice but to put it down to -16 or lower, unless it?s during the afternoon.



    I do have good neighbours however (who own their own loud stereos), so sometimes I just set it to 0db and shake, rattle, and roll.
    --------------

    I recommend the Hot Plate to everyone. It's the best bit of cash anyone with a tube amp can spend. You can also use the Hot Plate as a high quality DI box, and it'll split your signal into two cabs if you need it to. You can impedance mis-match a Hot Plate, as long as the impedance is higher than the output on your amp, it just makes the tone controls less effective. This is useful if you sometimes play with either a full or half-stack.

    I've heard and read mostly bad comments on the Marshall Power Brake. It's design is too old and out-dated.

    I've heard the Webber Mass is good, but has a lack of features. I haven't done any research into it.
    If you can't play good, play loud.

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    Senior Member Big Mike Blues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    Power brake bad.

    Dr Z Airbrake. I'm happy with.

    FYI AIken is coming out with one soon. Randall is cool, I expect it to be the best of the bunch.


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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I say THD hotplate
    played on my friend's with a...i think it was a single recto....

    the extra features are definately worth the money

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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Mike Blues
    Power brake bad.

    Dr Z Airbrake. I'm happy with.

    FYI AIken is coming out with one soon. Randall is cool, I expect it to be the best of the bunch.


    No affiliation with anyone.

    Right on! I'm waiting for the Aiken Afterburner myself... looks vastly superior to every other attenuator out there. I think the Weber MASS is the next best thing though.
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I tried the THD and the Weber. Liked em both, but I just don't play that Hard.
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I've got a Weber MASS and it's a great tool.

    A word of warning though, even with an attenuator, I wouldn't expect a decent tone at 'bedroom' levels. With my MASS on 1 (max attenuation), I get something that resembles a large, angry wasp trapped in a large jam jar. I need it on at least 4 to get the speakers working a bit, and with the amp on 9-10 that's still pretty loud! I'm thinking of getting a cab loaded with 30 watt celestions so I can a bit of speaker break up at lower levels. I'll have to save my 75 watters for gigs!

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    Tone Member Burkwieser's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I heard the Dr. Z Air Brake is good, and that it is safe on your amp. I haven't used one though. It has also had good reviews.
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    Your master V will do a better job at extremely low levels, a Rect just ain't a good apartment amp. I have a Mass and love it, but I think a MV will be quieter

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    Tone Member captain cavman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I tried the Marshall powerbrake on my JTM 45 with 4x12 greenbacks loaded but wasn't satisfied with it . It fattened and compressed the tone, the amp lose it's brightness and punch .

    I tried the THD but not on my 4x12 because it was an 8 ohms model . The result was great and the tone kept its characteristics.

    I nerver tried the Mass Weber , not easy to procure in France !!!
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    Tone Member Duncan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    Powerbrake fan here. Work perfectly and doesn't suck tone as long as you use it sparingly. If you crank a 100watt Marshall and use maximum attenuation, then like any attenuator, it will sound crap. I use it to drop down only a couple of notches. Just allows me to drive the tubes harder without any negative side effects to my tone...
    'No matter how hot and sexy any woman looks, some guy, somewhere, is tired of putting up with her sh#t..'

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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    If you're about to spend $240 on an attenuator for a Mesa Halfstack in an apartment, I think your money would be better spent on a Modeling amp head, to use with your Mesa cab. That way, you have a nice sounding low volume rig and a high volume rig for places where it can be loud. No matter what your opinion is of modeling amps, they excell far beyond a tube amp in a low volume apartment situation. Even by attenuating my loud amps, they don't equal the great tones I get from my Vox AD60 head on my Jubilee 4-12. When I knock it down to the 6 watt setting, I get any tone I want at a volume that neighbors can't even hear! Also, the recording out lets me
    track in the middle of the night without even a peep coming outta the amp.
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    I've been using the same Powerbrake for 20 years with my 2204 and it works just fine for me. Like Duncan says, no attenuator sounds good at bedroom levels. I rarely go more than -12 db, usuall -8, and my tone doesn't seem to suffer, in fact I get a lot of compliments on it. I agree with Gearjonser though, a modeling head would work better for the situation you describe, you'll get a lot better sounding distortion at low volume that way.

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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    So.. are attentuators used more for controlling gig volume then (like when the cab is miced or something)? I had always thought it was for getting better bedroom level sounds, but judging by the posts here I was way off base.

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    Raging BB Gunologist some_dude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatty
    So.. are attentuators used more for controlling gig volume then (like when the cab is miced or something)? I had always thought it was for getting better bedroom level sounds, but judging by the posts here I was way off base.
    When in clubs you can't always blare you 100w (or even 50w) amp at full volume. Having an attenuator means you can still saturate your tubes, and not make enemies with the sound man and club manager.
    If you can't play good, play loud.

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    Tone Member Duncan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    [QUOTE=Gearjoneser] No matter what your opinion is of modeling amps, they excell far beyond a tube amp in a low volume apartment situation. [QUOTE]


    Completly agree with this. Tube amps sound great at high volumes, but at bedroom levels, I think the modelling amps can give a better sound in all honesty...
    'No matter how hot and sexy any woman looks, some guy, somewhere, is tired of putting up with her sh#t..'

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    Ultimate Tone Member sooperunkn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Attenuator... THD Hotplate, Weber MASS, or Marshall Power Brake?

    THATS IT!!! I'M BUYING A FARM.... I WILL NOT COMPROMISE MY TONE!!!!!!!

    1978 Lefty Gibson Les Paul Custom (C5 bridge, Jazz neck) with Jimmy Page wiring
    1996 Lefty Fender Jazzmaster (w/ SD Antiquity IIs)
    2003 Lefty Taylor 414RCE (Rosewood Limited Edition with Expression System)
    Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier 3-channel through Marshall 1960A cabinet via THD HotPlate
    Effects: Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah, Fulltone DejaVibe, Maxon Rotary Phaser (PH-350), Boss DD6, Boss RC20 LoopStation, BBE Sonic Stomp

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