What is an Amp Attenuator?
An amp attenuator or power attenuator is probably something most guitarists have heard of. However, most probably are not sure what it is exactly, how it works, and why you exactly need it.
We think it is a very useful tool in your setup. Guitar attenuators essentially act as master volume control in your amp. They are attached after your amp in the signal pathway and act to divert or dissipate some of your amp excess power, while still preserving tone.
This is especially important when used in conjunction with distortion and overdrive pedals.
1. KLD Pan Amps PB-1 100 Watt Attenuator
The KLD Pan Amps PB-1 is the best amp attenuator for those looking for a sturdy studio-quality power attenuator that is also rather affordable.
This 100-watt guitar attenuator is one of the better entry-level pro-level units you can get for your money.
Why use an amp attenuator?
There are two main reasons why you would want to use a power attenuator. The first reason is to just be able to turn down your amp without having to adjust it at the amp level.
If you are playing in your room or on stage and the sound person says it is too loud, you can simply dial in the right settings into your amp attenuator and the volume is lowered.
The other reason is to be able to preserve your tone while lowering the volume. This is probably the more important reason as many of the distortion and overdrive effects sound the best when the amp power is near max.
However, the resulting volume may be too loud for many people, so the amp attenuator serves to reduce the volume delivered to the speakers without altering the tone. Many people equate power attenuators to power soakers.
How to find and chose the best attenuator brand?
Finding the best amp attenuator is not the easiest as there are hundreds on the market with different wattage and ohm ratings at different price points.
The most important thing to look for is a model that can handle the power of your amp. So be sure to at least match watt ratings between your amp and the attenuator. Also, you should be matching impedance as well. Keep in mind that there are power attenuators with multiple impedance ratings.
You should also be aware that attenuators do have a bad reputation of blowing up amps if not used properly. To avoid this, we recommend premium durable attenuators from reputable sources.
Additionally, many guitar attenuators these days have extra features that make them more than just volume reducers. Many power attenuators can also be used as a dummy speaker load, so you can run your amp without a speaker cabinet.
They can also be used to set up a wet/dry rig if your attenuator is a line out.
Best Amp Attenuator
- 1. KLD PAN AMPS PB-1 100 Watt Attenuator
- 2. Bugera Power Soak PS1 Attenuator, Grey
- 3. Tone King Iron Man II Mini Attenuator
- 4. Rivera RockCrusher Power Attenuator
- 5. Two Notes Audio Engineering Torpedo Reload Advanced Attenuator
1. KLD PAN AMPS PB-1 100 Watt Attenuator
The KLD Pan Amps PB-1 Attenuator is the best amp attenuator for those who want a sturdy and rather affordable premium power attenuator. We think the PB-1 is one of the better entry-level professional studio-quality attenuators you can buy for your money.
Of course, there are cheaper ones out there, but many of them are cheap knock-offs, fakes, or just can’t handle enough wattage.
With the PB-1, you can keep your amp’s tube tone while keeping the overall volume checked. This means you get to crank up your tubes while playing at lower volumes.
Additionally, We like how this power attenuator gives you a lot of control at various volumes. It also includes an aluminum alloy case, which actually helps the PB-1 dissipate heat as well as protect its circuitry.
This guitar attenuator is designed to handle tube amps up to 100 watts, so we wouldn’t recommend hooking it up to something more powerful. In terms of controls, there is the attenuation rotary switch which adjusts the level of attenuation.
The minimum position offers a true bypass. Then there’s the level knob, which well adjusts your amp’s output.
- Studio quality attenuator
- Aluminum alloy case
- Handles tube amps up to 100 watts
- Great value
2. Bugera Power Soak PS1 Attenuator, Grey
If you want a small and rather portable power attenuator, the Bugera Power Soak is the best guitar attenuator for you.
The stand-out features are that it is small enough to carry around easily and it features multiple ohms, which is a huge plus.
Expanding on this, the amp inputs are 4, 8, and 16 ohms making it more versatile than most attenuators on the market.
The Bugera features a continuous attenuation control knob and a line-level output with its own level control.
Overall, the Bugera Power Soak is a really good attenuator, which allows you to play your amp at a lower volume without sacrificing tone or feel. This is perfect for practicing at night and recording since it eliminates the need for a microphone. It also allows you to get the same feel and tone you get from your amp at a lower volume, which is a must for any guitarist.
Please note that you need to match your amp Ohms to the Attenuator Ohms, if not you’ll probably make the attenuator overheat and catch fire. Some people are not careful on this matter, and then complain it is not working properly or overheat.
When you have a big amp, then no problem but with smaller amps, the unit takes off too much volume.
- Passive 100-Watt Power Attenuator allows you to get the ultimate overdriven tone at any volume
- Emulated Mic Output mimics a microphone in front of a speaker cabinet
- Amp input multiple ohms – 4, 8, and 16 Ohms to match virtually any amplifier
- Lin level output with a control knob
- Line output with dedicated Level control
- 3-Year Warranty Program
3. Tone King Iron Man II Mini Attenuator
The Tone King Iron Man II Mini Attenuator is the best power attenuator if you want a unit that has a Tuned Reactive Load and Volume Compensation Circuitry and delivers extremely transparent attenuation all the way.
We believe that the power handling of 30 W RMS is quite good for the size of the attenuator.
It works by using a tuned network of complicated circuitry that will automatically adjust the overall EQ of your sound as the volume is lowered to fit the perceived frequency response of the human ear. So, you’ll get the nice sound out of your speakers.
The idea behind this advanced technology is that the ear will be more sensitive to certain frequency ranges depending on the volume level.
Besides this, the power attenuator is loaded with more useful features. The best of these is the built-in noise reduction to reduce the hiss and hum between notes.
It goes without saying that the impedance should be the same on your amp, power attenuator, and speaker cabinet. In this case, it is 8 Ohms.
- Power Handling: 30W R.M.S. Maximum
- Input Impedance: 8 Ohms only
- Speaker Impedance: 8 Ohms only
- Attenuation Levels: A total of 18 distinct attenuation levels are available
- Line Out: Recording / D.I. output
- Impedance = 10K Ohms
- Level = -10dbu
4. KLD NEW PB-1/ATP 100 Watt attenuator
If you have deep pockets, then you should definitely open them up for the KLD New PB-1. This is the latest generation of attenuators out there.
It is the best amp attenuator for those who want a studio-quality device with a high-watt capacity load box.
While it does seem outrageously pricy at first, if you actually break down the individual components, you will quickly realize that it is not so bad after all.
We like the fact that this amp attenuator is so versatile and can be used in any setting. You can use it in your home, at practice, in a studio, or to rock a club for both recording and performance.
Place it between your amp and cabinet and it becomes a power attenuator. You can also use it instead of your speak cabinet as a load box.
Furthermore, you can fine-tune your tone by adjusting the Ohms that cover the entire frequency spectrum. This also makes it the ultimate speaker emulator.
Finally, it has a world-class construction with silky chassis, industrial rugged edges, and nice red color. In other words, we wouldn’t be worried about breaking this unit.
- This is the brand new PB-1 Guitar Amp Attenuator from KLD.
- The PB1 attenuator maintains your amp’s tube tone at higher volumes where the tubes really start to sing and great dynamic responses are created.
- Works on all standard Ohm range you can find starting from 4 up to 10 ohms.
- Very simple but highly effective design.
- In-line from Speaker to Head.
- Can be used to up to 100 watts.
- All alloy case lets the PB attenuator dissipate heat very easily so you can still play when it is warm.
5. Two Notes Audio Engineering Torpedo Reload Advanced Attenuator
Audio engineering is the art of mixing, recording, and mastering sound. Recording audio requires a lot of time and dedication to perfect.
One of the most important tools in a recording studio is the attenuator, which is used to control levels of power for various inputs.
If you are looking for an attenuator that will provide you with great sound quality and versatility, then the Two Notes Audio Engineering Torpedo Reload Advanced Attenuator might be perfect for you.
The Torpedo Reload is designed to deliver the unmistakable sound of a classic tube amplifier, but with the increased versatility and convenience that only a power attenuator can provide. The Torpedo Reload’s patented design provides unmatched fidelity, even at extreme volume levels.
No other power attenuator provides this level of sonic detail and responsiveness without compromising headroom or tone.
- Handles up to 1500 RMS amps
- A choice of 4, 8, and 16 Ohms
- Active bypass circuit
Summary of why using the Best Amp Attenuator for optimized sound quality?
Any good amplifier can provide a sound good experience for a music listener. But when the amplifier is not optimized, it can cause performance issues. That’s why the best way to improve the sound of the amplifier is to use an amp attenuator.
An amp attenuator is a device that manages the power output from the amplifier. In other words, an amp attenuator can improve the sound quality of the amplified sounds. To be more precise, when you use such a device on your sound system, you’ll allow the amplifier to lead louder output with less distortion when it is turned up.
The good frequency response and the decrease in distortion are two of the key benefits of using an amp attenuator. And any attenuator device can be used in many different applications, like home stereo systems, professional sound systems, and car audio systems.