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Is using a THD Hot Plate Attenuator worth it?


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I'm thinking about getting a THD Hot Plate Attenuator or one of several brands on the market for my Marshall DSL50 watt head. I have read a few reviews of this unit and other brands where the reviewer says that even though they work, its not much different than turning up your gain and simply lowering the volume on your amp. Does anyone own an attenuator and what are your thoughts on them? ALSO I am aware of a few brands on the market which include THD, Weber, the ultimate attenuator and the tubejuice attenuator. Any thoughts on the comparisons?

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Yeah it does help but the tone is never the same unless you're really cranking the amp unfortunately. I've used my 8 ohm hotplate on a few amps but most of my experience is with the 5150 and Carvin Legacy which both sound best at ridiculously loud levels.

 

I'm happy I own one because it lets me monitor the amp at less than ear splitting volume when recording direct. Also, the amp does sound better in my opinion with the Hot Plate than with the overall amp volume turned down. Is it worth the cash to you? Not sure.

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Yes your amp has a MV. Amps were originally intended to "cleanly" reamplify the guitar signal. They didn't have a master volume. The volume knob was more like today's "gain" knob. However as guitarist started turning it up the preamp tubes and power tubes begin to distort. Players liked the sound but on a 100 watt amp it was stupid loud. So someone had the idea of putting a volume between the preamp and power amp. You could get preamp distortion at a much lower volume. However the power amp wasn't being pushed. So it didn't sound the same. So you can use an attenuator to push your power amp and not be stupid loud. The next problem you run into is whether or not you want speaker distortion. As far as I know there's not a way to get that at low volume aside from really low watt speakers or a blown one maybe. lol

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I've never played a DSL50 so I don't know how good the MV is. I do know the MV on my JCM800 and Jubille pretty much sound like crap at anything below 5.

 

So assuming you are trading off something somewhere, I'd assume attenuating a cranked MV Marshall (within reason, you aint getting it to bedroom volumes) is better then turning down the MV and it sounding all fizzy.

 

The DSL's MV could be really good though. I don't know.

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I am aware of a few brands on the market which include THD, Weber, the ultimate attenuator and the tubejuice attenuator. Any thoughts on the comparisons?

 

At one point I had a 25 watt Weber Mass that I used with an 18 watt Marshall clone. The Mass has a speaker motor in it that is supposed to help with the tone + they have tone controls on them.

 

The THD only had 4db steps of attenuation and it can't go near as far as the Weber. They are also cab OHM specific which sucks. They also cost like 300 bucks, which again, sucks.

 

The Ulimate Attenuator is expensive as hell. Never actually tried one.

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I have a hot plate and have used it with a budda sd30 and a mark v. I prefered the sound of the amps master volume at low levels better than the sound using the hot plate.

 

I do use the hotplate as a load box for silent recording though (hot plate line out into my daw).

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I've owned and gigged with a Hot Plate for over 6 years now. Used it on several amps, and will continute to use one as an essential part of using a tube amp.

 

People are full of shit when they whine and complain that it kills the tone, etc. I don't run a tube amp greater than 40W without a Hot Plate. It enables you to dial the amp to it's sweet spot and bring it down to a reasonable stage volume. Stage volume...yes it is important. I get so sick of internet guitarist having such strong opinoins and never actually playing gigs.

 

Does the tone change at high levels of attenuation? Yes. But it still sounds better than only using the master volume.

 

A good friend of mine uses a Weber attenuator on his DSL50. He loves it.

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I agree with the previous two posters. Most of the amps I've used it with have benefited however the key with the Hotplate is not to attenuate too much - i.e. don't expect to dime a 50 watt tube amp and use the Hotplate to bring the volume down to bedroom level. Attenuation above -12dB will kill your tone. It excels at moderate attenuation and allows you to run your amp harder to get better tone - to a point.

 

Now, I just picked up the Ultimate Attenuator and thus far my opinion of it concurs with others I've read - it is much better at attenuating down to bedroom levels however the Hotplate is probably a bit better in the "moderate" attenuation zone of -4 to -12 dB.

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