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Small Tube Amp / Attenuator / or Iridium
Old 22nd July 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
Small Tube Amp / Attenuator / or Iridium

Howdy yall

Spent some time perusing threads on here in regards to the best electric guitar tones at low volumes and have yet to find the answers I'm looking for.

I moved into an apartment recently and put the spare room to use as a little studio space. I'm trying to figure out the best way to get nice guitar tones at a lower volume. Luckily I have somewhat noisy neighbors so the threshold isnt TOO low but I would say a nice ballpark level would be that similar to a loudly strummed acoustic guitar.

Playing a Highway One Stratocaster. I already own a 65' Deluxe Reverb RI which has been my trusty amp for years when I lived in a house with no noise constraints. So my options are:

1. Amp Attenuator for the Deluxe. Same trusty amp but at a lower volume. Although I've read that the speaker not working as hard will impact the sound significantly and for the price I could buy...

2. A small tube amp like the Vox AC4. Tubes and speaker get to work a little harder without shaking the walls. So far this is my top contender because it would be nice to have a different palette of tones but what I really need is something clean that can handle a couple pedals well.

3. Strymon Iridium. As a practice amp it seems stellar but ultimately I want to be tracking final guitar sounds and part of me doesn't like that I'd be using the exact same sounds as everyone else who has an Iridium (to a certain degree.) Especially the room sounds where I feel like you would be able to spot them as an avid Iridium user. Whereas having an amp with my mic positioning and room and all that would produce something more unique to me. On the pros though, the Iridium would suit any recording environment I find myself in and could also use it on electric piano, synth, and samples which is a big plus.

And the last thing is I do have access to a few spaces where I can record full volume amps but I do just want to be able to mess around at home as well without having to fret about always having to reamp. Hoping for low volume keeper takes.

So would love to hear what yall think based on your experiences. I appreciate any and all input on this!
Old 22nd July 2020
  #2

Well, I have an AC4mini, an iridium, and I have an attenuator in the tweed delux I built.

for sub 80dB work, the iridium is the most flexible. The AC4 is nice, but it never really cleans up - always a bit of drive.

Attenuators, unless you get a really elaborate, expensive one, definitely change the tone significantly. Even those ones I won't pay for do get some complaints....





-tINY

Old 22nd July 2020
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

There’s high praise for the Suhr reactive load into IR software, which isn’t particularly expensive. There’s also the Suhr IR RL. Gearpage will go into opinions on this stuff for days.
Old 23rd July 2020
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Janne19691's Avatar
Attenuators all change the tone. The more you have to attenuate the more you change the tone. I have gone through a couple of them and currently have one of the more expensive passive ones that sure is the best so far but still changes the tone.
Old 23rd July 2020
  #5
Here for the gear
Thanks for all the insight. I guess attenuator is off the table then.

I have never considered using the preamp in my Deluxe and sending it into a speaker sim. Anybody have experience with the Palmer PDI 03 ? There's one for sale locally and could be another option to consider.

The Iridium is seeming more and more like the best option though as far as all around usefulness.
Old 23rd July 2020
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

There may be some tone changes, but they’re fantastic tools in my opinion.
Old 24th July 2020
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
Attenuators all change the tone. The more you have to attenuate the more you change the tone. I have gone through a couple of them and currently have one of the more expensive passive ones that sure is the best so far but still changes the tone.
Attenuators will change the tone at higher settings, mainly because the speaker is not getting the required level. You can use a smaller speaker to compensate. If you are using IRs it doesn't matter - still sounds like a fancy DI. Get a 1x12 smaller wattage speaker which can be driven at low levels and the sound will be the same.
Old 24th July 2020
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sports_poem View Post
Thanks for all the insight. I guess attenuator is off the table then.

I have never considered using the preamp in my Deluxe and sending it into a speaker sim. Anybody have experience with the Palmer PDI 03 ? There's one for sale locally and could be another option to consider.

The Iridium is seeming more and more like the best option though as far as all around usefulness.
PDI-03 is old hat. Man of the new Attenuators are MUCH better (and cheaper). Iridium is just another sim (cut down Helix). I had one here for abit and gave it back. Clients refused to use it.
Old 24th July 2020
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri Kogan View Post
Attenuators will change the tone at higher settings, mainly because the speaker is not getting the required level. You can use a smaller speaker to compensate. If you are using IRs it doesn't matter - still sounds like a fancy DI. Get a 1x12 smaller wattage speaker which can be driven at low levels and the sound will be the same.
I disagree here. I use my 100w amps with an Ox all the time. It is far different (and more enjoyable) than playing my champ, and I can do it with headphones.
Old 24th July 2020
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Listen to Pete Thorn’s demos of the Suhr RL and Ox or Big Hairy Guitars attenuator shootout on youtube.
Old 24th July 2020
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmfreeland View Post
I disagree here. I use my 100w amps with an Ox all the time. It is far different (and more enjoyable) than playing my champ, and I can do it with headphones.
What you are saying you use OX signal direct to converters? This is a very different sound to a speaker and a mic(s)/pres.
Champ is a tiny practice amp. You cannot compare it to a 100W head. However you can run your 100W-> OX -> small speaker and get the benefit of a full 100W power amp into a small speaker you can overdrive. Not a 4x12 but will be better then the IR
Old 24th July 2020
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmfreeland View Post
Listen to Pete Thorn’s demos of the Suhr RL and Ox or Big Hairy Guitars attenuator shootout on youtube.
I own an OX, 2Notes (several), a Suhr, THD, SPL (tone-hammer), Koch, Weber and a few old attenuators. And have experimented plenty.
Old 25th July 2020
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

I was just disagreeing that it sounds like a fancy DI. I do agree that there a mic'ed cabinet sounds better than any attenuator yet, but its a 10%-15% thing to my ears. I don't think it's a given at all that an attenuated signal through a 1x12 will sound better than a well configured 4x12 IR.
Old 4th August 2020
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Ir's and attenuators will more noticeably change the perceived tone because the volume is not exciting the room resonances the same. That's just a fact of physics and not necessarily a fault of the devices. Some are better than others.
Old 4th August 2020
  #15
It all changes the tone. You have to find the compromise that works well for you. I really don’t like IR’s. I would rather the subtle changes of an attenuator.I use the Weber mass 200. Is there a change? Sure. But it still sounds great. You still have to push some air though for it to sound good. I don’t find attenuators sound good at whisper volume.

I aLao use a Victoria 510 tweed champ. It’s great. I can get cleans out of it. It breaks up easily. Small amps don’t sound like big amps. Depends about how you feel about the low end girth and tightness. I wrote an article about the 518 on Anatomy of Guitar Tone. There are some audio examples too. For certain things a small amp mis perfect.

I still choose a real amp over a sim or IR. I like to be able to move the mic and like yiu I would rather a unique room. The OX is great if you just want missionary position amp miking.
Old 4th August 2020
  #16
Lives for gear
 

My apartment years are fortunately beyond me, but based on the volume I could get away with, and how much volume I would want to tolerate as a neighbor...I think a load box + cab sim + headphones with your existing Deluxe is the way to go. I am a fan and owner of the Two Notes Torpedo Live and Cab M +.

I don’t think the Vox amp you suggest will be quiet enough.

It sure would be frustrating to buy a new amp and or attenuator and still have unhappy neighbors.

I used to have an iso cab to record with and I thought that was still too loud and didn’t sound good so I sold it.


I record all of my final guitar sounds at home, and direct, because even in my house I don’t have a practical way to mic up my amp...the Cab M+ I’ve been running just direct out of my pedal board (no amp at all). I’ve never had anyone come back and complain about the sounds I was getting.

Just my two cents though.
Old 4th August 2020
  #17
Gear Head
I would check out the Ironman II attenuator by Tone King. (High end boutique amp brand.) It’s the only attenuator that I know of that adjusts the EQ curve for each attenuation step to make up for the -whatever that effect is called that changes perceived bass response as volume changes-. It’s built into their newer amps and it’s the best attenuator I’ve heard, hands down.

Comes in a pedal format too. I think I want one for my AC15.

Another option would be sell your ‘65 RI and get the Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb. Newest all digital recreation but looks just like the original, sounds like the best blackface deluxe you’ve ever heard, has 6 attenuation modes (I play it in an apartment with no complaints), and also has an XLR out with either a 57 or 121 IR. XLR output sounds great.

OH and you can run the amp silently but just use the XLR out and play through headphones in your DAW. Great for late night cranking and the quality is actually great.

I fuggin love the thing and there’s been a number of other great pros on here who love it, too.
Old 5th August 2020
  #18
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

I have a 5w valve head with emulated DI out. It is fine for practice into my X-Desk.
It sounds much better through the matching 12” cab.

I record through the cab.

Embrace the limitations in the convenience/tone argument and use the appropriate tool when necessary.
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