- Lets you really push the front end of your amp for great feel and tone
- Retain the tone of your amp’s sweet spot at lower levels
- Passive design doesn’t require any power
- Very affordable price
If you’re a guitar player, then you’ll already know the importance that an amp attenuator has within your set-up and why you should have one in your equipment inventory. If not, you’ll find amp attenuators in the form of a value or tube amp and will be positioned between your power source and the speaker component of your amp.
The main purpose of an attenuator is to convert the power running through your amp into heat, rather than the energy turning into sound. You may be wondering why you would do this in the first place.
In short, instead of having to turn your amp down in volume, which can result in a weaker overall sound, an attenuator allows you and your audience to enjoy the full power of your amp, without the risk of blowing your eardrums when you play. However, finding an attenuator to convert this energy is easier said than done.
Of course, your top priority is making sure the tones and sounds coming through your app stay at the highest quality you possibly can. You’ll also want to make sure that the attenuator you choose can handle the power of your amp, no matter what that may be. To resolve this problem, you’ll want an attenuator with the highest power rating, since using a low-rating attenuator on a high-powered amp will damage both pieces of equipment.
To help you narrow down your search, we’ve looked high and low of the very best attenuators out there, allowing you to find the best one for you easily. From all we found, we managed to filter them down to our top four, so let’s dive straight in!
Rivera RockCrusher Power Attenuator
To kickstart our list of favorite amp attenuators, we’ve chosen one of the best models that are popular with guitarists all over the world, regardless of their skill level or power requirements. Despite being towards the upper end of the price scale, this guarantees to be an attenuator you can rely on and will provide its power shaping services for many years to come.
What we love about this attenuator is the fact that you can use it as an attenuator, connecting it to your power source and amp, or alternatively, you can use it as a load box, instead of using your typical speaker cabinet, allowing you to send a balanced XLR (or an unbalanced 1/4” line) to another app you may be using. This type of connection even allows you to send your guitar output to a mixer, perfect for recording your sounds during a live performance.
With this attenuator, you’ll be able to enjoy an incredibly superior sound quality, and thanks to the outstanding impedance, you’ll be actively protecting the lifespan and durability of your tube amp. There’s even an integrated 8/16-ohm switch so you can accurately match your settings to that of your cabinet and amplifiers, ensuring the best quality and a no damage to any of your equipment.
Ideal for use during live performance or in a studio setting, you’ll also find a volume setting on the attenuator itself, allowing you to adjust the levels in which your sounds are being played, which means you can find the perfect settings for any playing environment.
With Rivera’s standard bulletproof construction, industrial grade components and heavy-duty design, this promises to be an attenuator you can use for anything for many years to come.
- Extremely high-quality and durable build
- Customizable settings for live or studio use
- Ohm switch for perfect power settings
- Outstanding sound quality
- Premium price range
- Large model may not fit into a case or existing studio setup
Weber MicroMass Attenuator
While the model above is ideal for professional guitarists and players who are looking for the very best product they can find, the price range may too expensive for some players, especially if you’re just looking for an attenuator you can use at home. This is where the Weber MicroMass Attenuator comes into play.
Coming in at the lower end of the price bracket, the MicroMass is ideal for hobbyists or professional players who are looking for something small and manageable that still provides the outstanding features they’re looking for. With a 15-watt rating, this model is compatible with most small to mid-range amps and with 8-ohm impedance, it’s also highly compatible with the majority of 4,8 or even 16-ohm amplifiers.
On the front of the build, you’ll find two unique power control dials, the first of which controls your mid to bass range frequencies whereas the second controls the mid to treble range. This is an awesome feature that allows you to have full control over the sound that you’re producing, giving you the opportunity to find that perfect setting for your own style of play.
In fact, thanks to the patented MAS bypass feature that comes with this model, you can continuously adjust your attenuation from zero, all the way to over -50dB, once again giving you complete control over your sound, power and volume setting, which is truly outstanding for attenuation of this size.
- Patented MASS bypass switch
- Dedicated level controls
- 8-ohm build
- Affordable price range
- Wattage may not be high enough for some guitar players
- Learning curve when using frequency dials
Two Tones Torpedo Reload Reactive-Active Attenuator
One look at the title of this model and you can already tell that this attenuator has been designed with complete power control in mind. While being the most expensive attenuator on this list, you can play safe in the knowledge that this is quite possibly the only attenuator you’re ever going to need again.
Two Tones is easily one of the most recognizable brands and attenuator companies in the industry, so if you’re looking for a reliable and trustworthy model that is built to last, as well as being packed with all the features you could ever ask for, there’s no need to turn your attention anywhere else.
Of course, with the Torpedo, you’ll be able to choose between 4, 8, and 16-ohm impedances and enjoy full compatibility with all amplifiers up to an incredible 150-watts. This means you can be sure your tone will remain consistent and plays to the highest quality possible. Additionally, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of the patented RE-ACT technology, which means you can protect your amplifier from damage, regardless of what you’re putting it through.
At the bottom of the front panel, you’ll find an extensive selection of dials that will allow you to have full control of your sound. On the far right, you have the Contour setting, which can be adjusted from 0 dB of attenuation to total silencing. There are even the REPLAY ports, allowing you to record while performing, or even play your guitar sounds directly into your preferred DAW platform.
Across the box, you’ll find a selection of LED meters which allow you to monitor your tone and attenuation settings, as well as allowing you to visualize match the impedance and input settings, all, so you have the optimal setup effortlessly.
- 150-watt compatibility
- Contour, Replay, and RE-ACT technology built-in
- A range of LED meters for easy matching and level monitoring
- Flawless sound quality, no matter your settings
- Premium price tag
- Could have too many settings for casual users
Electro-Harmonix Nano Signal Pad Passive Attenuator
Finally, to conclude our list of the best attenuators out there, we’ve chosen this lightweight, passive attenuator that can find into your pocket and is ideal for taking out and about with you, wherever you may be performing.
What’s special about this model is the fact that you can process either a single channel amp (most common) or even use it as an input for two channel setups, giving you full control over your sound. With a 100% passive signal path, this means you can also play safe in the knowledge that the quality of your guitar sounds is protected and maintain quality from start to finish.
On the front of the model, you’ll find a controllable volume setting for effortless changes, which can also be used to adjust the gain of the tones you’re producing. With a True Bypass feature and the option to choose between being battery-powered or mains powered, thanks to the integrated cable input, although this is one of the most affordable attenuators out there, you still get the control and quality that you deserve.
- Incredibly affordable model
- True Bypass filter
- 100% passive for optimal sound quality
- Adjustable volume and gain setting
- Not as fully-featured as other models
- May interfere if using effects pedals
- Can produce background noise on some guitars
As you can see, when it comes to finding an attenuator that suits your requirements, there’s a ton of options out there so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to check your amp for the wattage and then think about all the settings you might need, which will come together to ensure you’re making the right purchasing decision the first time around.
Last update on 2020-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API