Digital vs. reactive loadbox opinions

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Backsnack, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Backsnack

    Backsnack Many strings

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    I'm looking into purchasing my first real-deal tube amp. It seems like in order to play something with 50-100 watts at home at reasonable volumes, that I'm going to need some sort of attenuator/loadbox to go with it. (So I can play without disturbing the wife, kids, and neighbors).

    I already have a modest PA/FRFR setup for amplifying a Chapman Stick, so the idea of something like a Torpedo Live is appealing if I get an amp that also has MIDI capability. I could change impulse responses/eqs with each channel on the fly with my MIDI controller and use it with the speakers I already have. And I wouldn't have the added expense of a cab.

    Alternatively, I could go the more traditional route with a 2x12 cab and get something like a Torpedo Reload as a transparent loadbox to keep things quiet.


    What are the tube amp folks using these days for attenuators?
     
  2. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    Suhr Reactive Load IR is the current top dog for reactive loadboxes. Alternatively the cheaper non-IR version if you have something to load IRs already. Torpedo stuff is good too.

    For attenuators the best one is the Fryette Power Station PS2. What makes it different is that it takes your amp's signal, drops it to line level like the Suhr and Torpedo do, then uses its own 50W tube amp to amplify it to your desired output. This gives you more gradual control than attenuators with limited notched attenuation settings - for example a common complaint about the UAD OX is that you might want a setting between two notches to get the right volume and amp sound. It also has a line-out you can hook up to an IR loader so you can get the benefits of the Torpedo/Suhr stuff and also use a real guitar speaker if you want. To top that off you can hook up a modeler into the line-in and amplify the full amp sim because the Fryette poweramp is very transparent. The drawback is that it's not as compact as most simpler attenuators and at around 7 kilos not that light. Pricewise it's between the Suhr and UAD OX.

    The upcoming Boss Waza Tube Amp Expander does all that and much much more but is about 50% more expensive than the Fryette.

    I think what you need to decide is if you are happy with the sound of cab simulations aka recorded cab sound or if you prefer the sound of a real guitar cab. They sound noticeably different.
     
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  3. bracky

    bracky Contributor

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    Two Notes Reload is similar to the PS2 in that it has its own internal SS power amp. But it’s 100 watts instead of 50. It’s an awesome device.

    I send the line level signal to a Mooer Radar or direct into my interface depending on what I’m doing.
     
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  4. Jeff

    Jeff Banned from Reality

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    The best way to look at it is a load box is all or nothing, in most cases. The Suhr RL IR is the best here right now. The Fryette PS2 has variable volume, and the reason why it's such a good attenuator is that it's not really an attenuator. It's a great reactive load coupled with a tube power amp reamping it. Your amp is 100% loaded down to line level when using it, and then amplified up again with teh internal amp. Fantastic design, something the new Boss Waza Tube Amp Expander does as well.
     
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  5. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Grab a 5150, skip the attenuator, have a blast :yesway:.
     
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  6. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire \[T]/

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    I'm a big proponent of the torpedo captor, since I'm in a similar boat (lots of loud amps and no way to crank em). I work weirdo hours and i have whiny neighbors so the captor is super useful. It's a loadbox/attenuator/DI/speaker sim, though I just use it for the loadbox functionality and run it straight into my interface with wall of sound (cab sim plugin that comes with it) and whatever IRs I like at the moment. It's a great tool for situations where you can't crank your amps or if you want a stupidly easy way to record an amp directly.
     
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  7. maggotspawn

    maggotspawn SS.org Regular

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    I have a Captor I run into a Hotone Binary Cab pedal. The Binary Can needs a small mixer to get the headphone output to a decent level. This setup works great for late night jamming.
     
  8. Backsnack

    Backsnack Many strings

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    For the folks running Captors: do you experience noticeable tonal changes since it's not a reactive load?
     
  9. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire \[T]/

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    nope
     
  10. Backsnack

    Backsnack Many strings

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    Good to know.

    The Captor is a rather affordable option compared to the reactive ones we've been discussing here.
     
  11. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire \[T]/

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    the built in speaker sim kind of sucks, but wall of sound more than makes up for it. There's a ton of options plus you can mix them or use your own IRs.
     
  12. crankyrayhanky

    crankyrayhanky SS.org Regular

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    TNLive is awesome. They recently updated to a 2 mic option which is way cool.
    I haven't tried the others
     
  13. c7spheres

    c7spheres SS.org Regular

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    The Sequis Motherload sounds reaaly nice. I have one and It's really good and sounding like the amp you're using. I run a Mesa preamp into a VHt 2-50-2 and load it with the Motherload. All I have to do on the Motherload is cut the bass about 2 hours and boost the treble about a half hour and it sounds exactly like my amp in my Audio Technica ATH-m50 headphones and it feels and responds like it too. That's with flat EQ too on my mixing board. I actually like the sound better than my actual cabs. you forget you're at low volumes sometime. It handels upto 100 watts too. There is no special IR stuff or anything however. It's a pretty basic but effective box. The load toroid in it is massive and never seems to get hot either. It's mono so stereo setups need 2 of them. By the way I'm using the rack mount PRo model which they don't make any more but the Elemental they currently make has the same toroid. When using with cabs as an attenuator it sounds good and you can go upto about 50% of your normal full volume. As with any passive attenuator though there is some feel lost, It's not a huge deal to me personally, but you can record like this and still get your full signal to the board while attenuating the cabs, or fully load it too. The cab you connect to it will matter for how good it responds while attenuating. Hope this is helpful.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 at 2:24 AM
  14. lemeker

    lemeker SS.org Slacker

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    One thing to keep in mind if you decide to get a Captor, is that they have fixed ohm values. If your amp is 8ohms you will need the 8 ohm version. For a simple solution at a reasonable price you almost can't beat them.
     
  15. bracky

    bracky Contributor

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    Torpedo Reload allows 4/8/16 ohm load. A bit pricier though.
     
  16. JesperX

    JesperX SS.org Regular

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    I find this statement confusing given that according to Two Notes, it’s the exact same reactive load found in the Torpedo Live and Reload, just with a stripped down feature set.

    Where is the idea that it’s not a reactive load coming from?
     
  17. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    It is a reactive load, though the impedence characteristics are only somewhat like that of an actual speaker cab.

    You can see some plots here

    http://www.masterplant.com/electronics/Z.pdf

    First plot is a speaker cab. Next are various reactive load boxes.

    People seem to like the Captor and OX so how much of a difference the exact shape of the impedence curve makes, I’m not sure. Probably depends greatly on the amp.

    Suhr is the most accurate according to plots.
     
  18. JesperX

    JesperX SS.org Regular

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    Very interesting. I suppose the discussion is splitting hairs over what qualifies as “reactive” since we’re dealing with various approximations.
    Would be curious to see if the Live and Reload match the Captor curves.

    I have a Captor, which sounds great, but now I’d like to try a Suhr to see if the differences are noticeable or just apparent on graphs.
     
  19. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I think Ola Englund did a video with his Torpedo vs a Suhr and they were very similar in sound with his amp (I think he was using his Randall Satan).

    When I was messing around with various resistive loads I found it’s pretty amp-dependent whether it sounds good or not. It seems amps with high amounts of negative feedback in the power amp don’t care as much about the impedence characteristics of the load - a resistive load sounded okay with this kind of amp.

    However with my Recto in modern mode (zero negative feedback) the amp is very sensitive to impedence changes and a resistive load, even in parallel with a speaker load, changes the sound greatly.
     
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  20. JesperX

    JesperX SS.org Regular

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    Ahh was not aware of that, interesting indeed. I’ve run the Captor with a 6505+ and a 5150 III 50w. Not familiar enough with the design of the power sections to know where they fall, but they both sounded great.
     

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