The Woodshed

Attenuator question


So if I'm recording using the line out on my amp, will using an attenuator affect that signal? Want to turn the amp up and have a very quuet/silent speaker. No headphone output on amp. No line out on attenuator. Thanks


I have used both a weber mass and a swart night light attenuator. In both cases they sit between the speaker and the amp. I am having a hard time imagining how they would affect a separate line out signal from the amp. Everything I have written may not apply at all to any amp with built in attenuation.


There is some interaction between the amplifier and speaker.

There are resistive attenuators and reactive attenuators. The reactive attenuators try to mimic what a speaker does. The Weber Mass uses a speaker driver, others use coils and capacitors.

In the line-out signal a speaker is going to take away some of the highs compared to a purely resistive load as it has more impedance at higher frequencies.

I think the speaker also adds a reflection, like an echo, to the line-out signal, as it generates a signal when it moves back to center.

The more attenuation, the more noticeable it will be.

Practically, a resistive attenuator sounds spiky, gnarly.


Hey Vince. The line out is either fixed or variable. Doesn't make a difference if an attenuator is between power amp and speaker. So you should be able to check without and simply see if the line out level changes when using the amp's volume control. I just doubt that the sound will improve significantly at higher volumes. But it's definitely worth a try. Keep us updated!


Many thanks technical folk! I tried it and was able to virtually leave the preamp gain on my zoom r16 recorder off. And I was able to turn the amp up to around 8. So it had the desired effect of being able to turn the amp up and record level down (as opposed to the other way round) Was it better? Not sure, conveniently quiet though


It depends on where the line output is connected in your amp. Some come off the preamp, some off the speaker output. More info needed...or, you could just try it & listen!


Thanks, I wanted to try the idea for two reasons.... Recording at home so needed to avoid the volume, plus I always felt all things considered, the the guitar recorded a little harsh and thin. OK, but thought the higher settings may provide more body.


Hey Vince. I’ve used a number of different reactive load attenuators. The better ones can get you quite close to your amp’s sound through the speaker when the settings are right. As Billy mentioned above it would be good to know about the line out of the amp. It may not be replicating the sound you’re getting out of your amp well at all. I had a Mesa Boogie Mark V:35 which had a built in attenuator with a line out and cabinet simulation as well. It did a pretty nice job of getting you reasonably close to the sound coming out of the cab. If you really want to step things up a bit, get yourself a Two Notes Captor X. They are fantastic and a dream to record with. They don’t have all the features found in the Ox or the Boss Waza (which I also have presently), BUT, they are newer, much smaller and could easily fit in a gig bag or your pedal case. They are about 1/2 the cost of the OX and Waza. I love mine and will be selling the Waza soon.


Many thanks. I'm using a fender vibro champ xd, I like it a lot and for me, it's beat a lot of the competition in the 5w home record options. I like the line out, just wanted to get the most out of the amp by turning it up without bugging family in next room.

Not that interested in another attenuator or recording from one or micking up a 5w amp at low volume

As to where the line out sits in the chain of things, how would I tell? Just judging by ear really. Probably best hey.


If this is the schematic, that line-out is before the power amp.

You could probably add a switch to ground the input to the power amp section, and use the line-out for headphones.


If this is the schematic, that line-out is before the power amp.

You could probably add a switch to ground the input to the power amp section, and use the line-out for headphones.

– hammerhands

Thanks for that. Not sure how it affects things though, is it a good idea or not to use a line out turned up full whilst heavily attenuation? I've no interest in the quality of the speaker sound this way, it's just for recording


Were you running the amp with the speaker that hard?


Were you running the amp with the speaker that hard?

– hammerhands

Wel yes, it's a 5w amp and a lot of folks like to play amps of that size loud. It was recording OK at lower volumes but it was only on in lock down working in next room.


Oddly I couldn't find any info on this on Google either. I can't think that it's THAT far out an idea.

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