Many players will lump this box into the “output attenuator” category, but the Power Station is really grounded in Fryette’s reputation for building bold, transparent tube power amplifiers. Put it all together, and this thing performs a lot of tricks. Connect the speaker out from your tube amp of choice to the Power Station’s Amp In jack, and it hits a reactive load that will handle up to 150 watts, tapping it off to a line-level signal that feeds the unit’s own dual-6L6 power amp. The result lets you crank your master amp to achieve fully saturated output-tube tone, then either reduce the overall level at the Power Station’s Volume control, or boost the level to the PS’s maximum 50 watts. Do the former to rein in a loud amp in smaller club or studio situations; do the latter to add headroom or bigamp punching power to your sweet-sounding low-watt tube amp. Along with all this, the Power Station provides a handy post-output-stage effects loop (great for adding effects to amps that lack a loop, or for setting up a wet/dry rig), a Line In to use it as a power amp for guitar preamps or amp-modeling units, and a Line Out for direct recording or mic-less sound support. In short, the Power Station does a lot, and should prove an extremely flexible performance tool to countless guitarists as a result.
How does it sound? For all of the above applications, I found it superb. I hooked up a tweed Fender Pro, a Komet Aero 33, and a little single-ended DIY 4-watter, among others—all to a range of cabs—and the Power Station not only sounded better at cutting the bigger amps’ full-bore output than any of the quality attenuators I have on hand here, it added outstanding performance flexibility to the rig, as well. On average (although it varied with master amp and gain settings), I found unity gain between master amp and Power Station output at around nine o’clock on the PS’s Volume control. That doesn’t leave a lot of travel on the volume-reduction side of the dial, but enough to achieve whisper volume. I was immediately impressed with how accurately the Power Station’s output represented the master amp’s natural tone, and if at extreme reductions it wasn’t dead on, the Presence and Depth controls and the EQ switches made it a breeze to dial things in pretty darn close—while providing powerful tone-crafting at higher volumes, too.
The effects loop worked beautifully (what a boon that is!), and the unit proved a great host to my Line 6 POD HD, too, making that kidney bean instantly giggable. The only thing I’d like to see is the inclusion of a separate “bypass” switch, rather than having the Standby automatically route the Amp In to the Speaker Out when in standby mode. That small point aside, the Power Station is a versatile performance aid, and a deserving recipient of an Editors’ Pick Award.
PRICE $599 street
CONTROLS Volume, Presence, Depth; mini toggles for Flat/Brite/Edge and Flat/Warm/Deep.
POWER 50 watts
TUBES One 12AX7 phase inverter, two 6L6 output tubes
EXTRAS Amp In jack with 4/8/16Ω switch. Dual Speaker Outs with 4/8/16Ω switch. Line In/Out jacks. Effects loop w/Hi/Lo level switch. Ground Lift switch.
WEIGHT 15 lbs
KUDOS An extremely clever and useful product. Retains the tone of your master amp well, while offering superb flexibility.
CONCERNS Would like to see a “bypass” switch that’s separate from the Standby switch.