“Guitar player, turn down!” Those words are heard so regularly because tube amps sound best when the power stage is pushed, often resulting in a louder volume than a venue or gig permits. That’s where an attenuator comes in: Placed between the speaker output of a combo or head and the speaker, it lowers or “attenuates” the volume—ideally without affecting the tone of the amp.
Recycled Sound’s Power Plug 100 ($199 direct) is suitable for taming amps of up to 100 watts. The small notched knob on the left offers 2db increments of attenuation from none (bypass) to -10dB. At -10dB, the large knob takes over for continuous “bedroom level” control, up to -30dB.
I tested it with an Orange Tiny Terror 15-watt head and a Little Walter 50-watt head through a custom cabinet with one 12” Eminence speaker. Each 2dB increment of the left knob revealed a distinctly audible volume drop, with virtually no tone loss. With the right knob between full on (-10dB) and about halfway counter-clockwise (approximately -20dB) the sound of both amps remained nearly identical to bypass. Once past noon, the amps started getting more compressed and distorted, but without any of the fizz that can accompany intensive attenuation. Regardless of the volume drop, both amps reacted to the guitar volume knob by cleaning up quickly— just as if they were going full blast. The Power Plug 100 will ingratiate you with soundmen and club owners everywhere without compromising your tone, and for that reason alone it’s worthy of an Editors’ Pick Award.
KUDOS Allows wide ranging control over your amp volume, without sacrificing sound.