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  1. #1

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    Has anyone experience with the Universal Audio Ox Attenuator? I watched several YouTube videos of people using it including, recently, John Scofield. It sounds terrific, looks great, likely the best in its class, but definitely not a cheap thing. So I am considering whether it is worth the investment. I would primarily use it at home for playing (not too loud) and recording. I assume more people here own one, or have considered to get one. I would appreciate to hear their thoughts. Thanks.

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  3. #2

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    I have never tried it, or it's price point competitors. But I was involved in a long thread about it (and them) over on The Gear Page. The consensus was that there are better units for actual attenuation (the Suhr Reactive Load and the Fryette Power Station), however the Ox does other things, and for recording it's the best. So basically, if you're buying a unit for attenuation only, there are better ones, but the other features make the Ox more versatile.

    After looking into all 3, I decided if I wanted an attenuator again (for home use- being able to crank up an amp then bring it back down to reasonable volumes), I would purchase the Fryette PS-2.

  4. #3
    I have used my Ox Box for years now and absolutely adore it! I agree, it really shines for recording: the modeled speakers and mics (including room) are above and beyond the best I’ve worked with (vs. IRs). I used it extensively on a recent album project in the studio, tracking along with band using headphones, giving me an isolated signal that didn’t bleed into the room mics for the brass, drums, etc.

    The attenuation does the job nicely, and I use it at home for practice. I love that I can crank the amp and listen silently with headphones running through an excellent channel strip (compression, EQ) including an amazing plate emulation.

    Only wish is that it had more speaker cab emulations of some modern speakers with open back cab (my Princeton with 10” Weber still sounds best!). What’s in there is great, tho”.

  5. #4

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    My favorite attenuator is the Tone King Iron Man II, the full size one. It stays the most true to the full on amp that I’ve tried. It doesn’t give you an IR loader, but does have its own good cab emulation and you can still use the line out to record using other IRs.

    A plus for me is that it’s one of the only one that does impedance matching. It’s switchable to allow you to mix and 4, 8, and 16 ohm amps and cabs in any combination.

  6. #5

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    For me personally an attenuator is of no use since a) I don't own a high-powered tube amp anymore, b) if I need overdrive I use outboard gear. The UA unit seems to be the thing to have at the moment, it's practically ubiquitous - IMHO totally overpriced and way too specialized + even redundant for homerecording where the common software choices all have excellent solutions on offer. I can see it's place in a well equipped pro-level studio where people come in with all kinds of different ideas about how their guitar should sound and having a dedicated attenuator/loadbox/IR host on the shelf that is as popular as this one obviously is then it makes some more sense too. I'm happy with my Sennheiser E906 in front of the amp where I've found the sweet spot and for tracks that are mixed into the background I use my Helix and/or whatever modeling the software has on tap.

  7. #6

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    I cannot add anything to the comments on this piece of equipment, but would add this:

    I have done a few gigs for the folks at Universal Audio (Pre-Covid private events for the staff). They are very nice people who support live music in their own community (They are here in Santa Cruz County). And the fact that they hire a jazz combo for their events shows that they have great taste!

    OK, Carry on.....

  8. #7

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    It looks nice. It costs a lot.

    I am interested in this French thing, which costs a lot less. But some say passive attenuators are not good for amps, and my amp is precious, so I am in a quandary.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    I cannot add anything to the comments on this piece of equipment, but would add this:

    I have done a few gigs for the folks at Universal Audio (Pre-Covid private events for the staff). They are very nice people who support live music in their own community (They are here in Santa Cruz County). And the fact that they hire a jazz combo for their events shows that they have great taste!

    OK, Carry on.....
    And they make great rack gear, I have a pair of 1176 reissues and they are fantastic!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    It looks nice. It costs a lot.

    I am interested in this French thing, which costs a lot less. But some say passive attenuators are not good for amps, and my amp is precious, so I am in a quandary.
    What exactly do you want to achieve by attenuating your amp ? When you want to drive the power tubes into saturation then you can also use a simple isolation box to keep the volume down.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    What exactly do you want to achieve by attenuating your amp ? When you want to drive the power tubes into saturation then you can also use a simple isolation box to keep the volume down.
    A "simple" isolation box? I guess if "simple" means a microphone in the box, being re-amped into another speaker at a lower volume.... (psst... this is kind of what the OX and the others do....)

    Some amps sound best at certain volumes. Those volumes may not be conducive to the environment they are played in. Something like an attenuator can go a long way to getting that tone (say a Princeton Reverb turned up to 5) at a volume more "reasonable" to those in the household (say like a PR at 2.5-3).

    Attenuators of course do not take into consideration speaker breakup, that's a whole 'nuther thing. But they do work quite well, when used conservatively. Nothing works well if you want to take a 100W Marshall Plexi on 10 and play it at a volume that allows people to still watch TV on the next floor.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    What exactly do you want to achieve by attenuating your amp ? When you want to drive the power tubes into saturation then you can also use a simple isolation box to keep the volume down.
    I want the gain without the volume. I want to turn up the Master volume without deafening the neighbours.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    I want the gain without the volume. I want to turn up the Master volume without deafening the neighbours.
    An attenuator or re-amper will do that, without any speaker breakup that might occur in a particular amp at a certain volume.

  14. #13
    Many thanks for all your comments. These clarify to me why I may not need to invest in the Ox (now...). Gitman, which amp are you using for recording?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    A "simple" isolation box? I guess if "simple" means a microphone in the box, being re-amped into another speaker at a lower volume.... (psst... this is kind of what the OX and the others do....)

    Some amps sound best at certain volumes. Those volumes may not be conducive to the environment they are played in. Something like an attenuator can go a long way to getting that tone (say a Princeton Reverb turned up to 5) at a volume more "reasonable" to those in the household (say like a PR at 2.5-3).

    Attenuators of course do not take into consideration speaker breakup, that's a whole 'nuther thing. But they do work quite well, when used conservatively. Nothing works well if you want to take a 100W Marshall Plexi on 10 and play it at a volume that allows people to still watch TV on the next floor.
    I've built my first loadbox around 1983 when I found a vintage VOX AC 50 amp in a paper ad - soldered together a string of capacitors, hooked them up to a heatsink etc. and was able to enjoy that amp at moderate levels. It didn't blow up ....so I know what an attenuator does (and does NOT), how it works etc. Fast forward 15 years : I bought a THD Hotplate and used that with a HIWATT 50 watt amp head, despite the master volume on the amp. Glorious sounds, HEAVY stuff, still reasonable prices in all.
    My biggest "peeve" with that UA thingy is the outrageous price- € 1250,- !!!!! It sure does a lot of things including modeled microphones, IR's etc but for that kind of money I could also find a used 5-watt Carr, Tone King, Victoria etc. mini amp or better yet, build a 5E3 amp from a kit and save a bundle. Same with an ISO box, you can build one for € 150 including a quality speaker. I personally don't bother with that most of time when I record stuff - the models in my app are great, my Helix is an alternative and in a final mix I couldn't tell the difference anyways...

  16. #15

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    I certainly agree with the crazy price of many of these units, especially if you are ONLY using their attenuation feature. I have a Weber Mini-Mass that does the job quite nicely on my lower-wattage amps (Supro Tremoverb 22W and Princeton Reverb, 15W). They are STILL a compromise, but if you're only knocking the volume down a little, it works very well, and is very reasonably priced.

    https://www.tedweber.com/minimass/