A common problem with many great sounding valve amps is that they don’t begin to sound great until the volume reaches a certain level – and often that level is approaching ear-bleed level. It is certainly a problem in these days of noise restrictions and many venues requiring a level of restraint from live bands.
Enter the “power attenuator”, which is inserted between the amp’s output and the speakers. These devices allow the user to turn up an amp to utilise its harmonically rich output stage while reducing the signal sent to the speakers.
The guitarist can dial in the desired tone and attitude from an amp, and if it is then too loud, to simply insert the attenuator to “tame” the overall volume without compromising the actual tone and character of the amp.
Many Marshall owners have utilised a good attenuator to achieve a big sound that didn’t kill people. The big amps could be turned up, allowed to reach full bloom, and then dialled down in overall volume without affecting the actual tone.
The Altair PW-5 was acknowledged as one of the very best attenuators when they hit the market in the 1980s. And they still are.
This unit is in excellent almost new condition. It was used regularly for the described purpose back in the day, but has not had much use in recent years. But it certainly does the job.
INPUT – Impedance
From 3.9 to 8 Ohms with a 4 Ohm load
From 5 to 8 Ohms with a 8 Ohm load
From 6 to 8 Ohms with a 16 Ohm load
Maximum recommended amplifier power 300 watts into 4 Ohms; 150 watts into 8 Ohms
Max current 15 A Peak voltage 100 V
The PW-5 may be used with any amplifier with an output impedance of 8ohms or less.
Built in USA to military grade standards, this is a well made piece of sonic hardware designed to do one specific thing – which it does very well.
Even comes in its original cardboard box !