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Harley Benton PA-250 Power Attenuator

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Harley Benton PA-250 Power Attenuator (resistive) and load box for guitar tube-amps, play your tube-amp at high output level for optimal performance but at reduced volume, can be used as dummy load, useful tool for rehearsal, live performance and direct recording without compromising the original character and feel of the amplifier, 6 steps of power reduction, “Fine” adjustment control for the -15dB option, input wattage up to 250 watts, LED with overload function, onboard silent fan cooling, 8/16 Ohms option, speaker out, line output with adjustable level control, low impedance XLR DI out. Works without power supply, but the aux power option can be used in order to make the fan and light run stable, regardless of the power from the amp. Dimensions 235 x 178 x 88 mm, weight 2,67 kg

Impedance 8, 16
Noise Supression No
DI Interface No
Speaker Simulation Yes
Dummy Load (usable without cabinet) Yes
available since November 2021
Item number 510412
$139
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10 Sales Rank
ZR
Brings a 100W Amplifier to bedroom levels with little loss in tone.
Zak Rahman 20.11.2021
In a nutshell:

I am extremely happy with the PA-250 and recommend it based on the details provided below:

This unit was suggested to me by the Thomann staff. I needed something because I was sick of looking at my favourite amp and not being able to use it to record or play. I don't do gigs much anymore.

For reference, here is the gear I used:
I have a Marshall JCM2000 DSL100 head. I have recently biased it and changed the power tubes to JJs. This goes into a 4x12 1960B cabinet with greenbacks. I use a Jackson soloist with Duncan Seymour JBs and Hot Rail passive pickups. I sometimes use a tube screamer. Not much of a pedal guy. For microphones, I use a SM57 and e906 combo to record my cabinet.

POSITIVE:

I have never been able to crank my amplifier above 3.5. Even when I did gigs with it at large venues, it is an insanely loud amplifier. It's a Marshall; more balls than brains. I cranked the poweramp and turned on the attenuator. I had to use the highest settings of attenuation, but it really brings it down to what I would call 'loud conversation level'. I could still have a conversation while playing.

The load box functionality and line out work very well too. I can now record a cranked JCM2000 at 2AM in the morning and everyone around me can sleep peacefully. This is a huge factor for me.

Regarding how it affects tone, in my opinion it does suck a bit of the highs away. So all I did was adjust my amp's EQ slightly and the problem was solved. I recorded the attenuated cabinet and was extremely pleased with the results. The recordings still had that 'oomf' that you get from recording a cabinet. But the volume was loud conversation level. The cranked poweramp section afforded great tones.

I tried layering the miced cab with the line out recordings (and IR-loading cabinet plugin). Once I factored in phase, the results were monstrous. I think I may prefer this to just recording the cabinet. I got a rich and powerful tone that needed very little in the way of EQ. Obviously, results here will vary wildly depending on the skill of the recording engineer.

The unit gets warm, but in my experience not hot. This is great. The fan is audible but not annoying and not loud at all. When you're recording the noise of the fan is a none-issue. If you need total silence to record something else, then you probably shouldn't have your amplifier on in the first place.

NEGATIVE:

The unit requires a power supply and this is not provided. I didn't know I needed this and was only able to have it working out of the box because I have spares. I don't think it's good enough that this detail is omitted. I have deducted a star from features for this reason. The documentation is extremely basic - but accurate. It can be relied on.

CONCLUSION:

This unit has increased my quality of work and has enabled me to do something I thought was impossible. This has given me a ton of freedom and a lot of confidence.

A bedroom player would not be able to use this very late at night if they wanted to play through the cab. But during the day and evening, it's probably fine - just check your local laws and your family/neighbours' situation. This does lead me to think that the PA-250 would be great for attenuating an amp for smaller venues in case you are a gigging musician.

I am extremely happy with this product and recommend it based on the details provided within the review.
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Cheap and...
DoctorBlue 27.11.2021
I tested the attenuator with two different amps (Marshall JMP and ENGL E650), through the same cab (Marshall 4x12).

Pros:
- it's built well, looks solid;
- it can support amps with higher power;
- it has a fan (but I don't think it is really necessary, during my test, the attenuator remained cool);
- it has a selectable impendance 8/16 ohms and a line out;
- it can go to zero.
Now, the cons:
- it drastically modifies the response of the amp - the punch is gone;
- you have to compensate with the eq of the amp;
- it robs any amp of its harmonics.

I had to return it. I also have another attenuator, which I borrowed from a friend. I won't say the name of the brand here. But it costs 6 times as much. That attenuator really makes a difference. If you care about your sound and how it feels when you are playing it, you have to look elsewhere. If you are on a budget, you can be happy with this Harley Benton. I really think this company has made big steps and improves constantly.
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H
Licht und Schatten
Haber 08.11.2021
Dem Gewicht und der Grösse dieser Loadbox nach zu urteilen, sollte sie den angedachten Load problemlos aufnehmen. Macht alles einen sehr soliden Eindruck. Mit 149€ preislich zwischen der PA-100 (67€) und einem Torpedo Captor (219€) positioniert.
Eigentlich ist mir die PA-250 zu gross, schwer, unhandlich und auch ein stückweit überdimensioniert für meine Amps.
Und die CabSim auf dem XLR Out klingt einfach furchtbar, bedeckt , verwaschen und dünn.
Das Lineout-Signal hingegen ist ‚dry‘, und kann mit einer CabSim (wie bspw Nux Solid Studio, der neuen HB Microstomp CabSim, 2Notes CAB-M oder andere) problemlos weiterverarbeitet werden. Schöner wäre jedoch gewesen, die Funktionalität einer HB Microstomp CabSim wäre gleich mit eingebaut…
Mal eben Kopfhörer anschliessen geht also nicht.
Dafür benötigt es dann leider noch Extra-Equipment.

Warum ich die Loadbox PA-250 wohl dennoch behalten werde:
- obwohl (m)ein Torpedo Captor deutlich besser klingt, kleiner, leichter und simpler zu handhaben ist, aber eben nur über eine fest eingestellte 20db Reduktionsstufe verfügt, kann bei der HB PA-250 die gewünschte Attenuation quasi stufenlos geregelt werden
- alle Loadbox Funktionen können auch ohne LED-Anzeige geschaltet werden, dh das Gerät arbeitet zur Not offenbar auch vollständig passiv
- das DI-Signal wird im Gegensatz zur kleinen PA-100 VOR der Reduktion abgenommen, so dass die Lautstärke an LineOut und XLR gleichbleibend und unabhängig vom Attenuationsgrad des Boxensignals bereitgestellt wird. Dies ist insofern eine wesentliche Verbesserung ggü der kleinen Schwester PA-100.
Mit diesem Feature eignet sich die PA-250 für den flexiblen Einsatz im Studio, Proben oder Auftritten, da sich die Lautstärke der betriebenen Box nunmehr unabhängig von der Lautstärke des DI-Signals einstellen lässt.
Alles in allem ein solides Produkt.
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o
Just briefly used, but sounds & works great so far!
one51 17.11.2021
I've purchased this to quiet down my fantastic-sounding HiWatt DR103 clone (100W of serious tube power) with an active bass guitar. Up to now I've only used the attenuation and not line-out or XLR-out. It does a great job, there might be some muted tone elements at higher attenuation but I didn't have an issue so far. If there were some loss of highs it could be compensated by dialing up treble/presence.

When I cranked up the DR103 into power stage distortion before, things were falling off the shelves in my basement. It wasn't usable that way; only preamp distortion with Master Vol on 0.1/10. Now, I can listen with everything maxxxxxxxed, at a very reasonable volume (note the max attenuation is still not "zero" and my wife could faintly hear it upstairs). If using a power supply, the fan will spin up and it spins faster when more power is applied from the amp. If one were using it as a power soak only (no speaker) & line-out, there would be a bit of fan noise, but then most likely one isn't recording with a mic at the same time. I am curious about the 250W Max rating -- it gets rather warm with a 100W Continuous amp (even with fan), so I wonder if it's sufficient for e.g. a 200W Continuous tube amp. I guess future reviews with larger amps will tell ;-).

Overall I was very skeptical based on the price, but I was assured it's got some reactive load components (not only resistive). It really gets a way better sound out of my amp at reasonable volumes than I did with just preamp distortion. Would be excellent for gigs as well, if playing somewhere not-so-huge that needs lower volumes. So far it's shockingly good for this price.
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