|Aracom Power Rox PRX150-Pro Attenuator
Summary: This is hands-down the best attenuator on the market! I’ve played a lot of attenuators, and no other has been able to retain tone and dynamics at high attenuation levels as the Power Rox!
Pros: The Power Rox isn’t just an attenuator. It packs extra features that’ll just blow you away, making a it versatile part of your stage or studio rig!
Price: $649 direct
Tone Bone Score: 5.0. Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps never ceases to amaze me with the stuff he comes up with! This time, it’s an attenuator invention that blows away the competition in safety and tone and dynamics with its patent-pending Speaker Reactance Thru (SRT) technology, plus extra features that make it unmatched in versatility and usability.
I’ll admit it: As much of gear nut that I am, I’m also a huge techno-geek. I dig new technologies and the engineering behind them; and when someone comes up with some new approach to something, with completely awesome engineering, it’s hard to control my GAS. I just have to have it.
I recently took delivery of a brand new attenuator invented by Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps, called the Power Rox PRX150-Pro. This, by far, is the best attenuator I have ever used, and will be a fixture in my rig for years to come. That’s right. This will always be in my chain. But not just because of its ability to transparently attenuate an amp signal. This attenuator has features that no other attenuator has such as two speaker outs, and a Line Out that you can use to go direct into a DAW, or even another amp! Talk about versatility. Not only that, because you can match impedance in both the input AND the output, combined with Jeff’s patent-pending Speaker Reactance Thru (SRT) technology, you can squelch down the power of your amp and not worry about ever blowing our your tubes and ruining your amp. The SRT technology just kicks ass!
Talking the Talk AND Walking the Walk: Speaker Reactance Thru Technology
Jeff is a very humble man, so he’d never say anything like this, but I’m not nearly as humble, so I will say it: There’s not a better attenuator than the PRX150-Pro. Even if Jeff didn’t include all the extra features you get with the Power Rox, this attenuator simply kicks the shit out of all the attenuators I’ve ever tried – and I’ve tested several, including the Ultimate Attenuator that seems to be the most popular attenuator; and with respect to safety, tone and dynamics, all others simply pale by comparison.
Where other manufacturers make bold claims (read: brag) about their attenuators’ transparency, not only can Jeff Aragaki make the claim (in his quiet and humble way), he backs it up with detailed discussions of his SRT technology and the engineering behind it and what makes it so transparent. Jeff’s SRT technology is absolutely incredible. At any level of attenuation, the Power Rox retains your tone and dynamics. This is because instead of just dealing with amp power reduction through a series of resistors or a dummy load, which also have the added effect of flattening out the impedance curve and changing tone, the SRT technology ensures that reactance between the amp is maintained throughout the entire spectrum of attenuation; hence, the name “Speaker Reactance Thru.” This means that the impedance curve is kept intact so that the continuity of reactance between the speaker and the amp are maintained. Jeff discusses this in a detailed article about the advantages of the PRX150-Pro.
Let’s talk a bit about safety…
As I mentioned, the PRX150-Pro will not burn out your amp. You can crank your amp up all the way, getting that wonderful power tube drive, and not worry about your amp blowing a tube, or worse yet, frying some circuits from flyback voltage. We’ve all heard the horror stories about people using attenuators, cranking their amps, and blowing power tubes. A lot of this has to do with impedance mismatching. Some manufacturers have added options to match impedance from one direction, but the Power Rox has impedance matching in both the input and output jacks! But the point of this is that with impedance matching on both sides, you don’t have to deal with any type of mismatch. That is very comforting to know.
I’ve actually been playing with the Power Rox for the last couple of months regularly before it hit the shelves, and to date, I haven’t had any power tube problems. And we’re talking running my amps down to less than a watt for a few hours straight. I could never do that even with my Dr. Z, which is one of the more safe products out there. I’ve burned out power tubes using my Dr. Z by cranking power too much. It’s not pretty, and I’ve been lucky so far that only my tubes got burned out. It could’ve been a lot worse.
This ain’t yer Daddy’s Buick…
When Jeff first spoke to me about the Power Rox, I thought, “Okay, it’s another attenuator. I’m sure it’ll be great considering what a whiz Jeff is…” But when he delivered the unit, I couldn’t believe what he had added! I was already impressed that it had both input and output impedance matching. That was simply awesome. But he added some awesome features that I was not at all prepared for:
- Bypass Switch – This is a mechanical bypass that completely bypasses the attenuation circuit.
- Line Out – This one thing is just so cool! I used it to go both direct into my DAW, and also used it to re-amp into my Hot Rod Deluxe! Talk about versatility! For a test, I ran a cable to my 1 X 12 cab, then ran another cable to my Hot Rod. I could’ve easily just run direct into my Hot Rod without going out to another speaker as well, but you can see how useful this is. I could get my amp’s tone and combine it with the Hot Rod’s tone. So cool!
- Two Speaker Outs – This is yet another cool thing. You have multiple cabs that you want to drive with a single amp? This makes it easy.
- Input AND Output Impedance Matching – No other attenuator matches impedance in both input and output, but the Power Rox has it. It’s all part of the package to ensure continuous reactance between the amp and the speaker.
So as you can see, the added features make this oh so much more than just an attenuator, and it’s a testament to Jeff’s creativity!
The proof is in the pudding…
Unfortunately, doing sound clips of an attenuator’s effect is fruitless, because it is difficult to hear the changes, and moreover, it is difficult to describe the change in dynamics on a recording. However, the Power Rox was tested side-by-side to a number of popular attenuators, and even at low levels of attenuation, compared to Power Rox, all the other attenuators had an effect on tone and dynamics. To date, several people have performed head-to-head comparisons between different attenuators and the Power Rox, and they all come to the same conclusion: The Power Rox is truly transparent; not just the most transparent of the lot, but truly transparent. To me, this box sets the standard by which all others must be measured now.
I used my own transparency test procedure to compare attenuators, but Jeff has also provided a very detailed, and in-depth transparency test that you can view on his site.
I know, I must sound like a twitterpated schoolgirl with how I’m raving about this product, but for the very first time, I’ve been able to record my amps fully cranked without pissing off my family and neighbors, and more importantly, without having to worry that I’m going to blow a tube. Even with my Dr. Z, I’ve had to settle with less drive on my recordings for fear of burning out my amps. But with the Power Rox, I can crank my amps and get that wonderful power tube drive! And even better yet: I can trust that my tone and dynamics will not change, no matter the volume!