The Suhr Reactive load I.R.
The Suhr Reactive Load I.R. is a great product with several fantastic uses. As a load box, it can allow you to use your tube amplifier without a speaker connected. This means you can play silently through headphones or record without a cab. A reactive load means that the impedance fluctuates with the amp as you play and is not static. That means the amp still acts natural and dynamically. The I.R. part of the formula stands for “Impulse Response”. An Impulse response is basically a model of a speaker using different mics and in different enclosures. These “models” are really captured reflections that act as filters for the sound coming out of the amp. This means they are incredibly convincing. In fact, many, many pros use I.R.s for recording and live playing. There are thousands upon thousands of I.R.’s available and the Reactive Load I.R. will accept 3rd parts I.R.s with no problem, at all. Think about it like this: You have access to cabinets mic’ed by crazy great mics and through crazy preamps, both of which most of us will never have access to. Pretty cool. As an added feature, there is an aux in you can plug into and a headphone jack. For me that means I can plug in my phone, play the music I am practicing, and hear it all through my headphones in the wee hours of the evening and still get the tone I love and know. Also, I can take the outputs to run an I.R. to my DAW, a direct (no I.R.) line to my DAW (for reamping), and still run a through signal to my cab to mic it up if I choose to. As an added bonus, it works great live to for a silent stage or to just send I.R. to the house and use my cab for stage sound. This is a really cool piece of gear with a bunch of uses.
THE IRON MAN II and IRON MAN MINI ATTENUATORS
OK! If you know us here at Righteous, you know that we are not fans of typical amplifier attenuators. They usually “feel” weird and sound “sizzly”. Both are a major drawback when you love you amp but need it to just be a little quieter. Now normally, I would say a variac is a great solution, but it’s not for everyone. If you have questions about variacs, please feel free to reach out. There is a TON of misinformation on these neat little tools, so be not afraid. Back to attenuators! We finally found one that we all like! The Iron man series features something we just talked about: A reactive load. When you use a real guitar speaker, its impedance fluctuates with the power section of the amp creating a beautiful, symbiotic relationship of glorious feel and tone. With a typical attenuator you get a fixed resistive load. This means no fluctuation on the attenuator’s part. The amp still flexes but has no partner to join in the fun. The result is a less “real” feeling amplifier. On top of that most attenuators just don’t sound good. They get fuzzy and sputtery sounding to me. The Iron man has both concerns addressed and in a really musical and useable way. With its reactive load, it feels great. And the unit sounds great too! This attenuator can go from full bore to bedroom (literally causing Jeff and I to laugh at how low it can actually go) and sound like the amp you love. There are 2 options to fit your amp power. The Iron Man can go up to 100 Watts and the Mini can go to 30-ish (although I have been ensured that it can handle around 40). They both also offer a footswitchable “solo” boost. They have a spot for a 9v adapter, but it is only there to power the “solo” led, so they can be completely passive when needed. These are a great solution and sounds fantastic.