First Impressions: Fryette Power Station PS-100

My new Tweed Deluxe amp is a bit of a dream come true. Being a vintage amp circuit, it’s also a bit too loud for regular use at home. If I’m going to enjoy it, I need a way to turn it down.

My tool of choice for the job? Fryette’s Power Station PS-100. Why did I pick this over the considerable competition? And does it actually do the job? Read on for my research notes and First Impressions.

What Did You Buy?

I bought a Fryette Power Station PS-100 attenuator / amp re-amper. I bought it new from GuitarGuitar.

The PS-100 is a load box / attenuator / amp re-amper. It sits between a guitar amp and the speaker cab. It reduces the signal from your amp down to line level, lets you route the signal out to an effects loop, and then amplifies the signal to whatever volume you want before sending it to your speaker cab.

It’s the bigger brother of the Fryette Power Stations PS-2A.

Why Did You Buy It?

My new Fender 57 Custom Deluxe is a little too loud for regular use at home. If I’m going to enjoy it, I need a way to bring down the overall volume. It would also be nice to be able to add reverb and delay too. The Tweed Deluxe doesn’t have an effects loop at all. The PS-100 does.

I knew that the Tweed Deluxe amp was going to be loud, but I didn’t appreciate how loud until I brought it home. That’s something I couldn’t learn from YouTube research beforehand, partly because most of the folks making videos about Tweed Deluxe amplifiers aren’t playing an actual Fender stock 5e3 circuit amp.

This ended up being a bit of an emergency purchase.

Don’t You Already Have A Two Notes Captor Attenuator?

Yes, I do. And yes, I’ve been using it with the Tweed Deluxe.

Problem is, it only offers a single reduction setting of -20db. While that helps, I could really do with being able to reduce the volume just a little bit more.

I did look at the Captor X, but it only offers two settings of -20db and (I believe) -38db, which is going to be too quiet.

Why Didn’t You Get A Universal Audio OX Box Instead?

Believe me, it was tempting, especially as the OX Box includes a 1×12 Tweed Deluxe cab model. If I was going to use the Tweed Deluxe only for silent recording, I probably would have gone with the OX Box instead. I bet UAD’s 1×12 cab model sounds fantastic.

But right now, I want to enjoy the amp through its own speaker and cabinet, and that doesn’t seem to be the OX Box’s strength. Reading around, I kept finding posts from OX Box owners stating that the more attenuation you apply, the worse the tone out to the speaker cab sounds.

Also, UAD don’t seem to publish the values for the OX Box’s attenuator’s fixed position. That made it impossible for me to work out whether I’d get the volume I want or not.

It also helped me realise: what I really wanted was a device that (effectively) acted as an external master volume control for my Tweed Deluxe amp.

Why Didn’t You Get A Boss Waza Tube Amp Expander?

I almost did. On paper, it ticked all the boxes.

What put me off was that I just couldn’t find any folks online who were advocating for it. The Fryette Power Station seems to have a loyal user base. Where are the Tube Amp Expander loyal users? I’m sure they’re out there, but our paths didn’t cross during my research.

And then I came across Henning’s video, where he seemed to be saying that the Power Station’s attenuator sounded better than Boss’s.

Why Didn’t You Get A Tone King Ironman 2 Mini?

When I started looking for an attenuator, this was my first choice. When Andrew over at AStrings asked me what I was going to get, I told him I was going to get one of these.

As an attenuator, it has a stellar reputation. I had no trouble finding people who prefer the Ironman 2 Mini over the Power Station (and no trouble finding people who prefer the Power Station over the Ironman 2 Mini!)

There were three reasons why I ended up ordering the Power Station instead:

  1. The Ironman 2 Mini has fixed attenuation steps. Thanks to its built-in amp, the Power Station just has a normal volume knob. I can dial in the exact volume I want, for whatever amp I use with it.
  2. The Power Station has an effects loop. I can add delay and reverb to my Tweed Deluxe!!!
  3. No-one has the Ironman 2 Mini in stock right now.

If the Ironman 2 Mini had been in stock, I probably would have bought one, and never done the research that led me to buying the PS-100.

Why Did You Pick The PS-100 Over The PS-2A?

As Andrew said to me, “buy right, buy once.”

The PS-2A and the PS-100 are almost identical. As I understand it, the main differences are:

  • The PS-2A includes a 50W power amp, while the PS-100 includes a 100W power amp. (Not important to me; I’m turning my amps down, not amplifying them for use on a large stage.)
  • The PS-100’s effects loop can be switched on and off via a foot switch. (Not important to me either, tbh.)
  • The PS-100 has two power amp channels, while the PS-2A only has one channel.

It’s the last one that convinced me to spend the (considerable) extra on the PS-100.

Regular readers will know that I like being able to compare things side-by-side. With the PS-100, I can take advantage of the two power amp channels to help me compare two different amps at a time.

You can only plug one amp at a time into the PS-100, so I’ve still got to power amps down and physically switch cables when I switch amps, but at least I don’t have to try and remember where the Power Station’s power amp controls was set for each of my amps.

It’ll speed up my workflow. More importantly, it might help prevent accidentally blowing up one of my speakers when I’m doing one of these comparisons. I reckon that’s worth the extra money.

That said, it’s a feature that I’m only going to use if I’m comparing two amps that both need attenuation. How often am I actually going to do that, I wonder?

It’s Heavy

The PS-100 is not a lightweight bit of kit. It’s definitely got some heft to it.

It Has A Fan That’s Always On

I knew this, and given my previous experience with another piece of Fryette-designed kit (the Synergy 50/50 power amp, which has a very obtrusive fan), I was a bit nervous about it.

So far, the fan on the PS-100 hasn’t been a problem at all.

In a quiet room, the fan noise is definitely noticeable at first. Thankfully, it’s not a tiny high-pitched fan, which is very welcome. I’d say its about as loud as the hum from an idle amp into my speaker cabs.

Once I’m playing, I don’t notice the fan noise at all. I wish the fan in the Synergy power amp was as quiet as this. I’d probably use it a lot more!

It Doesn’t Sit Well On Top Of My Amps

It’s a little too deep to sit on top of any of my amp heads (they’re small, 20W heads), and the feet aren’t tall enough to clear the carry handles on any of my 1×12 combo amps.

I’d recommend making sure you’ve got a shelf or some other flat surface for this to live on, if you decide to get one yourself.

The Attenuator Switches Make A Big Difference To The Sound

One of the things that sets the Power Station apart is that you have some control over how the attenuator changes the tone of the signal. There are two switches for this. One controls low-end, and the other controls the top-end of the signal. This allows you to adjust the signal to compensate for the way that we hear differently at different volume levels (often referred to as the Fletcher-Munson Curve).

The attenuator sounds perfectly fine with both switches in their ‘flat’ settings; similar to how the amp sounded when I used the Two Notes Captor.

Flip both to their middle settings, and suddenly the amp comes alive. That’s the only way that I can think to describe it. The mid-range is tamed, that solid tweedy low-mids emerges, and there’s a lot more definition to each note.

I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate to how the amp sounds unattenuated, to be honest, but it is a very pleasing sound to the ear, and (at home tone levels) definitely helps the amp sound much more like the famous tweed tone that I bought it for.

Very Different Tone At Hi/Lo Attenuation Levels

There’s a ‘Hi/Lo’ switch on the front, which controls how much attenuation the PS-100 applies to the incoming amp signal. The manual is clear: use the ‘Hi’ setting for fire-breathing monster amps, and the ‘Lo’ setting for much more modest amps.

My new Tweed Deluxe sounds far better on the ‘Lo’ setting than on the ‘Hi’ setting, I found. There’s more going on than just how much attenuation happens. The two settings appear to have different tone curves too.

That Volume Control Was Worth The Price Of Entry

It’s impossible for me to over-state this. I absolutely love being able to dial in the exact volume that I want. On the new Tweed Deluxe amp, it’s an feature that I just can’t imagine doing without now.

I’m really looking forward to gunning the Marshall Origin and DSL 20HR through this too soon, to hear what difference it makes.

Accurate? No Idea. But It Sounds Good

So far, I’ve only run the new Tweed Deluxe through the PS-100. That’s an amp that I don’t know very well yet (partly because it’s too loud to use at home without an attenuator).

I have no idea whether or not the PS-100 is accurately reproducing the sound of my amp. The best advice I can offer is this video by professional musician (and one of the world’s premier product demonstrators) Pete Thorn, where he does share his opinion on the subject.

Accurate or not, I think my Tweed Deluxe is sounding really good at the volume that I want at home.

Final Thoughts

Is this totally overkill for a home hobbyist? Yes and no.

If you prefer to run overdrive pedals into clean amps (like the Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 or Marshall DSL 20HR), then the Fryette Power Station is definitely overkill for a home hobbyist. For playing at home, those amps sound perfectly fine either on their own, or taking advantage of the Two Notes Captor’s fixed -20db attenuation. A Captor can be had for less than £200 at the time of writing.

If you want to get your overdrive sound from a valve amp (like the Marshall Origin or a plexi-style amp), then the amp has to be cranked to get the best tones. The same goes for getting the best tone out of more expensive pedal platform amps (as demonstrated by That Pedal Show every week.) And some amps (like my Tweed Deluxe) are always loud.

For us home hobbyists, the Fryette Power Station is a great option if you want to hear those cranked amps through your speaker cabs at home-friendly volumes. There’s no compromise: I can enjoy my amp without having to run it through a full silent recording setup + my DAW and my studio monitors.

I can also add delay and reverb through the Power Station’s effects loop, and enjoy those amps far more than playing them completely dry.

Do you need the model I got – the more expensive PS-100 – though? Probably not. The PS-2A model is several hundred pounds cheaper, and you probably don’t need the three extra features that the PS-100 provides. I’m only planning to use one of those features, and I have real doubt that I’ll use the feature regularly enough to justify having the more expensive unit.

The PS-100 is overkill for home hobbyists. Just get the PS-2A instead, and save yourself quite a bit of money.

While the Power Station can be used for silent recording, a Two Notes Captor + CAB M (or a Captor X) is more than good enough.

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