Short-Term Review: The Fryette Power Station PS-100

Last summer, I bought a Fryette Power Station PS-100 as an emergency purchase, so that I could use my Tweed Deluxe at home volume levels.

Nine months later, how am I getting on with it? Would I buy it again if anything happened to it? And would I recommend it to you? Read on to find out.

What Is The Fryette Power Station PS-100?

The Fryette Power Station PS-100 is a reactive attenuator with a built-in all-tube power amp.

Unlike, say, a Two Notes Torpedo Captor, the PS-100 attenuates your amp down to line level (or there abouts), and you then use the built-in power amp to amplify the signal to a volume that suits your needs.

It also features a line-in, which can be used to add tubey goodness to your Helix or Kemper. And there’s also an effects loop, which is very useful for more than just adding reverb and delay to a cranked amp (as I’ll discuss shortly).

It comes in two models: the single-channel PS-2 (with a 50 watt amplifier), and the two-channel PS-100 (with a 100 watt amplifier). Both models feature the exact same reactive attenuator circuit (as far as I know).

Why Did You Choose The PS-100 Over The PS-2?

I went with the PS-100 because I wanted two separate channels. At the time, I was often swapping between different amps, and I thought that having two channels would make that easier.

You can only plug one amp at a time into the Fryette, which does limit how useful this feature is. But at least you can keep different settings for each amp that you’re using, which does make A/B comparisons less hassle.

Would You Choose The PS-100 Over The PS-2 Again?

Yes, I think I would. I’m very happy with it, and I can’t think of any reason why I would choose the PS-2, other than to save a bit of money.

How Is The PS-100 As An Attenuator?

It depends on the amp.

  • With my Tweed Deluxe (which is what I bought it for), it’s dark and bassy. I have to run it with the Presence cranked and the Depth dialled way down, along with the attenuator in Edge mode. Even then, it needs a little bit of extra help in the effects loop, which I’ll talk about shortly.
  • With my Marshall Origin, it’s spot on. I’m running Presence and Depth at 12 o’clock, with the attenuator in both Brite and Warm mode.

What I really appreciate about the PS-100 is its variable volume. Both of these amps are too loud to run through the Two Notes Captor’s fixed -20db of attenuation – at least for home use. With the PS-100, I can dial in the exact volume that I want. I can’t say enough good things about that.

Best of all, it feels really good to play through. This is completely subjective, I appreciate. It’s especially noticeable with my Origin (because I’ve used that through the Two Notes Captor for years). I think that the amp sounds better and feels better to play when it’s through the Fryette.

Do You Use The Effects Loop Regularly?

Hell yes. For me, it’s a killer feature, for two reasons: one you might expect, and one that you might not.

My Tweed Deluxe isn’t a very clean amp. I dial in settings that the Internet insists should produce a clean tone, and it’s already rocking out.

Delay and reverb into the front of this amp is just not for me, and I only play it dry if I’m trying to record the amp. (When I’m recording, I prefer to add effects in post.) Thanks to the effects loop, I can run both of my Neunaber Slate pedals after the Tweed Deluxe has done it’s wonderful drive thing, and the result has me grinning every single time.

That’s not the only thing I use the effects loop for.

Through the PS-100, the Tweed Deluxe is a bit too bass-heavy, and the amp itself lacks the EQ controls needed to dial that out. And, it has to be said, so does the Fryette. To get around this, I’m running an MXR 10-band eq pedal in the PS-100’s loop, and using that to tame the excessive low-end.

I can’t emphasise enough how important that is to me. Without an EQ in the effects loop, my beloved Tweed Deluxe would probably be usable.

How Annoying Is The Fan?

The PS-100 has active cooling. It has an always-on fan.

Fortunately, it’s not the 80’s PC high-pitched squealer that Fryette put into the Synergy SYN-5050 power amp. As a home hobbyist with a spare bedroom that’s been converted into a little home studio, I can’t over-state how much I hate, loathe, and detest the fan in the SYN-5050.

The fan in the PS-100 is much larger, and sounds more like one of those home cooling tower fans that you can get from your local DIY store. It’s noticeable in the room, sure, but it’s not high-pitched, so it doesn’t cause noticeable ear fatigue. And once I start playing guitar, I can’t hear the fan at all, even when playing at home volumes.

By the time I got the PS-100, our heat waves for 2021 had pretty much been and gone. I’ve no idea if this fan ramps up in warm weather, like the SYN-5050 does. That said, the SYN-5050 happily ramps up even in winter, so 🤷‍♂️

Obviously, I’d prefer passive cooling, but the fan in the PS-100 isn’t a deal-breaker at all.

If You Had A Time Machine, Would You Buy The PS-100 Again?

Yes, and no. Let me try and explain.

Most of the time, I’m playing at home through real speaker cabs. That’s what the PS-100 is great for. I can plug in, power on, and just play. There’s an immediacy about this kind of setup that a silent rig just doesn’t match.

Increasingly, though, I want to record my amps, and this is where the PS-100 doesn’t help me. Universal Audio’s OX Box would be the better choice for that. That said, that would have forced me down the silent rig route (where what you hear is the sound out of your DAW).

Now, what I can do with the PS-100 (and probably will do) is mic up my cabs. Impulse Responses (IRs for short) are convenient, but:

  1. even the official Celestion IRs don’t sound like my cabs, and
  2. IRs are increasingly “mix-ready”, which isn’t the sound I’m chasing.

When I’m talking about pedals, I want to capture what they sound like here in the room (within the limits of microphone technology and my own audio engineering skills or lack thereof!).

If I was focused only on making music, then the OX Box would probably have been the better choice.

Final Thoughts

The PS-100 was an emergency purchase. I only bought it because my Two Notes Captor couldn’t attenuate my Tweed Deluxe amp enough. Talk about a happy accident!

It’s right up there as one of the most important purchases I made in 2021. And 2021 was a very good year for me, gear-wise.

Thanks to the PS-100, I’m able to thoroughly enjoy my Tweed Deluxe at home. That amp was a bucket list item, and I would have been gutted if I hadn’t been able to use it. That alone makes it an essential piece of gear for me.

And then I’ve had the added bonus of being able to enjoy existing amps – especially my Marshall Origin – in a way that I’ve not been able to before. Seriously: when I run the Origin through the PS-100, I’m getting sounds out of that amp that I’ve never had before. I can truly crank the amp itself for the first time, and then use the PS-100’s variable volume to make it work at home volume levels.

Do I wish the PS-100 had additional EQ controls, so that it works better with my Tweed Deluxe? Yes. But, thanks to the effects loop, it’s not a show-stopper. I can patch in equipment I already own to help out. That’s good enough for me.

Should you buy one to use at home? Only if you use real speaker cabs like I do. This is what the PS-100 is for. And I’m really happy with it, for that role.

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