Yes, you can use an amplifier more powerful than the attenuator/rated power of a Torpedo product. With a Torpedo Studio or Reload, you can use an amplifier rated for more than 150W. With a Torpedo Live, Captor X or Captor, you can use an amplifier rated for more than 100W. But please remember “you just have to keep the output volume of the amp low enough so not to damage the attenuator”.

The Torpedo products with a build in attenuator are rated for a specific power (measured in Watts). This means that the internal load box can dissipate up to this amount of power (assuming proper ventilation). A Torpedo Captor X for example can dissipate anything between 0 and 100 Watts.

If more power is fed into the Torpedo, it will overheat, and go into overheating protection. You will be warned about this, by means of a visual indication, a volume drop, and/or a mute of the sound, depending on the Torpedo product. So, in order to prevent the Torpedo to go into overheating protection, you have to fed it no more than its rated power.

How to do this safely

Every amplifier is rated for a certain amount of Watts. This means that the amplifier is capable of outputting “this” much power. However, this does not mean that the amplifier actually outputs “this” much power in any situation: a 150 Watts amplifier does not output 150 Watts as soon as it is turned on. The output power is related to the actual output volume of the amplifier, which is dependant on many things (amount of distortion, EQ, output level of the guitar…), but is mostly controlled by the Volume or Master Volume control. So if you keep the output volume of any amplifier low enough, no matter how powerful it is, you can make it output less than any chosen amount of power.

Of course, it is almost impossible to know what the actual output power of your amplifier is in any particular situation. In particular, please note that the power output is in no way proportional to the Volume control: when the Volume is set to 50% (12 o’clockish), the output power is never half the rated power of the amplifier! It can be 10%, 90%, or even already the maximum power. So, if your amplifier is rated for more than what your Torpedo is rated for, you still can use it, you just have to play it low enough. For this, you will have to use your best judgement.

Guidelines

  • Some tube amps, mostly vintage (or from vintage inspiration) ones, can output more power than advertised. This is because power rating used to, and sometimes still is, given when the amp is played approximately clean. But when played distorted, the amp can output more power. In this case, the actual power output can usually go up to 1.5x the rated power. For example, it is not uncommon to see a 100W vintage non-master volume and/or single channel tube amp outputting up to 150W when cranked up to max. As a general rule, if the amp has 4 output tubes (typically 4 6L6 or 4 EL34), it can probably output more than 100W when played distorted at high volume. You should keep that in mind when playing them on a 100W load box/attenuator, like the Torpedo Live, Captor X or Captor.

  • A 120W amplifier is not that much more powerful than a 100W amplifier. These 20 extra Watts are likely to be there only if you play the amp loud. At moderate settings, it will probably output less than 100W. However, the point just above still applies. In short, you are probably safe using a 120W amp with any Torpedo product/attenuator rated for 100W or more, but keep these limitations in mind and proceed with caution.

  • Very powerful amps can still be used with Torpedo products, but care should be taken when using them. Here at our offices, we’ve been using a 500W bass amplifier for years on all our Torpedo products with an attenuator without any problems, so it’s not impossible. We just, as already stated, keep its level way down.

  • Generally speaking, a good starting point is to keep all the settings of your amp just like when you are using it on an actual speaker cabinet.

  • And if you have any doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the manufacturer of your amp about its actual output power in your particular situation.

When using your amplifier with a Torpedo product for the first time, monitor both the amplifier and the Torpedo. Does the amplifier sound OK? Do the output tubes of your amplifier heat more than usual? Do they turn red? Is the air flowing out of the Torpedo really hot? If anything seems wrong, lower the volume of your amplifier. If everything seems OK, you can go on.

On an adjacent topic, please refer to the user manual of the various Torpedo products for notes on what the ideal output volume is for your amplifier (regardless of its rated power). Playing an amplifier as loud as possible is not always the best idea.

 

31 thoughts on “Using an amp more powerful than the rated headroom of attenuator?

  1. Fernando Castro says:

    Hello, I am Fernando Castro from Spain. I have a Castor X and a Mesa Boogie LoneStar. I can use LoneStar at 3 power modes (10w/50w/100w). Is it safer to use 10w or 50watts modes with my Captor X?

  2. speedway213 says:

    is it possible to use 2 attenuators ? I have the Captor 16 and the Captor X as well as the Cab M. Also, can /or should I use the Captor X, or Captor 16 ohm before going into the CAB M ? Final Question lol, can I go pedal board to 50w to Captor X to FRFR 12 ? apologies for the 3 part question.

    • Jason Wilding says:

      Don’t quite understand the bit about using 2 attenuators! Are you talking about using them at the same time, on the same amp?

      Many people go through the CAB M to a Captor, others go to the Captor and then the line out to the CAB M (my personal favorite way of doing it).

      Yep, FX, Amp, Captor, FRFR will work fine!

  3. Micahel says:

    I have an Orange Terror Bass 500 watt head, hybrid amp with tubes in the pre and a class D solid state power section. Annoyingly the head does not have any form of headphone out or aux in for silent practice and silent direct recording.
    Would one of the Captor units work for the application I want? my main concern is the Captor states it can handle a max of 100 watts. At 8 ohms the Terror Bass has an output of 250 watts

    My idea was to use the line out of the Captor and send directly to a headphone amp/mixer/my interface for any of the applications i require

    • ross says:

      Hi Mike, Thanks for getting in touch. You can action this but you will need to keep the volume of your Amplifier’s master output very low. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with.

  4. Michael says:

    Hi, I have a Peavey 6505+120watt head and im interested in attenuating it, have you happened to test one out by any chance and would you recommend the captor X or the Torpedo Reload?
    Also has the Torpedo reload been discontinued?

    • ross says:

      Hi Michael, Thanks for getting in touch. Either will work well, however it is dependant on whether you also want the onboard DSP processing of the Captor X? If that is a must-have, we would strongly urge testing the Captor X. We have tested this with a 6505 and it sounds fab! 🙂

  5. Sky says:

    I just purchased this for my guitar amp and really like it so far. Didn’t have any I intentions initially but after hearing how good the guitar cabs are it got me thinking about recording bass with it. Will this work with my ampeg micro vr head? it says it is 150 watts at 8 ohms and uses solid state preamp and fet for power tubes

    • ross says:

      Hi Sky, Ross from Two notes here. You should be fine with this, but please ensure you watch your power-amp volume by starting in a low position and working your way up to a suitable volume for the Captor. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with!

  6. LUCA says:

    Hi,

    I have a Gallien Krueger MB Fusion 500W Tube Preamp Ultra-Light Bass Head, that is rated as 500W at 4 ohms, 350W at 8 ohms. It has also an XLR out…..
    What do you recommend me to use?
    (I mainly want to record it, without cabinet attached).

    • ross says:

      Hi Luca, Thanks for getting in touch. Ross from Two notes here!

      Our suggestion would be a C.A.B. M+_ in this instance as your amp is rated higher than the max rating fo our current Loadbox Series (Captor and Captor X).

      You could either connect the XLR output to the input of the C.A.B. M+ with an XLR -> TRS cable or – more ideally – run from the FX Send of the amp to the Input of the C.A.B. M+ with a standard TS cable. By actioning the latter you can then use our power amp emulation built into the C.A.B. M+ to really beef up your tone!

      Please let me know if there is anything else I can clarify for you today!

      Kind regards,

      Ross

  7. Willem says:

    Ok so I am able to tame my 120W amp with a Captor X when cautious ok understood.
    But what happens to the Captor X and more importantly my amp when you accidentally feed the Captor X more then the rated 100W
    Is there some protection mode on the Captor X or will everything go up in flames ?

    • ross says:

      Hi Willem, Thanks for getting in touch – Ross from Two notes here. Exceeding the maximum power capacity for an extended period can indeed result in damage to your amp and both the Captor X. However, providing you set your master volume in order that your amp is not outputting it’s full Wattage, you will be fine!

  8. Harald says:

    For a short time (1 or 2 minutes), I used my Peavey solid state amp (130 watt into 4 ohm), into my Torpedo Captor 8 ohm, full blast, figuring a solid state amp would put out less watts into 8 ohms (80~90 watts) and it would be safe. But now I start to doubt it was a good idea, since it was in full distortion so not the rated clean watts. Is it possible I might have damaged my Torpedo Captor, or can I still use it without any worries, because of the overheating protection?

    Thanks!

    • ross says:

      Good evening Harald, Ross from Two notes here. You should be ok, however we would advise not running your amp this hot into the Captor moving forwards to mitigate any further damage.
      Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with today!

  9. Julien says:

    Bonjour, j’ai un music man 210 sixty five (65 W) et j’aimerai acheter une load box pour le jeu à la maison et pour le home studio, vous me conseillez de prendre du 8 ohms ou du 16 ohms ? Je pense que 8 suffit mais j’ai un doute. Merci !

    • ross says:

      Hi Julien, Thanks for getting in touch. In this instance, we would suggest the 8Ω variant of either the Captor or the Captor X – please ensure you set the amp on the 8Ω impedance setting on the rear panel and let us know if you have any questions concerning this.

      Thanks!

  10. Giuseppe says:

    Hi! I Have a Marshall 1959 slp (100w), a plexy reissue from the 90s. I modded It with a master volume, do you think i can use the captor X? And What Is your suggestion, consider i Need to saturate a bit the amp to get the Nice plexy distortion?

    • ross says:

      Hi Giuseppe, Thanks for getting in touch. Ross from Two notes here. You should be fine with the Captor X here as this is rated up to 100W. Let us know if there is anything else we can help you with!

  11. Boris says:

    Hi. I have Marshall JCM 800 100W tube head (4xEL34 output tubes) and using Torpedo reload (that can take up to 150W). Is it safe to have master volume set on marshall to about 50 to 60%?
    Best regards,
    Boris

    • ross says:

      Hi Boris, Thanks for getting in touch. This should be absolutely fine! Let us know if there is anything else we can help you with!

      • Boris says:

        Hi Ross. So far it works smooth. I set master on JCM 800 to around 4.5 (around 45%) and Torpedo reload seems fine. Only mildly warm on top so I would assume there is still plenty of margin left.

        • ross says:

          Hi Boris, great stuff! So glad to hear this is working out for you! Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with today!

  12. Devin says:

    I have a Mesa Triple Rectifier with 16, 8, and 4 ohm outputs. I use an 8 ohm cabinet.
    I have the chance to purchase a 16 ohm torpedo captor x. Am I able to use my 16 ohm output-through the 16 ohm captor x and into the 8 ohm cabinet without damaging anything? (Not fully cranking the amplifier of course)

    • ross says:

      Hi Devin, Ross from Two notes here – great question! You can indeed providing you use one of the attenuation options on the Captor X – Low or Middle position on the three way selector. In this scenario, please connect your Captor X to the 16Ω output of your Triple Rectifier. Let us know if you need any more info here!

  13. Gerard O’Rourke says:

    Hi, I am Gerard ORourke from Ireland. Is it safe to use an 8 ohm Captor X with a Mesa Lonestar Special 1×12 on all 3 settings 30 watts , 15 watts and 5 watts. The amps speaker is 8ohms, but it has 3 output jacks, one 8 ohms for 30 watts and I believe the other two outputs are 4 ohms .

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