When using a tube amplifier, you should always connect it to a speaker cabinet before turning it on – or a loadbox. The speaker cabinet (2, 4, 8 or 16 Ohms) must always be connected to the corresponding speaker output of your amplifier. Not doing so can lead to partial or complete destruction of the output stage of the tube amplifier. Most tube amp designers protect their products with fuses etc, but some amps do not have sufficient protection in place. Our general moto is that “It is impossible to predict the behavior of all the amplifiers on the market in case of use without a load (a speaker cabinet or a load box)”.

The electronic term that describes the speaker cabinet with respect to the amplifier is the “load”: we say the cabinet “loads” the amplifier. The term “load box” fits any product that embeds an electronic load. The main parameter of the load box is its impedance, and that is rated in “Ohms”. An 8-Ohm load box must be plugged to the 8-Ohm speaker output of the amplifier.

When using a Torpedo load box, the power sent to the load is turned into heat, so please follow the cooling recommendation of the load box – failure to do so may cause overheating which can lead to damage, both to the load box and to the amplifier. The Torpedo Reload, Live, Studio, Captor and Captor X are load boxes. This term indicates that these products feature a load which can electrically replace the speaker cabinet while safely dissipating (transforming into heat) the power coming out of the amplifier.

The embedded load in the Torpedo products is reactive: it embeds a specific circuit to simulate the complex impedance of a real speaker. This kind of system is widely used in the industry to silently test amplifiers.

Is the use of a loadbox totally silent?

We usually talk about “silent recording” when a load box is involved. If we compare the load box solution to a traditional cabinet miking solution, it is obviously several orders of magnitude quieter, but you will still experience some minor sounds, noises, that have to be taken into account:

  • Your guitar or bass strings can be heard. This is obvious, but it can be disturbing, depending on your environment if you are not used to it.
  • You may hear some noise coming out of your Torpedo when playing, like there is a tiny speaker inside the box. This is perfectly normal and there is no reason to worry. The sound is produced when power goes through the coil of the reactive load embedded on the Torpedo. The vibration is related to what power comes out of the amplifier connected to the Torpedo and to the signal’s frequency content (notes played are heard). Your amplifier may also produce similar noise, at the output transformer’s level. Such noise is usually not heard, simply because it is normally overcome by the sound coming from the loudspeaker.
  • The Torpedo embeds a fan, as there is quite a lot of power dissipated into heat inside the box. We selected a “silent fan”, but as it is running fast, it is never entirely silent. This said, you can consider that, in normal use (hearing your guitar through monitors, or headphones), you can barely hear that fan.

Care should be taken when using a load box

The correct use of your amplifier with a load box requires some precautions. Because of the fact that you may be playing “silently,” it is much easier to accidentally run your amplifier beyond the reasonable limits set by the manufacturer than when you are using an actual speaker cabinet. This can lead to faster tube wear and, in some cases, to more serious issues.

Keep in mind that the “sweet spot” — the perfect running point of the amplifier, the one that will give you the tone you are looking for—is rarely obtained at maximum volume. In addition, the volume control of the amplifier is usually logarithmic, which means that the volume goes up quickly on the first half of the potentiometer’s rotation, reaches its maximum at 12 o’clock, and will not change much beyond that point. Therefore, you can
reach the maximum volume of your amplifier even if the volume potentiometer is not set at maximum.

By reaching the maximum output power of your amplifier, you will hear a lot of distortion, which may not sound as good as you could hope. In fact, most amplifiers do not sound great at maximum volume. Always keep in mind that your amplifier may not have been conceived to be used at maximum volume for a long time. Running an amplifier at high volume will cause premature wear of the tubes and possible malfunctions or damages to the output stage.

  • When first testing the amplifier at high volume, monitor the color of the tubes and the general response of the amplifier. Red-glowing tubes or any appearance of smoke are signs of a problem that may result in partial or complete destruction of the amplifier.
  • The fact that the volume control of your amplifier is not set at maximum doesn’t mean your amplifier is not running at maximum volume. A good habit is to keep the usual volume setup you would use in rehearsal or on stage, rather than just following what the volume potentiometer indicates.

32 thoughts on “What is a load box?

  1. Raff says:

    Hello, I use my captor X 8ohm to a Princeton reverb head 8ohm. Can I then connect a speaker 16ohm to the Captor X to use it as an attenuator? Would it be considered a mismatch? Thanks

    • Jason Wilding says:

      This would be a mis-match – as the Captor X is looking at what the speaker is going rather than the amp (set in that way) – you should be fine, but take it easy!

  2. Michel Filliatrault says:

    Hello,

    I have a peavy artist 240 – instructions are mentioned that the speaker and ext are 4 ohms – which captors could fit with that amp ?
    Also I have a spider 330 bass amp with 2 speakers output at 4 ohms and one XLR DI output- same questions which models of captor will fit –
    I guess the answer is 4 and 8 ohms model – please confirm or precise
    Regards
    Michel

    • Jason Wilding says:

      Hey Michel!

      Having read the owner’s manual of the Peavey Artist 240 – this amp is rated at 4 Ohms.

      As for the bass amp, I assume it is the Ashdown 330 Spyder amp. If so, its power amp is solid state and is rated for a minimum of 4 Ohms. With this in mind, the best choice is the Torpedo Captor 4 – you will have perfect impedance match in all cases.

      If you wish to have DynIR cabinet simulation for better tones, headphones output, you can use a Torpedo Captor X, 8 Ohms version. You will have an impedance mismatch, albeit the tolerable one. This article will give you all the information and precautions you need to take when using an amp and a Torpedo product that are mismatched impedance-wise:

      https://www.two-notes.com/en/knowledge-base/can-i-mismatch-the-impedance-of-the-amp-and-load-box/

  3. Michel Filiatrault says:

    Hi Jason,

    I did buy a captor 4 ohms. I want to use it in a silent mode to record my guitar and bass. Unfortunatly, this mode is not working ! I have to connect one of the two output to the speakers (thru output or -20db) for the DI – XlR output (with phantom power) or the Line TRS sends some input to my soudcard. Whwn I connect an external speakers both are working – but in silent mode -none are working . I have try every possible configuration – Since the manual indicate that ‘If you connect a speaker cabinet to the THRU output, the internal loadbox is disconnected waht i I understand is that the internal load box is not working since there is no sound in both output. The silent mode is simply not working. Please help or confirm that the unit is defective .
    Thanking you in advance
    Michel

  4. Markus says:

    Hello
    I use a Torpedo Captor X, 8 ohms. It’s possible to change the attenuation from 20db to 10db in which I use a different resistor?
    Regards
    Markus

  5. Richard Baboun says:

    Hey! I recently bought the new Diezel Vh Micro (solid state amp) and i would like to use it with the torpedo captor, but the Diezel‘s manual says: do not use with s load box, only with a speaker …. What do you think? I read the article that you guys have, which says it‘s not a problem, but now im confused and not sure … but i would really like to play the amp silently! … Please help, thanks a lot!

    • Jason Wilding says:

      That’s not something I’ve heard of before, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work – have you asked Diezel why they specify that?

    • Jason Wilding says:

      Upon reading more about it, and seeking advice from a colleague, our load boxes work fine with Solid State amps, there will be no ground issues that cause other SS amps to act weirdly with other load boxes!

    • Jason Wilding says:

      It all depends what you want it to do… if you want complete silence and recording, or to DI you signal, the the original black Captor. If you want all the speaker emulation etc, then the Captor X… if you want continuous attenuation then it’s the ReLoad!

  6. mike Rogers says:

    Hi, i have an ampeg pb250 that puts out 250 watts at 4 ohms and my 210 bass cab is 8 ohms. I don’t want to add a second 8ohm cab to have a total of 4 ohm load to get max watts out of amp. Can i add a 8 ohm load box to my 8ohm 210 cab to get 4ohms?

    • Jason Wilding says:

      If your cabinet has an output to link another cabinet/a load box in parallel, an 8 Ohms load box will bring the load to 4 Ohms. This way your amp will output the maximum wattage out of the speaker output.

  7. Scott says:

    I am using a Captor 8 with my Supro Comet for silent operation, running the speaker out into the Captor, then the XLR into the mixer (so no speaker at all).

    The Captor is using the phantom power from the mixer but if I accidentally powered up my amplifier without the phantom power being on, does the Captor still provide a load even when not powered? I don’t plan on running it this way but I’d like to know for safety reasons. Thanks

  8. mojo says:

    Hoping to get some insight on which Torpedo Captor version to purchase (16ohm or 8ohm), and a best setup with my current gear for live playing (interested mainly in the attenuation aspect to play in the sweet spot). Currently running a Marshall DSL100HR head, with two 16ohm 4×12 cabinets plugged directly into the back (2 separate 16ohm outputs, both cabinets set at 16ohm mono). Besides the proper Captor ohm version, any advice on the signal chain from head/Captor into the two cabinets would be great. Cabinets are a Marshall 1960B & Crate GX-412S. Thanks!

    • Jason Wilding says:

      The Crate GX-412S has a speaker output which allows you to link your 2 cabs together. The best setup in your case is to connect the Marshall cabinet to the Crate’s OUT jack socket. This will create a parallel pair of cabinets that you will connect to the SPEAKER ATT of the Captor.

      Regarding the Captor’s impedance you need for your setup – the Marshall DSL100R has all the possible outputs regarding impedance (4 /8 and 16 Ohms).
      The impedance seen by the amp when a Captor is in use depends on the speaker output used on the Captor . When the cabinet is connected to the SPEAKER THRU, the impedance seen by the amp is the cabinet’s. The Captor’s load box is bypassed and not seen by the amp.

      When the cabinet is connected to the SPEAKER ATT, the impedance seen by the amp is the Captor’s. The impedance of the cabinet does not matter in that case. In your case for the best setup, whichever Captor you choose, you will be able to have the right impedance match by using the right amp’s output.

      • mojo says:

        This is great Jason…really appreciate the walkthrough! Since primary use in my case would be to use the Captor as an attenuator, could you confirm if these signal paths would be correct based on your explanation?

        (Signal chain using both cabinets):
        Marshall DSL100HR (1 x 16ohm socket) >> Torpedo Captor 16 (SPEAKER IN socket). Captor SPEAKER ATT socket >> Crate GX-412S IN socket (set at 16ohm mono). OUT socket of Crate cab >> Marshall 1960B 16ohm mono INPUT

        (Signal chain using 1960B only):
        Marshall DSL100HR (1x16ohm socket) >> 16ohm Torpedo Captor (SPEAKER IN socket). Captor SPEAKER ATT socket >> Marshall 1960B 16ohm mono INPUT

        If these look correct, then what I’m seeing is that the Captor 16 attenuation capability would work for both setups by matching it to the 1x16ohm output of the head, since you mentioned the impedance seen by the amp would be the Captor’s 16ohm impedance?

        Thanks!

  9. Josh says:

    I’m new to attenuation and am looking for a solution for my AC15. I use a Line6 hybrid Helix board and would like to use an FX Loop block to send my signal to the AC15 and have it return as a line level signal. I don’t need any cab emulation, EQ, FX, etc., as the Helix will take care of that. What’s the recommended Torpedo box for this?

  10. Mike says:

    Do your attenuators reduce the wattage that is going to the speaker? If I wanted to use a 15 watt speaker with a 20 watt amp, would it be safe to do because the attenuator is reducing the wattage that goes to the speaker?

    • Jason Wilding says:

      Hey Mike, in principle it does. It reduces the output volume of the amp. However, you need to be REALLY careful as you may accidently deactivate the attenuator and send the full signal to the speaker which may blow it out

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