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In-Line Attenuators

Here's the solution to a problem from which far too many audiophiles suffer - too much gain in the system. The symptoms are easy enough to spot - the volume is plenty loud enough with the volume control set to the 9 o'clock position, too loud with the volume control at 10 o'clock, and fine control at low levels is impossible. This may seem like nothing more than a minor irritation, but in truth the performance of the system is being compromised. Although potentiometers work reasonably well over most of their operating range, they are notoriously problematic at extreme settings. The most obvious problem is channel imbalance - one channel will fade out (or fade in) quicker than the other, causing the stereo image to shift to one side - but on a more subtle level, the music may sound veiled and indistinct with the volume control turned down to the point where it is nearly off. Some people have tried to cure the problem by fitting a more expensive volume control only to find that it doesn't do much good. That's because the volume control isn't really the problem.

It’s the excess gain in the system which is the real problem. That in turn forces you always to use the volume control over a very limited portion of its travel. What's needed is a way to reduce overall system gain without compromising sound quality and without major modifications to the equipment itself.
The Rothwell In-Line Attenuators are the answer. These audiophile devices simply plug into any input sockets and reduce signal levels by 10dB. They can be used with integrated amps or pre/power amps, and are compatible with equipment over the entire price spectrum, from budget to extreme high end.
When used with integrated amps (simply plug them into any input sockets, then plug the source component into the attenuators) the volume control will be two or three "hours" further round its range than it was before, giving better control at low levels and operating well away from the end stops. When used with pre/power amps, there is an added benefit.

 

attenuator

“...the reduction in top-end strain was immediately obvious...” - Hi-Fi+
Read the full review

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Although the attenuators can be used on the inputs of the pre-amp in exactly the same way as they would be used on an integrated amp (with the same benefits), alternatively they can be used between the pre-amp and the power amp to even greater effect. When used this way, not only is system gain reduced by 10dB, but the signal to noise ratio is improved by 10dB. This pushes the noise floor down enough to create an inky black silent background from which the music can emerge with better resolved fine detail and transparency. This applies to even very high-end and very expensive pre/power amps.
So, if you recognise the symptoms of excess gain in your system, the Rothwell attenuators are the answer. Don't be put off by the fact that you could pay much more money for an audiophile tweak such as a set of spikes. These attenuators give real, measurable as well as audible improvements and are perfectly at home between pre and power amps costing as much as a family saloon, and for users of balanced equipment we now have a balanced version available.
Both our RCA and XLR attenuators are available with 10dB or 20dB attenuation, and the RCA attenuators are now available as “source” attenuators. Source attenuators are designed with the input at the male end and the output at the female end and are intended for use one the output sockets of CD players rather than the input sockets of pre-amps. This can prove very useful for owners of Naim equipment.

Where Can I buy Rothwell Attenuators?
The In-line Attenuators are currently Rothwell’s most popular product and are available from numerous retailers and dealers around the world (click here for a full list), and are also available from the online shop. Payments are handled by Worldpay - one of the world’s leading internet payment services - so you can be sure your transaction is secure. UK VAT (value added tax) is charged on sales within the European Community but is automatically deducted from sales to any country outside the EC. The price will be converted to your local currency automatically by Worldpay. Your card details are not sent to Rothwell Audio Products at all. Your transaction is handled solely by Worldpay. Your package will be sent by airmail and will arrive within a week - often quicker. It is very easy to buy a pair of attenuators. You don’t have to register with anyone or subscribe to anything - you just need a credit or debit card.

How Do The Attenuators Work?
For a detailed technical explaination of how and why the attenuators work, click here .

Reviews

Hi-Fi +
What Hi-Fi
Gramophone
TNT-Audio
online forum review (by the way, in a follow up to this review someone wrote “
Someone is selling? and even more astoundingly people are Buying ? a premade Shiny Gizmo to replace a silly simple Resistor placed inna Interconnect??” This is pure ignorance. Please be aware that Rothwell In-Line Attenuators are NOT simply a resistor and that attenuating the signal effectively and transparently is not as trivial as some people believe.)
online review (Dutch website, all Dutch language)
online review (another Dutch website, all Dutch language)
online review (This is a review of an inexpensive valve pre-amp. The reviewer uses a pair of attenuators to improve the signal/noise ratio. Look about half way down the page, under “Getting ready”.)
Audio Karma forum review
Hi-Fi World listing (Very funny. “Limited market”? The sales figures say otherwise!)

Customer Feedback
Here are some of the comments we’ve had from delighted customers over the past couple of years (click)

Balanced (XLR) attenuators are also available. These are specially designed for audiophile line level balanced equipment (microphone attenuators look similar but are designed for much lower impedances) and use gold plated contacts and precision resistors, hand-wired with silver plated oxygen free copper wire, insulated with PTFE.

How to buy In-Line Attenuators
The attenuators cost 39 and can be purchased from any of our UK and international hi-fi dealers (full list) or from our online shop.

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