A Designs Audio ATTY Level Controller
Reviewed by Dan Richards
With so many products on the audio-recording market, it's a sight to see when a new product comes along that is so simple and so basic that it makes you wonder why someone hadn't invented something like this years ago. The new ATTY Level Controller from California-based A Designs Audio is such a product. I've had the good fortune of using the A Designs Audio MP-1 and MP-2 all-tube microphone preamplifiers, and have been interested to try other products being released by this no-nonsense company headed by Peter Montessi.
The ATTY retails for $95 and, like all other A Designs Audio products, is hand-built in the USA. The build quality is first-rate and of a standard usually found only on higher-end esoteric audio equipment. The metal housing is painted a rich glossy black with sharp white silkscreen lettering. The connectors are solid and give a secure "click" when cables lock in place. The ATTY is a no-noise audio level controller. To be more precise, the ATTY is an audio level attenuator, since it is a totally passive box and offers no true gain. The ATTY offers two channels of true stereo level control, and also smartly incorporates a panic/mute button for those fun times when a surprise piercing signal comes out of nowhere and threatens the integrity of your eardrums and audio system. The level control knob is small and an gradual indicator line is clearly marked, so you're always sure to move the knob in the desired direction. The two outputs are XLR, and the two inputs offer the versatility of two Neutrik Combo Jacks, allowing for either 1/4" phono jacks or XLR connectors.
When I heard about the ATTY, the first thing I thought was this would be the perfect box to act as a volume control for active monitors. Now that I've had the ATTY for my own use, I've come up with other applications:
1. Volume control for active monitors. [ATTY includes mute panic button]
2. Control output level on outboard gear that has no output control -- such as the FMR Audio RNP.
3. Tame hot mic signals without using a mic pad.
4. Use as fine output adjust on mic pres to allow for feeding more signal into the input stage for more sonic variation.
5. Remote volume control for DPA 4061 mic on my live acoustic guitar.
A Designs Audio also includes on their website additional applications for the ATTY:
1. Line Level Control for the guitar, bass or keyboard amp extension speaker without clipping the A/D (audio-to-digital-converter).
2. Line Level Control for the Mic-pre to the A/D.
3. Line Level Control for the power amp to any speaker in a series.
4. Use multiple units for independent stereo control.
I've also read that an engineer uses the ATTY for A/B'ing CDs in CD players with the console mix. Rather than running the CD player through a live amp to boost or cut the level, he just uses the ATTY. Simple.
There are applications in every studio and live situation that are begging for a simple, inexpensive solution. You may find yourself needing more than one ATTY, because it's so in-front-of-your-eyes simple obvious on so many different applications. Order an ATTY or two or three, and thank me later.
Applications for the ATTY are virtually limitless, and I'm interested to see many more uses coming forward as this box gets in the hands of more end-users. A Designs Audio may have not reinvented the wheel with this one, but they've reinvented the "spare."
For more information about the ATTY and other A Designs Audio products, please visit the company's website at adesignaudio.com.