REACTOR - 5W Reactive Load (demo/review)

Leave it to Hagerman Amplification to design a boutique Reactive Load so small it fits on a pedalboard (or next to/on top of whatever small amp you’re using), ingeniously designed to provide a reactive load for small tube amps. In essence, the REACTOR is meant to take the load of amps 5 watts or lower, while offering a number of uses.



First, the attenuated output is a direct-in signal for recording consoles/mixers or into other pedals or a computer interface. Second, and in many instances, it can replace a speaker for a reasonably good sound (cleans or a bit dirty are best, whereas hi-gain tones still require a cab IR due to the nature of the gain/distortion and to sound best – at least to my ears). Third, there are some small amps that also are preamps, and the 2-Watt Purple Nightmare Preamp comes to mind, a point I address.

With that preamp, I can go direct out to a cab IR, computer interface, etc., and it sounds good, but it sounds even better when I use the ‘speaker out’ and take advantage of the power amp section. But to do that, I require a mic’d cabinet or some type of reactive load/attenuator. There are several reactive load boxes out there, usually designed to handle 100W, with some capable of more, whereas smaller and less expensive reactive load units will handle upward of 50W. Regardless of the size, these can be costly, with $500+ being the norm. And I raise this point for good reason, since there are so many home musicians, who far outnumber anyone who gigs or plays professionally, and who have small amps due to budget and/or practicality (if you want 10 amps in your bedroom studio, it’s not so affordable or easy to stack and house full-blown models).

And this is where the REACTOR comes in, handling so many of the small amps out there, including Fender Champ, Magnatone’s Starlite, Bugera 5G Infinium, Marshall DSR5CR, Friedman Runt 20, and the Peavey Invective MH, to name a few. And there are a host of mini one-watt models from Hughes & Kettner, Blackstar, Jet City, Kustom, Laney, Vintage, and Vox, besides Hagerman’s own One Watter (and its Half Watt).

The REACTOR is compatible with both 8 and 16 ohm taps, operating at 10 ohms nominal. Although small in size, the REACTOR can handle upward of 5W loads without issue, due to the large 10mH coil running at 2.6 ohms (100 Hz resonance), besides a secondary 1mH coil, which runs in series with the main resistor, at 0.5 ohms, ranging from 10 to 10.5 ohms. This is to handle an internal resistance that exceeds 10 ohm.

Those are the use benefits, but there are two other things going for the REACTOR that I really like. First, it costs only $139 USD (minus any holiday discounts or offers provided by Hagerman Amplification), which is amazing for home players not wanting to splurge on a reactive load that easily will cost far more and are designed for larger and more traditional amps. Yes, there are budget reactive loads, but you get what you pay for. And this brings me to point two, and how it sounds. I have limited experience with this area of gear, but I did own a Suhr Reactive Load, and I returned it. The response and tone quality, to my ears, is inferior to the REACTOR. Of course, there’s also the size, as mentioned above, which really is a third point worth reiterating. All of these features make the REACTOR highly desirable for home and small studio musicians.
 
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