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Small practice amp thats good for music listening

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by basss, Dec 23, 2012.


  1. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Location:
    NYC
    I'm looking for a small practice amp that I can keep near my desk - don't need much volume but would like something at least somewhat hi-fi. If I can find something that sounds good for recorded music I could get one small box to replace the practice amp, mixer and computer speaker combo (and associated tangle of wires) that I'm using now. I know a lot of small practice amps have stereo inputs. IME most sound like crap when playing an mp3 through them due to the heavy midrange voicing and lack of highs. Are there any small practice amps under $300 that fit the bill?
     
  2. AstroSonic

    AstroSonic Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Location:
    rural New Mexico
    I don't think you will find anything new under $300 that will meet your needs. Most use single drivers that may work well for their intended use (bass practice), but are woefully inadequate for full range music reproduction. In the $300-$500 range you pick up the lowest priced models with tweeters. Many (perhaps most) of them use piezoelectric tweeters. These can sound ok (even good) if they are used with a crossover - unlikely in this price range. I recently upgraded a combo, replacing a piezo tweeter (no crossover) with a decent horn, L-pad and crossover. Pretty much transformed the sound, improving bass guitar use and music. You could add a neo dome tweeter and simple 1st order network at around 3.5kHz. They are made to 'surface mount' - just stick it on the baffle board, run wires through a 1/8" hole (then seal the hole). Attach the ground wire to the woofer ground lug and the positive tweeter wire to a cap that is wired to the woofer positive lug. Even go deluxe and add an L-pad. OTOH,it might be worth watching for a used combo with a decent tweeter.

    Good luck!
     
  3. dave64o

    dave64o A legendarily low talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2000
    Location:
    Marlton, NJ
    If you're talking about strictly a practice amp rather than something you could also play out, how about something like the Roland Micro Cube Bass RX? They're $250 new but used they go for about $150, which is what I paid for mine in the Talkbass For Sale forum (in fact, just saw another one sell here in the last day or two for that same price).

    You definitely won't be able to use it in a band situation, but it can run on batteries or AC power, it has a built-in tuner, multiple amp models, a metronome, an AUX input for an MP3 player, and some canned rhythm tracks to play along to. If you accept what it can and can't do, you'll recognize that it's very good at what it can do. I love mine and use it a lot.
     
  4. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks - I'm not looking for anything super hi-fi and only need to amplify the bass to barely audible levels - wound not be using this other than home practice. I'll also need a headphone out. The music listening I do at my desk now is done through cheap computer speakers. The few times that I have put music content through cheap bass combos it sounded terrrible - much worse than my crappy computer speakers. I've looked a bit and haven't found anything - maybe something like this doesn't exist. Just wondering if I overlooked anything.

    Also looking at non bass stuff which should work fine given the low volume I'd be using it at. I've been eyeing the Mackie srm150 but there is no headphone out. The ZT lunchbox looks cool too but I'm not sure there would be enough high end to make music listening through the aux in acceptable.
     
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  6. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Roland micro cube... Great
     
  7. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Location:
    NYC
    How does the Roland sound for music playback?
     
  8. dave64o

    dave64o A legendarily low talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2000
    Location:
    Marlton, NJ
    Actually, playing back music is one thing I haven't done with mine. But if I can find a cable to connect my iPod to it I can give it a try later tonight.

    Forgot to mention in my first post that the Roland does have a headphone out. It also has some built-in effects, too. Seriously, it's a really nice practice tool. :bassist:
     
  9. fjadams

    fjadams

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Location:
    Lincoln, NE
    I use a Yamaha THR10. Small, portable, ac/dc, line in, headphone out. Works good for living in a motel for work with my Kala.
     
  10. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

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    Jul 8, 2009
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Very clear and of course nice bass.
     
  11. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Location:
    NYC
    This looks cool - I like the "genuine hi-fi quality stereo playback" in the description - like they put some thought into how the aux input sounds out of the speakers. Is listening to mp3's on this thing better than your average bass combo?
     
  12. fjadams

    fjadams

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Location:
    Lincoln, NE
    Yes. When I plug in the iPod in the motel I have to turn it down.

    Of course it doesn't have a big boomy sound, but it is enough to let you know you're playing a bass. Changing the selector switch does definitely change the tone. For me it does as much as I was hoping, and as much as I expected. The size and weight makes it easy to move from car to motel and back.
     
  13. dave64o

    dave64o A legendarily low talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2000
    Location:
    Marlton, NJ
    I just tried playing my iPod through mine and can confirm that it does sound good.

    Some additional info ... I tried it out in the basement and my wife had just gone to bed on the second floor. She came down to the basement to say she could hear it up there, about as far apart as you can get in our house, and asked me to turn it down.

    So the volume level is apparently better than I realized. :eek:
     
  14. Tuned

    Tuned

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2007
  15. hgiles

    hgiles

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
    I am using a Yamaha MSR100 powered speaker for my computer audio, mp3, iPod and practicing my 6 string. Sound-wise, it's fantastic! I don't push my luck by sending too much bass signal to it, but it sounds great and louder than I would ever need in the house!
     
  16. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks all for the replies! The problem with powered monitor speakers is that I'd still need a mixer to plug in the bass and headphones. At this point I'm seriously leaning towards the Yamaha THR5. Although it doesn't have the dedicated bass functions of the THR10 I think it should be fine for my needs. The usb port, the stereo playback functionality and headphone jack would mean I could get rid of the practice amp, mixer and computer speakers.
     
  17. fjadams

    fjadams

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Location:
    Lincoln, NE
    I tried the Yamaha 5 and the 10 at the same time. While the 5 isn't a bad machine, the 10 is just that much better. Especially tone wise and its ability to handle a bass. Thats why I chose as I did. And the 10 is definitely better than the little Vox. They didn't have a Roland in stock so I never tried it out. The ability to run it off batteries could be handy for backyard or camping acoustic jams.
     
  18. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Location:
    NYC
    Did you find the 5 acceptable? I'm sure the 10 is better but my needs here are very modest and portability is important. If the 5 is 'good enough' I'll be happy.
     
  19. fjadams

    fjadams

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Location:
    Lincoln, NE
    I just plugged in and played a couple notes. Didn't put it thru the paces, so can't honestly say if it would be adequate for your use or not. Probably for playing an iPod and being able to hear yourself practice would be ok.
     

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