Cafe Walter HA-1A or Raven Labs PHA-1

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by 5bassman, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. 5bassman

    5bassman Supporting Member

    May 4, 2005
    Looking for a good gift for my wife to give me for Christmas. Which one of these would be the best headphone amp? I realize the Raven is no longer made but are still out there and avail.
  2. BuffaloBob4343

    BuffaloBob4343 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    I've never used a RAven, but I love my Cafe-Walter. It produces high quality sound, and I love that you can independently control the volume of both your bass, as well as a secondary sound source, like the output from a Discman.

    That way you can really control how loud you sound compared to music your are playing with. And both inputs can be very loud! It's also very durable in construction.
  3. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Get the PHA-1. Like all Raven Labs gear, it's built to withstand a war, all the while sounding like premium studio gear. The PHA-1 can double as a preamp. So next time you're at a church and all they can offer you is a Peavey TKO combo, whip out the PHA-1, run a line out--instant boutique tone.
  4. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    I don't have an opinion on the Cafe walter. I've heard nice things about it.

    I've been very happy with my PHA-1.

    The other one to consider, is Phil Jones makes a similar product now. I wanna say "Bass Buddy," but that name could be wrong.
  5. 5bassman

    5bassman Supporting Member

    May 4, 2005
    I recently sold a Bass Buddy. Nice unit but was a little overkill to me for a headphone amp. But it does all the things it says very nicely.
  6. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA

    I thought that I had heard that it was noisy. And for me, noisy = bad. Unless you are in a loud rock band.

    What did you think?


  7. I've been looking at headphone amps for a while now, too. The only one I've tried so far is the Fodera practice amp and I liked it but the store had it marked up too much. I should have ordered a PHA-1 back when I got my MDB-1 and TBEQ from BassNW. I hardly ever see used ones for sale.

    I looked at the PJ bass buddy and it, too, looked like overkill to me. If I don't find a PHA-1 soon, I'll probably get either the Cafe Walter or the Fodera. Course maybe I should just wait until I get a TD-1!?....if ever

  8. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    A TD-1? Heck, they're only $1675 retail! With a little shopping around you should be able to pick one up for $1200 easy!


    If I had a month of Sundays I might be able to save up for one...if I had the inclination!


    I think I will shoot for a Tri-112 first.

    I tell you what, you buy me a Tri-112L in very good condition and I will give you my PHA-1!


    (Dude, just get the Cafe' Walter)


  9. Totally :smug:
    PM me your address so I can send you this extra 112L I have lying around! :p
  10. The Cafe Walter is fantastic.
  11. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    I can't speak for the Raven stuff-- not tried it-- but I have a Cafe Walter, and love it. Quiet, lot's of headroom, long battery life and includes a wallwart if you prefer. Not fancy but does what it's designed to do and does it well.

    The Bass Buddy, however, I'd pass on. I had one for a couple of days and sent it back. The hiss was so bad on the headphone output that I found it unusable. To be fair, I ony tried the one, so it may have just been the unit I had. It was alos noisey when used as a preamp/DI. The other issue was the compressor-- a real bad breather IMO. But other than these issues, it was fine... :p

    I've two of the TasCam CD Bass Trainers-- the old one and the new Mk II. The headphone amp works OK, but nowhere near the hadroom of the Cafe Walter. The CD player quit on the first one and developed a problem on the second one as well.

    IMO, you should get the Cafe Walter. You'll love it.

    IMHO, YMMV, etc. :D
  12. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I have both and the Raven gets a leg up in one major department - independent channel volumes and a mono/stereo switch. The Walter sounds great and the bass sits in the mix as nicely as you please. But if you need to isolate one channel of the aux you need to use an outboard device. So I use the Walter often, and break out the Raven when the situation calls (music minus one, tracks where the bass is on one channel and I want to isolate/remove it...)

    Can't go wrong with either, but they have their differences. It could be good to know if you one of the features is a deal breaker/maker.
  13. 5bassman

    5bassman Supporting Member

    May 4, 2005
    The one I had was very quiet.
  14. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA

    I wonder if this is a production issue or a case of some folks not knowing how to set the darned thing.

    Or being too picky.


  15. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Well, I guess that makes me the "some folks" you're referring to...

    When it comes to equipment, I am picky. I'm willing to pay the freight for great gear and I expect it to perform well.

    Re: the Bass Buddy, it may indeed have been a production issue. That's why I said this:

    "To be fair, I ony tried the one, so it may have just been the unit I had."

    As far as not knowing how to set up a simple piece of equipment like the Bass Buddy, well, I'd prefer not to comment on that at all. :rolleyes:

    Bottom line-- given the experience I had with the these two pieces of equipment: Cafe Walter= nice and quiet; Bass Buddy= loud hiss. YMMV, IMHO, etc. etc...


  16. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    My little practice rig now consists of a Trace Dual Comp running into the Cafe Walter w/AC, an Ipod mini going into the other input, and the aux out on the cafe walter running into a boss tuner. I keep the level on the Ipod down pretty low to save batteries, and crank it up on the Walter (with NO noticable noise). A pair of Sennheiser 555 (comfortable open ear design) reproduces the results with minimal earlobe and eardum fatigue. Its a really really slick practice setup and it sounds amazing, plus I can practice any time of day without bugging the wife or the neighbors.

    When I have free time, I load up whatever I want to practice on the iPod, and charge it up on the computer ... then I can squeeze in an hour of practice here and there with very low overhead.

    With the walter, you really hear everything, so you can get to know your bass a little better ever time you play :cool:
  17. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Sounds like a great practice rig! The aux out on the Cafe Walter works great for a tuner.

    My most recent practice rig is a Sony Vaio notebook computer and the Cafe Walter. I use software called The Amazing Slowdowner which works with MP3's, WMA's, etc as well as CD's, and can change pitch, tempo, or both. This works well for learning by ear as well as for transposing.

    The notebook's headphone out provides input to the Cafe Walter, and it's aux out goes into the mic input on the notebook, which acts as tuner (using In-Tune software), or recording via Audacity. I even have a little freeware metronome program!

    A set of Shure IEM phones (E2's) complete the rig.

    A patch of velcro holds the notebook atop a music stand with a Raxxess mount, and the Cafe Walter rides on a mic stand accessory shelf (also Raxxess, IIRC).

    It's not fancy, and there are some serious limitations in regard to the notebook's sound card, but it is very compact and flexible. My practice rig GAS has subsided for the moment! :D
  18. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Very true! Another vote for the PHA-1. A great sounding and versatile headphone amp.
  19. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA

    Actually I thought that I had read it on alt.guitar.bass but...whatever.


  20. anyonefortennis

    anyonefortennis Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    What's the price on a new cafe walter?