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Cafe Walter or Raven Labs PHA-1

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Marlat, May 26, 2003.

  1. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Im looking at purchasing one of these two units to use as a "silent" method of practicing.

    Does anyone have any experience with either of them (or other alternatives to silent practicing) which they can share?

    Does anyone know if the AUX input on the Cafe Walter unit is stereo?

    As I would need to ship it to Australia there is no oportunity for me to "test" one of these amps before purchasing.

  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon

    I've been looking with an eye to get one of these. The guy seems pretty honest and non-chalant about the amp... You hear your instrument with no coloration.

    Some good info on the site. Nothing on the Aux. Input being stereo or not, although you could e-mail him to find out. Interestingly enough, he recommends the Raven Labs unit for folks wanting/needing more features :)

  3. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    I have no doubt about his honesty - I am just keen on knowing what people think about these units and their experiences with them. I must say though his website is quite amusing - a full schematic of the circuit and no info about the specs of the product! (maybe its hidden in the circuit diagram!
  4. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    hmm... interesting. wonder how it fares compared to my friend's Fodera practice amp.
  5. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I believe he used to either sell kits or building instructions for it. I highly doubt he's getting rich :)

    I think the Fodera'd be in a different league altogether!

  6. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I have the PHA-1 and it's a really useful box for learning parts off of records. Its chief strengths are clarity and dynamic range - has lots of headroom and doesn't ever distort unless the batteries start to go.
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I own the PHA-1, and used to own the Fodera practice amp.

    The Fodera could be used more easily as a stand alone preamp if desired, and has the better tonal control. The PHA-1 is somewhat shy on the EQ side, but it shines at providing an accurate representation of your basses sound. It also has great flexibility with the outside source sound (have it in mono/stereo, l/r mix controls).

    Additionally, the PHA-1 is more portable as it takes batteries whereas the Fodera needs a PSU. If you always practice near a wall socket, no problem, but I do like being able to go anywhere in my house with it.

    Having said that, the Cafe Walter unit minimal approach is appealing and if I didn't already have the PHA-1 I'd have given it a tryout.

    kevinlane round these parts tried out various headphone amps, including Pandora, Raven Labs and Cafe Walter. He ended up with the Cafe Walter, as (if I remember correctly) it has the most gain available and that was a big factor for him as he wanted to be able to practice while on a bus.
  8. tonrutoo


    Apr 18, 2003
    just a beginner,but i got the Cafe Walter and it suits my needs perfectly.
    mine is serial #51;the first of the upgrades.it has a misplaced weld mark next to the headphone input,but it otherwise works great.
    i got this for clarity to help clean up my technique.it conveys the resonance of the unplayed strings.i can hear fret-buzz from lightly fretted notes.
    my bass is a Ric 4003 lefty;i practice in my driver seat during breaks at work(provided weather patterns are even to avoid warpage).acoustically my bass is more musical,than through this unit.BTW-my headphones are Seinhaussen 212's.i can hear a slight ringing in the unit when my car radio is on.
    never plug it in with your headphones on or you'll experience a pop like your ear drums desintergrating!(i know;damn newbie!)-;)
    hope i've helped as much as can be expected.i can at least recommend it on the experience of one of my friends who is also teaching me.
  9. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Im more than happy with my korg pandora sure mabye its not audiophile quality but id rather have a little revberb on my bass when its right next to my ears.Plus with its built in drum machine its a no brainer for me.

  10. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Walter's a regular on TBL, and very helpful when it comes to all matters electronic and bass related. I'm sure if you email him he'll answer any questions butif you need a quick answer try searching The Bottom Line archives for more info on his headphone amp.