Headphone Amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by yor123, Jun 5, 2001.

  1. yor123


    Mar 29, 2001
    New Orleans
    Any recommendations on a headphone amp? I currently practice 95% of the time without an amp and found out the hard way the downside to it. Had my first lesson with an instructor today (taking the advice of many of you). He naturally wanted to see me play to critique my technique. I thought that I show off a bit with a great line from "Boogie on Reggae Women" I play it all the time without an amp and it sounds pretty nice. Did I suck with an amp, though! The instructor was very gracious and complimented my choosing such a challenging piece. I did not realize how hard I had been playing nor did I use any muting.

    Anyway, the only headphone amps that I have seen are made by Dean (bass in a box) and Rockmans (Bass Ace). I did a search here but did not come up with much except a mention of a Korg ( pandora px-b(?))

    If anybody was wondering why I don't practice with an amp it is because I practice at work and can't use one without disturbing others. When I am home, my family has a fit when I amp. My amp does not have a headphone jack unfortunately.
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The Korg PX3B Pandora is what I bought when I was in your shoes.

    I looked at all those cheaper, plain jane, units, but I'm glad I spent the extra money for a very versatile unit. You won't find as many features on the Korg's competition, unless you go up to the $900 range.

    The effects are too sleazy for stage use, IMO, but they're fun to play with alone and to make up and store effects I put together with it. Also, I like the ability to record looped samples of my playing, looped samples of recordings, playing along with those samples with the bass cut out (if I want), the ability to slow down samples or change the pitch, and the many, good sounding, drum patterns, (you can alter the tempo and the volume of the drums). The tuner is passable.
  3. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Another vote for the Bass Pandora. It took me a few weeks to warm up to mine, but now I would never give it up.
  4. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    I have a bass ace for exactly that use. At lunchtime I close my office door (it's great to have an office with a door), plug in and practice. The sound is adequate and battery life is long. It's not "super" but it gets the job done and I've never felt I needed anything more in a headphone amp to get the job done.

    One thing I did for a while before I got the headphone amp was plug into my computer's mic input. It took some adapters but since I usually play along with mp3s (either of my band's originals or the covers we are doing) I've got the computer fired up anyway. This was OK but I did end up getting the bass ace because the computer wasn't that great (even a simple passive axe could get some distortion) - but it's the cheapest, easiest solution if you've got or are using a computer as part of your practice.

    If cost was no object I'd get the Raven Labs headphone amp/preamp. It looks like a great piece of gear and I don't think I've ever seen anything but great reports on anything from Raven Labs (http://www.raven-labs.com).
  5. VicDamone


    Jun 25, 2000
    I'm happy with my Raven-Labs PH1 but I wanted the pre-amp feature for my double bass pickup. The quality is high and durable.

    The Korg unit has alot going for it with the effects.
  6. I've been using an old SRD Bass Ace for about 10 years now. The tone is adequate but then again its only for practice. I don't know if the Rockman Bass Ace is the same design (anybody know?) but if it is then I'd say for a lot less $ than the Pandora you'll have something good for practice that'll last a long time.
  7. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Headphone boxes from Raven Labs, Fodera and Sadowsky all get high marks for construction and sound. They cost an arm an a leg, though: $200-300.
  8. EString


    Nov 20, 2000
    Los Altos, CA
    You can get a Whirlwind PA-1 personal headphone amplifier for $130 that connects to your amp via XLR cable so you can hear the coloring from your amp while you practice.
  9. I've got an Ibanez something or other (don't have it in front of me), that's actually made for guitar, but works great for bass. Plus, it has 2 inputs, 2 headphone jacks, a tape player that you can play along to, and chorus and distortion, but they're not that usable, and pitch control and tape speed control. The cost, $ 30 on ebay. If you need the model #, reply and I'll get it for you. I don't think they're made anymore. Can't beat it for less than $50.

  10. PeninaD


    May 26, 2001
    This is probably the cheapest one out there.
    I have one...it works, but it does not really mimic a regular amp. Yes, it has Clean-Distortion-OverDrive settings. For practicing in the office, or on the road it is good, but I would not depend on it for all your practicing, or you won't truly know what you sound like.
    I suspect the pricier ones have better electronics.
  11. yor123


    Mar 29, 2001
    New Orleans
    Thanks Guys. I appreciate the comments. I was going to pick one at a web site but I think I had better go and get hands on with a few at The Guitar Center or C+M.
  12. oh yeah, one of the BIG benefits of being able to play along with a tape (the Ibanez unit I mentioned) is that you can make a recording of a click, drum machine, etc, to practice with.

    Here's something else you can do if you want to really save some $$.....get a Walkman tape player, and the adapter that would enable you to use a portable cd player with a tape deck, an adapter from 1/8" to 1/4" so you can plug that adapter into your guitar jack, and WHAMMO, you have a headphone amp. I have done this and it works!
  13. I don't know about these other headphone amps but my Bass Ace has an aux input which is very handy. I can run a CD, cassette player or my metronome into it. Right now I have it hooked up to the speaker output of my computer which is running Slow Gold.

    (BTW, Slow Gold is a great little program that allows you to slow down CD's or .wav's without changing the pitch. Perfect for copping licks from your faves.)