Headphone Amps ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Brookb, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. Brookb


    Jul 9, 2005
    Charlevoix, MI
    Hello, I've been researching headphone amps on TB, and I'm interested in the Cafe Walter and the Tascam CD-BT1 mkII. Does anyone have some advice on these or any other unit.
    Thank you, Brook
  2. The Tascam doesn't seem to have a real quality headphone amp, more like a walkman quality. Decent, but not hi-fi. I was thinking of getting a real headphone amp to hook it to to drive the headphones. It does a decent job, and I'm a hi-fi nut, so take my complaint with a grain of salt.

    I suspect all the units are the same way.

  3. Brookb


    Jul 9, 2005
    Charlevoix, MI
    Thanks Randy, I didn't know that about the Tascam
  4. I've read discriptions and reviews of the Cafe Walter suggesting that it is a more 'audiophile type unit'. I'm thinking about getting one, and would look forward to hearing some feedback from users. I did a search and not much came up.

    Bass Northwest sells them, and there is a link to the Cafe Walter site that has spec's, etc.
  5. phil w

    phil w

    Sep 3, 2005
    I use the Tascam (Mk1) and it's fine for my uses. I am really not interested in hifi when I practise however. Mostly I use it for playalong sessions with CDs and learning material (particularly if we're going to be playing it in a different key to the original). It's invaluable when it comes to transcription.
    I have not been aware of poor sound quality - , so I think it depends on your preferences and what you wish to use it for. Mk2 with the metronome sounds good.
    Just don't pay full price, and if you're in the UK, import it form the US.
  6. I'd be interested in plugging the tascam into one of those headphone amps, the BT1 doesn't really drive the headphones to a reasonable volume without distortion. I've been thinking of building a little headphone amp to go with it. This might be easier, if not cheaper.

  7. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Out of my mind, back in 5 minutes! Supporting Member

    I can't speak to the Cafe Walter but I have both the Tascam and the Raven Labs PHA-1. The PHA is totally superior to the tascam but the tascam is easier to practice with if you have to slow down the music to pick it up (I've used the out of my soundcard and slowdown software with the PHA) If you are using it for practice, get the PHA, if you are learning music get the tascam and live with the lower sound quality.

    Dan K.
  8. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I own a Cafe Walter, and it's the best head phone amp I have ever played! It's super straight forward, and gives you what your bass sounds like :D :hyper:
  9. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I have both the Tascam and the Korg Pandora, and the quality of the Pandora is much much better. Plus you get amp modeling and a mni-drum machine (verses a blimp blimp metronome on the Tascam).

    I'm actually selling the Tascam Bass Trainer if you are interested (which maybe you are not now after I dissed it)... mad me an offer
  10. Yeah, I don't mean to sound down on the tascam, its great functionality and very convenient. I do wish I had waited for the 2nd generation for the built in metronome.

    The sound quality is very decent, comparable to walkman. I just want a little more headroom/hifi sound.

  11. Brookb


    Jul 9, 2005
    Charlevoix, MI
    Everyone..... Thank you for all of your input. Very much appreciated. Brook
  12. anyonefortennis

    anyonefortennis Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    Fodera also makes a headphone amp. Never tried it but if it has the butterfly on it, it has to be good :)
  13. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I just picked up the Tascam CD-BT1MKII Bass trainer this weekend. I bought it to primarily keep the peace in the house as a headphone amp, but find the loop, variable speed and fine tuning functions to be an extra bonus. I wasn't really too concerned with how good or bad it sounds, just how good or bad I play. After all, it's not for a gig or band practice.

    Also, as a bass player who specializes in cover bands, this will be an invaluable tool of the trade for me. I've read user reviews that refer to use of this unit as cheating, but my time is valuable so whatever helps me learn the songs more efficiently is a plus as far as I am concerned.
  14. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    The Cafe Walter is the best-sounding headphone amp on the market, IMO. I've had several, including the previous champ, the Raven Labs PHA-1. The Walter is very simple, rugged and sounds fabulous.

    BTW, I also used the think that good sound quality really isn't important for practice...wrong! The Walter is so accurate that it makes you want to play.
  15. Korg PX4B....best all around practice tool for bass I've found. It has some excellent effects, drum loops, metronome,tuner.....etc. You can slow down sections of music, play along, detune.... They can be had for around $125 on the 'Bay... now they are combining the guitar and bass units(PX4D) so these may become scarce. I wouldn't use one live although I've heard some guys do. Also...it can use WIRELESS cans.....nice, but eats the batteries. (Get the AC adapter)

    Audio quality is really good, plus the ability to model different amps and cabs is a lot of fun.

    Survey says:WINNER
  16. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    I have the tascam thingy, the Mk1, which I use as a CD player, great for looping and pitch shifting if you need to shift key or transcribe licks. Sound's OK, but not audiophile quality or loud enough for me sometimes.

    This is not a portable solution but:
    For the audio output, I use my recording rig -, I use an Alembic FIX direct to my mixing board, which mixes my bass with CD audio or MIDI files from my computer (great for shifting key as well) or my own pro tools files for practising; and instead of the mixing board's headphone out; I patch the signal to an old Crown D75 1U poweramp - which has a headphone output - definitely beats the headphone outs in the mixer, or the tascam hands down for audio quality. I have a slew of different 1U poweramps that I use for this or that, some of which also have a headphone out, but I much prefer the Crown. That's my headphone 'amp'.
  17. I was unimpressed with this unit when I tried it. It was very easy to overload the input (both using the battery and AC adaptor) and it seemed to add a lot of coloration to the sound...even when set flat. I understand, though, that they are redesigning the unit to combine the private practice amp and the outboard preamp unit into a single unit that I assume will be great.

    It sounds like the Cafe Walter is the way to go.... placing my order today!
  18. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    The best thing about the PHA (which I own and love) is the fact that it can handle two instruments at once and has two outputs for headphones so two people can play with just one unit. The tone is very good as well.

    How much are those Cafe Walters going for? My PHA isn't going anywhere but I always like to try out new things. :bassist:
  19. Can any of the other headphone amps slow down CDs? It depends on what you want it for, doesn't it.
  20. Good point, although now most MP3 players and programs have that feature built in, and it's typically higher quality (i.e., no sound degredation) versus the stand alone units. So, that has become a moot point for me. Technology can be a wonderful thing!