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Headphone Practice Rig?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by kjp360, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. Phil Jones Bighead

  2. Ampeg SCR-DI

  3. Line 6 HX Stomp

  4. Palmer Pepampbass

  5. GK Plex Preamp

  6. Something else (please explain below)

  7. Carrots

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. kjp360


    Feb 11, 2014
    I wasn't sure whether to put this in Effects or Amps and Cabs..my apologies if this is the wrong sub forum.
    I am looking at options for headphone practice and can't seem to make up my mind.
    Background: I already have a decent set of cans (ATH-M40x) but don't have a small footprint way to practice through them. I do have an older combo amp with a headphone output but no aux or bluetooth input. Ideally, I would find something with a smallish footprint that had a headphone amp with enough juice, an aux input and/or bluetooth (independent aux volume ideally). I also play 6 string guitar so something that did double duty bass and guitar would be a plus but not required as I have other ways to deal with guitar practice if need be.

    My sonic preferences: I often use the 'just right' size tube amp for bass (and always do for guitar) so that I can live on the edge of breakup. If I dig in I can OD or if I roll back the volume I can clean up a bit into warm Stax-Volt-Motown land. I have recently come to appreciate the sound of the GK RB series. The GK's and an old Traynor Monoblock are the only non tube rigs that I have truly vibed with, but in all fairness I have no experience with modern higher end class D rigs such as Mesa, Aguilar etc.

    Solutions I have considered:
    1. Phil Jones Bighead - I worry that this will be a one trick pony and that I won't like the trick. In my limited experience with Phil Jones (4B cab and Briefcase Combo) the tone was very modern (for lack of a better word). Both products were good quality (and surprisingly loud and clear) but not really to my taste.
    2. Ampeg SCR-DI - I like me some Ampeg tube amps and the Ampeg tone in general but the only modern Ampeg product that I have mucked about with is the Scrambler OD pedal. There was nothing wrong with the pedal but it was an overdrive that I didn't really care for and took back to the store immediately. As affordable as the SCR-DI is, I am not sure I want to pay for and carry something that I know I will only use a portion of...I can't image ever engaging the OD function.
    3. Line 6 HX Stomp - This probably makes the most sense (the most control, will do double duty guitar and bass)...but at almost twice the price of the second most expensive option here (Plex). I also worry that I will spend some time mucking about with menus vs. practicing. I also worry that like all modelling products that it will depreciate very quickly until it is eventually worthless (I bought an AXE-SYS 212 when it was first released).
    4. Palmer Pepampbass Portable Bass Preamp - I have never heard of this maker or heard any demos but it seems to hit all the check boxes, has a nice form factor and decent price. I wish I knew more about it, the maker and its tone.
    5. GK Plex Preamp - Kinda expensive for what it is but if it can make my cans sound anything like the 400RB through an EV loaded 2x15 it might be worth it. If it could make a crappy backline rig sound like that as well then even better.

    I'm sure there are solutions that I am unaware of and I am happy to hear them. I would be especially interested in suggestions of common used gear that is similar to the above. I do not have a set budget but do not need to hear about products that cost more than the HX Stomp (799 Canadian). Thanks in advance for your help.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
  2. forrestlaw

    forrestlaw Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2018
    I posted something similar to this in the Amps subforum over the weekend:
    Phil Jones BigHead... is this the gold standard in headphone amps?

    The BigHead Pro seems to have fixed the small issues that some people had with the original BigHead. That being said, I would have a serious look at the Zoom B1 Four (or B1X Four if you want/need an expression pedal). I've narrowed my choice down to the Zoom and BigHead, but have yet to make a decision.
    imabuddha and kjp360 like this.
  3. kjp360


    Feb 11, 2014
    Thanks I will dig into that thread while waiting for some more feedback and check out the Zoom units also. Cheers.
  4. Neunaber Iconoclast is a Headphone Amp and Cabinet Simulator. Accepts instrument or consumer line level input. According to Neunaber, it can be used for bass. Not sure it tricks all your boxes, but I'll put it out there.

    lermgalieu, wesonbass and kjp360 like this.
  5. kjp360


    Feb 11, 2014
    This looks like an interesting device. On quick inspection it is unclear whether or not it will play back an aux in line and an instrument at the same time...I better dig a little bit deeper. Thanks for the heads up.
  6. millahh

    millahh Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    The newer version of the full size OCSD might be a winner. Relatively small, good for guitar or bass, aux in, stereo headphone out, sounds great, and a cab sim/DI is just a useful piece of kit
  7. kjp360


    Feb 11, 2014
    Yet another box that I had no idea existed! More demos to watch now... Cheers and thanks for the interesting suggestion.
    millahh likes this.
  8. I voted Helix. It's not what I'd personally go for (I use a Genz-Benz Shuttle into a Two Notes CAB), but we have different needs. Since you double on bass and guitar I think that Helix is the way to go. Sure, there are A LOT of options in there, and it looks like there may be easy to get lost in them, but you can also just stick to the presets (stock and/or created by other users). As for losing it's value, that's something that I personally never give much thought. I guess it could only be a problem if you are planning to resell. If you are planning on playing the cr*p out of it, then it doesn't really matter, does it? :thumbsup:
  9. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I believe some of the new Darkglass pedals might tick most of the boxes. Namely, the X7 Ultra.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
    kjp360 likes this.
  10. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    My "SMALL" footprint headphone amp is a Genz Benz Shuttle 9.0.:D
    Zbysek, imabuddha, Spidey2112 and 4 others like this.
  11. TheLopp


    Dec 30, 2013
    My vote goes to Shift Line Olympic mkIIIs. Not the cheapest solution but I think it ticks all your boxes. Headphones and aux in that is by far the best headphone amp I’ve played through. Sounds stellar.

    And it’s a tube preamp, that goes from totally clean to a pushed tube amp. Not really distorted, but pushed. Sounds great at the edge of break up! Really small footprint for all if it’s options. A three way toggle for two cab IRs, or no cab, FX loop, DI, out, parallel out and lots more.

    I fall in love every time I sit down to practice. It’s that good IMO.
  12. Christophe C

    Christophe C

    Feb 15, 2019
    The zoom b1xon is my home Swiss Army knife
  13. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    It depends on what you want from a headphone amp.

    If your priority is finding a tool that allows you to practice or rehearse at low volumes and you're focused on your playing and technique, I'd say just buy a Vox Amplug and be done with it. You can buy two or three of them for about $120; the bass version, the AC30 version, and one of the overdrive versions, if you want. No bluetooth, but a built-in drum machine (on the bass version) and aux inputs on all models. It'll keep you and your playing pretty honest. Bonus - you can play on the go - throw it in your gig bag - and there's no reason to worry about depreciation.

    If you're chasing your tone through headphones, or you intend to use this tool as part of a rig, one of the options you described may work better.

    Note that if you're looking at the HX Stomp, you may also consider the new Pod GO pedal, which is less expensive than the HX Stomp and may do what you need if you only intend to use it for headphone practice and don't need full Helix routing and IO.

    But yeah - if you're focused on being able to play and practice solo without bothering others - in my opinion, it's hard to beat the Amplug.
  14. TimGriffiths


    Aug 10, 2016
    I use my recording set up for practice at home. The main bit you need is an audio interface, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Then you need recording software often called a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), I like Reaper and it's fully featured and cheap although it's free trial never actually expires. Then you can look at amp modelling plug ins, there's a bunch of free stuff if you're willing to do some work but things like the Ampeg SVX are also great for the price.

    It's not cheap but it's also not as expansive, all in, as some of the options you've listed if you've got a half decent computer to start with. But it has a lot of advantages, it's flexible, and you'll be set up for doing some basic home recording.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
  15. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    My vote goes to the Bighead.

    IME, worrying too much about tone is a waste of time if it's headphone practice you're going for. It'll never match exactly what you get out of your amp/cab anyway, so why bother? What you want is to hear yourself clearly, so you can hone your technique.

    For that the Bighead is excellent - small footprint, solidly built, long battery life, and it will give you the exact tone of your bass, no more, no less. One of the best bass-related purchases I ever made.
  16. SteveIII


    Jul 11, 2019
    Oshawa Ontario
    I personally bought the helix lt but only because boxing day had one for only 100 more than the stomp. The usb interface is cool. I play the music on my computer, and have the chord sheets up on the screen and just go through the set list. Just worry about one amp at a time . Last week I added a bit of chorus, but have just been using the b15 for older stuff and the m9 carbine for more modern stuff. Just don't get lost in analysis paralysis and it works great for headphone practice
    kjp360 likes this.
  17. It sounds like there are a lot of great options here. For my own headphone practice I love my Zoom B1 Four. I just got it for Christmas and I’ve used it quite a bit already. It’s got great built-in models and effects, a tuner, drum machine, AUX in and ten customizable empty channels that are a lot of fun to mess with. All that for $80.00. That would be my vote. If you hate it you’re not out much. Yes, it’ll depreciate like crazy, but the initial investment is so small that it’s no great loss if you don’t like it.
    imabuddha, Herbie Chesnutt and kjp360 like this.
  18. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    I use my Genz Benz Streamliner 900. Doesn't need a load so I put an audio source in the Aux In and Plug my Sony monitors in the back. I use the Genz on the majority of my gigs so its nice to have a similar sound to practice with.

    imabuddha, Spidey2112 and kjp360 like this.
  19. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    +1 on DSM's OmniCabSim Deluxe. It's just a fantastic unit.

    Note -- I had the Palmer for a very brief period and ended up quickly selling it. I simply didn't care for it.

    The OCSD eats its lunch on every level.
    millahh, TheLopp and kjp360 like this.
  20. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Suspended Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    Any of those will do, I don’t know your budget but I wouldn’t spend crazy money on a headphone set up, it’s just practice...
    MrLenny1, LT131, BarfanyShart and 2 others like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 5, 2021

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