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Nice sound when practicing at home?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by taught, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. taught


    Jan 5, 2015
    Ok, so the thing is that I have an Ashdown Tourbus 15 practice amp at home which I always use with headphones when practicing (which is a must for obvious reasons).
    The headphones I use is an Audio Technica ATH-M20x which is an entry level studio headphones.

    The problem:
    When listening through headphones the sound coming out of the headphones are dull, lifeless and boring. I tried using my Ampeg classic preamp while practicing. It helped a little bit but still a "meh" sound.

    Note: I do like the sound of the amp when headphones are not plugged in and sound comes from the speakers.

    The question:
    Is it even possible to get a decent, full, rich sound through headphones like I usually get when playing headphones-unplugged or am I forever doomed with this dull sound if I want to play headphones-plugged-in?

    If I buy another amp to a different one (like a Fender Rumble 15) will it help me any way or should I invest into a higher level pair of headphones?
  2. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I recently purchased the Ampeg BA108v2 practice amp with 20 watts and an 8" speaker. The combo sounds AWESOME for home rehearsal. For quiet rehearsal I plug in my iPad mini (1/8") for music playback and a 1/8" Skullcandy earbuds. The headset seals nicely in my ears and the bass tone and music playback are PHENOMENAL. I highly recommend this combination. The insane part of this is that the Ampeg is only $99 and the Skullcandy headset is $19!

    As I mentioned, even if you practiced quietly with the amp without the headphones, you'll be amazed at the solid thump you get from the little practice combo. It's that classic buttery thick Ampeg tone, and because of that, I've found myself enjoying practicing much longer now. Highly recommended!
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
    taught likes this.
  3. I have similar "different sound" experience with my practice combo.
    I took mine apart to see how it ticks, and found out that amplification paths are different for headphones and speaker (obvious in retrospective).
    In my case signal goes from input to preamp/EQ/effects section, then to switching jack. From there it either goes to headphones amp / aux mixer made from OPAMPs, or to power section on another board (transistors, didn't look what kind of).
    I have a nagging suspicion that amping with transistors change tone a little, they have less linearity than OPAMPs IIRC. Find a time when your playing through speaker is tolerable, and dial a tone you like. Then put in headphones and compare.
    Next, at the same time, while playing through speaker try to deal dull / hated sound with EQ. Then do opposite of it and try speakers.
    Finally, I use amp/cab "simulation" in my zoom processor, and play bass -> processor -> headphones. It gives better tone than just amp, but I have to fiddle with virtual amp knobs for quite some time. So maybe you need different approach, not different amp.
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Don't bother using a practice amp if it's always with phones. A phones preamp is enough, like a small multi for example.
  5. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    It's absolutely possible to get a phenomenal sound in headphones. Read up on what works well and invest in good ones, entry level
    won't cut it in this area.
    jchrisk1 likes this.
  6. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Use your computer. Pick up some of the software modelers and give the demos a try. You'll want to record yourself at some point and the PC is good for that too.
    Jborg and Jazz Ad like this.
  7. ak56

    ak56 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2015
    Carnation, Wa
    If you are going to practice with headphones, get good ones.

    I use the Sony MDR-7506 headphones with that same Ashdown amp, and it sounds good.
    taught and DiabolusInMusic like this.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I was going to say this exact same thing except I use a different amp. I went through a couple sets of cheaper headphones before I splurged on the Sonys. I really should have done so sooner, they make a big difference.
    taught and ak56 like this.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    What you're probably missing is some sort of speaker emulation. There are many quality outboard preamps have some form of speaker emulation built in. AFAIK the Classic Ampeg preamp doesn't have it. That emulation feature goes a long way towards making things sound more realistic when practicing with just headphones.
    taught likes this.

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