Plugging into a home stereo?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by indie-visible, Mar 19, 2001.

  1. I do know the tone would be awful, but I'm really considering plugging into a home stereo for just practicing at home. I plan on buying a new minisystem with good subwoofers... so why not make a use of this? And the question is: what input may be used to plug a bass in? As I understand, input impedance must be considered? Can you tell how appropriate are mic in and AUX inputs? Should I look for a system with a mic input?
    And I suppose if one pulgs into a home stereo through a SansAmp, that might be a good alternative to having a practice combo?
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You have to be VERY careful doing this.

    Home stereo speakers are just not built to handle bass guitar signals and at anything but very LOW volumes you risk blowing the speakers out.

    Since you can buy cheap "practice" amps for under $100 used and just over $100 new why risk your stereo. A SansAmp alone costs more than that. Get an amp.
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    brianrost is right, you'd probably be better off just getting a practice amp.

    BUT since I use my stereo as monitors for my four track, I just plug in my bass to the four track and play. It sounds ok, just don't turn it up too loud and take off any EQ you have on your stereo. But that's just me.
  4. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My friend tried to do that with his guitar and ended up blowing his speakers. If you think you are disciplined enough to keep the volume low then you won't have problems, but personally I would just go with a practice amp.
  5. Hey indie-visible, take it from the other guys, and me; I blew a good pair of speakers a long time ago doing just what you're planning. DON"T DO IT!
    Even a cheap practice amp will sound better.

    Mike J.
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Funny, I get very good results with playing over my stereo.
    The speakers even handle slaps incredibly well.
    I use a Zoom 9030 to plug into my Kenwood 2 x 150 W with old speakers I nicked from my old record player. I have to boost lows and highs a bit because of the cheap speakers, but it's perfect for practicing to records and HD recording.
    A freind of mine even gets better results with a tube preamp and highend hifi amp and speakers.

    It beats every practice amp I've heard, except for a Polytone or sth. in that range. It sounds almost like going direct in the studio and listening via the studio monitors.

    BTW: It's really hard to blow speakers. The main reason for blown tweeters at parties is the distortion that occurs when you use an amp that's too small!
    If you hear your speakers start to 'fart', just turn down volume or bass, your speakers will still be fine in most cases, but we're NOT talking rehearsal dB here, right?...
  7. I have to say I've already blown two audio systems ;) (woofers, not tweeters) and am close now to blowing the third one, but I don't care, it's an old one... they all were rated very little watts and low frequency limit of about 60Hz, so that's no surprise. But I thought if it'd be some capable subwoofers - why not? I tried some in stores, and they handled even Fieldie's low A with no problem at all, I'd even say, brilliantly, so will they have problems handling a live bass guitar? Why? Well, of course I don't think to turn it up to loud... just for hearing what I play.
    And what would you all say about which input is suitable? Will an active bass be heard when plugged into the AUX input, usually used for connecting video or a PC sound card? Suitable signal/noise ratio, or not?
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    An active bass might be ok, when the output is high enough.
    You can use anything that gives you a signal close to line level, e.g. a preamp or an FX unit.
    A friend of mine uses his old Nady wireless.
    The better the bass signal fits the stereo's input levelwise, the better the signal/noise ratio.
    But in general you'll probably get much less noise than with a cheap practice amp. I never experience noise problems.
  9. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    When I started playing bass, I hadn't enough money to buy an amp (even the smallest ones), so my father let me play on his old Hi-Fi stero amp and 2 hifi speakers.
    Well, 2 hours later I blew the 2 speakers and killed the amp's fuse.
    But that was some 70's gear ...
  10. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    All I can say I use a very good Kenwood with old cheap speakers for more than 6 years at moderate levels and above(!). No problem whatsoever....
  11. I've been playing on (really big) Hifi cabs for 1.5 years now, connected to a (slightly clipping) PA amp, at rehearsal levels (of a metal band), and never blown anything. It's not exactly a home stereo, but it's just to indicate that it's possible to play on hifi speakers.

    If you're careful with a home stereo and don't play louder than you would have your CDs play, and (if applicable) recognize clipping of the amp section, I don't see why you couldn't do this. By home stereo I don't mean a small mini system with included 1-way book shelf speakers.

    A home stereo IMO sounds far better than a small practise amp. Consequently, studio monitors are just very good hifi speakers. I wouldn't mind ;-) playing DI into a studio mixer over the mixing room monitors really loud.
  12. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    As has been said, if your volume levels are reasonable, you should be ok. I've been using what's turned out to be one of the best low-volume systems I've ever had for practice and learning tunes: A Rockman Bass Ace into a pair of powered JBL computer speakers. They sit on the desk next to my computer with it's own set of speakers, and I can sit in my office and learn tunes from MP3s. Pretty convenient. If I need to be quiet, I can bypass the JBL speakers and go straight from headphone out on computer to Rockman, out to phones. It all sounds pretty natural at lower volumes.
  13. =^..^=


    Jan 25, 2001
    Stuck on a rock !
    Ok - I've got a Soundblaster live drive on my computer, so all I do is to plug my bass into the 1/4" socket on the front and off I go.

    Most Soundcards have jack in for a mic, so with a little soldering (or even buy a cable) you should be able to sort it out for yourself.

    Lovely sound from the sub + satellites. Again the key is not too much volume - mind you if I want to be loud I'd use my ashdown !

    And when I want to learn a track I just mp3' it and play it through winamp with loopmaster to get the tricky sections, or "slowcd" to slow down tracks without changing the pitch.
  14. I actually get a decent tone out of my stereo.. but I don't dare try it at high volumes. It doesn't sound as good as my Ampeg BA-115, but it's far better than my little Crate BX-15.

    My computer's sound output is plugged into the auxillary input of my stereo.. I like to plug my bass into my soundcard (Soundblaster Live Platinum) and mess around with the effects.. I've gotten some pretty strange and haunting noises with a bit of delay and some high frequency pitch bending. The sound is something that would probably be right at home on a Residents recording.
  15. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Man, I'd not even thought of looping certain more difficult sections of an MP3 with an audio editor of some kind...what a great idea! How many times have I needed that capability after pressing REWIND or REVERSE 400 times, trying to learn something?
  16. =^..^=


    Jan 25, 2001
    Stuck on a rock !
    Heres a picture of loopmaster in action - its a winamp plugin so you can download it from Winamp or the URL in the bottom right of the picture. its 10th of a second accurate so you can get it to loop perfectly on the beat !

    Haven't got a screen shot of slowcd - it doesn't work in w2k and I can't be bothered rebooting into 98 (sorry I'm lazy like that) to run the demo, but it allows you to slow down tracks from a CD whilst keeping the pitch the same, or change the pitch of the track and keep the speed the same. Try
    for more info on that one !