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Practicing with headphones.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Walkabout, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Walkabout


    Jul 23, 2013
    I need to practice using headphones and would like to get as close as possible to my live sound. Is running with a dummy load connected a practical solution sound wise and financially? I was thinking my options are:

    • Connect to a dummy speaker load and use the DI on my amp. Is this overkill? Any recommendations for which dummy load to get? Or how to choose one?
    • Forget it and use my tuner's DI... If dummy loads are just too expensive or running the amp's DI into a board/headphones wouldn't give a good approximation of the live sound.

    • Fender Jaguar bass
    • Mesa Boogie Walkabout (1x15, 300W, DI) combo bass amp
    • Peterson Stomp Classic strobo tuner pedal with DI

    Any recommendations? Am I missing any options?
  2. Interesting!

    Being a solid state head it doesn't 'need' a load like a tube amp but given you want the overdriven saturated sound from the output of the Mesa there's something to be said for it. Unlike other SS amps, the WA output section breaks up and has a tone of its own. You would want to have a dummy load and a DI that can take a speaker load - then run that into a headphone amp.

    It sure is a hell of a lot of trouble to go to though!
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I don't know why you'd need a dummy load for a solid-state amp. I practice through a Raven Labs PHA-1 if it's late at night. For me, getting my actual tone is unimportant - I'm just learning the notes and patterns. My tone will still be there when I hook up to my rig. Regardless of how you set up your gear, the headphones aren't going to sound like your live rig anyway, with their 40- or 50-mm drivers. I use Shure SRH840s or Sony MDR7506s and they work real well. Of course, I play live with a real clean sound so there's not much I need to do.

    It doesn't look like you're running any effects so you should be able to get a decent sound out of a headphone amp with some tone controls. For $249, you could pick up a GK MB200. It has a stereo auxiliary in, headphones out, and 4-band EQ. You don't need a dummy load for solid state amps, so it's a perfect headphone amp that doubles as a very handy and good-sounding practice amp. I've even played small gigs with mine.

    vin*tone's idea will work, too. You could use a Countryman Type 85, set it for speaker input and send the speaker output from your amp to the DI, but you'd still have to have a headphone amp to receive the signal from the DI. That, and the Countryman costs almost as much as the MB200.
  4. Walkabout


    Jul 23, 2013
    Thanks, good feedback. I didn't realize I could run the amp without a load. Between the amp's direct out and the tuner/DI box I'm sure I'll be able to get what I want.
  5. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    From my experience, you cannot get your live sound through headphones, as Munjibunga said. You might play through the same amp, but speakers and interaction with the room are a big part of the sound. I have a headphone out on my amp, and whenever I practice silently through headphones, I dial in the eq differently in order to get the sound I want....
  6. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Do you get a sonic improvement with good IEMs instead of headphones?
  7. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Modelers take the cab, room, and mic placement into account.
    Try Amplitube
  8. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Palmer PDI-03. Dummy load if you want it. Speaker sim built in. Headphone jack.
  9. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Whenever I try to play through headphones, ( not high-end, but not cheap, fully enclosed Sennheisers that were more ha 100 bucks a long time ago), it sounds absolutely terrible. Not like a real bass sound at all.

    I gave up on headphones for practice, and just turn the amp way down.

    If anyone knows of some good sounding headphones for bass, I would like to know about them.
  10. NoChi


    Mar 16, 2011
    The Hague, Holland
    Get a zoom b3
    drpepper likes this.
  11. FWIW: I switched from headphones to earbubs - for "best bang for the buck" buds checkout the Shure SE215.

    EDIT: But nothing really sounds/feels like an amp except for using a real amp.
  12. I plug my Shure SE535s directly into my bass (active, haven't tried my passive) when I want to practice quietly. I don't really care about tone when I'm just noodling around late at night. The only problem with IEMs and cans as well is that they bring out A LOT of high end and it will sound quite different than playing through a bass cab tuned to bass frequencies. I guess this could be considered good because you really hear everything when you're playing. Helps you fine tune your nuances. You'll never get your exact live tone through headphones just because of how bass cabs are tuned. You would need a modeling pedal methinks
  13. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    I prefer turning down and using a speaker positioned at ear level. Something about having the air in there that makes a difference.

    Otherwise I use a pair of Beyerdynamic DT-250's. Sealed and comfortable.
  14. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    My question about using good IEMs instead of headphones is not idle curiosity. I've got a good signal chain (I think) for silent practicing.

    Bass --> sfx Micro-H headphone amp (similar to this, but smaller - see photo) --> Audio-Technica ATH-D40fs [bass enhanced] headphones

    The sound is crystal clear and every nuance is revealed. What this setup does not provide is the aural cushion of bass that comes with an amp/cab.

    Would moving to good IEMs like the 1964 Ears Quad be the the key to getting more of an amp/cab experience with silent mode?
  15. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    That's hard to answer. Some people can adapt to IEM systems, some like me can't. By sealing your ear with the IEM, you are removing outside sound and protecting your hearing, and delivering just what you want. Headphones will deliver the sound, just not as directly as an IEM. I think that the aural cushion comes from the sound reverberating through the air around the room and then into your ears.

    The problem with both is the volume level and pressure in the ear canal. Keeping the volume level low is a problem. People also have a tendency to turn up the level even higher as ear fatigue sets in. Stressing your hearing can cause medical problems in the long term and ringing and balance problems short term.

    I find that a speaker and air helps me avoid stressing my hearing and it sounds better so I can use that you play off.

  16. IME, if you want to get closer to that feel of the air thumping against your ear drums, I think you'd be better off with a set of open-back cans that are a bit bass heavy rather than an IEM which has a more linear response right across the spectrum. If you already have a headphone amp, you'd be set to drive a good set of cans with a nice amount of bass.
  17. I practice through my Ampeg Micro VR connected to a pair of Sennheisers. I can match my tone to the tone of the music I am playing (which is the tone i am shooting for live). And I am using a pair of cheap Sennheise closed backs, model hd 201.
  18. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Thing is, the time I usually want to play "silent" is when my wife is watching TV. The closed cans shut out part of the TV noise but not all. I'm wondering if IEMs would do a better job of blocking that noise. My home studio is open to the the living room area where the TV is, so there's no door to close.

    From what you say here, is doesn't sound like the IEMs would do a better job of delivering the feeling of air.
  19. They would certainly block out all that noise. It's the whole reason I use my IEMs when I practice and not my cans. The sound from IEMs feels like it comes from inside your head rather than air from the outside, if you know what I mean.. I'm not the best at describing things. They're a whole different creature and some people just don't like them.

    I'd go for a cheap pair of IEMs before dropping the money on a custom moulded set if you've never used them before.
  20. P Town, there are some good threads on Talkbass about headphones for practice. If you cross check threads you get similar names so you should be able to find a good set of cans. Names I easily recall: Sennheiser, AKG, Sony, Beyer Dynamic, Grado, Audio-Technica.
    I agree with Munji's logic on this one. Headphones are great, for learning parts, because you can totally focus on the player's notes and nuances. I find I lose that trying to match my amplification gear vs the stereo.