1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

What is "headroom"?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by semborg, May 16, 2005.

  1. I have seen this word everywhere all the time and I don't know what it means.

    Can anyone explain, thank you!
  2. Happy MurphDay

    Happy MurphDay

    Mar 9, 2004
    every amp has wattage, and when you use all of the wattage, it starts to distort, thus headroom=extra wattage

    if you use a full stack (2 4x10s) and a hundred watt amp, it goes into distortion, but if youhave 1000 watts, you wont need to use them all, and not "pushing" the amp hard, will you use the full 1000 watts, prob not, but it prevents distortion,

    someone can explain it differently and prob better, but I hope this helps
  3. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I would describe it as the amount on volume available from an amp between the level you are currently playing at and the amps maximum output.
  4. MODNY

    MODNY Guest

    Nov 9, 2004
    i think it allows you to have more control, and thus providing you withe better tone
  5. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Here's the 'non-technical' answer (I'm sure you will get plenty of technical ones!). Headroom is the ability of an amp to reproduce 'input peaks' without distortion. For example, if you are playing in a loud situation with a 200 watt amp and have it pretty much cranked (i.e., about as loud as it will go for your typical playing style without distortion) to stay up with the volume of your band, and you all of a sudden start playing more intensely (or start slapping on your E string), then the amp does not have enough power left to reproduce that 'peak' without distorting. Now, a 200 watt (RMS) amp will have a reserve (maybe 400 watt peak power capability). However, if you are slamming on your bass and you really need 500 watts, you are out of luck.

    This is the primary reason to buy a head with 'more power than you need'. A 600 watt amp won't be that much louder than a 400 watt amp on a continuous basis, but WILL handle those peaks better.