Best headphone amp for Stompbox pedals?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by GibsonLives, May 15, 2011.

  1. GibsonLives

    GibsonLives Supporting Member

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    Hopefully I've got the correct forum. I'm starting to build a small collection of individual effects pedals after deciding against going the in-in-one multieffects route. One downside is that, unlike most of the multis, a pedalboard doesn't allow you to throw on a pair of headphones and jam with your effects late at night, so I'm planning to add some sort of headphone amp to use with them. Since my dirt and other effects will be taken care of, I basically just need something clean, no not too many bells and whistles. Anyone else use their stompboxes this way? What's been your xperience? Any specific DI amps you'd care to recommend? Thanks.
    Steve
     
  2. SteveO

    SteveO Member

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    The other downside is that you will need to account for the lack of cabinet emulator, or else you'll wind up with a swarm of angry bees.

    If it were me, I would find the Tech 21 Character series pedal that is closest to your actual amp and add it to your chain for amp/cabinet emulation, then invest in a cheap mixer with headphone out to monitor through. With the mixer, you can also add the outputs from a cd player, Ipod, or other source to provide something to jam along with.
     
  3. GibsonLives

    GibsonLives Supporting Member

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    Steveo, good point. Yeah, I did consider the amp/cab simulation, and didn't add it to my OP partly because I just forgot, and partly because my lack of experience with headphone amps left me assuming that they would incorporate that feature, something which you're suggesting they typically do not. My mp is an SFPR, so if I went TECH 21, that would be the Blonde. Thing is, though, I already have the California (Boogie emulator), which I bought to add another dimension to the PR. Problm is, while it does emulate the amp fairly well, it's awful noisy, and as a result, I don't care for it much in front of an amp. Now, maybe that would change through a headphone rig, but I'd have to dial WAY back on the gain if I wanted any hope of a clean signal (and the loss of all of the noise). Tech 21's products have never impressed me - I also tried the original Sansamp pedal and the Trademark series of amps - though, as mentioned, things may be different with the new setup. Alternately, do you (or does anyone else) know of a good headphone amp that has an amp/cab sim built in, or will I be stuck outsourcing that feature to yet another pedal? Thanks again.
    Steve
     
  4. mgarrison99

    mgarrison99 Silver Supporting Member

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    You should check out the Carl Martin Rock Bug. i have one that does a pretty decent job with headphones, although it sounds more amplike when i route it and my effects directly to a PA channel.
     
  5. GibsonLives

    GibsonLives Supporting Member

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    Mgarrison, LMAO! I literally JUST stumbled across that thing, and was coming back to ask about it! Great minds think alike, huh? Thanks :)
    Steve

    P.S.: Can you please explain what you mean about it sounding "more amplike" through the PA? Does it sound rather deadish through headphones with stompboxes, or is it just better through actual cabs in a room setting? thanks again.
     
  6. pattste

    pattste Member

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    Last summer I bought a Line 6 Pocket Pod Express (their most basic unit) exactly for that purpose. I set it on the Twang amp model, a bit of room reverb and other effects off and it's a lot of fun to practice through. In fact, I often practice through it even when using my amp would be perfectly acceptable. Good headphones make a big difference too. I had considered the Carl Martin Rock Bug and may still buy one some day but for now the Pocket Pod Express does the job.
     
  7. digiTED

    digiTED rock > talk

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    I used to run the following:

    pedal board > Egnater Tweaker (15w tube head) > Weber MiniMASS attenuator w/ dummy load + line out > Tech 21 ParaDriver DI for EQ > the tiny EHX headphone amp > Audio Technica M30.

    It was OK, but kind involved to set up, and still was sterile.

    Now I have a great solution for my ears: pedalboard into the Vox Lil' Night Night Train head! Just picked up a closed-box from GC for $220 with a coupon.

    It has a built-in cab sim on the line-out/headphone jack as well as a dummy load. It's safe to plug EITHER into the the line-out OR the speaker cab out.

    Sounds GREAT, especially with better tubes (NOS RFT in V1 and GE in V3) and the treble pot turned down very low. It's got remarkably nice cleans as well as articulate saturation. Classic Vox-y cleans and hot break-up up to almost Plexi-ish crunch in "thick" mode which bypasses the EQ.

    Both my Tele and PRS CE22 like it.

    Case closed for me.
     
  8. champion ruby

    champion ruby Member

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    For headphone practice I use a Sansamp Leeds into my mixer and use the headphone out. It's convincing enough and fine for practice, forget about using guitar volume to get cleans though. While it's not perfect, it works great with stompboxes.
     
  9. cheameup

    cheameup Member

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    I bought a cheap behringer DI for headphones and plugging direct into soundcard for easy garage jamming with the band . Its not the best DI in the word its good for getting by .

    It gives a little amp like quality to the dirt and takes away that harsh distortion sound you get from plugging dirt boxes straight into a soundcard
     
  10. revlimitbounce

    revlimitbounce Member

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    I have a couple-year old Korg Pandora that had multiple configurable effects built in and works fine. Has aux in and tuner. Not the latest and greatest, but eminently usable. Once, I had to use it direct into the PA with no amp when the house Deluxe Reverb blew up thanks to the punk who went on before me. It essentially became a Pod-like thing and worked for the night (thank God I had a few pedals with me, too, though).
     
  11. LuckyBlackCat

    LuckyBlackCat Member

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    Roland Micro Cube FTW. I went through this search recently due to a new baby in the house. Tried the Pocket Pod, but it just didn't do it for me. You NEED halfway decent reverb in headphones and it did not have it. The Micro Cube's reverb sounds pretty good, actually, and the "Black Panel" setting gives you a good clean base.

    You can't get overdrive pedals to sound GREAT, but I don't think that's possible with headphones. Low gain tube screamer sounds can be decent, but mid to high gain with anything sounds bad through phones in my opinion, no matter what amp you're using.
     
  12. d l x r e v e r b

    d l x r e v e r b Member

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    (1) revelimitbounce, What did the guy who played before you do to blow up the amp ?

    (2) Korg Pandora
    I emphatically second the recommendation to use a Korg Pandora or another brand of headphone amp rather than your regular pedals. Fits in your pocket so able to practice anytime , anywhere and can be used direct to PA in a live performance emergency. A better use of cash than any other option. Available used on eBay for 40 to 75 dollars. If buying new ,the recently released Mini Pandora is even smaller in size. Aim for a Pandora PX4-D which is designed for both guitar and bass but any of the "guitar only" Pandora's would be just fine. The "guitar only" models can be used for practicing bass but the dedicated bass versions sound better. Both versions have drum machine and an input jack for running the audio from cd. MP3, etc for jamming along to.

    Using a dedicated headphone amp also keeps electronic wear and tear off all of your other pedals (nothing lasts forever).

    (3) The headphone output on most amps is a marketing feature rather than a tone feature. Korg Pandora has a much better tone than any amp with headphone jack that I've heard.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011
  13. kirs

    kirs Member

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    Hmm, I have a Sansamp Character on order. Was going to run it into a headphone amp with my pedals behind it but, hmmm for $50 more a real tube head with dummy load. Might be an option for me.

    Right now I use pedal board -> MicroCube. Not bad at all for practice but no breakup on the amp itself.
     
  14. GibsonLives

    GibsonLives Supporting Member

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    Hey, all, I went with the Rock Bug, and it works very well. I also picked up a Nova System, and the two together are nice. Granted, a portable headphone amp with built-in effects would've ben sweet, but the NS allows for use in multiple applications, so some sacrifice was involved, and all in all, setup is easy, and the tones are much better than most cheaper, smaller dedicated headphone amps I've heard.
    Steve
     
  15. Doug59

    Doug59 Supporting Member

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    The Rock Bug looks cool.

    To plug in a CD player, etc.. does it have to be a stereo connection? What type of tip on the plug is needed?

    I use a Line 6 amp with headphones now and it has the "mini" jack to use from the amp to the CD player. Which works well....but the Carl Martin has my interest.
     
  16. monkmiles

    monkmiles Member

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    I like the Vox Mini 3 amp. It's got a good selection of decent models and works well when I plug my pedalboard into it. I usually use the Twin model to get the Fender cleans of my "real" amps, but I also like the Tweed and 70s Marshall models sometimes.
     
  17. magnus02

    magnus02 Member

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    I went thru this same dilemma and ended up with a digitech rp155 (or something like that) and am gonna mount it under my trailer trash board. It works just fine for cleans and takes pedals in front of it just fine. It was $75 or so used on eBay. Maybe there are better options but I'm satisfied for now and even have some other effects to play with... having said that it will never be in my normal signal chain... a/b box going to it for headphone time
     
  18. GibsonLives

    GibsonLives Supporting Member

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    Doug, I've never used it that way, but it looks like RCA jacks to me. I've also got a Tascam CD guitar trainer, so if I want to learn songs or jam, I use that. The Tascam also has built-in effects, so I could use that by itself to play with headphones, but they're not great effects, and now, I've got both, which is always a cool extra option.
    Steve
     
  19. Doug59

    Doug59 Supporting Member

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    Hi Steve,

    Thanks !
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  20. orogeny

    orogeny Supporting Member

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    love mine for headphone use
     

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