Tube amp with headphones ? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
 
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Tube amp with headphones ?

Hey guys,

This is a total newbie question
I was looking into getting an ENGL Screamer 50 (or maybe an ENGL Powerball head with an extra cabinet) but then something came to my mind... none of these amps have an headphone socket. Seems like only the cheaper 5 watt no high-gain zone seem to carry them (even more when they're solid state). Is there any workaround or is it just the way it is ?

Reason I'm asking is that I really dig the sound of the ENGL powerball.. but 100w is a bit too much for me right now. I'll be playing mostly at home but I also have neighbours and I fear that even at the lower levels, it'll be too loud for 2am playing.

How do you guys do this ? Do you have a separate solid state with headphones or a POD for home practising and a separate high power amp for gigging and stuff ?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

The main thing to remember is that even if you use a pod or something in the effects loop to give you a headphone out, you still need to have a load on the output of the amp. Without it you'll fry your amp pretty quick. Solid states don't have that problem, hence you see them with headphone outs a lot more commonly. Some tube amps will let you do the effects loop setup by keeping the amp in standby but YMMV. You also need to remember that your tube amp won't sound nearly as good with low volume as it will when it's being pushed a little...or a lot depending on what you play. If you need something just for 2AM practicing, and your amp for other times, I'd really suggest getting a cheap modeler. It won't be the best tone, but you won't make anyone mad or ruin your amp trying to do work-arounds.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

I didn't know that about having the load on the output of the amp. Seems the more I play, buy gear, and read Jemsite, the less I know. LOL

My solution was to get a Peavey JSX Mini Colossal. 5 watt, all tube, class A, and it has a power sponge feature that allows you to get that overdriven tone at lower volumes. I love it. There are other options, too, there's an Egnater that you can turn from 20 watts down to 1 (the Rebel I think it's called).

I like the cheap modeling amp solution, many many choices and you can get decent-to-good sound for late-night, low-volume playing.

Or just get a $40 plug-in headphone amp? Good luck!
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 12:20 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

Remember that wattage equals clean volumes more than overall volume and that something that is 1 watt is only a quarter as loud as something that is 100 watts. With amps, what you want is something like the JSX that has a master volume to allow you to reduce your amp's overall volume while keeping the pre-amp gain in there. Unfortunately, even those aren't perfect as amps, especially higher watt ones, need to move air to get their sound and it won't be quite right at low volumes. If you really just plan to use it for late night, I would go with the cheap modelers because they're cheap. If you want a different flavored amp that can do a lot of things, is easily portable and can be a late night solution,the JSX is a great option. One other amp worth looking at might be the Blackstar HT-5. The combo would be loud and portable enough to take to jams (not real rehearsals, that's what the Engl is for) and could do late night bids. I've been looking at the head as a possible home recording amp and the few times I've played it, I've come away smiling...now if I could just get my funds together. It doesn't have a master volume but the levels seem pretty reasonable unless your walls are paper thin.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 01:12 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

You could get an attenuator or something. I don't personally know too much about them, but they let you more or less crank the amp and not pop your eardrums.

http://www.amptone.com/powerattenuatorfaq.htm

According to that, the only problem is 1) burning out the amp and 2) the way the speakers react to it.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 03:46 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

Attenuators are an acceptable solution in some cases and you won't burn your amp out using them any faster than you would if you didn't have the attenuator in the chain. As I said before though, some amps need to push air and when you divert some of that energy into heat instead of pushing the speakers, some of your tone will be affected. There are attenuators that have EQ compensation for this to some degree, but attenuators are really best at taking an insane volume down to loud rather than a loud volume down to whisper.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-01-2009, 06:43 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

If you looked at the Blackstar HT-5 it has a speaker emulator that you can plug in headphones, or put it through to a PA/mixing desk or even your PC. I run mine through to the PC sometimes when my son is asleep so I can crank up the amp, but turn down the volume using my PC's speakers.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 04:57 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

Yeah, I think you said elsewhere that the Blackstar's headphone output mutes the speaker out. It's too bad they just jacked the price of those up $100 across the board.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 05:07 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

I use a weber mass with my Laney GH50L and it works great. In my experience you don't really have to crank the amp to get good tone. I put the master volume on 3 and turn the weber mass down to 1 and that produces a big full sound.

I bought the weber mass at http://www.eurotubes.com/. Mass lite 100 is what I have.

I used to use a POD 2.0 and it's not bad either, but I prefer the Laney + weber setup. Good luck!
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smooth55 View Post
As I said before though, some amps need to push air and when you divert some of that energy into heat instead of pushing the speakers, some of your tone will be affected. There are attenuators that have EQ compensation for this to some degree, but attenuators are really best at taking an insane volume down to loud rather than a loud volume down to whisper.
Would you not have this same problem playing the amp at a relatively quiet volume without an attenuator?
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 10:23 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magical Muffin View Post
Would you not have this same problem playing the amp at a relatively quiet volume without an attenuator?
No, you use an attenuator so you can get poweramp saturation at low volumes. Its not really good for metal, because poweramp distortion isnt really the desired tone for metal, but for rock etc, it generally sounds better than just preamp distortion.

There isnt really any way to use a big tube amp for quiet practice, they just arent built for it.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-02-2009, 10:44 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

I use a Weber Mass 100 attenuator, and I chose the option of having them put a headphone tap on it. It solves the problem of late night volume obviously, but as mentioned before, the tone suffers a bit - it's definitely usable, though.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-05-2009, 10:49 AM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

As for the question about an amp turned down vs an attenuator, Phil's right in saying that by turning the amp down you lose the power tube distortion aspect of your tones. As part of that, you lose some tube compression and sustain as well as the distortion properties.
You probably wouldn't have posted if you were satisfied with your amp's tone even when turned down. An attenuator can help maintain cranked tone at more reasonable volumes, but it still has limitations. It basically boils down to if you think you'll be able to play your Engl during the day without problems from the neighbors, I'd go with the Engl and get a cheap headphone amp for those 2AM sessions. If you can't play your Engl at any time of day, an attenuator on top of the Engl is worth considering, but you might want to look at something cheap to get you through until your living situation allows for a meatier amp.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2009, 11:08 AM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

Wow! 100 Watts in your bedroom? Yeah, the neighbors will certainly be screaming... I have a lot of experience with attenuators and have tried and owned several. I recently wrote an article on my blog about the effect a really good attenuator will have on how you approach your tone. Here's the link: http://wp.me/p3yWp-yL

Mind you, power attenuation is all about ratios. In that article, I used a 22 Watt amp, and could get down to 0.04 watt with my Aracom PRX150-Pro. Not sure how far you can take a 100 Watt amp down, but you can get it down pretty significantly may be in the 2 - 3 watt range. Mind you that sonically, 2 - 3 watts is pretty loud, but it's much more manageable than 100 Watts.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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Re: Tube amp with headphones ?

100 watts in no way means that you can't play it quiet.
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