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Using a headphone amplifier with guitar pedals

divided_

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Hi All,

Not sure if this is the right way to ask this but here goes.

I'm trying to build a guitar practicing rig that is headphone based. I can't turn up my guitar cabinets because it gets loud very quickly. However, the guitar world doesn't really focus on how to get the most accurate sound with headphones; "just plug it into the headphone jack brah".

I was thinking of taking my pedal amp output via xlr and plugging it into a Topping ext90 as one of the inputs with my dac being another input. I would then use my Topping A90D as the output source where I could use either my headphones or my desktop monitors to output my guitar sound.

Does this sound sane or am I missing a step? What should I consider in this case? Would love any and all thoughts / comments.
 

Inner Space

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Does this sound sane or am I missing a step? What should I consider in this case? Would love any and all thoughts / comments.
Welcome to ASR. Two comments - first, "accuracy" really isn't a thing with guitars. You have to conceive of the fingers-instrument-preamp-poweramp-speaker chain as one single entity, to be considered as a whole. Injecting hifi standards of accuracy downstream of your pedal board will cut out half the deal.

Also, guitars produce violent spikes, huge crest factors, and insane peak to average ratios, so your hifi components will probably spend most of their time overloading and clipping. (Applies to headphones too - at the minimum you'd need some tough old workhorses for the task.)

So honestly, better to buy a small practice combo (a cheap one from a pawn shop with a blown speaker would be ideal) and then ... just plug into the headphone jack.
 
OP
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divided_

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Thanks for the comment,

My planned chain is one that simply amplifies the final sound from a power amp pedal which has already completed the signal chain of a guitar. I've found that with even low impedance headphones, the provided headphone jacks don't appear to be powerful enough to drive them as their focus is on outputs to cabinets. This is very true with cheap practice amp combos as well.

I'm seeking to just further amplify the signal and wondering if an xlr input from the amp pedal into a headphone amp would work.
 

DVDdoug

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You can try it! You won't hurt anything. A headphone output is about the same voltage as line-level audio signals. The main difference is that a headphone output is capable of driving a lower impedance load and a headphone output always has a volume control.

if an xlr input
Balanced XLR inputs can be a little "weird"... Since the headphone output is unbalanced stereo, a "regular" 3.5mm to XLR adapter will put left into once side of the balanced input and right into the other and you'll get center-channel subtraction, or if left & right are the same you'll get (almost) nothing...

You'll probably need a couple of adapter cables
to split-out the left & right to separate XLR plugs.
 
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D

divided_

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Very cool. Thanks for the comment.

I'll definitely try it out and let others know!
 

threni

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Hi All,

Not sure if this is the right way to ask this but here goes.

I'm trying to build a guitar practicing rig that is headphone based. I can't turn up my guitar cabinets because it gets loud very quickly. However, the guitar world doesn't really focus on how to get the most accurate sound with headphones; "just plug it into the headphone jack brah".

I was thinking of taking my pedal amp output via xlr and plugging it into a Topping ext90 as one of the inputs with my dac being another input. I would then use my Topping A90D as the output source where I could use either my headphones or my desktop monitors to output my guitar sound.

Does this sound sane or am I missing a step? What should I consider in this case? Would love any and all thoughts / comments.
I use the Zoom G1X Four multi effects pedal. Loads of effects and amp/cab simulation, drum machine, 30 second looper, tuner, aux input (play along with your pc/phone/hifi etc) and analogue wah-wah foot pedal. Really cheap too. Perfect for that midnight headphones-based death metal session.
 
OP
D

divided_

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Looks rad!
I use the Zoom G1X Four multi effects pedal. Loads of effects and amp/cab simulation, drum machine, 30 second looper, tuner, aux input (play along with your pc/phone/hifi etc) and analogue wah-wah foot pedal. Really cheap too. Perfect for that midnight headphones-based death metal session.
 

sarumbear

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I'm trying to build a guitar practicing rig that is headphone based. I can't turn up my guitar cabinets because it gets loud very quickly. However, the guitar world doesn't really focus on how to get the most accurate sound with headphones; "just plug it into the headphone jack brah".
Have you checked these products?

 
OP
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divided_

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Have you checked these products?

Yup, I've thought about getting a dedicated headphone amp for my pedal board (both the Mooer and OBNE) but I've noticed that many don't list output for various headphone impedance and some include cab sims and other coloration to the sound I'm not really looking for.
 

Steve Dallas

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Hi All,

Not sure if this is the right way to ask this but here goes.

I'm trying to build a guitar practicing rig that is headphone based. I can't turn up my guitar cabinets because it gets loud very quickly. However, the guitar world doesn't really focus on how to get the most accurate sound with headphones; "just plug it into the headphone jack brah".

I was thinking of taking my pedal amp output via xlr and plugging it into a Topping ext90 as one of the inputs with my dac being another input. I would then use my Topping A90D as the output source where I could use either my headphones or my desktop monitors to output my guitar sound.

Does this sound sane or am I missing a step? What should I consider in this case? Would love any and all thoughts / comments.

Guitarist here...

What do you mean by "pedal amp output?" What exactly is your signal chain? Electric, acoustic, or both? Do you have onboard cabinet emulation? We need a lot more information.

My solution is:

Guitar -> Line6 Helix -> SPDIF -> Peachtree Nova 300 integrated amp -> Speakers or Headphones

Office Pathways.png


(The Helix has a decent headphone amp built in, but it will not drive difficult cans.)
 
OP
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divided_

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Guitarist here...

What do you mean by "pedal amp output?" What exactly is your signal chain? Electric, acoustic, or both? Do you have onboard cabinet emulation? We need a lot more information.

My solution is:

Guitar -> Line6 Helix -> SPDIF -> Peachtree Nova 300 integrated amp -> Speakers or Headphones

View attachment 283342

(The Helix has a decent headphone amp built in, but it will not drive difficult cans.)
Helix user too. I've found the headphone out is a bit weak for the cans I use.

Signal chain is currently: electric guitar -> tuner -> eq with boost -> HX stomp -> Computer + monitors / FRFR speaker cab. Its pretty straightforward

What I have noticed in the past year is that I often just plug in my Fender Mustang Micro and just go off and practice with that. I've weirdly enjoyed it and the pre-set tones and quick "plug and go" has been a boon for me.

This got me to thinking of wanting to build a practice pedal board that gets me to not futz with my tone but is set up to reduce the cognitive load in getting to practice. I love my Helix and have endless fun tone shaping but I find myself spending more time on tone shaping than actual practicing whenever I have it. I also have money burning a hole in my pocket and I'm up to getting some gear after being good for over a year :)

Plan currently is to get a DSM & Humbolt Simplifier MK2 or the UAX Dream 65 pedal to be the amp pedal. The former has a headphone amplifier on it the latter does not. The idea is that I'll have a good, clear tone out the gate so I can just plug in my pedal board and then practice.

This setup got me thinking about how I could connect it to various output sources. I have a powered FRFR speaker cab so I can, and do, just output it there. But with my Topping A90D headphone amplifier I use daily on my desk, I wondered if I could connect my pedal board to that. Hence me asking if I could use the Ext90 as a place to send various outputs to so that I could then use my A90D as normal; as a headphone amplifier / monitor ouptut.

Sure, there are cheaper ways (and I may even buy the OBN headphone amp anyways) but this idea of going into my headphone amp has me wondering if it could work.
 

Steve Dallas

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Helix user too. I've found the headphone out is a bit weak for the cans I use.

Signal chain is currently: electric guitar -> tuner -> eq with boost -> HX stomp -> Computer + monitors / FRFR speaker cab. Its pretty straightforward

What I have noticed in the past year is that I often just plug in my Fender Mustang Micro and just go off and practice with that. I've weirdly enjoyed it and the pre-set tones and quick "plug and go" has been a boon for me.

This got me to thinking of wanting to build a practice pedal board that gets me to not futz with my tone but is set up to reduce the cognitive load in getting to practice. I love my Helix and have endless fun tone shaping but I find myself spending more time on tone shaping than actual practicing whenever I have it. I also have money burning a hole in my pocket and I'm up to getting some gear after being good for over a year :)

Plan currently is to get a DSM & Humbolt Simplifier MK2 or the UAX Dream 65 pedal to be the amp pedal. The former has a headphone amplifier on it the latter does not. The idea is that I'll have a good, clear tone out the gate so I can just plug in my pedal board and then practice.

This setup got me thinking about how I could connect it to various output sources. I have a powered FRFR speaker cab so I can, and do, just output it there. But with my Topping A90D headphone amplifier I use daily on my desk, I wondered if I could connect my pedal board to that. Hence me asking if I could use the Ext90 as a place to send various outputs to so that I could then use my A90D as normal; as a headphone amplifier / monitor ouptut.

Sure, there are cheaper ways (and I may even buy the OBN headphone amp anyways) but this idea of going into my headphone amp has me wondering if it could work.

So, you have bad GAS, then!

In the beginning, modelers also caused me to spend more time on tone tweaking than practicing, but eventually I dialed in 5 or 6 go-to presets and went back to actual practice using those tones. Oddly, good modelers cured my GAS, starting with the Eleven Rack, then AXE-FX Ultra, then Helix Floor, although it took a few years to get there. I have stayed with the Helix for many years now. I even built an amp specifically for it.

In theory, all of your proposals should work. As previously mentioned, you can often use a headphone out as a preamp out, as the voltages are similar.

Another option is to buy some cans or IEMs your Helix can drive more easily. I have 5 or 6 sets, and my Helix can drive at least half of them to ear splitting volumes.
 
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divided_

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So, you have bad GAS, then!

In the beginning, modelers also caused me to spend more time on tone tweaking than practicing, but eventually I dialed in 5 or 6 go-to presets and went back to actual practice using those tones. Oddly, good modelers cured my GAS, starting with the Eleven Rack, then AXE-FX Ultra, then Helix Floor, although it took a few years to get there. I have stayed with the Helix for many years now. I even built an amp specifically for it.

In theory, all of your proposals should work. As previously mentioned, you can often use a headphone out as a preamp out, as the voltages are similar.

Another option is to buy some cans or IEMs your Helix can drive more easily. I have 5 or 6 sets, and my Helix can drive at least half of them to ear splitting volumes.
Ooh, I'm def gonna read your amp build.

I'm definitely getting more into the actual electronics of guitar as I read on and get more experienced. Have some ideas and would love to learn more.

Yes its GAS but I figure better to focus on building a practice rig rather than trying to justify a Matamp G120 :D

I'm also getting close on the Helix tone shaping. I just find it a bit of a pain that the best way to do so is via the computer rather than with the pedal. I wish it had an ios app.

But cool, I'll report on how I get on with my setup. Maybe someone may find it interesting
 
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