Best Guitar Headphone Amp Roundup
Headphone amps provide the most convenient way to make your practice more productive and less disruptive. And since practice is pivotal in developing your guitar skills, you ought to get a really good guitar headphone amp.
This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Guitar Headphone Amps stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.
And it's not just about practice because, these portable amps let you jam with your favorite tracks or play with musical ideas late into the night. Whether you are looking for something to just jam with, or you're intending to seriously hone your chops, this updated list of the best guitar headphone amps in the market will make it easier for you to choose one that will meet your needs. We took into consideration what the market offers, including the popular bug shaped amps that plug directly into your guitar, along with other amps that come in various shapes and sizes.
You will need a set of headphones to use most of these so we recommend you also look at this guide to The Best Closed-Back Headphones.
Things To Consider When Buying A Headphone Guitar Amp
- Bug-Type: Because of its convenience and cable-less operation, bug-type headphone amps like the amPlug line from Vox have become very popular. It's as simple and portable as it gets, just plug it into your guitar, plug a pair of headphones into the unit, make tone adjustments and you're ready to practice quietly virtually anywhere.
- Headphones: Taking portability and simplicity a step further, some manufacturers have injected the amplifier component into the headphones, allowing you to basically just plug the headphones straight to your guitar, tweak the parameters to your liking and just practice away.
- Box and Stompbox: There are those that come in the shape of a compact box, which will require a separate cable going to the guitar, because of their bigger form factor, these usually come packed with features that include multiple effects, amp simulation, recording and much more. Finally, there are compact multi-effect pedals that also double as guitar headphone amps, the best of them is included in this list.
To make practice more conducive, you want your guitar headphone amplifiers to have the most power options - be it via 3rd party batteries, built-in rechargeable batteries, or via power adapters. The more options you have, the less excuse you have for not practicing.
While there are portable boxes that offer a wide variety of amps and effects, they tend to deter practice for some, where instead of playing you end up spending more time tweaking parameters. So you have to really balance what you want with what you'll actually use during practice.
Practice Friendly Features
If you're looking to improve your playing technique, then nifty extras that help you play better are welcome. Those that can play tracks can make practice more inspiring, and playing with a track also helps keep your timing sharp and locked in. Other features to look out for include built-in tuning, and the ability to record and play loops. So again, it boils down to what you really want, be it straightforward convenience or versatility.
The Best Guitar Headphone Amps
Line 6 Pocket POD
|Being designed for mobile recording, the Line 6 Pocket POD offers the most features in this list. Incidentally it works great as a guitar headphone amplifier.||Detailed information below|
Vox AmPlug AC30 G2
|The Vox Amplug AC30 G2 is a compact headphone friendly replica of the iconic Vox AC30 amplifier, it is easily the most popular guitar headphone amplifier in the market, and for good reasons.||Detailed information below|
|A powerful recording tool that can also be an effective and versatile guitar headphone amplifier for quiet jamming and practice.||Detailed information below|
Vox AmPlug Classic Rock
|This old school British-flavored amPlug is highly recommended when you're looking for great sounding classic rock sounds that go straight to your headphones.||Detailed information below|
Behringer V-AMP 3
|Super affordable multi-effects, amp simulator and recording tool that's also great for quiet playing and practice.||Detailed information below|
Vox amPhone Bass
|A regular looking pair of closed-back headphones with built-in preamp that reproduces actual amplifier voicing, specifically a bass amplifier.||Detailed information below|
Korg Pandora Stomp
|While it's not as popular as a live performance pedal, the Korg Pandora Stomp's versatility makes it a great headphone amplifier for guitars.||Detailed information below|
Detailed Headphone Guitar Amp Descriptions:
Line 6 Pocket POD
Known for being one of the pioneers of amp modeling, Line 6 knows how to pack gear with features while keeping the price tag reasonable. The Pocket POD does just that, it can give you wide variety of tone with its 32 classic and modern amp models, 16 effects and 16 cab models. While they are not the best and most accurate modeled tones that Line 6 can offer, they work excellently when you just want to jam with your favorite tracks or quietly practice.
To keep you from spending too much time tweaking and trying out the many possible virtual gear combinations, the Line 6 Pocket Pod comes with a huge library of factory and custom presets. So all you have to do is look for an artist or style preset that you prefer and use that as a starting point to personalize your practice tones.
In addition, you can connect the Pocket Pod to a computer via USB for even more control over your sounds and presets. Other nifty additions include having a built-in chromatic tuner and an aux input jack. All these are neatly packed inside a compact bean shaped unit that's just 0.375 lbs light! Finally, you can power the unit via 4 x AAA batteries for portability, or you can get the optional DC power adapter. Too bad it doesn't have a metronome, but the Line 6 Pocket Pod is easily the most versatile guitar headphone amplifier in the market today.
Vox Amplug AC30 G2
The Vox Amplug series is an easy favorite among many guitar players. It fits big and popular guitar amp tones into a compact bug-type form factor that conveniently plugs directly to any guitar. You can then simply plug in your preferred earphones or headphones to get Vox quality tones virtually anywhere. As expected, the flagship model AC30 makes it to this list with its convincing reproduction of an AC-30 Top boost amplifier.
Having been made by Vox, the AmPlug AC30 G2 (2nd version) gives the iconic AC-30 amplifier justice with its realistic jangly high end. This compact unit is equipped with an improved analog circuit that results in organic and clear tones that make practice sessions more inspiring and fun. In addition, the G2 version comes with a tremolo circuit, along with essential effects like chorus, delay and reverb.
This means that you're not just getting an amp, but a full rig, in a very compact and easy to use form factor. Users and experts agree that the sound is a lot better than what they anticipated. If you're looking for a classic clean tone to practice with, then the AmPlug AC30 G2 is your best bet.
Boss GT-001 Tabletop Guitar Effects
The Boss GT-001 is the most expensive of this bunch, but rightly so because this compact tabletop guitar effects processor houses Boss' latest COSM amp and effects modeling technology, along with other useful extras. Of primary interest to us is its great headphone output sound, which when coupled with the built-in guitar processor, gives you professional quality tones while having a portable form factor.
This unit features 44 effects, 200 preset amp models, and 200 customizable presets that give you more tone variations that you can possibly use. In addition to its sonic versatility, the GT-001 is built for recording Built for direct recording, the Boss GT-001 can double as a studio quality 24-bit/44.1kHz USB audio interface, and it even houses an XLR input for vocal or acoustic guitar recording, which by itself a great feature especially if you're a singer songwriter.
Reviews for this unit have been consistently good, with many experts also chiming in with their thumbs up and recommendation. If you're looking for a serious guitar headphone amplifier and recording device - you'll definitely want to consider this.
Vox AmPlug Classic Rock
The Vox AmPlug series gets another slot in this list with the Classic Rock G2, and as the name suggests this one gives you the sound of old school rock through your headphones. To be specific, this compact headphone guitar amplifier reproduces the sound of the UK-made amps that helped define the rock guitar sound that we have today. It lets you quietly practice with Marshall amp style tones from crunch to full-on driven tones so you can relive your favorite rock tunes without disturbing the people around you.
To achieve convincing British flavored tones, Vox equipped the Classic Rock G2 with an upgraded analog preamp circuit which lets you tweak gain and get the same response as a driven amplifier, without the loud volume that's usually required. For further tone shaping, it comes with a selectable mid-boost great for firing up solos and parts that you want to emphasize.
Other features of the Vox AmPlug Classic Rock G2 include built-in delay, chorus, and reverb, all of which are perfect complements to the Brit style voicing. From heavily chorused licks of rock ballads to hard hitting riffs and lead lines, this compact headphone amp is definitely a fun tool for practice, brainstorming and just playing around. Highly recommended if you're a fan of classic rock.
Behringer V-AMP 3
Behringer knows how to keep their competition on their toes, and they do so by providing affordable alternatives to what is already available in the market. The Virtual Amplification or V-Amp 3 is one such example, a pocket amp and effects modeler with over 30 amp models, 16 effects, 15 cabinet simulations and 125 presets. It is essentially a multi-effect pedal in a pocket friendly format, obviously meant to compete with the Line 6 Pocket Pod.
With its wide variety of tones, it can easily keep up with whatever track you are jamming with or guitar riffs that you are working on. It also doubles as a latency free audio interface which adds even more value to its already impressive bang per buck. Basically, you are getting a versatile and compact digital processor, a USB audio interface for recording and a guitar headphone amp all in a single portable unit that's priced just below $100 - quite an impressive feat.
Extra features and value for money are not enough to make an item popular, thankfully, the V-Amp 3 has reasonably good sound and build quality, considering the price. If you're looking for the best bang per buck guitar headphone amplifier, this is highly recommended.
Multiple recording modes plus the included UCA222 USB audio interface provide killer latency-free tracking options, while the V-AMP 3's extensive live modes make rocking out a blast. Top it off with killer presets, cool MIDI options, and more, and you wonder how you ever got along without a Behringer V-AMP 3 guitar amp emulator.
Vox amPhone Bass
Vox took the guitar headphone amplifier concept to the next level with the AmPhones series, instead of having a separate box that connects to a guitar, they removed that from the equation and basically installed the amplifier circuit inside the headphones. Each Amphone is a literal guitar headphone amplifier, where in you plug the headphones straight to your guitar and get great guitar tones that mimic specific amps or work for certain musical styles.
We chose the AmPhone Bass model to let bassists know that they can practice or jam with their favorite tracks quietly. It's a perfect gift to a housemate who insists on terrorizing the people around them with late night tremors. In addition to that, the AmPhone Bass also works really well for guitars, especially if you're looking for big and full sounding clean tones for jazz and instrumental style playing.
With its 16 hour battery life, built-in British style overdrive, the Vox AmPhone Bass is highly recommended. If you switch between guitar and bass duty and you want to keep your skills for both instruments sharp, this is for you.
Korg Pandora Stomp
The Korg Pandora Stomp is basically a stuffed up stompbox, and as I suspected, not too many experienced guitarists are buying into the idea for live use - especially if they have already spent ridiculous amounts of money on their pedalboards. Still, beginners, and some pros who want to gig with less gear have taken a liking to its versatility and portability, and they specifically like how it can be used as a headphone amplifier for quiet playing and practice.
With over 158 amps and effects (26 guitar and bass amp models, 23 speaker cabs, and 109 effects), the Pandora Stomp opens up your practice tone palette by a lot, and will help make those quiet playing times more interesting, if not inspiring. It lets you use up to seven effects at once, giving you a virtual pedalboard that you can play with which will give you a good idea of how to setup actual pedals - without upsetting your wallet and the people around you.
To help you get started quickly, Korg had the right idea of giving the unit "song presets", where a virtual roadie sets up your virtual gear to mimic the tones of specific songs. This makes it a great companion when jamming with your favorite rock and blues tunes. Other nifty features include built-in tuner, in depth editing via computer, and it comes with a built-in metronome to keep your timing tight. The metronome feature alone makes this the best practice tool in this list, so for serious students of the instrument, this is definitely worth checking out. Note that you'll need an extension audio cable for your headphones if you want to get your chops up while standing up.
Thank you to Sweetwater for their sponsorship and providing the full specifications for the guitar headphone amplifiers above where possible.
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