If you want to practice playing or jamming at night, having an amp with a headphone jack is going to very useful.
You don’t want your neighbor to be cocking your shotgun, ready to blast your amp through the windows when you are hitting that high gains……
In this article, you will learn about 4 great practice amp under $100 that have a headphone jack, their pros and cons and what kind of audio quality you can get.
My recommendations for the best practice amp with headphone jacks are:
- Fender Frontman 10G
- Blackstar ID Core 10
- Danelectro Aqua N10A
- Vox AP2AC amPlug 2
My review of Fender Frontman 10G – why I think is the best
There is a reason why this is one of the best selling guitar amp on Amazon: it delivers great sound over headphone and is affordable.
Many folks will look upon this as a ‘toy’ amp and they will be completely wrong. I agree that most mini amps in the lower price range sound very boxy and unprofessional. However, this is not the case here.
What I get from this amp is awesome range with depth of tone. In a small room environment, it sounds truly amazing, even when using the headphone. Of course, you cannot expect similar output when used in large open environment but the Fender Frontman 10G was never meant for that kind of purposes
In terms of tone, you get mostly a clean sounding tone. There is an overdrive button that can change the tone to more crunchy. However, it is still pretty limited when it comes to effects or distortions, especially when you compare the likes of the Blackstar ID Core 10.
The small size is another plus. I can take it easily anywhere around the house to practice. One of my favorite spot was to noodle the guitar on the couch with my wife, who will be watching her TV shows. The headphone jack makes this possible so very happy to have this feature for my practice amp.
If you want a amp for a kid learning guitar, this will be perfect for that purpose as well. It is cheap enough that you don’t have to worry about it being damaged. However, the great sound it delivers should make your kid happy.
Mini reviews of other amp models with headphone jacks
Besides the Fender Frontman 10G, there are other good models in the market, with different offerings:
- Blackstar ID Core 10: This is a more expensive option but suitable for those who want more variation in their tones. There are 6 preamp modes to choose from such as warm and bright, crunchy and supercrunch etc.
- There are also built in effects such as reverbs, ,delays etc. If you are the type who likes to experiment with different styles, this is a good choice for you.
- The sound through the headphone is pretty awesome. Personally, I think the amp sounds better through the headphone, than without it.
- No support for batteries. It runs purely on DC.
- Danelectro Amplifier Aqua N10A: This is one of the cheapest practice amp in the market, with a price below $30. However, what you get is pretty standard sound.
- There is also really no special tones or effects to talk about. There are 3 knobs for volume, gains and overdrive. Each perform well but not to the extend that it will impress you.
- Its 9V batteries are able to carry the amp for pretty long hours.
- The size is compact and portable. The leather strap at the top makes carrying the amp easy and convenient.
- Basically, the Danelectro Aqua N10A just a cheap way to let you noodle away, without disturbing anyone.
- VOX AP2AC amPlug 2: The Vox amPlug 2 is a purely portable amp that connects to your headphones. There is no in built speaker so the sound quality really depends on the kind of speaker or headphones that you are using.
- The Vox amPlug 2 comes in 6 different styles with preset effects that caters to that particular style.
- The stand out thing for me was the built effects. Specifically, there are 3 presets including chorus, reverbs and delays.
- The benefit of this amp is that it is really compact so it is easy to move around.
Factors to consider
Here are the major considerations I think about before putting down my hard earned dollars
- Tube vs solid state: Solid state amps tend to be quieter so I prefer that for my practice amp
- Small size: Since it is a practice amp, I prefer something that can be fitted into the bedroom or other small spaces
- Tones: Certain amps are better at certain tones. I prefer mine to be clean and natural guitar sounding. Some of you might want dirty, creamy, rustic etc. Usually, the cheaper amp are good with cleaner tones but not so much with the other types.
- Effects: Some players love effects. When I am not one of them, I can appreciate the love for it. Certain amp models have built in effects, thus making it easier for the bedroom player to experiment without having too much equipment. However. there is always a price to pay. Amps with more effects tend to be more pricey.
- Power: If you are at home, having DC power is convenient. Some amp only provided for batteries so do check on that.
Practice amp with headphone jacks do not have to sound bad. While it is true that there are many mediocre mini amps out there, you can still good quality audio if you know where to look.
I presented 4 gems that will satisfy any budget and requirements. Although I have a personal preference towards the Fender Frontman 10G, the other 3 options will not disappoint you, especially if you know what you are getting into.