If your amp doesn’t have a headphone jack, the best way is to buy an amp accessory that can allow you to add one to the amp.
The best accessory for that will be Crate Axe Box. It not only allows you to add a headphone jacket, but also RCA CD jack and a tuner to adjust the amp effects.
Setting it up is also pretty simple as it is all plug and play.
The downside is the price, which is around $60. You can DIY for less money but it will be more trouble than it is worth.
Circuit to add headphone out to guitar amp
For those who want to do DIY, here is a simple step by step process to add circuit in your amp to be able to get the headphone out.
The maim aim here is to (1) add a switch to disable power to the speakers and (2) an attenuator to lower the impedance such that a headphone can be used
- Decide on how you want the whole set up to be in a separate box or to be part of the current amp set up. Personally I perfer the former
- You will need: a speaker switch to disconnect the amp from the speaker and hook to the headphone jack, headphone sockets for the ins and outs
- Install the speaker switch in the path as shown in the diagram below
- Once the speakers are disconnected, connect the switch to the headphone adapter
- For multiple headphone jacks, you will need multiple headphone adapter boxes. However, multiple jacks might cause inferences.
- The trickest part is figuring the resistance values to use to reach the desirable impedance for your headphone model. Check out the second table for actual values.
Here is a diagram from https://sound-au.com/project100.htm that shows you how this is done:
Adding headphone jack to tube amp?
If the amp you intend to add a headphone jack is a tube amp, then it is a different story.
Tube amps require a load. A headphone does not provide that and will be blown up, even if you manage to plug in it.
It is simply not safe to use a headphone on a tube amp, unless the amp already has a headphone out, like the Bugera g5, which I reviewed below.
For other amp types as such solid states amp or contains only single preamp tube, using headphone will be fine.
However, the sound quality might not be as good as when the amp is using speakers., even with the use of the crate axe box. If the sound degrades too much, you might want to consider a digital amp.
You can set up a speaker cabinet simulation and use the the natural headphone output to have a better listening experience.
Amplifier with headphone jack
If you have not purchase any amp yet but wants one with headphone jack, here are some good models to consider:
Yamaha THR10 review
A great amp is the Yamaha Thr10C which I have discussed before in this article. It is both a practice and recording amp, which is its greatest benefit. The quality of the recording is not studio quality but is still high, considering the size and price of the amp.
This amp is also compact and very portable. If you have limited bedroom space, this amp will be perfect. It can also be carried around for your camping trips.
Tone wise, there is some weakness. In particular, I found it to sounds flat and boxy, like a guitar in the big empty room. However, it does have a nice clean headroom. Where it shines is at low volume, where the tone can still be deep and full.
The Thr10 also offers a couple of gain models. The best sounding one, to me, is the Brit High, followed by modern. The rest is passable, which is why I hardly use them.
Finally, the Thr10 can take both electric power or battery. That is a big plus if you intend to use it beyond your bedroom.
Bugera g5 infinium review
Another great amp with headphone jack is the Bugera g5. It is an affordable tube amp that doesn’t sound cheap.
Specifically, the Bugera g5 gives you very solid high gains. For metal music players, this will be wonderful as the metal tones sound fantastic.
However, if you like clean tones, the g5 offers that as well with its dual channel design. Although the clean channel good, do note it still can’t compare to Fender’s clean tones.
As for the drive channel, it allows you to play with distortion along a sliding scale,from light crunch to overdrive.
If you like tube amp, the Bugera g5 is one of the rare amp that offers a default headphone jack.
Yamaha thr10 vs Bugera v5
The main difference between Yahama Thr10 and Bugera v5 is that the former delivers tube power and dynamic but the latter has much better tone quality and variety. Another difference is that the Thr10 has effects than the Bugera v5. Finally, the Thr10 can be run on batteries and hence is portable friendly.
In reality, comparing these 2 is like comparing apples to oranges. They serve different purposes.
Most get the Yamaha Thr10c for its versatility in effects and tones. With additional software, you can really get some cool effects and tricks using this amp.
The Bugera is mainly bought for its tube power. It has no effects but for those who like what a tube amp can deliver, this is the only choice, relative to Thr10c.
There are a couple of ways to add a headphone jack to your amp.
The easy way is to get an amp accessory that can solve the problem for you.
The other way is simply to get amp with headphone jacks.
The final and more difficult way, is to add the circuits yourself if you know what you are doing.