Best Guitar Amps for Headphones – Play loud, silently

Arrangement of Guitar Headphone Amps next to each other on colored backgrounds

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For guitar players on the go or folks who like flexibility in their guitar practice routine, headphone amps are a godsend!

When using one of these micro devices, you aren’t bound to your clunky amps, and you aren’t making any noise.

Guitar headphone amps offer limited sonic versatility but extreme portability compared to traditional amps. That’s why they are usually sold in various specialized options like metal amps, rock amps, and more.

Pair them with the right headphones, and your sound experience will level up significantly.

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the best guitar amps for headphones to help you choose the best. Let’s dive in!

Editor’s Pick
Vox AC30 AP2AC Headphone Amp

Who doesn’t love VOX? I remember the first time I changed from a matchless stack to an AC30 and fell in love. This headphone unit has all the look of a real AC30 in a headphone amp. You can take and practice your electric guitar chops with ease for only $44.95!

Left handed Maton Acoustic Guitar with Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Headphones
Left handed Maton Acoustic Guitar with Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Headphones

Personally, I love these little things. Some folks tend to discard them, but I have to say my practice hours have only increased since getting one, and that’s what it’s all about, right?

I did the hard work and sifted through what the market had to offer, and that’s how I found it.

View on Amazon.

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Easily breakable
  • Some users reported that it suddenly stopped working.

2. VOX Guitar Headphone Amp (amPlug 2 AC30)

Editor’s Pick

VOX AP2AC amPlug Headphone Amp as a Best Guitar Amp for Headphones
VOX AP2AC amPlug Headphone Amp

Amazon Price: $45.86

View on Amazon

VOX AP2AC amPlug is the first thing most guitarists think of when someone mentions guitar headphone amps, and I’m no different! 

This little amp encompasses everything great – it’s portable, durable, looks sweet, and packs a killer sonic attack.

There are seven different models within the series, including Blues, Bass, Classic Rock, and more.; each specialized for a different style. I would like to focus on the AC30, modeled to match the company’s iconic amp, originally introduced in 1958.

In the sonic department, the circuit is fully analog. The shortest way to describe this model is like having a mini AD30VT Vox modeling amp circuit board at your disposal.

Needless to say, you will need to combine this little fella with a set of quality headphones or a good stereo for quality results. I highly recommend clean and light overdrive tones. You won’t spot a difference between an actual AC30 and this amp if properly set up.

Among nifty features, the device has a foldable mechanism for the input audio jack, plus the auto-off function. That’s cool, but what I like more are the three on-board audio regimes. This is great because you will be able to cover a variety of tones and genres.

You shouldn’t expect too much sonic versatility from these amps, but it’s nice to have some variety and not be limited to a single style.

You can also add Delay, Chorus, and Reverb effects. The quality won’t be on par with separate stomp-boxes or a high-quality guitar processor, but it’s good enough to spice your jams up. The device runs on a pair of AAA batteries.

Pros

  • Analog circuit
  • High durability
  • Three audio modes
  • High sonic versatility

Cons

  • On-board effects aren’t exactly top-notch.

3. Valeton Rushead Max Headphone Amp

Another Worthy Contender

Valeton Rushead Max Headphone Amp
Valeton Rushead Max Headphone Amp

Amazon Price: $33.99

View on Amazon

If you’re looking for something a little more affordable but still effective and versatile, check out the Rushhead Max from Valeton.

What makes this model stand out is the vast array of guitar headphone amps and effects.

We’re looking at five control knobs and nine different effects, including Chorus, Tremolo, Flanger, Clean, Overdrive, Distortion, and more.

This is a great addition for beginners. The quality of the on-board effect is nowhere near amazing, but it’s enough to give you a clear image of the effect at hand and drive you to play and practice more.

The number of included controls is just enough to prompt the newbies to experiment with their sound. What I find important is that the clear output is solid. For practice, you’ll likely want to level up your playing in clear mode and then do the easier part by adding effects.

I was also impressed by the 4-5-hour battery life, certainly more than expected. Finally, the durability is high, which is paramount with smaller items like this.

In short, you’ll get a good clean sound output, perfect for practice on the go. On top of that, you get nine different effect configurations and fiec control knobs to spice things up if clean practice becomes boring. And then, the price tag is affordable. Good stuff!

What we like (Pros)

  • Good value for money
  • High versatility, plenty of controls
  • Nine tone modifications
  • Long battery life

What we like less (Cons)

  • Weaker distortion sounds

4. Fender Mustang Micro

Best Premium Headphone Amp

Fender Mustang Micro Headphone Amp
Fender Mustang Micro

View at Fender

If you want the top option and are ready to pay extra, look no further than the Fender Mustang Micro!

This little beast offers 12 on-board amp simulators, combined with 13 onboard effects. The best part? They actually sound pretty good!

In fact, I can say this tasty guitar headphone amp makes most of the contenders on this rundown sound like toys. Yes, they are all great for what they were designed, and this model is pricier than the rest, but with a solid set of headphones, Mustang Micro will deliver an experience similar to using a full-on amp.

Fender Stratocaster with Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Headphones
Fender Stratocaster with Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Headphones

The effects included in the mix are pretty versatile, and I love that the input jack can rotate 270 degrees. This gives you exceptional freedom to use this Fender headphone amp at home or on the go.

The device sports a USB-C output for extra-fast charging and offers Bluetooth compatibility. What I like the most, apart from the sturdy build and the top-notch sound quality, is the vast array of onboard amp simulators.

This feature allows you to dial in a sound output closely similar to your regular amp, retaining the same time during Mustang Micro practice sessions and full-on amp use. You can also experiment before implementing it to your main guitar amplifier later on. Pretty convenient, right?

Pros

  • Amazing sound
  • High durability
  • 12 amp simulators and 13 on-board effects
  • Battery rechargeable via USB

Cons

  • Still the most expensive option

5. NUX GP-1 Headphone Amp

Budget Pick

NUX GP-1 Headphone Amp
NUX GP-1 Headphone Amp

Current Amazon Price: Price not available

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If you are looking for the basic goods, just a clear-cut headphone amp that will deliver a decent audio output on the budget, NUX GP-1 is the one!

The device offers clean and distorted options and even comes with a pair of AAA batteries. The distortion is described as “Classic British,” and I think it does the job alright.

As I said, I prefer using these amps in the Clean mode because they’re used to practice strumming and technique, not to dial your tone in, and clean output is where it’s at; if you get something right on Clean, you’ll certainly nail it after adding overdrive or distortion.

Apart from the extra drive, this guitar headphone amp offers no on-board effects. That is possibly one of the factors behind the lower price tag and the right approach to take, in my opinion. Since this model’s durability and build quality is on par with the pricier products, it would seem like the cut was made in the effects department.

So if you don’t need to use the effects during practice, this product is a great way to save a few dollars and still get the gist of what the headphone amps are all about. I don’t find the effects paramount for products like this, but they are a great addition.

Considering that you can get headphone amps with decent on-board effects for a few extra tens of dollars, it’s just as valid to go for that option. But if you’re looking to pay the lowest possible price that will still get you a decent headphone amp, this is the one!

Pros

  • Low price
  • Solid construction and durability
  • Clean sound
  • DIstortion still included in the mix

Cons

  • No extra effects apart from Distortion

6. Donner Guitar Headphone AMP

Best for Metal

Donner Guitar Headphone AMP
Donner Guitar Headphone AMP

Current Amazon Price: $29.99

View on Amazon

If you’re a metalhead and you know that you don’t invest much time in playing other genres, why not get a specialized metal guitar headphone amp? If this assessment sounds alright to you, check out Donner’s Heavy Metal!

This model is based on the Soldano SLO100 amplifier and features an on-board chorus effect. It comes with a USB charging cable and a 3.5mm audio cable to connect to your audio player. The battery can run for 5 hours straight, with some folks even reporting 6 hours of continuous operation!

What makes it stand out is the sound. I am pleased that we are looking at a genuine modern metal beast and not some cheap scoop-the-mids toy.

The sonic attack is best described as crunchy. It’s perfect for heavy, thrash, or even death metal. If you’re looking to tone things down, you can slide the distortion down and go for a more hard-rock-based delivery. 

Needless to say, if you are looking for genres softer than hard rock, this is not the product for you. The big “Heavy Metal” sign makes that pretty clear, though, right?

The on-board chorus effect is a nice little addition to spice things up, especially if you want to make those gloomy tones. Note that the effect has no dedicated control knob, so it’s either on or off. Overall, if you’re the type who likes to crank it up to 11, this is the one!

Pros

  • Great metal sound, genuine crunch
  • Good build quality
  • Can work for hard rock too when distortion is on low levels
  • Included Chorus effect

Cons

  • No control options for the Chorus effect – it’s either on or off.

7. Blackstar amPlug2 FLY Bass Headphone Amp

Best for Bass

Blackstar amPlug2 FLY Bass Headphone Amp

View at Blackstar

And finally, we’ll wrap things up with a little something for the bass players. Meet the Blackstar amPlug2 FLY Bass, the best bass guitar headphone amp for bassists on the market right now!

This bass guitar headphone amp offers three different channels: Classic, Overdrive, and Modern, along with six different rhythm configurations: Rock, Blues, R&B, Funk, Hip-Hop, Tap Tempo, and Metronome. The body design is foldable and fits with just about every guitar out there.

As expected, the sonic output is configured to deliver lower frequencies and cover even extended-range basses with clarity and punch. The sound is rumbling, deep, and strong. The on-board distortion is pretty sweet, too, great for beefing up your bass attack. 

But what impressed me the most was the battery life – 17 hours! Just wow!

This model also includes loops and beats, which is awesome. Not only can you walk around your house or hang around in bed with just your bass and the headphones and jam, but you can even add drums into the mix!

The design is foldable, and the input jack can rotate 180 degrees. Also included in the mix is the auto shutdown feature in case of inactivity. For all you bass players, I say check this one out!

Pros

  • Top-notch low-end coverage
  • Included distortion
  • High audio versatility
  • Amazing battery life

Cons

  • Gain crackle at higher levels

Summing It All Up

I hope this rundown of guitar headphone amps was helpful and that you found your best bet. When searching for products, I took into consideration the sound quality first. I also went for high durability because this is a small product people often take on the road or around the house, so no flimsy stuff! Finally, I made sure to add some cool extras here and there and bring you the cream of the crop across various criteria and price ranges.

Make sure you make the best decision for yourself!

Our experience, research, and editorial practices make us an expert in the field, so don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@makelifeclick.com if you need assistance. We also suggest you check out our fantastic deals and join our newsletter to possibly win a monthly draw!

A musician with over 2 decades of experience in studio recording. Audiophile, always in pursuit of the perfect set of headphones. King Crimson fan.

This post was last updated on 2024-06-11 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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