Boomy Headphone Output

  • Hey all, new to the forums. I received my Spark last week, and the tone through the speakers is great. Last night I finally tried the headphones output and found it way, way too boomy with apparent reduced high end. I'm using Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor headphones.

    Is this just the difference you'd expect using headphones, or might there be another problem? I'm continuing to experiment -- will try other headphones in case my monitor ones are a mismatch for this amp's headphone out.

    Most of the time I'll play the Spark through the speakers, so if this is normal I'll probably just live with it since I've had poor results with the headphone out on other amps, too.


  • I prefer the sound through the headphones over the speakers. That being said I’ve turned the bass on all my presets way down. I think the lack of any presence control hurts.

  • @valascia said in Boomy Headphone Output:

    I prefer the sound through the headphones over the speakers. That being said I’ve turned the bass on all my presets way down. I think the lack of any presence control hurts.

    Thanks for that. I thought perhaps that might be at least one of the issues. It also appears that reverb and delay need to be less intense with headphones, too. If I use the headphones much I'll need to create presets just for that use.


  • @git I’ve tried many different headphones with the Spark, including the ATH-M50X, which to me was one of the worst sounding ones. I ended up preferring the Presonus HD9, which I ended up buying and trying before I noticed that it was the headphones PG was offering as a bundle option with the Spark. So after about 8 different headphone trials, the HD-9 sound the best, are comfortable and not fatiguing. I prefer the Spark through the headphones vs the speaker. I use the Spark with headphones for practicing my cover band’s tunes when I’m spending weekends at the girlfriends house; ‘silent’ practice while she’s watching TV.

  • @gitorpheus Actually, the first moment I tried Spark was late at night and was with AKG Studio headphones which have proved to sound exceptionally flat with numerous setups so far. The Spark is boomy, muddy and in overal too bassy.
    I think this is the thing with this tier of devices - Spark is made to appeal to the masses and it's not uncommon to find companies boosting the bass on their lower-end products just to grab attention of semiilliterate customers.
    I hate the bass on the speakers too, FWIW.

  • @bschultz8 Last night I tried some inexpensive compact Bose over-ear headphones, and those sounded acceptable without tweaking the presets. I'm sure tweaking the bass, reverb, and delay (as needed) would make the sound much better.

    I'd noticed a similar issue with my Katana Mini when I tried the ATH-M50x headphones -- the sound was terrible. Both Bose earbuds and Bose over-ear headphones sound okay with the Katana. I'd used the ATH-M50x cans with both a Quilter amp and my DAW (Logic & UA Apollo Twin) and they sounded good. I'm now thinking that inexpensive practice/portable amps are designed with inexpensive headphones and earbuds in mind.

    Bose doesn't publish their specs, so I can't be certain of the impedance of their products. But I do know that most studio monitor headphones have a higher impedance (20 - 60 ohms, sometimes more -- the ATH-M50x cans are 38 ohms) while consumer-grade headphones are typically much lower.

    I bought the Spark hoping it would be a good RV-travel amp, and I think it will fit the bill when paired with the appropriate headphones. I don't love Bose products so I'm still shopping for an even better match with the Spark.

    As for the boomy Spark speakers, I hadn't noticed that, but I was playing in my living room. When walking elsewhere in my house with a wireless adapter I begin to hear the boomy bass end, but I notice the same thing with my theater-system sub-woofer which is also in the living room -- sounds fine in the living room, but very heavy bass when heard from the other end of the house.


  • @gitorpheus said in Boomy Headphone Output:

    I don't love Bose products so I'm still shopping for an even better match with the Spark.


    Here’s the list of what I tried and did NOT like with the Spark:
    Superlux HD681
    Superlux HD681 EVO
    KRK KNS8400
    Presonus HD10BT
    Floyd Rose FR-36
    Floyd Rose FR-52

    Initially my Phillips Fidelio X1 & X2 seemed to sound pretty good, but after trying the Presonus HD9, I now prefer the HD9.

  • @bschultz8 Thanks!


  • For what it's worth, I find on my Spark that the headphone output tone balance for songs streamed from my phone via bluetooth is very good and is not substantially different (i.e. no difference in bass vs mid vs high freq tone balance) compare to what I hear from same tracks played through a good sound system using same headphones. This with Senn HD598 phones.
    I have measured the headphone output frequency response with unloaded output, 33ohm, and 10ohm resistive headphone-output loads and at high output levels. The frequency response is reasonably flat and essentially identical in the 3 cases but with somewhat more distortion at 10 ohm load as expected. Definitely no indication of anything that would cause audio bass enhancement or other audio issues.

    Of course I do observe the boominess in the direct speaker sound but hey.. it's not a hifi speaker .. it's a guitar amp speaker .