Lineout and Speaker Comparison

OK so I know many of our resident experts will know I am running a Mustang IIi v2 which is plumbed into my audio interface and onto my DAW via the amps stereo lineout XLRs.

Recent talk about using headphones with amps and the effect on the audio quality has got me pondering. For practice I either have the Mustang on very low volume and know I am not driving it but often prefer a cleaner sound to evaluate playing or I use headphones connected to the AI.

So my question is, how will the output compare between straight out of the speaker or via the Lineout cables ? I never done a back to back comparison, as her indoors will likely have fit but wondered what folks opinion was ?



Hi Toby,

I’m not sure if this helps, but the main issue with headphones is that it doesn’t quite sound like the amp in the room because you have the speakers right against your ears.

That is the reason behind the Boss Waza Air headphones which have sophisticated room acoustic emulation to make them sound more like an amp in a room.

It’s not really that sound is degraded, but more that it just sounds “wrong” to some people, especially if they are used to playing amps without headphones and especially if they are used to playing amps loudly.

Personally, it doesn’t bother me because I’ve always used headphones, so I’m used to it.

If you play the line-out into a mixer and then into decent monitors, they will probably sound similar to the amp speaker.

On the Mustang I don’t think there would be any major difference between headphones directly to the amp, or headphones via a line-out and mixer. That is assuming they amp doesn’t apply different audio processing to headphones Vs line-out.

This will vary depending on the amp, of course. A lot of modelling amps have a FRFR speaker and do all of the speaker/cab modelling in software and in these cases the line out will normally have the same modelling applied.

On a more traditional amp, the line-out is likely to sound quite different from the amp speaker.

Note that playing/practising this isn’t quite the same as the issue people have with mixing on a DAW. The issue there is that the channel isolation and balance you get when listening on headphones can lead you to make mixing decisions which then don’t work well on speakers.



Thanks for the reply Keith and yes I think that does answer the question. Like you I mainly use headphones (95% of the time) and having them connected to the desktop AI is convenient, especially when working with the DAW as well, for example switching DI (from Amp) and Playback (from DAW master). Handy for reviewing raw recordings and then the mix.

On your last point, I think I have learnt the hard way with that one. And now playback the render/print through the two external soundbar speaker systems connected to the PC and AI and if necessary make adjustments in the mix. Then upload to YouTube for a level and soundcheck there. I know I should then really listen via a mobile, as that seems to be what most folk listen on these days but for me that’s a bridge too far ! But I get feedback from my daughter who uses nothing but a phone for audio, so if I am way of base she’ll let me know.

Thanks again.