There comes the point that you need to review a song quickly, but you don’t have an appropriately powered speaker for the job.
Sometimes you’ll only have an instrument amp, such as a bass amp, as the only speaker you can plug into. Many modern amps have auxiliary or line inputs, but if you have an older bass amp, you might not have one available.
If you’re thinking of turning your bass amp into a speaker for your music player or other applications, here’s what you need to know.
Can You Use Bass Amp as a Speaker?
You can use a bass amp as a speaker for your music player, but there will be some things to consider. First, your bass amp should have a tweeter to cover the high frequencies. If it does not have a tweeter, you will mostly get low frequencies, making your tracks sound muffled.
Many modern bass amps now include Bluetooth or auxiliary/line inputs that allow you to connect your phone to your bass amp and play backing tracks. You can use this feature to play music as well.
What are the line inputs on my amp?
The line inputs on your amp allow you to plug in audio sources, such as those from smartphones, tablets, and even your computer. You can use this to play music, whether listening for pleasure or playing backing tracks to jam along with. This jack is also separate from the instrument input of your bass amp.
Line input jacks vary for each amp. Some would use a pair of RCA jacks, while others use a single TRS jack, which may be a quarter or eighth-inch jack. Some amps also have Bluetooth connectivity, eliminating the need for a line input jack.
Can you use a bass amp as a subwoofer?
You can use a bass amp as a subwoofer only when you don’t intend to crank the volume. A subwoofer covers frequency ranges much lower than what a bass amp can cover. It won’t have enough driving power to reach those sub-bass frequencies that subwoofers can handle.
To give you an idea of your mileage, a bass amp often covers a frequency range of 40 – 1,000 Hz. Subwoofers go below 40 Hz, which a bass amp speaker might not be able to reach. You can damage your speakers if the power is too strong, so turning your bass amp into a subwoofer is not advisable.
Can you use a bass amp as a PA system speaker?
You can use an amp as a speaker for your PA system, but you might get only some of the frequency ranges that a PA mixer has. A PA system can cover a broader frequency spectrum, which your bass amp may not cover. PA systems have wide frequencies to cover different instruments in a mix.
A safe option here would be to use the line output of your PA mixer and plug it into the line input of the amp, just like how you would plug a music player into your amp. You might not get all your PA mixer’s frequencies on tap, but you won’t have to deal with converting line to instrument levels.
Can you use a bass amp as a monitor speaker?
You can use a bass amp as a monitor speaker, but you won’t get an accurate representation of the sounds coming out. Remember that bass amps were designed to handle low frequencies, which would make the amp lack mids or high frequencies, the opposite of what a monitor speaker does.
Bass amps are best used as monitors for your bass guitar or bass synthesizer. If you plug your bass into the front-of-house system, your bass amp will work as a monitor that will allow you to hear your sound from where you stand.
How do you plug a music player into a bass amp?
Plugging your music player into the instrument input of your amp is as easy as getting one end of a cable and plugging both devices. However, you will need some converters to ensure your plugs are compatible with the devices. The essential item is a 3.5mm cable to bridge both devices.
If you have a quarter-inch plug on your cable, you can plug that into the bass amp and then convert the other end with a 3.5mm converter. It’s also important to note that the plugs on both ends should be TRS-compatible.
You can use the instructions to plug a PA mixer into your bass amp. If the bass amp has an auxiliary or line input, make sure to have RCA to 3.5mm cables, a 3.5mm cable, and any other converters needed.
You can use a bass amp as a powered speaker for your music player. Knowing how to turn your bass amp into a speaker allows you to have quick solutions when you need to review tracks for rehearsals in you don’t have an available speaker to use for it.
While having a line or auxiliary input is still the best option, this hack should be good enough to get you by in urgent situations. And as long as the amp has a tweeter, you can get decent sounds.
John Narciso is a guitar player and music technology hobbyist. He loves exploring guitar effects processors in pedal and plugin format and free music applications. His music preferences tend to be diverse, listening to genres spanning from metal to alternative rock and a little hip-hop.