Can A Guitar Amp Be Used As A Headphone Amp?

Headphone amps and guitar amps are two devices that have a similar function. Ultimately, they take information that goes into or out of your device or instrument and amplify and edit the sound however you like. Because of the similarity in their function, it is reasonable to wonder if you can use them interchangeably with each other’s device of choice. 

Guitar amps take the audio signals from a guitar, whether electric or acoustic, and amplify the signal so you can use them on computer systems. Headphone amps on the other hand, amplify the sound level and quality you can hear when using your devices. Unfortunately, because of the mechanisms of the amps, you cannot use them interchangeably.

There are a lot of ways that you can use the qualities of a guitar amp and headphone amp, but you are unlikely to be able to use them in exchange for each other. However, if you want to learn more about each of these amplifying systems and how they work, keep reading this article! We will take a look at both amps and see how they deliver ultimate sound quality.

What Is A Guitar Amp?

A guitar amp is a device that takes in sound waves from your guitar, acoustic or electric. It then amplifies the sound, so it becomes loud without impacting the quality of the audio. The amplifier will often have the ability to convert the sound waves from analog to digital sound, as a result of which its accompanying speakers can play the sound at higher levels.

There are many different kinds of guitar amps out there, including some common types such as:

  • Tube amplifiers
  • Solid state amplifiers
  • Digital amplifiers.

Each kind of amplifier offers different features and effects that it can produce. The type of sound you get from each type also differs on the basis of the amount of distortion, loudness, and quality. Tube amplifiers are some of the most commonly used types because they create a more natural sound that a lot of musicians will lean towards as the final product.

The solid-state or transistor guitar amp is the best choice for an electric guitar. This is the kind of amplifier that also needs a preamp which will then boost the signal. The signal then travels to another type of amplifier called the power amp. This is what enables it to be loud enough to play on a speaker, and it affords you the chance to edit the sound.

Solid state amps work well with electric guitars because there is a big need to amplify the sound so that it can be easy to hear. It also allows you to control the sound and feedback, and lends a sound that is less organic. Instead, you will hear a crisp, clean, and controlled sound. The great thing about these amps is also that they are sturdy and last long.

If you are choosing an amplifier, there are a few things you should consider. For example, it is a good idea to look at the volume control, the flexibility to edit the sound, and how easy it is to travel with. This is because if you find the right amp, it will need to travel with you where you go. The best way to do this is to take your guitar with you into the store.

Here you can look for balanced sound, issues with bass, and the availability of common effects such as reverb and echo. You should also consider that you can get power amps separately, but you are likely to find them in a combo with the speakers and preamp in the form of a cabinet. This creates a complete system to improve sound. 

What Is A Headphone Amp?

Headphone amplifiers are another kind of amplifying device that you can use to enhance the audio signals that are coming into your headphones. Headphone amps are usually built into most of the audio devices you know and love. This is usually at the headphone jack, and sometimes they form a DAC, which is a tool that converts digital signals to analog signals. 

Headphones use an analog signal, so the amplifiers will convert digital sounds to an analog version of that sound. While most headphones have a headphone jack for the amp, there is also a built-in version that is available on wireless headphones and earbuds. There are also external headphone amplifiers which is what we commonly refer to when we use this term.

You will be able to find these headphone amps pretty easily on stores dedicated to audio settings and tools. They are also available for professional use in studios by musicians and music producers. There are options that are available for consumers, which work best in the case of people interested in listening to quality audio and music. 

If you are using studio grade headphones and want them to deliver the best possible quality, the best way to make this happen is through a headphone amp. They can help costly headphones give the best possible audio quality you can get. These headphone amps will help the device convert a digital signal to something your headphone can understand.

The digital-analog converters (DACs) found in some headphone amplifiers work to convert digital audio (the 1’s and 0’s) into the analog audio (alternating electrical current) required to actually move the drivers and allow them to act as transducers. Headphones need analog audio signals to convert into sound waves, and DACs ensure a digital source can properly interact with the headphones.

Related: 7 Differences Between a Headphone Amp and a DAC

Can You Use A Guitar Amp For Headphones?

In most cases, you cannot use a guitar amp as a headphone amp. The two devices work in completely different ways. The guitar amp will convert an analog signal into a digital one, whereas a headphone amp does the exact opposite to help you play the sound in your ears. Additionally, the power requirements of your headphones and guitar are completely different.

If this exchange could work, you will likely fry your headphones before you get any results because the sudden surge of power will completely damage the headphones and their inner components. So, to stay safe, we recommend that you buy separate items for your headphones and guitars, and you will end up with the best results. 


When choosing amps, it may seem like they all do the same job. As it turns out, different types of amps deliver very different results, and they are not usually exchangeable with each other. We hope this article helped to clarify how amps do what they do best!

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