Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

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Durandal
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Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby Durandal » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:04 am UTC

So I'm in university, and in my dorm room am in possession of:

1) A laptop with horribleterribleawful speakers (you know, the ones found on your average laptop)
2) A nice guitar amp with a 65 watt speaker (a Crate VTX65, to be precise)
3) A standard 1/4" patch cord
4) An 1/8" male to 1/4" female converter cable

Basically, I would very much like to use my amp to play music from my computer by plugging the patch cord into the headphone jack using the converter cable. This actually works, although I have to turn the gain on the amp and the volume on the computer all the way down then slowly edge them upwards, until they hit a seemingly arbitrary point and the music goes from inaudible to blaringly loud. I would be able to tolerate this if it weren't for the high-pitched whine my amp emits regardless of whether the music is playing or not, and which persists for several seconds after the amp is turned off (this does not happen with my guitar).

Does anyone have experience with getting this to work nicely? I mean, hypothetically you should be able to get nice crystal-clear sound out of the $350 amp, correct? I mean, it certainly costs more than any other speaker I own, and all of them are hundreds of kilometers away.

The amp also has the standard red/white audio inputs. I haven't tried those yet (I don't have a suitable cable, although that can be very easily rectified), but I am determined to figure out the problem with my current setup. Any help?

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scrt_rbt_agnt
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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby scrt_rbt_agnt » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:06 am UTC

ideally, you want a mixer in between your computer and amp. although if you're going to spend money on a mixer, you might as well just spend the cash on new computer speakers. the pro of a mixer however, is that you can record into your input too.


i have my audio output (and input) going through my USB m-box and into my mixer and out through my PA system. i have a fancy setup because i play/record music.
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Dream
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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby Dream » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:10 am UTC

Durandal wrote:The amp also has the standard red/white audio inputs. I haven't tried those yet (I don't have a suitable cable, although that can be very easily rectified),


This would be far better than just plugging a stereo headphone feed into your mono guitar lead input. If you're very lucky, the RCA (red+white) input is specifically designed to be used with a keyboard or tape player in a pinch, and will have different, much less colourful tone circuitry than the guitar input. BUT: Check the documentation to make sure that the RCAs aren't an effects send and return. If so, don't use them for input.

Other things: if your computer has a line output, or a line level setting for the headphone out, use that. Then you'll only have to worry about the amp volume. The humming could be caused by lots of things, but it's a very common problem with adapters. That would be my first suspicion. Alternatively, you might just have a very noisy headphone output, which isn't something you can do anything about. You won't get crystal clear sound out of a guitar amp of any kind. You'll get good guitar tone, which is a very different thing.

In my opinion, no amount of money, time or effort spent on running a stereo laptop headphone output through a guitar amp will yield better results than the same spent on acquiring ordinary desktop speakers. Even a $20 set will have stereo sound, and reasonably faithful sound reproduction. If you did want to do this regardless, rbt_agnt is right about the mixer/soundcard. That's the way to go.
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1337geek
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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby 1337geek » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:20 pm UTC

Is there any particular reason you want to use your amp instead of actual speakers? You could get a used set from a thrift shop for a couple bucks, or if you're after quality you could shell out a few more at the store. Personally, I'd be afraid of breaking the amp, which would cost you a lot more.
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Dingbats
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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby Dingbats » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:24 pm UTC

No matter how good an amp you have, it's still not built to listen to music through, so it won't sound good. And you'll get mono sound. I'd spend some money on a cheap pair of speakers instead.

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scrt_rbt_agnt
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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby scrt_rbt_agnt » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

also, completely overlooked the fact that you're in a dorm.

be nice to your neighbors. GET HEADPHONES.
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Durandal
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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby Durandal » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:30 am UTC

Well, the reason I would prefer my amp to work as a speaker is because I dislike having unnecessary objects when existing ones work nicely (for instance, in my current setup I use my laptop as a DVD player). I tried using the RCA inputs (according to the circuitry diagram they hook up after all the effects and whatnot) with some success; the high-pitched squeal is greatly reduced in volume and the music comes through, but it sounds flat and empty.

It looks like the best option right now is to just shell out for computer speakers. Damnit.

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Re: Using your guitar amp as a computer speaker

Postby Internetmeme » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:04 am UTC

I've tried to listen to radio through three amps connected through a floor processor. It sounded crappy.

Basically, the stereo was plugged from the headphone jack into the processor, which has a left, middle, and right output. The amps were arranged in correct position, their equalizers all set to midnight (the middle setting), and it sounded terrible. The instruments were good but the voice was barely understandable.

Guitar amps are just not made for the human voice or string instruments. If you are listening to just guitar or drum things, though, then it might be fine. The closest to the human voice I would recommend would be either a talkbox or a wah/yah pedal.
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