Can You Use a Guitar Amp as a Speaker?
While guitar playing has always been one of my main passions, one of the other things that I’m kind of freaky about is high-fidelity sound in general.
I have always used premium speakers to really savor my favorite tunes, but unfortunately, the speaker set that I was using broke a few weeks ago, leaving me with just my crappy phone to play my tunes.
With nothing decent to play music with, a question popped into my mind: Can you use a guitar amp as a speaker? I honestly didn’t really know the answer to that, so I decided to do some research to see if it’s possible, and if so, what is the process to do so.
In short, yes you can use a guitar amp as a speaker to listen to music. However, there are a few risks associated with doing so. Guitar amps are specifically designed to output the frequencies an electric guitar produces. Therefore, using one to play a podcast or an album might mean trouble for the amp’s internals, especially if the music is bass-heavy. There are also several things that you must tinker with before using an amp as a speaker, like getting a ¼ inch to 3.5mm cable so that you can connect it to your computer.
But even though there are things that could go wrong, if you know what you are doing, you could definitely play music without any issues. I personally connected a small PRS amp into my desktop. And after making a few tweaks on the computer’s settings, I managed to play a few songs on moderate volume for about 30 minutes.
The sound quality wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t bad either. Anyways, there are a few extra things that you must know about using your amp as a speaker so that it stays as unscathed as possible. Check below to learn more.
Will Using An Amp As A Speaker Damage It?
So as I mentioned above, you could technically use your guitar amp as a speaker, but if you do not know what you are doing, blowing the amp is a possibility.
The reason for that is that music produces frequencies that are much more varied than the frequencies that a guitar produces.
A song with a lot of bass might mean trouble for the amp’s cone, which might rip if combined with high volumes.
So if you are going to listen to music with the amp, I would recommend that you play songs that are light on bass, or else you might run into problems down the line.
I would also advise running music through a music software so that you can lower the bass with the program. Doing this might be the only way to play bass-heavy tunes without messing your amp up.
Another way that people often mess out their amps is by underestimating the amount of voltage a computer can output. Guitar amps are made to receive significantly lower amounts of voltage from the pickups.
The typical computer is going to produce much more electricity than your typical humbucker, and so to avoid toasting your amp, It’s always a wise idea to lower your machine’s volume as much as possible when first plugging the amp into your computer.
The correct procedure involves increasing your amp’s volume to medium and having your computer’s volume as low as possible.
After this, go to Youtube and look for a song that is light on bass (avoid Trap, EDM, Metal, etc…). When the song first plays, you are going to slowly increase the volume on your computer. I would personally avoid playing music too loudly. Not only does it contribute to damaging the amp, but also the sound won’t be very high-quality.
Things To Keep In Mind When Using An Amp As A Speaker
The first thing that you must understand is the fact that the sound quality isn’t going to be great. This is something that I noticed immediately after a few minutes of plugging my amp into my computer. Guitar amps are made for guitar playing obviously, and so only that kind of sound will sound decent.
For example, if you want to play EDM, it’s going to sound rather muddy and the bass will sound very distorted. This is especially true if you’re playing at high volume. If you are going to play instrumental music though, preferably guitar solos and the like, then it’s going to sound much better, plus it’s going to be safer for the amp.
Something else to keep in mind is that you can’t really play music way too loudly on the amp. While it might be fine on a guitar, the increased sound range will not suit the gear. Playing music too loudly might affect the amp’s cone, possibly even ripping it as I said above.
Another very important thing to keep in mind is that you MUST change your computer’s sound output to MONO or else some songs are going to sound funny.
If you do not know what Mono and Stereo mean, Mono means that audio will only travel through one channel. That means that the sound will remain the same for the left and right speaker. Stereo means that the sound could vary between 2 speakers.
So if you leave your computer’s sound to stereo, your amp will only output one side of the song you are playing.
Changing your computer’s output to mono is very simple. Simply click the start button, press settings, press ease of access (or type it on the search bar that appears at the top of the window), then press audio on the left menu. after that, you should see something that says “turn on mono audio”. After that, you are done.
How To Turn Your Amp Into A Speaker
Now if you are a little bit confused on how to do the change, it’s actually a super simple process. Follow these steps to know how to do so.
- First of all, you are going to need a ¼ to 3.5 mm cable. Using a ¼ to 3.5 mm adapter is also a possibility too. You are also obviously going to need a guitar amp, and a computer, phone or some other device that can take a 3.5 mm jack.
- After that, simply plug in the ¼ part of the cable into the amp. Make sure the volume is completely down.
- Then you are going to plug the 3.5 mm into the device of your choice. You can increase the volume of the amp a bit now.
- After that, make sure the computer or phone is set up to output mono sound, or else you are only going to be able to listen to a “side” of the song.
- Finally, go to Youtube or Spotify and play a song. The music should start playing on the amp. Make sure you do not play the audio too loud or else the amp might suffer some damage. Also, try to avoid bass-heavy songs as I said above
Tips To Avoid Causing Damage To Amp
Since guitar amps aren’t made to be used as a speaker, you are going to have to be careful with it, or else you are going to have to replace the unit. There are a few tips to keep in mind while playing music on the amp, like for example:
- Avoid using it for more than 30 minutes: To make sure your amp lasts a long time, try to avoid playing music on it for more than 30 minutes. If you do play songs for longer than that, you are going to notice the sound getting more distorted and a little bit less bright. This is something that I noticed after a few hours of use.
- If possible, use software to lower bass volume: If you really want to listen to more bass oriented music, then you could always lower the bass a little bit with music software. Guitar amps are meant for treble and midrange sounds and you are going to notice that in the sound quality. Lowering the bass will not only save your gear, but It will also ensure that the sound quality stays as good as possible.
- Try to use an open back cabinet: If you have the choice between using a closed back and an open back cabinet, go with the open back. From what I have heard, an open back cabinet will not produce as much bass, which is something to look out for when using it as a speaker.
Guitar amps can definitely be used as a speaker, but it could be dangerous for the amp. Plus, I have noticed that the sound quality isn’t very good unless I play instrumental music. Ideally, you should stick to traditional speakers that are meant for playing music. These will accentuate the bass and clarity of the track, resulting in a better listening experience. If you’re going to mixing music tracks, you would be much better off with a pair of studio monitors. However, if you’re in a pinch, you can definitely use your guitar amplifier as a speaker.