If you own a bass amp, then you may have wondered if you can use it as a speaker. You may probably have faced a situation where you needed a PA system urgently but had none available, and all you had was your bass amp. In such a situation, what could you have done differently?
Can your bass amp serve as a speaker? Can music be played through bass amps? If these questions have ever crossed your mind, then this article is meant for you so read on.
You can definitely use a bass amp as a speaker by using it to play music. However, they may not sound as good as speakers. And that’s because most bass amps cannot play the mids and high frequencies like a normal speaker would.
Although you can use a bass amp as a speaker, they can’t completely replace normal speakers. And we’ll talk about the reasons why later in this article. I’ll also give you the different ways to use your bass amp as a speaker.
But first, let’s take a look at all of the reasons why bass amps can be used as speakers.
Why Bass Amps Can Be Used As a Speaker
A typical bass amp is made up of a preamp, power amp, tone controls, and a loudspeaker. Some bass amps even have more than one loudspeaker.
This loudspeaker is responsible for converting audio signals into audible sound waves that can be heard from the bass amp. Because bass amps have this internal component known as loudspeakers, they can be used as speakers.
Also, most bass amps come with input ports that can enable you to use them as speakers. These input ports are known as aux input jacks. Aux input jacks are audio inputs on bass amps that allow you to connect music or sound players to your bass amp.
These are the reasons why bass amps can be used as speakers. However, when you use your bass amp as a speaker, you may need to fine-tune and make adjustments to the sound using the EQ controls to make your bass amp sound good.
Reasons Why Bass Amps Cannot Replace Normal Speakers
Though bass amps can be used as speakers, they do not give you the same results as you would from normal speakers. Thus, they cannot be used as a replacement for normal speakers. And here are the reasons
Frequency response refers to how well an audio device or component can reproduce audible frequencies. Every speaker system has an ideal frequency range within which it can handle sound waves.
The frequency of sound waves normally lies between 16Hz and 20kHz. Bass amps are limited when it comes to producing sounds having frequencies spanning this entire audio spectrum.
Bass guitars produce sound with a frequency range between 31Hz – 5kHz, and on the audio frequency spectrum, these are considered low and mid frequencies.
Most bass amps have been engineered to play mainly the low frequencies and a bit of the mid frequencies in an audio signal. And they are not capable of effectively playing back frequencies in audio signals that are outside their frequency range.
What this means is bass amps can’t playback high and mid frequencies like a normal speaker would.
On the other hand, normal speakers have a wide frequency response range. Thus they are able to properly handle any music or sound frequency that passes through them.
As you may already know, bass amps have a built-in preamp. The preamp is an important part of the bass amp. And it allows you to boost the weak instrument-level signal from a bass guitar.
And one thing you need to know about preamps is that they “color” the sound. This simply means they alter the frequency of any audio you process through them. This changes the sound output of the audio.
This means when you use a bass amp as a speaker, the sound output will not be accurate and slightly altered. This isn’t such a big deal or a deal-breaker. But it’s worth noting.
The basic function of a bass amp is to amplify sound that passes through it. That is why they come with a preamp and an amplifier.
In line with their primary function, bass amps increase the power, voltage, and current of any audio signal that passes through them.
Unfortunately, the process of amplification of any audio signal introduces noise into it. What this means is that amplification distorts the cleanliness of an audio signal.
Therefore, passing or playing sound or music through a bass amp introduces some amount of noise into it.
Once again, this isn’t a deal-breaker. And you’ll probably not notice the noise in the sound output.
Tips for Using Bass Amps As a Speaker
As we’ve already discussed, bass amps are not ideal and cannot replace normal speakers. However, there are some things you can do to improve its sound output. Let’s go through them.
Tweak Tone Control and EQ Settings on Bass Amp
Since bass amps are not traditionally meant to perform the same role as normal speakers, you need to dedicate some time to adjust the tone control knobs.
Depending on the particular bass amp you own, you may have tone control knobs ranging from two to five. You want to tweak it to the point where it sounds as close to normal speakers as possible.
If you want to use your bass amp as a speaker, you don’t want it to sound too bassy. So you’ll have to reduce the low frequencies and boost the mids and high frequencies. This way, you can achieve a sound that is close enough to a speaker.
If your bass amp has EQ, even better. You’ll be able to fine-tune it even more, to get a nice-sounding tone from your bass amp if you decide to use it as a speaker.
Use the Aux Input Jack on the Bass Amp
Using the aux input jack on your bass amp is the simplest way of using your bass amp as a speaker.
In order to use your bass amp as a speaker for playing music, all you have to do is to look out for an Aux input jack among the controls and input section of your bass amp.
This aux input enables you to play any sound or music from your smart device or PC through your bass amp.
And the great thing about using the Aux input is that your audio will not be processed through the built-in preamp of the bass amp. This means there will be no coloration or alteration done to the audio signal.
Many bass amps come with a 3.5mm aux input. Thus, you can simply connect a 3.5mm cable between your audio player and bass amp using this aux input.
However, other bass amps may come with a 6.3mm aux input. For bass amps that come with 6.3mm aux inputs, you need to get a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter to enable you to connect them to your 3.5mm cable.
Use The Guitar-in Jack
If there is no aux input on the bass amp, then you’ll have to use the guitar-in jack on the bass amp.
A guitar in jack is the port on a bass amp that receives bass signals from your bass guitar. However, you can use this guitar-in jack to set up your bass amp as a speaker as well. Though this is not common practice, you can actually play music through your bass amp by using the guitar-in jack.
Guitar-in jacks accept ¼” connectors. Thus, to achieve this setup, you have to get a 1/8” to ¼” (3.5mm to 6.5mm) adapter. This adapter will enable you to connect a 3.5mm cable into your bass amps’ guitar input port whiles the other end goes into your music source.
Unfortunately, you cannot play your bass at the same time while playing music when you use your bass amp this way.
Can You Plug a Microphone into A Bass Amp for Vocals?
Have you ever wondered if you can sing into your bass amp? Is it possible to plug your microphone into a bass amp for vocals? I will address this right now.
You can plug a microphone into a bass amp for vocals. You can plug a microphone into a bass amp using a female XLR to ¼” TS connector cable. To do this, simply connect the XLR end of the cable into your microphone and the ¼” TS connector end goes into your bass amp.
Alternatively, you can connect your microphone to your multi-effect pedalboard. Afterward, you can go ahead to connect the pedalboard to your bass amp.
However, bass amps are not ideal for singing. If you are interested in learning why bass amps are not ideal for singing, read this article.
Is It Safe to Use a Bass Amp as a Speaker?
Well, the answer to this question is not as straightforward as it looks. This is because the safety of a bass amp, when used as a speaker, depends on how it is used.
When the sound of high volume is introduced into a bass amp while the bass amp’s master volume is turned very high, it can cause it to blow.
Therefore, when using your bass amp as a speaker, you need to be extra careful in order not to blow it.
To protect your bass amp from damage when using it as a speaker, you need to turn down the master volume control before playing any audio through it.
What this means is when connecting an audio source to your bass amp, the volume of your audio player should be set at low. The same should be done for the master volume of your bass guitar.
While playing the song or music, you can gradually increase the master volume control to an acceptable level. This is because there is the risk of damaging your bass amp when you plug the music into it at full volume.
Bass amps are important components of a musical setup. Aside from their primary function of amplifying audio signals from bass guitars, bass amps can be used as speakers.
However, bass amps are not as great as normal speakers when it comes to reproducing sound when used as speakers. This is because bass amps have been designed primarily to playback low and mid frequencies in an audio signal.