Music is now more accessible than ever before. No longer do we have to book a sound-proof practice room to learn an instrument or find the perfect guitar tone.
Apartment amps allow you to jam in the comfort of your own bedroom and perfect your skills. These amplifiers have distinctive qualities that make them ideal for discreet practicing or recording.
Best Apartment Amps - Rock in the Comfort of Your Bedroom
Table of Contents
- Best Apartment Amps - Rock in the Comfort of Your Bedroom
- Apartment Amps: Tube vs Solid State
- Key Qualities to Look For in an Apartment Amp
The V5 Infinium is kitted out with a combination of a 12AX7 preamp tube and an EL84 power tube. With 5-watts of power, it’s quite astonishing how much power and clarity this amplifier is capable of producing.
With a built-in power attenuator, you can easily find the Infinium’s “sweet spot” without needing to crank the volume. It sounds accurate and crisp at low volume, making it the perfect solution for practicing without disturbing your neighbors.
The all-tube design of this Bugera amp brings out the sweet harmonics of your guitar, with a nice level of natural-sounding compression to keep your dynamics consistent.
The Infinium also has a dedicated reverb effect, which sounds smooth and authentic. Unlike some digital reverbs, it has a natural way of coating your guitar tone and adding a dimension of space to the output.
One concern associated with tube amps is their tendency to wear out after a while, but Bugera has this covered, thanks to their innovative Tube Life technology.
By monitoring the performance of the amp's output tubes, they are kept at the optimum operating load and consequently last much longer than your average tubes.
2. Yamaha THR5
The Yamaha THR5 boasts exceptional mobility and versatile tones. A great tool for songwriting, recording, or rehearsing, this amplifier can be powered by a battery, so moving it around your apartment isn't an issue.
Housed within the THR5 are five detailed tube amplifier models, which cover every style and genre of rock music. Alongside the modeled amps are four modulation effects, four reverb and delay-based effects to add color to your tone.
It also facilitates USB connectivity, so you can use hook it up to your DAW of choice, and record directly through the amp. This provides a great way to demo new ideas, and it can all be done in headphones to avoid disturbing anyone.
With a pair of stereo speakers that resemble what you would find on a hi-fi system, the amplifier can sound powerful without making a lot of noise.
Known for their expertise in the world of processing and effects pedals, it's no surprise that the compact Katana-Mini by Boss is loaded with tone-sculpting options. This 7-watt combo amp sounds great at lower volumes and has a dedicated headphone output for silent jamming sessions.
The built-in effects on the Katana-Mini include a 3-band EQ for tailoring the frequency output, a delay section for adding a touch of space to your melodies and solos, and gain control for when you need a little extra bite.
The quality of the Boss Katana Mini's sound stems from its multi-stage analog gain circuitry. This allows the amp to produce expressive, large-sounding tones at low, medium, or higher volumes.
This Boss amplifier will fit into most spall spaces in an apartment or home. It can be powered by AA batteries for up to seven hours of continuous use, and at just 3lbs in weight, it's a highly portable option.
The Adio Air GT by Vox has a futuristic appearance that is sure to make you do a double-take. Designed as a practice tool for the modern guitarist, the Air GT has Bluetooth connectivity so you can easily jam along to your favorite tracks.
For such a compact cabinet, the Vox Adio Air GT can produce a lot of substance if required. This is due to its 50 watts of power which drive the 3-inch speakers, which were specially tuned by the manufacturer to enhance the integrity of the sound.
Some of the legendary Vox amplifier tones can be heard subtly within the Air GT. There’s a hint of the brilliant AC30, as well as some overdriven blues tones and more modern tones that are draped in high-gain.
One thing that makes the Air GT perfect for playing at home or in an apartment is its headphone output. This makes it possible to practice in silence, and the option of powering the amp with AA batteries adds to its appeal.
Apartment Amps: Tube vs Solid State
One of the key decisions you’ll need to make when choosing the ideal apartment amp for your needs is whether to opt for a solid-state device or one of the tube varieties.
It's the dilemma faced by all guitarists when looking for a new amplifier. Realistically, both have their benefits and drawbacks, especially when they are used inside an apartment.
If the amplifier was solely for use on-stage, I'd recommend a tube amp every time. The sound is much more reliable, warm, and authentic, and they provide a natural crunch that's sound is unrivaled.
The issue with using tube amps in an apartment or home setting is that they tend to produce their best tones when the volume and gain are boosted.
Some guitarists love solid-state amplifiers because of the range of amp models and effect options they contain. Due to them not needing to warm up the tubes to produce a high-gain sound, they are well suited to playing at home, as their dynamics can be more easily controlled.
If you want to enjoy effects in your apartment, using a tube amp will provide you with limited options. At the most, you’ll get a spring reverb and a vibrato built into the amp.
Solid-state amplifiers are more likely to include an array of onboard effects, and therefore will save you space in your apartment. You won’t need to get your pedalboard out to use effects for rehearsing or recording.
Although solid-state amplifiers often include good quality amp modeling which can replicate the sound of a tube amp, there’s nothing better than the real thing!
Smaller-sized tube amps combine reduced volume with authentic-sounding tube saturation, however, it’s important to bear in mind that you’ll have to crank the volume a little to access these tones, which may not be suitable for your living space.
Key Qualities to Look For in an Apartment Amp
When you’re searching for the ideal amplifier to use in an apartment or other small living space, the qualities you require are vastly different compared to what you’d need from an amp for playing live shows or rehearsing with a band.
In terms of physical attributes, your apartment amp must be both compact and lightweight. There are many amplifiers on the market that weigh under 10kg, which makes them easy to move around your living space when required.
The great thing about having a mobile apartment amplifier is that you can easily find a place for it in a vehicle, or even carry it to another location if you’re jamming with friends or recording in an external studio.
You don’t want to be limited by the weight or dimensions of the amp and should be able to take it into any room in your apartment so that you can maximize your practice time. Sometimes, a change of setting provides us with renewed energy for practicing or writing.
Nobody wants to be known as that annoying person who disturbs their neighbors by constantly practicing the pentatonic scale through a loud amplifier! It’s therefore important for an apartment amp to have a headphone output.
The vast majority of smaller-sized amps include both a headphone output and an auxiliary input. This will be useful if you enjoy playing along to backing tracks, or practicing your timing using a metronome.
You’ll need to check that the headphone output is the correct size for your headphones. If, for example, your headphones have a ¼ inch connector while the output on the amp is a 3.5mm mini-jack, you can simply use an adaptor to solve this issue.
Another common capability included on amps ideal for apartment usage is the option of switching the power. Some small tube amps may be rated as 15 watts, but also provide the option to run at 1 watt.
The benefit of this is that you can use the amp on its lowest power setting during the hours of the day when it’s not appropriate to make much noise. Then, if you needed to turn up the volume and maximize the tube-driven tone, simply switch it to the max setting.
Thanks to modern music technology, we can perfect our craft with an amp, a guitar, and a pair of decent headphones. There's no better way to enjoy an evening than sitting down with our beloved axe and going to work!