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I've recently been forced to go back to playing on headphones instead on a proper amp. I use a digital guitar processor for that, which also sometimes gets hooked into my FX loop.

I have some presets that sound pretty OK when put directly to the power amp circuit. I typically turn the amp's reverb to 0 for them, because controlling the whole path digitally gives me more flexibility. The reverb settings have reasonable mix values that don't sound overblown at all.

When I've plugged in my headphones, though, the reverb was making it absolutely unplayable. I heard multiple repetitions and the "spacey" feel was lost. I tried turning it down to 1-2%, at which point it got bearable, but still didn't keep the actual effect.

I mean, it's pretty common for the mastered music to have reverbation on it. What could I be doing wrong?

The things I've checked include:

  • I ensured clean sound is okay
  • The processor is set to output direct signal on line levels
  • Cab emulation is on
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Two possible reasons spring to mind.

I'm assuming your regular amp setup will be summing the reverb to mono. Some stereo reverbs create phase-discrepancies which appear to push the stereo field wider, which leads to these possibilities...

  1. headphones introduce a very artificial stereo field, where the sound sources are 180˚ from each other, with no cross-talk. Compared to a pair of speakers at approximately a 60˚ spread, in front of you.
    This is very likely to cause spacial components like reverb to feel much more emphasised.

  2. In summing to mono, the phase-differences can cancel each other out, lowering the overall perceived volume. In headphones, these cancellations would no longer happen.

… or 3. both the above ;)

  • Ooooh... Now that you've mentioned that, I've remembered that those headphones have TRRS connector. It might be possible for the jack adapter to short the channels and introduce the complications you're talking about. Maybe I'll be able to force downmix to mono on the device itself. – Bartek Banachewicz Dec 15 '14 at 9:58
  • 1
    a non-standard [by regular stereo headphone terms, rather than phone composites] may have the pin-out in such a way that the phase of one side could possibly be reversed - though you'd probably already have noticed if that happened - sounds would be coming from everywhere except inside your head… very disturbing. If not that, then, as above. Summing to mono in the 'amp' itself should help that for both cases. – Tetsujin Dec 15 '14 at 10:01

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