When Phil Jones Bass introduced the revolutionary Bighead Pro HA-1 headphone amplifier in 2017, bass players flocked from all over to get their hands on one. From touring sidemen wandering the globe to up-and-coming bassists in tight living spaces, there was finally a simple solution to practicing and tracking bass that could literally fit in your front pocket. Thanks to the constantly innovating mind of Phil Jones, PJB has just released the second incarnation of the Bighead Pro, the new HA-2 model.
Boasting a rounded, sleeker casing design and a lightweight, half-pound body, the external changes to the HA-2 are obvious upon sight. There’s also the addition of a ¼" line out jack so it can drive another amp or even an entire recording-studio signal chain. And because PBJ knows that fidelity is paramount to serious players, the new HA supports analog-to-digital conversion with up to 96kHz sampling and 24 bits of resolution (the HA-1 topped out at 48kHz at 16 bits), greatly improving its capabilities as a tracking interface. The rechargeable internal lithium ion battery will give you around eight hours of life from a full charge, which takes just under three hours.
In putting the HA-2 to work, it doesn’t disappoint. Plugging directly into the unit for its most rudimentary use as a headphone amp, the HA-2 produces clear tones that retained the unique characteristics of each bass that I tried. Even at higher volumes (and through the vastly different sound of over-ear studio cans versus earbuds), the signal remained true and didn’t show any signs of distortion or frying. To test it further, I plugged my iPhone into the aux input to play along with a few tracks; honestly, I could have just sat idly and listened to the music coming out of there, as the sound quality was nothing short of exceptional. The sonic fun continued in using the line out to send the signal to different bass amps. But one of the most useful features of the new HA was connecting the USB to my computer to test its recording functions. Using both Logic and GarageBand to play around, I fattened up my signal with the Bighead’s bass-and-treble EQ, making my tone sound fantastic. Not being a studio expert, my demo only covered the basics, but I imagine a studio whiz would have a serious field day with this thing. Regardless, I would be happy to use the HA-2 for any quick recording session at my desk.
Considering how versatile and portable this thing is, $360 is a worthy price for one tool that can give bass players access to so many premium features. There’s a surplus of traveler basses and headphone amps on the market these days, but none has quite perfected plug-and-play on the go like PBJ has. And, offering preamp and recording features makes the HA-2 all the more valuable. Not only is its new look sexy, it’s way easier than lugging an amp with you everywhere you go.
Bighead Pro HA-2
Pros Super compact and lightweight, great tone clarity, powerful headphone output
Bottom Line PJB improved upon the innovative HA-1 to provide the best portable practice tool for bass players on the go.
Controls Master volume, input level gain, treble cut/boost, bass cut/boost, on/off
Jacks 3.5mm stereo mini headphone, ¼" input, ¼" line out, 3.5mm stereo mini aux input
Battery Rechargeable lithium ion (up to eight hours)
Headphone output power 300mW
Frequency response 10Hz–40kHz
Sampling rates 44.1kHz–96kHz (A/D), 44.1kHz–384kHz (D/A); USB Audio Class 1 & Class 2 plus DSD (2.822MHz & 5.644MHz)
Weight 0.6 lbs
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