Hughes & Kettner

Playing on a Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 5 Using Headphones

I was interested in alternatives to playing an amplifier through a cabinet for late at night or just silent practicing.

I have a Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 5 amplifier which has a Red Box DI Output jack. This is an XLR connection which outputs a line level signal. When a speaker is not connected, the unit switches into Power Soak mode. Power amplification output is then converted to heat. The audio then goes out the Red Box jack.

Hughes & Kettner

I'm going to very briefly cover two methods of using headphones with this amplifier. The first is using an in-ear monitor amplifier (or headphone amplifier). The other is a computer audio interface.

Using an in-ear monitor amplifier

I purchased the Behringer Powerplay P1. This model uses either a battery or the Behringer power adapter. Plug the Red Box output into one of the XLR jacks on the Behringer. Connect your headphones and you will be able to hear your guitar in both ears as there is a stereo/mono button.

If you have a mixer you could connect your phone, or some other music source, and use the other XLR jack to mix in a backing track.

Then either get a set of these really comfortable, studio monitor headphones, or a set of in-ear monitors.

Behringer Powerplay P1

Using a computer audio interface

If you would rather route your amplifier through your computer to record with a program like GarageBand here's how you would do that. I purchased the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14. This is a Firewire audio interface with two microphone pre-amps. You can either connect 1/4" instrument cable or XLR (from the Red Box jack). You only need to plug into one jack on the Saffire Pro 14. You will be able to hear the guitar in both ears.

Focusrite Saffire Pro 14

This Saffire Pro 14 comes with a FireWire 400 to 800 cable. It's a short one, but you can order one as long as 15 feet here. I have this same cable and it works fine.

FireWire 400 to 800 cable

If you have a computer that has a FireWire jack great, but if you're like me and have a Thunderbolt connection instead then you'll need the Apple FireWire 800 to ThunderBolt adapter. The one thing Focusrite emphasizes is to shut down your computer prior to connecting or removing the Thunderbolt cable as the Saffire Pro 14 is receiving power through it. You must also connect the external power adapter as well.

FireWire 800 to Thunderbolt adapter

Next install the Saffire MixControl software (there's instructions on how to download it) so that you can get your computer talking to the interface. When you launch Saffire MixControl you may have to perform a firmware update. Here is what the application looks like.

Saffire MixControl

Then launch System Preferences and go to Sound. Set your Output to Saffire (if you want to monitor with your headphones).

Audio output

Do the same for Input.

Audio input

At this point you'll be able to hear your guitar.

If you want to use GarageBand to record...

Launch Garage Band and select Empty Project and click Choose.


At Choose a track type select the “Connect a guitar” graphic. The Input drop down box should display Input 1. Check the box for I want to hear my instrument as I play and record. My instrument is connected with Saffire (or make another selection). I hear sound from Saffire (or make another selection). Click Create.


By default you will hear one of the modeled amplifiers and effects ON TOP OF the Hughes & Kettner.


To hear ONLY the Hughes & Kettner's output then click the upside down looking Wi-Fi symbol to turn off Input Monitoring. The Hughes & Kettner will now be heard straight through.


If you want to hear GarageBand amplifiers and effects then you should switch off the Hughes & Kettner amplifier and just plug the guitar cord directly into the Saffire Pro 14 as you are just shortening the life on the tubes in the Hughes & Kettner amplifier.

When you are done you must first shutdown the Mac before removing the Firewire to Thunderbolt cable to avoid damage to the Saffire Pro 14.

If you want to use Logic Pro X to record...

The same caveats apply here as with GarageBand with regard to connecting the Thunderbolt cable.

Launch Logic Pro X and select Empty Project. Click Choose.

Logic Pro X

In the Audio category select the guitar icon. Input should be Input 1. My instrument is connected with: Saffire. I hear sound from Saffire. Click Create.

Logic Pro X

Have fun!

Logic Pro X