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NUX Mighty Plug (headphone amp)

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https://www.nuxefx.com/mighty-plug.html

Hi folks

Full disclosure - NUX haven't paid me for this review but if they'd like to, let it be known that I'm happy to say whatever they/you like for cash.

I play through headphones a lot. Rather than seeing it as a way of 'getting by' before being able to use a bass rig, I have made them central to my home setup where I do 90% of my playing. I'm using a Roland VB99 and a bass board by Tecamp for tactile feedback when playing along with music on Spotify or tracks I'm playing on for people. I love it because it's dead quiet, I can control the sound to my tastes exactly, nothing in the room rattles (or if it does then I can't hear it!) and I can rest easy knowing nobody else can hear me and steal my amazing basslines.

I'm very picky when it comes to in-ear or headphone sound and especially sensitive to noise and distortion, having being spoilt by a crystal clear sound from the (outdated but very much still current) Roland.

In the past I have tried lots of small battery powered headphone amplifiers, looking in essence for a small portable version of my home setup which in my head should be quite possible these days. I've been really frustrated by the ones I have tried so far - either they don't take batteries, they have loads of white noise, digital noise or otherwise, they are awkward, necessitating cables going in and out and all around, especially when adding a phone with some music to play to into the mix, and they lack any signal processing or adjustability. Most of them are cheap, like the Vox Amplug, and aren't intended to be anything more than a little gadget which might very well do for using now and then, so that's understandable.

Enter the NUX Mighty Plug! 

Advantages:

- It's super quiet. When you're not playing there is a barely perceptible yet smooth and more than acceptable level of noise. On some settings this is enhanced when playing clean and solo but negligible and inaudible when playing along with anything.

- The app. I can open the app on my phone which connects to the plug by bluetooth. No extra cables! It has backing tracks, a drum machine and (for bass) three saveable presets with a good range of effects, cabs, apps and reverbs (which I find essential for solo noodling).

- I can play music from my phone (Spotify, Youtube, whatever) to the plug and jam along, and there's even an EQ preset for the incoming audio to scoop out the bass which is quite neat.

- It drives my IEMs fine and gan go VERY loud, but I think it sounds far better at low volume

- Internal battery which seems to last very well. You could charge it from a power bank if you were hiding from an invading army and working with a guerrilla resistance force in the mountains with no access to power

- Price! I paid £62 with delivery and stuff from here

Disadvantages:

- Doesn't drive my over ear headphones as well as IEMs - it doesn't go as loud and rolls off the treble a bit, but using a second preset I can save a separate setting for them and adjust to compensate.

- Has a micro USB input for power, which are the worst connectors ever invented and never seem to accept a cable regardless of the angle of attack or thrust. USB-C would have been nice

- No compressor/limiter 'effect' - I think this would have elevated it to be the perfect device. Currently it takes some getting used to the way it behaves with different basses to get a good consistent sound which doesn't;t distort the output, hence a preference for using it at lover volumes. I think a limiter would have been a great addition, but potentially it would introduce some noise which would be counterproductive. A good limiter wouldn't be an easy 'effect' to add, maybe.

IMG_6149.jpeg

 

 

So that's about it - but then I plugged it into my Backbeat

Insane! The backbeat can work in several ways - it can 'rumble' just your bass, pass that to the NUX then your headphones, or rumble the NUX including the backing tracks then go to headphones - but I prefer the former at lower volumes. The effect of feeling the bass means you can play very quietly and still feel every note. I'm well used to the feeling after using a TecAmp Bassboard for years but it's quite a weird experience having the same feeling in a portable package.

So I'm very pleased with it; for the price I think it's absolutely brilliant!

Cheers

ped

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Now what would it be like if you used a Boss WL20 or similar bug type wireless into the Backbeat’s bass input? Then you’d only have the headphone cable to worry about! Hmmm...

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Just now, CameronJ said:

Now what would it be like if you used a Boss WL20 or similar bug type wireless into the Backbeat’s bass input? Then you’d only have the headphone cable to worry about! Hmmm...

Hmmm indeed!! 😄 although the cable from Jack to backbeat doesn’t get in the way at all and just follows the strap. But I like your thinking! 

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Ah, of course! In my excitement I actually forgot that a strap tends to be attached to a bass...xD

Not a whole lot of benefit to adding a wireless bug system then, unless you regularly remove and reattach your strap. 

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That looks like a great home set up, I don't see myself in a band for the foreseeable and don't really have an amp.

I primarily use my Phil Jones Bass Buddy and headphones but this might be a better set up for what I'm looking for. How is the latency for streaming stuff from the NUX for playing along? 

Also, are there any UK retailers for the Backbeat? 

Edited by BassApprentice

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Just now, BassApprentice said:

That looks like a great home set up, I don't see myself in a band for the foreseeable and don't really have an amp.

I primarily use my Phil Jones Bass Buddy and headphones but this might be a better set up for what I'm looking for. How is the latency for streaming stuff from the NUX for playing along? 

You Bluetooth music TO the Nux so although technically there’s latency between the phone and the receiver it’s redundant because the track still plays properly without any real time latency as there would be if for example you were to Bluetooth the bass signal to the Nux. If that makes sense. There’s zero latency across the whole setup here because there’s no conversion happening anywhere along the chain. 

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8 minutes ago, BassApprentice said:

Also, are there any UK retailers for the Backbeat? 

BassDirect sell them

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I wonder if Nux would consider adding a comp/limiter in a future firmware update. I might contact them and keep doing so forever until they do

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Also worth noting that the backbeat has its own aux in and headphone out so you can play with just that if you wanted, but then you’ve got the extra cable and the unprocessed bass sound isn’t great on its own. I mean fine for a low IEM mix but not so good for playing at home. 

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Also a tuner would be a good addition to the app but I use the PolyTune app if I need to

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I use a budget (home made) version of Ped's rather splendid set up. 

Cheap amplug style battery powered headphone amp, a Bluetooth receiver (ebay less than a fiver) plugged into the 'aux in' , a really good and inexpensive android app on my phone which allows me to loop sections of songs, slow them down and pitch shift up an octave for ease of picking a bassline. 

When not wandering around but sat at my desk I use a different set up. Instead of the Backbeat I have two resonator speaker thingies attached to my office chair and powered by a Trace Elliot Elf. 

I doubt they are remotely as good as the proper thing, they're certainly not portable, but I get bass vibrations in my back, up through my fundamentals, and even in my feet. The noise in the room however is quiet and midrangey so no disturbance to anyone. With my cheap studio headphones on and the previously mentioned vibrating fundamentals I am a very happy bass player. 

 

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6 hours ago, stewblack said:

I use a budget (home made) version of Ped's rather splendid set up. 

Cheap amplug style battery powered headphone amp, a Bluetooth receiver (ebay less than a fiver) plugged into the 'aux in' , a really good and inexpensive android app on my phone which allows me to loop sections of songs, slow them down and pitch shift up an octave for ease of picking a bassline. 

When not wandering around but sat at my desk I use a different set up. Instead of the Backbeat I have two resonator speaker thingies attached to my office chair and powered by a Trace Elliot Elf. 

I doubt they are remotely as good as the proper thing, they're certainly not portable, but I get bass vibrations in my back, up through my fundamentals, and even in my feet. The noise in the room however is quiet and midrangey so no disturbance to anyone. With my cheap studio headphones on and the previously mentioned vibrating fundamentals I am a very happy bass player. 

 

There’s nothing quite like ‘feeling’ the bass is there? Great setup you’ve got there. 

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1 hour ago, ped said:

There’s nothing quite like ‘feeling’ the bass is there? Great setup you’ve got there. 

I would love to get the back beat - especially for when I start gigging again. The rest of the room never seems to be as excited as I am when it comes to feeling the bass. 

 

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I haven’t used mine on a gig or practice yet, and have never taken my BassBoard out of the office - although it would be quite easy to take to a gig. But I think the backbeat is even easier and provides a more focused punch. It’s interesting to try different positions on the strap - I find it feels best quite low on the strap so it’s almost behind the bass pickup (but on the other side of your body!). 

At home I pump the music I’m playing along with through the bassboard too so I can feel the kick drum. Being much bigger with several drivers it’s able to reproduce that detail and my bass signal clearly, whereas my brief experiment doing the same with the backbeat muddied things a bit so keep that bass signal only. That works much better. 

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Interesting stuff. I agree with what you say about feeling what you play. Until I tried it I had no Idea what a difference it could make.

I put everything through my vibrating seat, backing music too. When paired with headphones the effect is astonishing. And the volume levels in the room don't disturb anyone else in the house. 

If not using headphones I have a small powered speaker I run everything through. Again, feeling the bass means I don't need the thing nearly as loud as before. 

I tried playing a game on my pc with the set up and it created an immersive environment. Good for explosions in films too! 

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