Headphone Amp - Ashdown Tone Pocket

I pulled the trigger on the Bluetooth equipped Ashdown Tone Pocket weekend before last. As there’s been some interest in headphone amps of late, I thought I’d write a simple review. It is very simple; I’m new at the bass and I don’t have the technical knowledge that most of you do so please bear with.

It’s not the smallest of headphone amps when compared with the likes of the Mustang Micro, Vox, NUX Mighty, etc. Also, it does not plug directly into the bass; plug one end of the bass cable into the Tone Pocket and the other end into the bass as if it were a normal amp. Headphones are then plugged into the dedicated socket.

The difference between this model and the standard version is the, um, Bluetooth capability and for the extra £30 (US$ 36) it’s well worth it. I connect my iPad to the Tone Pocket via Bluetooth, which allows me to stream my BtB lessons and hear what I’m trying to play at the same time. Phones and tablets can be connected to the standard version but it means connecting via another cable which, to me, becomes a bit of a nuisance because there’s then potentially four cables connected to the box but more on that later.

There is some hiss coming through the headphones. It was most pronounced last night when on BtB Module 3 Lesson 2 Part 1, which is a tutorial of over 15 minutes and no playing bass. The hiss was mild and in the background. That sort of thing would normally annoy me but it doesn’t with the Tone Pocket. Now, keep in mind that it might well be my headphones (Bose QC 35 II), which are designed to be used wirelessly with Bluetooth. Alternatively, it could be my basses, the guitar cable or a combination of any two or all three. Muting all strings does knock the hiss down by 90%.

There is no noticeable hiss during playing bass.

The use of headphones connected to the Tone Pocket with Bluetooth is not advised for playing as there is a delay of about one eighth of a second from hitting a string to hearing in the headphones. Apparently, that sort of thing can be very annoying so it’s recommended to use a set that can be plugged in. That’s what I was advised anyway.

The battery life on mine is shocking. It’s advertised as being two hours but mine doesn’t last more than 40 minutes. I contacted my dealer from where I bought mine and it’s going back on the weekend for a warranty check which will mean either repair, fitting of a new battery or a replacement unit. I’ve since found a review on the UK Amazon website where someone else had the same problem (it’s actually the only review from the UK on there, if you want to check it out). This suggests to me that quality control is not the best so if anyone does decide to take the plunge, check the store returns policy first.

Turning now to the sound, to my uneducated ears my basses both sound fantastic through the Tone Pocket. When I first started BtB, I was using my little practice amp. It’s good enough for my (lack of) ability but it’s been playing on my mind since I started the course that my bass didn’t sound quite right. I’ve since had my original bass serviced and had a MiM Fender as a Christmas present and neither sound brilliant through the practice amp. I’ve tried the obvious and I always tune whatever bass I use before sitting down to practice and that’s about the limit of my knowledge. Therefore, I can only assume that it’s my amp but it’s not expensive and it’s old so no biggie. Now, through the Tone Pocket my notes sound the same as what Josh is playing.

Also, the sound is so clear that my mistakes are augmented so it’s forcing me to concentrate harder when practicing. Between @Gio ’s advice on plucking technique and using the Tone Pocket, my playing has transformed!

In short, if I could turn the clock back I would still buy the Tone Pocket. I’m very happy with mine and will keep it if the battery life can be sorted. If not, I’ll check out the NUX Mighty or Boss Waza. If you’re in the market for a practice amp and one of these takes your fancy, check the store returns policy if buying outside the UK and, if possible, sit down and play with one in store, use your own headphones and connect your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.


@pauldavidson335d Great review.

Thanks for taking the time to put all this together and keep us updated on how it goes with the battery.


I use my tone pocket in the chain to the direct box and to the camera when I record, it’s a chance to boost the volume if needed. It’s a very powerful little thing for sure.


I did not even know this thing existed. A headphone amp with an EQ that acts as a DAI through USB out?

This… might be the answer to some of my problems. I think I’m going to have to look into getting one.


Also check out the Darkglass Element


Element is more of a cab sims Tone pocket is a bonafide bass preamp. There’s no secret that I had a terrible experience with Darkglass element that nearly destroyed my hearing and their poor customer service.

In addition, if using it as a headphones amp the default without cab sims lack volume a bit. The touch slider is not as responsive as your everyday devices it feels a bit dated.

Another device to check out as a headphones amp maybe the spark product. I just preordered the Spark Go it will be available late May, I highly recommend the Mini it can also be used as an audio interface and the app is quite simply best in the business.

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@eric.kiser Thank you, Eric.

My store has asked me to drop it back in, which I’ll do tomorrow. They’ll run their own test on it in case I’m doing something dumb and if they have the same results as me, then it’ll be a replacement unit.

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If I read this properly you are getting some kind of latency with your Bluetooth headphones. I don’t think practicing with that kind of delay is a good idea. It certainly cannot help you with your right (rhythm) hand at all.
Go wired.

@ebxx Respectfully, you’ve read it incorrectly. I wrote:

The use of headphones connected to the Tone Pocket with Bluetooth is not advised for playing as there is a delay of about one eighth of a second from hitting a string to hearing in the headphones. Apparently, that sort of thing can be very annoying so it’s recommended to use a set that can be plugged in. That’s what I was advised anyway.”

In other words, I was advised from the get go to used wired headphones, so I do.


By way of an update, my store ran a test and the battery inside my Tone Pocket is definitely duff. They’re now awaiting a response from Ashdown, which I doubt will be forthcoming until after the Easter holidays next week.

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mfr. page here:

edit: btw they could have started that embedded youtube video one frame later so that “d.c. phil” didn’t look like such a whackjob on the webpage

My Tone Pocket is still with Ashdown, been there almost two weeks (but that includes the Easter break) and I still haven’t heard anything. I’m not ok with that. They could have just shipped a new unit the next day. I found it to be faulty and my store verified my findings. I’ve since had my money back at my music store because I’m not happy with Ashdown’s customer service.

In the meantime, I’ve found a workaround for home use. I needed a new amp anyway so I bought an Ampeg RB-110 Rocket 50 watt combo at my local music store. I plug my bass and headphones into the amp and use a plug-in Bluetooth receiver (bought from Amazon for £15) in the Aux-in socket to stream my iPad into the amp. Works the same way as what I was doing with the Tone Pocket in that I can hear my bass and my BtB lessons, only exceptions being that the amp isn’t rechargeable and it’s not very portable. It’s perfect for what I want in the house though.

Next plan now is to find a headphone amp for travel; I haven’t written off another Tone Pocket because the sound is incredible but I’ll try a couple of others first.

I have a Valeton Rushead Max Bass. I think it’s the bees knees. This one:

@MC-Canadastan thank you! And they’re available here in the UK, less than £30! Might be worth a punt for that sort of money :+1:

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No worries. I had the Vox AmPlug 2 and I thought it was junk. This has better sound, more effects and the controls are toggles and pots like on a real pedal.

I like it a lot.

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@MC-Canadastan I called into my local store yesterday morning to have a pick up on my XT-2 tweaked and the owner said that he’d called Ashdown last Monday and he still hadn’t heard back as of yesterday. That’s pretty shocking service and I don’t think I’ll bother with another Tone Pocket.

On that note, I ordered a Valeton Rushead Max Bass from Amazon earlier and it’ll be here tomorrow.

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I think you will like it. Let us know, im very curious what you think. You’ll be the only other person with one on BB that I know of.

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@MC-Canadastan will do. For that sort of money, I’m not sure I can go wrong.

I’d love to try the Boss Waza but I’m reluctant to drop £350 on one after reading some reviews. Whilst those who have it absolutely rave over it (here and in guitar mags, etc.), a couple of reviews have said it’s not for beginners.

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@MC-Canadastan it came yesterday. I spent a few minutes playing around with it and my bass was making some horrible noises. Ok, probably best to read the little manual that came with………

Five minutes later and I turned off all the effects and then did a full BtB lesson. I plugged my Bluetooth receiver into it and was able to stream my iPad into my headphones along with my bass. Job done!

I think you’ve saved me a fair bit of money here. As I said above, I hadn’t dismissed the idea of another Tone Pocket and I was also considering a Boss Waza. There’s absolutely no need for either, the Valeton does everything I need and then some. Thank you :pray:


Yes, @pauldavidson335d , the effects are pretty odd. They are fun to dicker with, though. And I like the fact that since you have ordinary pot dials and toggle switches, it “remembers” the settings when you switch it off.

The reverb effect is great for the exercise our trusty bass teacher suggested: plucking in time with the reverberations to work on your timing.

Super happy you like it. As to the longevity, I’ve had mine for a year now and no problems.