Product: Roland Cube Street Amp Review
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Specifications: Two Channels (2,5 W each); Two 6,5″ Speakers; Battery-Powered (Runs up to 15 Hours on 6 x1,5 V Batteries); XLR Mic Input and 1/4″ Input; Stereo AUX In 1/4″; Headphones Input 1/4″; Adapter Included
Weight (Including Batteries): 5.2 kg, 11 lbs. 8 oz.
Sound Effects: 8 COSM AMPs; 6 Digital Effects; 2-Band EQ
Bonus Features: 2 Digital Effects Processors; Built in Chromatic Tuner; Optional Footswitch (Boss FS-5U; FS-6) and Connection Cable (PCS-31)
Pros: Loud, Versatile, Lightweight, Excellent sound, Long Life of Batteries
Cons: Bass Response Limited, A Bit Expensive
My Rating: 9.5/10
Roland Cube Street – An Amp Built For Busking
Depending on what are you looking in your portable guitar amplifier, there are numerous options for you to choose from. The amps are competing with each other in price, how lightweight they are, the quality of sound, and so on. Basically, there are many things to consider when buying an amp, but the main one is of course a question of what is your general purpose for the amp. When I bought my Roland Street Cube, I specifically had in my mind that I want to use it for busking and street performance. I was looking for an amp that has a high enough volume, that is versatile enough, has a decent quality of sound and has a input for an mp3 player. While researching, I was positively surprised that this fellow not only offered these options, but also had a lot more benefits to offer. In my Roland Street Cube amp review I will walk you through my personal favorite aspects of the amp and how they apply to busking and street performance.
Typical Problem With Most of the Battery Powered Amplifiers
Before buying my Roland Street Cube amp, I used to go busking with some of the other amplifiers, like Nux Mighty8, which is a fine little amp with a surprisingly warm sound, or Roland Micro Cube, which is like a little brother of Roland Street Cube. While both of these amps had a good sound and had an input for mp3 players so I was able to play guitar over the backing tracks, one thing was so obviously missing there. They were not loud enough!
Whenever I played through these amps in my home, they seemed incredibly loud and I couldn`t even turn the volume all the way up, because my neighbors would lose their minds. But as soon as I would get on the street to play, the amp would turn out to be just enough so that the people would here me playing something, but not to really hear me and enjoy the music. That was driving me crazy, because I was trying hard to get better, to perform better, I practiced songs and my chops, but the people couldn`t even hear me well! It was like they were listening a way-too-much compressed mp3 through a pair of bad headphones.
And the problem was worse whenever I tried to play a backing track and to play guitar over it at the same time. The backing track and the sound of guitar were melting into each other and it all sounded like a big mess. If I turned the volume a little bit down, then the sound would get much better and clearer, but nobody could actually hear me among the very crowded streets. It was incredibly frustrating.
Benefits of Being LOUD – Your Audience Can Actually Hear You
Unlike with the amps mentioned above, the first time I played with my Street Cube outside, I was finally able to hear myself clearly among the loud crowds of people. The sound of my guitar was very distinct over the beat of the backing track, and I could, for the first time, hear them separately instead of blended together in a muddy mix. This was a huge thing and it proved what I suspected long time before – that if I was louder, than many more people will immediately get drawn to my playing.
The other side-effect benefit of having a louder amp was that, obviously, I didn`t need to turn the volume all the way up. That is a very good thing because turning it all the way up makes the sound distorted (not in a good way, but in a bad fuzzy way), it loses its quality, the speaker gets slowly ruined by playing at its maximum and of course – the batteries die much faster. This is all pronounced by the cool fact that Roland Cube Street has a slanted cabinet design which makes its sound come alive even more in the noisy street environment.
Now that I was finally able to hear myself clearly over the backing track, I started to play with the sound to get the best out of it, and started adding effects to see what this fellow had to offer.
Quality of Sound and Sound Effects
The sound of this amp is quite typical high quality as you would expect from Roland. The first thing you might notice is that it is very versatile, and it can cover many styles of playing with its eight amp simulators. The simulators go from a slightly overdriven bluesy kind of sound all the way up to heavy metal sound:
- INSTRUMENT – An amp simulator for an acoustic guitar, a keyboard or anything else that you want the sound to remain natural and unchanged
- JC CLEAN – Modeled after Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus. Very clean, flat, warm and smooth sound. Great to use with some kind of external effects like pedals or a processor.
- BLACK PANEL – This one is modeled after Fender Twin Reverb amp and creates a versatile sound, useful for country, blues, jazz and rock. It has rich lows and sparkly high end.
- BRIT COMBO – Based on the Vox AC30TB, produces a broad range of sounds, going from very clean to overdrive, with a pronounced distortion when the gain is boosted.
- CLASSIC STACK – Modeled after legendary Marshall JMP1987, known for its smooth tone and warm overdrive so popular in classic rock and hard rock.
- R-FIER STACK – This one is modeled after Mesa/Boogie Rectifier, and therefore it is a super high gain amp with amazing tone for metal, alternative rock, grunge and especially any kind of lead and solo playing.
- ACOUSTIC SIM – This one is very interesting because it can actually make your electric guitar sound as if you are playing an acoustic guitar.
- MIC – This position is useful when you want to connect your microphone.
Besides choosing your amp simulator, you can add a high quality effect which might prove very useful in different situations. I personally especially like the sound of Delay when added to a distorted solo guitar, but there are so many other options available also.
There are six different effects you can choose:
Chorus / Flanger / Phaser / Tremolo
Delay / Reverb
Useful Specifications and Bonus Features
Ok, obviously, the most useful spec about this amp is that it runs on batteries and at the same time is loud enough for the street (if you use it for busking). Great thing about it is that you can play a LOT without changing your batteries. Their official site says that you can play for 15 hours. Well, in reality it very much depends on the type of batteries you use. If you buy the cheapest batteries, it will surely not last for 15 hours, but on quality batteries, in my experience actually it can last even more than that. Anyway, it was built with buskers in mind, so the batteries last longer than in most other amps.
Other great thing is that Roland Cube Street has two channels and two separate speakers . What this means is that you can combine two instruments and they will sound great and not muddy. You can play with a buddy and sound amazing together, and at the same time, you will be loud enough.
Or, instead of playing with a friend, you can simply connect a microphone and play guitar and sing at the same time. Awesome thing about this amp is that it has an XLR input, which is an input specifically made for a microphone, and it sounds great. As you might already know, you can connect a microphone also through a standard 1/4″ input, but it doesn`t sound as nearly as good as it does with an XLR input.
Reverb or Delay can be added to your vocals and therefore create depth and make your singing sound really cool.
There is a built in chromatic tuner in the amp, so it is easy to stay in tune, and besides that, you can purchase (separately) a footswitch which will turn on and off your effects – chorus / flanger / phaser / tremolo and delay / reverb.
In Conclusion, Roland Cube Street is a Busker`s Amp that Rocks
I have been playing with Cube Street for years and still haven`t found a better amp for what it is made for, and I know many other people who say the same thing, over and over again. Actually, it is enough to take a walk through a busy city center and you will see that there are many fellow buskers playing on this amp and if you talk to them, they will gladly talk about how much they love their Roland Cube Street.
Surely, one obvious drawback is the cost to invest in the amplifier of this quality, but you get what you
pay for. Also, in this case, there are very few amps out there that can be seen as a competition, simply because of a pure fact that they are just not loud enough. Well, this one definitely is, comes with a great warm sound and it is packed with very useful and cool features, with busking constantly in the forefront. I really believe that it is better to invest in this amp, which will actually get your investment back fast if you make yourself get out there and play a great performances.
If this sounds good to you, I highly recommend that you pick up your Cube, and if you are a fan of online shopping, Amazon has a great deal on it, and you can get it with a free shipping. I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful, and if you have any questions about the Roland Cube Street amp or you just want to leave your own review or an opinion, leave a comment below.