Roland MOBILE CUBE, CUBE Street, and MICRO CUBE Review: Which Roland Portable Guitar Amp is Right For You?
The Roland corporation is known worldwide for their high-quality, awesome musicians' products. Among the many things they're known for, they produce some great portable guitar amps that are perfect for the lean, mean, travelling, busking, coffeehouse-open-miking guitarist.
In this Hub, I'll review three of Roland's popular portable guitar amps--the MICRO CUBE, the CUBE Street, and the MOBILE CUBE (I know the ALL CAPS thing is kinda weird, but that's how they advertise them)--and help you decide which one will best suit your needs.
Let's get ready to rock (without power outlets)!
Roland CUBE Street
- Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.4 x 11.4 inches
- Power Output: 5W (2.5 W + 2.5 W)
- Inputs: 2 (Guitar/Instrument, Mic/Line) + Stereo Aux and Stereo Headphone Jack
- Batteries: 6 x AA, 15 hours max / AC Power supply included
- Best used with: Electric Guitar, Vocals
The Roland CUBE Street is an excellent choice for the guitarist on the run. It's a stereo amp, coming with two 6.5-inch speakers crafted from neodynium, a light-weight element. It features a stylish slanted cabinet, which angles upward when placed on the ground. And don't let the mere 5-watts fool you--you can get enormous sound of this amp.
There are two inputs, one for your guitar or other instrument (1/4" TRS) and one for line-in/mic (XLR/1/4" TRS), allowing you to both play and sing. On the Mic channel, you also get delay and reverb capabilities, letting you add those special effects to your voice (or whatever you're using that channel for).
Now, here's the slickness: Roland has packed it's proprietary COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling) into the CUBE Street, giving it 8 ultra-realistic amp models. On top of those 8 models, you get 6 digital effects. You also get a handy chromatic tuner.
Many reviewers are really in love with the CUBE Street. One reviewer from Zzounds.com suggests that the "JC (Jazz Chorus) Clean" amp model is the best sounding, owing to the fact that the Jazz Chorus is itself a Roland product. Reviewers from Amazon say that the amp does what it does well--a great all-around amp for playing outdoors and for practice. Some people suggest however that for acoustic guitar applications, the CUBE Street colors the sound too much (preferring the MOBILE CUBE, which we'll take a look at below), whereas other acoustic-electric players are more than pleased. (For more on this, see here, here, and here.) This may be a matter of personal preference, and not so much a question of the amp's quality. All in all, the CUBE Street really shines among portable guitar amps for people who want to play--as the name obviously provides--out on the street.
Bottom Line: The Roland CUBE Street is the most expensive of the three amps reviewed here, but what you get for the price is a super-solid portable guitar amp with awesome tone, 8 neat amp models, and just about all the features you really need.
Roland MICRO CUBE
- Dimensions: 10 in. x 9 in. x 7 in.
- Power Output: 2W
- Inputs: 1 1/4" Guitar input + Aux in, Recording/Headphone Jack
- Batteries: 6 x AA, 20 hrs max / AC Power supply
- Best used with: Electric Guitar
The Roland MICRO CUBE is a neat little portable guitar amp for the budget- and space-conscious player. It's mono speaker puts out only 2 watts, but it still sounds great and gets as loud as you need it to in rooms and in front of small audiences. It comes with 7 great-sounding COSM amp models. 6 DSP effects are also on board: including chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, delay, and reverb. You also get a "digital tuning fork" which provides a reference tone.
Keep in mind that there's only one input on this amp, so you can't really sing and play at the same time through it. However, you can use the AUX input to practice or play along with your favorite recordings. It's small size means that when you travel with your electric guitar, you can easily pack this amp away with your luggage.
There are a lot of enthusiastic reviewers over at Ultimate-Guitar.com who give this amp high marks for its good models and overall great sound. It's too small for a gig, but it's awesome for practicing and small-room applications. The wide variety of features (amp models + effects) is where the amp really shines.
Bottom Line: The Roland MICRO CUBE is a cool, scaled-down amp that's great for practice and comes packed with an impressive feature set compared to portable guitar amps of its kind.
Roland MOBILE CUBE
- Dimensions: 11-1/16 x 4-1/4 x 7 inches
- Power Output: 5W (2.5 W + 2.5 W)
- Inputs: 2 (Stereo) 1/4" Guitar/Keyboard/Instrument Inputs, 1 1/4" MIC Channel Input Jack, 2 Stereo Aux (1/8" TRS, RCA Phono L/R), Headphone Jack
- Batteries: 6 x AA, or AC Power Supply
- Best used with: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals
Roland's MOBILE CUBE is your all-purpose PA system in a small, convenient portable amp. Like its cousin the CUBE Street, it's a stereo amp that puts out 5 watts but defies its size and power rating in terms of volume.
The great thing about this amp is that you can plug just about anything into it--electric guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboards, even use it as your computer/multimedia speaker or an external TV speaker--and it'll sound great. Indeed, it was made to be a multipurpose amp that can handle just about any application. The amp comes with reverb and chorus effects, as well as a special "center cancel" feature that essentially lets you sing karaoke when you connect a CD/mp3 player. Another neat feature is that it can be connected to a mic stand--yes, it's small and light enough--and used as a PA or monitor.
Reviewers on Amazon rave about the MOBILE CUBE's versatility. A lot of people like that it doesn't "color the sound" of instruments as electric guitar amps would. Some acoustic players, like this reviewer, like it even more than the more expensive Roland Cubes like the CUBE Street. The many 5-star reviews on Amazon are a testimony to this amp's clean sound and ability to handle just about whatever you'd like to throw at it.
Bottom Line: The MOBILE CUBE is your solution if you're looking for a portable guitar amp that can double as a keyboard amp, a monitor, a PA, a computer speaker...all in a little sturdy box that's no bigger than a briefcase.
And there you have it. Three great portable guitar amps by Roland, a major player in the industry. The information provided here will hopefully help you make an informed choice. To get a real feel, you might want to play around with each at your local musician's store, and then come back to this page (bookmark it!) to take advantage of the special online deals that the store probably won't match.
Have fun rocking out, portable style!
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