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This article was originally published in issue #27
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Performing live isn't all about flattening the first 100 rows of your audience with a sonic attack. Sometimes you need something that is ultra portable yet still sounds good. Which is where Roland's hugely successful Cube series comes in. Lewis Turner explores the more beefy than you might expect Street Cube EX.
The Roland Micro Cube was the first battery powered modelling amplifier, and it was an instant success story, being lightweight, portable and most importantly great sounding with an array of effects built in. There are now many different Cube amps on the market and the one under review here in the Roland Cube Street EX.
Roland’s original Cube Street was a huge hit among travelling musicians. Now the new Cube Street EX infuses the popular mobile amp with a performance upgrade that claims to deliver more projection, more channels and more versatility. Offering an impressive 50 Watts of stereo power from just eight AA size batteries.
One very cool feature of this amp is the selectable output power modes to optimise battery life for different performing situations. Max gives you 5 hours of 50 Watt power, Normal 10 hours at 25 Watts, and Eco a whopping 20 hours at 10 Watts. They are impressive stats (you can say that again! - Ed), and a genius idea, as you may not always require the full 50 Watt output. You can also run it from the mains with the cable supplied.
As you would expect for a portable amp, it's very light with a durable ABS injection-moulded cabinet, there is also an optional carry case available that is made with water-repellent material. The amp delivers a full range stereo sound thanks to two 8” woofers and 2” tweeters. They may be part of the reason why this amp is very loud and powerful for its size. In the review video the volume is hardly being pushed at all, and it felt like there was plenty of headroom available, plus the great stereo system really delivered a wide, full sound.
There are four independent channels for connecting a variety of mics, instruments, and audio devices. Two XLR Mic inputs allow two vocalists to perform at once. As with the Micro Cube the Street EX comes loaded with some effects on the guitar channel, including chorus, delay and reverb. As with the original cube, the effects are very good for a solid state amp, these three modulation effects offer a wide variety of sounds to suit most playing styles. There are also some tone presets, clean, crunch, lead and acoustic simulator. The acoustic simulator was pretty convincing, and the other settings did what they say. I go through each one on the video so have a watch to hear them.
Having just one channel for the guitar means the different tones share the same volume control, which means there is a big difference in volume when changing from clean through to lead. A built-in, albeit very basic, tuner is also a nice touch. This amp has Stereo line out jacks for connecting to an external sound system when used as a stage monitor, and Stereo link jacks so you could connect it to a second EX for broader sound coverage. There is an aux in, so you can jam along to your favourite backing tracks, plus you can record into your iPhone/iPad via the iCube link and free Cube Jam app.
Cube amps have always been a favourite for guitarists looking for a practice amp or portable bit of kit to take to small gigs. They have always sounded great and the effects are very good. The Street EX continues and improves their reputation, but now on a larger scale and not just as a guitar amp - in fact it's as much a mini PA and perfect for duo or trio gigs, or busking. Small, lightweight, portable with cleaver power saving technology, and most importantly great sounds. What more could you ask for?!