Amount of amplifiers on the market is overwhelming. There are small ones, big ones, powerful, compact, unique models and so on. Choosing the only one for yourself might be a difficult mission. Let me help you a little.
|1||BlackStar Fly 3 Review – Small Amplifier||3w||2||1|| |
|2||Coolmusic BP25||25w||3||4|| |
|3||Roland MicroCube GX3||3w||1||3|| |
|4||Roland Cube 20XL||20w||2||2|| |
|BlackStar Fly 3 Review – Small Amplifier|
|Roland MicroCube GX3|
|Roland Cube 20XL|
What BlackStar Company is
The history of BlackStar company has started not so much ago.In 2004 the group consisting of four musicians united. Their goal was to create a line of powerful and innovative amplifiers.
After three years of intense researching and developing, the first BlackStar products were released. The company was officially registered in Frankfurt. Since the early days the company has grown a lot. Now there are dozens of professionals, who work on creating new models of amplifiers and pedals. BlackStar Fly 3 is one of their most successful releases. Let us take a closer look at it.
The first thing that I think is worth talking about is the physical aspects of the device. Before discussing the amplification itself, you should know the item`s weight, dimensions and a little about the material it is made of.
|The Dimensions||The Weight||The Material|
|10.3’’ * 6.9’’ * 5.4’’ inches (which is 261.6 * 175.2 * 137.1 in millimeters)||the overall weight is close to three pounds (1.4 kilogramms)||It has black plastic wires, default inner parts and wires.|
|The Dimensions||10.3’’ * 6.9’’ * 5.4’’ inches (which is 261.6 * 175.2 * 137.1 in millimeters)|
|The Weight||the overall weight is close to three pounds (1.4 kilogramms)|
|The Material||It has black plastic wires, default inner parts and wires.|
Okay, so now, that you have understanding of what this thing is, let is talk about all the items, that come after purchasing Blackstar Fly 3. There are three of them:
- The main speaker. It has an amplifier, controls and all the inputs. This is the part that weighs a pound and does all the major job. By the way, it is possible to use it without wired power supply by simply using AA batteries (this fact makes it even more attractive for travellers).
- Extension speaker. This one is pretty much the copy of main speaker, unless it has no controls, less ports and cannot be used by itself. If I were to name it, I would say “The thing that doubles the power”.
- Power supply. If you`re playing guitar at your home studio or on the stage, there is no need to spend extra money on the batteries. Power supply (which is a really compact wire with a small box) will do all the job.
There is also a bunch of wires, some instructions and advertising inside, but I think, that these things are not really worth mentioning.
I was looking for something loud, cheap and compact. BlackStar Fly 3 is exactly the thing I needed. Sometimes it even seems way to light for me, as I love feeling the weight of the device, I`m using. However, it serves the purpose perfectly. Although it`s not the most balanced sound in the World, that it makes, the levels of loudness are great, especially with extension device.
Well, I think the time has come to talk more about “the insides” of this amplifier. I`ll not tell about all the details, but about the most important ones. Here they are:
- MP3/Line jack. The multifunctioning little thing, huh? This jack allows you to connect almost any kind of device (laptop, tablet, phone), so you`ll be able not only to jam hard, but simply listen to music as well. BlackStar Fly 3 can be used not as the amplifier only, but as speakers as well.
- Compressor, equalizer and Sub-Bass controller. Things like compression and equalizing can be done separately, but why would you use extra equipment, if your amplifier can do half the job for you?
- Emulated line-out. This stuff follows two goals: making the “silent” practice possible (finally you can jam at 3 AM without disturbing your neighbours) and recording.
- The unique “Infinite Shape Feature”. It allows to change the tuning all the time, so that you`ll be able to continuously improve the sounding of your guitar.
Developers also claim that their product includes “revolutionary sonic experience and the most innovative features”, but that`s pretty much what everyone says about their stuff, so I decided that the best option would be to have some live tests of the equipment, to find out how good it is indeed.
The Sound Test
There was one test held only, but I`ll describe two parts of it, as the sounding with the main speaker by itself does differ a lot, from the way BlackStar Fly 3 sounds with two speakers on board.
Main speaker test.
I didn`t expect much from a small amplifier like this one. Well, I was neither surprised, nor disappointed. It has the pros, it has the cons.
The things do change when you activate an extension speaker. Here are the things, that I`ve managed to notice personally:
- Louder and cleaner sound. As I managed to find the perfect loudness/distortion balance for myself, I got the same satisfying stuff, but twice as powerful. There are no controls on this extra speaker, but it makes power go from 3 to 6 watt.
- Better quality. I don`t have the best ear for music in this World, but I`ve personally noticed that distortion reduced a little. Might be a single case though, that will not work with you.
Victor, 30, guitarist
Well, what experienced people say, is that you should sometimes have a balanced item, rather than loud one. I`ll show briefly show you three more amplifiers: two of the same price category and one – more expensive, so that you could choose exactly the item that will serve your purposes perfectly.
This is a multifunctional amplifier. Let us take a look at its` charcteristics and features.
|The Weight||The Dimensions|
|Coolmusic BP25 weighs around 10 pounds (which is close 4.5 kilogramms). Although it`s almost 10 times heavier, than BlackStar Fly 3, it still remains highly portable and convenient, especially that it consists of a single part.||The dimensions are 13’’ * 6.1’’ * 10.4’’ inches (which is 330 * 155 * 264 in millimeters). The size doesn`t differ a lot, so you still can fit into a mediocre case or a large backpack. Carrying this one around shouldn`t be a problem.|
|The Weight||Coolmusic BP25 weighs around 10 pounds (which is close 4.5 kilogramms). Although it`s almost 10 times heavier, than BlackStar Fly 3, it still remains highly portable and convenient, especially that it consists of a single part.|
|The Dimensions||The dimensions are 13’’ * 6.1’’ * 10.4’’ inches (which is 330 * 155 * 264 in millimeters). The size doesn`t differ a lot, so you still can fit into a mediocre case or a large backpack. Carrying this one around shouldn`t be a problem.|
Coolmusic BP25 amplifier has following features:
- Rechargable battery. A really huge advantage. You`ll need neither to carry the power block nor spend money on batteries. This works like a phone. You charge it once – you use it for the whole day (in fact it will last an 8 hour session).
- 3 input channels. There is one input for the microphone and two for guitars, so it can serve for a little band.
- A headphone jack. That is not a fully-functional “silent-mode” technology, but a nice replacement for it. Simply put your headphones in, and the guitar sounds will not disturb other people.
This one can be used as speaker as well. Moreover it has Bluetooth channel, so connecting to computer is possible without even using an wires. The quality of sound might not be the best one, however, it serves so many purposes, that might still be a pick to consider.
Roland MicroCube GX3
Microcube GX 3 is a direct alternative to BlackStar Fly 3. It has the same keywords: budget and highly portable. Let us see its` parameters a little closer.
|The Dimensions||The Weight|
|Roland MicroCube GX 3 is 9.1’’ * 11.9’’ * 12.6’’ inches (which is 231 * 302 * 320 in millimeters). So, you see, it is cubic indeed. Unusual, but original shape.||Microcube weighs 7.5 pounds (which is around 3 kilogramms). This weight makes it micro indeed. The form is a bit inconvenient for carrying in a backpack. On the other hand, the size makes it possible, to simply carry this amplifier in one hand.|
|The Dimensions||Roland MicroCube GX 3 is 9.1’’ * 11.9’’ * 12.6’’ inches (which is 231 * 302 * 320 in millimeters). So, you see, it is cubic indeed. Unusual, but original shape.|
|The Weight||Microcube weighs 7.5 pounds (which is around 3 kilogramms). This weight makes it micro indeed. The form is a bit inconvenient for carrying in a backpack. On the other hand, the size makes it possible, to simply carry this amplifier in one hand.|
This amplifier has the following features:
- Rechargable battery. Although it weighs quite a lot, it provides much more advantages than disadvantages. Once recharged, the Cube can work up to 25 hours.
- Cube-Link Jack. Well, it`s an advantage for Apple users only, so if you are one of them, think about this amplifier twice. Roland MicroCube GX3 can be connected to Iphone, IPads and IPods conveniently, with a nice interface.
- Delay/Reverb tuner. Built-in tuners are always an advantage. If you are an experienced player, they will make your performance juicier, and if you are a beginner, adding a lot of reverb will help hiding some mistakes.
This amplifier is budget, but does its` job really properly.
Roland Cube 20XL
The time has come to look at some extra large things. Well, it is not that big you know, but really well-functioning.
|The Dimensions||The Weight|
|Honestly, it is not that big, 15’’ * 14’’ * 13 inches (which is 381 * 355 * 330 millimeters). If you get tired of playing the guitar, simply put it in the corner and forget, that this amplifier had ever existed.||It weighs much in comparison to other amplifiers, that were mentioned earlier – 22 pounds (it`s like 9.6 kilogramms). You have to be rather strong to carry this one. However, it`ll not be a huge problem, if you`re playing at home or just don`t go out with performances too much.|
|The Dimensions||Honestly, it is not that big, 15’’ * 14’’ * 13 inches (which is 381 * 355 * 330 millimeters). If you get tired of playing the guitar, simply put it in the corner and forget, that this amplifier had ever existed.|
|The Weight||It weighs much in comparison to other amplifiers, that were mentioned earlier – 22 pounds (it`s like 9.6 kilogramms). You have to be rather strong to carry this one. However, it`ll not be a huge problem, if you`re playing at home or just don`t go out with performances too much.|
This larger cube has some unique features:
- Nine built-in effects. It`s not like it already had the built-in DAW, but nine effects is a lot. You`ll be able to sound almost completely professional.
- AUX-input. This sort of input makes the connection possible for several players at once. Convinient, if you`re jamming along with friends.
Well, those were the amplifiers, that I recommend you to consider, if you are looking for something else. They are all unique and can be suitable in different types of situations.
Pablo, 28, sound engineer
Summing Things Up
If this article was useful, and you decided that some information might be useful later on, here are some of the most important things, that I`ve said here, for you to save and remember:
- Blackstar is a young company, founded in England. It is producing only amplifiers and pedals. Clients and developers themselves say, that production has rather high quality.
- Blackstar Fly 3 is a really compact and light-weighed amplifier, made out of plastic. It consists of three parts: the main amplifier, additional speaker and power block.
- Back and sides material: Solid mahogany
- Sound test has shown, that this amplifier is a satisfying one. It sounds exactly as the budget amplifier should. A little bit louder and a little more distorted though.
- There are other budget amplifiers worth considering as well. Just check the feedbacks to make the best choice for yourself.
So, if I were to say whether to buy this amplifier or not, I would say “Yes”, if you are a traveler, beginner or are tight on budget. However, if you are a developing player, who needs a solid amplifier, I would recommend to save up some extra money, or to at least purchase something full-sized.
Remember to spend a lot of time practicing. This will be much more useful in developing your skills, than having a powerful amplifier. Good luck with your learning, keep playing a lot.