Amplifiers aren’t really the first things that come to mind when we think about Roland. This company is more famous for their exceptional synthesizers. However, today you’ll learn that they’ve got some of the finest amps on the market. In this article, we’ll be reviewing Roland Cube Street and Roland Cube Street EX – the elder brother.
As battery-powered amplifiers, they are both perfect for the touring musicians that are always on the road and for the folks that like to practice 24/7 and take their gear with them on every step of the way. At the same time, versatility and portability generally mean compromise. So, the question is – did Roland do everything right?
We will start with the original Cube Street and only move on to the next model once we’ve learned everything there is about Roland’s more affordable offer. One thing is certain: no matter which amp you end up buying, you’ll always be able to rely on the company’s trademark reliability, sound quality, and flexibility.
Besides, for the musicians on the move, these two are one of the finest offers on the market, period. Obviously, they’re not perfect, and we’ll definitely talk about the pros and cons along the way. Alright, it is time to get down to business and see whether this series is worth our while or not.
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Let’s get one thing straight from the very start: this isn’t a huge amp for large-venue gigs and some gigantic guitar sounds. This is, in fact, a small amplifier, best suited for practicing in your room with the headphones on and some occasional gigs at your local coffee shop and/or café.
So, if you’re in the market for a compact, portable, high-quality rig on a budget, Cube Street is a solid pick. It looks great, is quite versatile, and never breaks down, thanks to Roland’s amazing engineers. This little guy weighs 13 pounds (5, 9 kilograms), which makes it a perfect choice for the touring musician (you can easily carry it in one hand or even fit in a large backpack).
The two 6, 5-inch speakers sound pretty great, giving exceptional precision and volume for an amp of its size. Back in the day, something like this wouldn’t be possible simply because the technology wasn’t invented yet.
But today, we can enjoy these compact and affordable “boxes” that sound really good. Thanks to the COSM amplifier modeling method, we’ve got not 1, but 8 amps inside this little box. With them, you’ll be able to create a wide range of tones, including super clean jazzy tunes to modern-day hard-rock/metal stacks.
You’ll be surprised by how authentic every single amp sounds. They’ll instantly give you the chills, which is exactly what I experienced with Cube Street.
The Controls And The Features
As I just said, these 8 amps give you a lot of space for maneuvering, especially if you know exactly what you’re going for. With this bundle, the pros get the vibes of the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and the contemporary indie tones without even breaking a sweat.
Blues, R’n’B, clean tones, distorted tones – you can do whatever you want and still get away with a strong, balanced, clear and focused sound, which isn’t always the case even with the more expensive models. Remember: this is a stereo amplifier, meaning everything will sound big, wide, and open. And while a rather rare setup for a guitar amplifier, it does work really great in the real life.
Right next to it, you’ll find a knob that controls the Delay and Reverb. The Volume knob is right below it. The Guitar/Instrument channel is on the right. The EQ there lets you control three bands, including Bass, Treble, and Middle.
Another Delay/Reverb knob is on the same spot, but there’s an EFX section between the EQ and this knob. With it, you can switch between four effects. Those include Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, and Tremolo. That is a classic combination of additional effects that can make the tones sound completely different, giving more space for experimentation.
Learning More About The Amplifier
The vintage-styled knob in the lower corner is for switching between the amp models. Use the combination of Gain and Volume to get just the right amount of distortion without making the whole room explode.
Keep “playing” with the various settings and try to find inspiration by switching between the various amps, punching in some effects, and working with the EQ. For a small amplifier, there are enough knobs to impress even the experienced pros.
Again, thanks to the company’s amazing technology, these amps sound bigger than the box itself.
Now, while the effects I just mentioned aren’t necessarily studio quality, they still sound wonderful and will give you just the right inspiration for writing a brand-new hit. The pair of high-quality speakers makes your electric guitar sound like the Heavens.
That’s pretty cool, especially for some unexpected rehearsal or even a gig in the middle of nowhere. The built-in tuner is certainly a nice touch.
The Verdict For Roland Cube Street
So, what do we have at the end of the day? We have a compact, lightweight and highly portable modeling amp with an affordable price-tag. The Roland Cube Street Amazon price is 300 dollars, which is more than fair.
Yes, it’s pretty great for recording the human voice! If you’re not a beginner anymore and have outgrown the 60-100-dollar amps from Fender, this amazing rig will be a great next step.
For just $300, you’re getting more than you’ve probably bargained for (in a good way), and those 8 amps will keep you preoccupied for a very long time.
The effects will make everything sound even better, and the quality of the amps will bring a smile to the face of any fan of the “true” guitar sounds. Portability is probably this beast’s biggest selling point and will satisfy the students, touring musicians, and everybody else in between.
The compact, stylish cabinet design will look great in your room. The dual-channel architecture is, again, pretty sweet. I need to mention, however, that you should try not to crank everything up to eleven when on the batteries, because on max volume, they’ll die sooner than in 15 hours.
I’m not saying you should curb your inner rock star, but just be aware that power might go off at the least expected moment and kill the buzz. Alright, that’s pretty much it for this stereo amplifier! If for any reason my review wasn’t simple and friendly enough, you can always go ahead and take a look at the official Roland Street Cube manual. It won’t be as fun, though!
Ok, now that we’ve discussed Cube Street, let us move on to the “big brother” and see what EX is really all about:
- It costs 500 dollars, and that’s a 200-dollar difference
- It’s good for 50 Watts.
- You get a pair of 8-inch speakers that pack a lot of heat.
As you can see, there are enough differences between the two, and we’re just scratching the surface here. So, let’s break it down and review this amp as a separate piece of gear. Along with the speakers, you’ll find 2 tweeters for an enhanced high-end response. To power up this bad-boy, eight batteries are required.
This amp works equally great with electric guitars, acoustic guitars, microphones, and even backing tracks. Furthermore, you are free to use it as a monitor, an extension speaker, or a PA speaker. As just mentioned, Roland Cube EX can switch between 3 power modes: 10, 25, and 50.
You’ll find it right next to the Power and Output Power switches. The amp comes with a fancy ABS cabinet (injection-molded), and that allowed the manufacturer to keep the weight low – 16, 3 pounds (7, 4 kilograms). The strap handles are very useful and look great.
Getting To Know The Control Panel Better
So, the control panel consists of 4 individual channels; 2 of those can work with balanced mics (you’ll need XLR cables for that). The 1st one works as a mic/instrument input; the 2nd one works as a mic/guitar input.
In the guitar section, you’ve got 3 COSM-simulated amps at your disposal, including Clean, Crunch, and Lead. Plus, there’s a setting called Acoustic Sim that will make your axe sound like an acoustic guitar. Furthermore, in Cube Street EX there’s a clean setting for ACs with pickups.
As for the 3rd and the 4th inputs, they are stereo (at line level). The first one works with a stereo mini jack; the second one works with two 1/4-inch jacks. Feel free to use these inputs to connect your synth, mixing board, or even an iPhone for some backing tracks (like a drum line to play along with).
The four input sections come with their own separate level controls, which turns this amp into something of a basic mixer. The Instrument and Guitar channels feature 3-band equalizers and “personal” knobs for controlling the amount of reverb. Channel #2 (Guitar) also features a Chorus/Delay knob for adding just the right amount of either one of those effects.
What Else Does It Have To Offer?
And if you put the amp on a pole mount, the effect will become even less noticeable (because the cabinet is located on the side, not on top).
At the same time, there are two Link/Line Outputs (jacks) that give you the opportunity to link two EX amps together, creating a bigger, wider, more open stereo sound. In the Line Out mode, the users can record their music directly into a gadget with the simple Cube Jam app. The 2 jacks can be used to plug in a pair of footswitches.
They will give you control over the Delay knob on channel 1 and the Delay/Reverb knob on channel 2. The headphone output is pretty self-explanatory.
Clearly, there’s enough flexibility with the Cube Street EX amp – all you gotta do is learn your way around it and start creating some magnificent music. Even without any additional equipment, this setup is quite alright, especially for the practicing musicians and people that are used to taking only one piece of gear with them on a tour.
How Does Roland Cube Street EX Sound In Real Life?
Everything’s been great so far with this amplifier, but the most important question still stands: how does it sound? Is this rig worth the 500 bucks that Roland wants for it, or maybe it’s just another so-so amp?
Well, I’m happy to say that you don’t need to worry.
The EQ is versatile; use it to shape the tone.
The effects are surprisingly good: the reverb and delay will make the effects from the bigger, more expensive amps blush and/or turn blue. Sadly, there’s no way to control the Delay’s level, only the time.
That means after you choose Crunch or Lead – the metal-friendly amplifiers, the instrument’s pickup’s output will determine how much distortion is applied. Try to turn down the axe’s volume knob to get a cleaner sound.
However, with the Lead amp, that won’t give you what you’re looking for. The Clean channel has an open, bright and, well, clean sound and resembles the classic Fender tones a lot. The Acoustic Sim is also surprisingly good and doesn’t overdo it (which can’t be said about most amps). As for Crunch and Lead, they are the stars of the show and justify the somewhat steep price.
The Verdict For Roland Cube Street EX
The pair of 8-inch woofers is doing a great job of delivering an even, balanced, “strong” sound. Sometimes, with small amps, you get a thinner tone that lacks low-end frequencies – that’s not the case here.
As the experts like to say, this is a mighty jack-of-all-trades amp and it’s money well-spent. As a battery-powered amplifier, Roland Cube Street EX is definitely an industry leader. Back in the day, we could only dream about 500-dollar portable amps that run on batteries and have 50 Watts of power.
Cube Street will be great as a beginner amp, no doubt there. On the other hand, if you’re planning on taking your music out there, making it heard, consider investing into the EX, as this might actually save you money in the long run (with the cheaper model, you’ll definitely need an upgrade later).
As I just said, the 500-dollar beast is the king of the jungle and there aren’t any direct rivals out there that come with the same set of features. As for battery-powered amps for electric guitars, you should check out what Vox, Marshall, and Fender have to offer, even though they still won’t beat the versatility, flexibility, and the sound of Roland’s Cube Street EX.
The COSM amps, the ability to switch between different power modes and the iOS app turn this gear into a crowd-pleaser. For outdoor jams, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered. Even if you crank it up and turn the 50-Watts mode on, the batteries will last for 5 hours, which is more than enough time to share your precious tracks with the audience.
The powerful 8-inch woofers, along with the 2-inch tweeters, will be able to fill out an entire beach with your music. Add the four channels with separate volume controls two of which come with their own equalizers and you’ll see why the experts in the field have only good things to say about it. Alright, that concludes our review of the Roland Cube Street and the Roland Cube Street EX amplifiers!