Roland Micro Cube Review
Battery powered modeling guitar amp with effects processor on board
A long time ago I was thinking how nice it would be to have a mini guitar amp that would be powered from replaceable batteries and would have at least core effects such as overdrive, delay, reverb and chorus on board so when I needed to hit the road I'd plug a guitar into it and be all set up.
Once when I was surfing the internet I stumbled upon a battery powered guitar amp with built in effects called 'Roland Micro Cube' that seemed to have everything I wished and even some extra useful stuff.
Straight away I checked if this amp was available in any of the local stores and it was, so I went to buy it without giving it a second thought.
When I returned home and plugged my guitar into it I can honestly say I was impressed. From such a small cabinet I was expecting to get a tiny sound, but the sound was actually normal, of course it wasn't like that from a 40 watt monster, but still quite enough to completely satisfy my outdoor playing and even use it indoor as a compact practice amp.
The effects processor in this amp is the most straightforward I've ever seen. All the effects tweaking is comfortably handled only by knobs, without browsing through nested menus like in many other compact digital effects units.
The left knob in the bottom switches between 7 different amplifier emulators.
The Micro Cube can use only one modulation effect such as flanger, chorus, tremolo or phaser at once.
The funny thing is that you can also use these effects with the microphone creating weird voices, as well as apply delay or reverb above them but only or delay or reverb can be used at the same time.
Unusually and differently from the other effects processor, the time and amount of reverb or delay in the 'Roland Micro Cube' is controlled just by one single knob. Turning the knob clockwise increases both the time and amount at once.
Despite it might look like a limitation, I found that I was able to get the right reverb/delay settings for almost any piece of music I played through the Micro Cube. By tweaking only one knob you can't really get weird sounding crazy delays, but they are useless for most situations anyway.
Another useful feature this mini guitar amp has is the turning fork. Pressing the tuning fork button makes a dinging sound with the pitch of A. Using the tiny switch near the button you can shift the tone pitch to A flat or G note if you tune your guitar half step or whole step down.
If you'd like to know how to tune a guitar using the tuning fork, click here for instructions.
In addition the 'Roland Micro Cube' also has 'line in' input where you can plug in an mp3 player or drum machine to play along with and the 'Rec Out/Phones' output to play through the headphones or plug the Cube into the recording interface.
When I first bought the Micro Cube I often used it for direct recording, the tracks were fine for recording demo purposes, but don't expect that this little thing can replace real studio equipment.
The Bottom Line
The 'Roland Micro Cube' is an awesome all in one, head-ache free, portable solution to get you on the road with your electric guitar. It can sound very loud for such a tiny amp, and on good batteries can run for about 15-20 hours.
When I was buying my Micro Cube it was a unique solution and there were no other battery powered guitar amps with built in effects processor. Now though, things have changed and other manufacturers have came up with similar battery powered guitar amps with built in effects processors. You might also check out:
- Vox Mini3
- Line 6 Micro Spider
- Fender Mustang Mini
- Marshall MG2FX
- Roland Mobile Cube
(stereo multi-purpose amp)
No matter which portable guitar amp you'll choose, if you're going to frequently play outdoors I'd recommend you not to waste your money on traditional batteries every few days or so and instead pay once for a pack of decent rechargeable batteries + charger that support fast charging.