cubepickup

Ever wished for something, but figured it was more or less impossible?

At the end of a Roland briefing yesterday, a rep pulled out the CUBE Street EX amp almost unceremoniously. And then he showed me what it could do:

  • It produces “50 watts” of power.*
  • It runs on eight AA NiMH batteries – for five hours.
  • It weighs just 7.4 kg (that’s just over 16 pounds).
  • It connects whatever you want – two XLRs, four independent channels, for any combination of instrument, vocal, laptop.
  • It’s angled, so you can use it as a stage monitor.
  • It has a mounting hole, so you can put it on a stand like a PA – and you can easily connect two together for a stereo PA.
  • It’s got a strap, so you can pick it up and carry it around like a normal amp (there’s even a water-repellent carry case.
  • An extra jack lets you record to a mobile device (three-pole connector), as with Roland’s app for iPhone and iPad.

There are some extras, too: you get guitar tones (Clean, Crunch, Lead, Acoustic simulator), chorus/delay, and reverb effects, all with footswitch controls, plus a built-in tuner. Or you can plug in an acoustic to an AC preamp for an uncolored sound.

So, let’s get this straight: it weighs nothing, runs on batteries, adds effects, connects anything, lets you busk, gives you a PA, or gives you a floor wedge.

Is that actually even possible, or was this marketing nonsense?

I spoke to a number of builders who ultimately said, yes, it was – if difficult (particularly at this weight and power draw). “50 watts” of power is presumably a measure of the resulting sound. (Roland says it’s “50 watts of stereo power.”) For that, they add two eight-in woofers and two tweeters, all using new power circuitry. And Roland tells me this is really new tech, not the past battery-efficient stuff they’ve done.

If you want more battery life – most likely because you’re using it as a practice amp – you can dial back to Normal 25W or Eco 10W modes to get up to 20 hours.

cubebatteries

Keeping the weight of the internals down must have been a challenge, perhaps more than even the power considerations. Roland at least says they’ve used ABS injection molding so the plastic housing doesn’t add too much weight. (You can do that without reducing the ruggedness. Plastic, as it happens, is a wonderful and durable material; we just have to stop using it to make things disposable as it tends to be the opposite.)

The other caveat may be that this isn’t likely to be cheap – I was hearing around 500€/$, but will confirm that.

A trade show floor isn’t a great place to test audio quality. I will absolutely get one of these to test. To me, out of everything I saw at Messe yesterday, this was the product that promised the most everyday usefulness. I can’t wait to find out if it delivers.

cubetop

cubefront

  • gunboat_d

    very promising to run on 8AAs. but…that logo. The Cube used to have a kind of ugly-ducking 80s aesthetic, but killing the Roland logo and putting Cube on the front? With that terrible pointy font? Roland is a far stronger brand, right? Every Roland amp should look like a JC (indeed, the top panel still does). Enough of this 90s-My-First-Crate. Go back to your roots, Roland!

    • Blue Monster 65

      That was the first thing I thought, too: Crate.

      This does sound quite promising, though: I’d like to give it a run-through with my EMX, guitar, and vocals.

    • gunboat_d

      considering the current version is 299USD, i’d just as soon get the old one.

    • julio

      Somehow Roland manages to survive a marked lack of style bonus points.

    • Jules

      Buy amp. pull logo off, get on with life.

  • slabman

    8 AAs won’t supply that much power for those periods of time – this amp seems to be capable of running at about 225% efficiency. I guess those ratings are quoted in PR watts

    • Countrybusker

      Usually with Roland that means 2 x 25 watts = 50. I have seen a video where the sales guy explains they specially developed/used a brand new technology only Roland uses for the moment, to get to that efficiency. I guess we´ll know it when we can hook one up and test it.

  • Stew Day

    Can it run on power as well or batteries only?

    • Jules

      That’s probably what the dc input is used for. 12v given that it uses 8 1.5v batteries. Or it could be for plugging in an external toaster or something for lightly toasted snacks while busking. Not sure.

    • Stew Day

      Mmmm toasted snacks … … ha ha, you’re right of course Jules, totally missed seeing the dc input!

    • Johnny Aitken

      Yes

  • Johnny Aitken

    The only thing that I dont like about this as with their other street cube amp was the switches etc are facing the wrong way unless you face the amp towards you speaker wise. Why do they keep doing this.

  • Richardhammer

    What’s this like for beatboxers? How does this compare to the BA-330? I am afraid it will suffer from lack of bass like the predecessor cube street.

  • Alan

    Whats with the AA’s, why not a rechargeable gel cell at least ?