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Roland Micro Cub Amp Review and Guide

A worldwide sales leader for almost ten years in a row, the Roland Micro Cube is the most popular battery-powered amplifier of all time. Our Roland Micro Cub amp review will see how it is the perfect amp for playing on the road or at home and practising anywhere. Ultra-compact, with a custom-made speaker, it may not be the holy grail when it comes to sound quality, but it does the trick.

Albeit its size plays against having a big sound, the eight amp sounds and eight DSP effects, including heavy octave and delay/reverb with spring emulation, have granted it a special place amongst this “small practice room, battery-powered amp” category.

Adding to the GX series’s new features like the i-CUBE Link, all this opens up many new opportunities to practice and record, providing an audio interface for working with music apps on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

I had this amp for five years, and it is the one I have made the most out of. Previously I had a cheap Harley Benton (CG1O X Street) that sounded tinny, and after it suddenly broke, I decided to get this Roland Cube.

For the 2W it packed (the new GX version brings 3W), it sounded terrific, and for small rooms, it was very good. I used it mostly for rehearsing at home or with friends, as it could fit into a backpack.

What Does the Roland Micro Cube GX Offer?

Roland Micro Cub Amp

The Micro Cube GX is available in black, white, and 80s Cube red. Externally, not much has changed compared to the old Micro Cube, so the most striking thing is the missing Roland logo on the front. Instead, the front is now emblazoned with a modern Cube emblem, which looks a bit uninteresting compared to the recognizable “R”. Anyway, I suppose you don’t buy a Cube because of its looks.

With a fresh set of batteries or rechargeable batteries, mobile use without a power outlet is possible for about 20-25 hours. The Micro Cube is worn on a mini-guitar strap, which clamps to strap pins on the side.

If you manage to take this off without hurting yourself, you can also attach a normal strap and hang the amp around your shoulder and make your mischief in the pedestrian zone. A useful innovation is the memory function, where you can save a sound and use it alternately with manually set sounds. Switching via footswitch is only possible with larger cubes.

The volume output is impressive and even slightly louder than its predecessor. Thus, the power (especially with the distorted models) is not only enough for the living room but also for smaller gigs without drums. In combination with the sturdy MDF housing, the custom-designed speaker does the rest to make the manageable amount of watts look as fulminant as possible. 8 COSM models are available, including an acoustic simulator and a neutral setting for use with a microphone instead of a guitar.

Added to this is the Extreme model with ultra distortion so that together with the classic British and American amp models as well as a Roland Jazz Chorus model, all musical genres from jazz to metal are covered. The effects are distributed over two pots (Modulation FX + Rev/Dly), offering all the usual, including a new Octaver and Spring Reverb.

The amp section features gain, volume, master volume, and tone control for the treble. The electronic tuning fork of the predecessor has been replaced by an accurate chromatic tuner.

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Sound

Three watts + clean + loud are physically mutually exclusive. So even with the Micro Cube GX at the end of the loudness scale, a crystal clear, clean sound is not really possible. At a higher volume, the sound is always minimally gritty and dirty due to the limiting gain, but this interference component is so quiet in relation to the useful signal that it is almost negligible for the joy of playing.

Therefore, the clean models JC Clean and Black Panel are nevertheless welcome and very usable presets. The Jazz Chorus model contrasts nicely with the dark, percussive Fender model with its warm and glassy sound, so you have two good clean directions at hand here.

The eight presets it comes with, including an acoustic simulation and five amplifiers emulations are the following:

  • JC Clean = Rolan JC 120 Chazz Choruz
  • Blac Panel = Fender Twin Reverb
  • Brit Combo = Vox AC30TB
  • Classic Stack = Marshall JMP 1987
  • Rfier Stack = Mesa Boogie Rectifier.

With all this, you get enough types of sound in which to play different styles, and considering they are only amp simulations, they do an outstanding job and come quite close to the real thing, considering price point and size.

Something I found that comes in really handy is the auxiliary line input and headphone output. You can use the headphone output itself to connect it to the pc and try with the different emulation programs, taking away the latency problems of the guitar.

Roland Micro Cub Amp Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Amp models
  • iCube Link function
  • Sound variety
  • Ease of use
  • Portability

Cons

  • Price. I think there are better options for nearly 200€
  • Limited clean headroom
  • Aesthetics

What Other Practice/Busking Amps I Recommend

Boss Katana Mini

Roland Micro Cub Amp Alternatives

This is a terribly cheap option and one that many musicians I know have gone with. For under 100€, this is a tiny compact beast. The speaker sounds fantastic, and a tone control knob gives you slight control over frequencies. A 3 way EQ for me is usually a must, but we can overlook it this time.

The JC clean channel, The Boss pedal crunch, and saturation are some of the most noteworthy effects implemented. Its size and weight make it a very easy amp to take around; the only main con is the materials used on it.

It may seem a bit flimsy and non-durable. As the cheapest option here, consider it as the budget practice amp of preference. It is also battery-powered, like the Micro Cube.

BOSS Katana Guitar Amplifier
$102.99
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01/20/2022 12:47 am GMT

Roland Street Cube EX

Roland Street Cube EX

For a small and affordable amplifier, the Cube Street offers a lot of features. Starting with the basics, it is voiced by two high-performance 6.5″ neodymium speakers delivering 5 watts of power.

It is housed in a sleek black enclosure with a slanted design and silver grille, proving to be a lightweight yet robust amplifier. For street performers, it’s great, thanks to approximately 15 hours of battery life from six AA batteries.

 

There’s a lot of potential in this solid-state amp, aided by the eight COSM amp models and EQ controls. You can find everything from hot, jazzy cleans to ferocious high-gain distortion for heavy rock and metal and everything in between.

The range of effects won’t satisfy the most experimented player, but there’s undoubtedly a great difference between this Street Cube and the Mini Cube. The stereo sound is also quite remarkable (especially with a little chorus).

Roland CUBE Street Amplifier
$529.99
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01/20/2022 12:39 am GMT

Roland Mobile Cube

Roland Mobile Cube

At just under 120€, this little amp is less solely guitar-focused. It is very well built and includes enough features to consider it a secondary PA for vocals, keyboards or even electronic drumsets.

It has very little residual sound, and the 4″ speakers hold themselves very well in a room or small practice session.

People online praise the accurate reproduction of different instruments tones. The separate mic input cleans up both signals if you so want to.

A total of 5W, with the option of running via batteries that last up to 15h, or so is advertised. Don’t expect fancy effect options, but the chorus and reverb sound very decent.

Roland Mobile Cube Stereo Amplifier
$189.99
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01/20/2022 12:41 am GMT

Yamaha THR5A

Yamaha THR5A

The THR5A is specially designed for electro-acoustic guitars and Yamaha Silent Guitars. Thanks to advanced Yamaha modelling technology, it simulates classic tubes, condenser and dynamic microphones.

Combined with high-end effects, the THR5A delivers studio sounds – without a single microphone and wherever you are, with a battery-powered option.

Developed by a team of guitarists looking for the ultimate tone, the THR delivers the sound you want and the feeling you need. Effects that match high-end amps, combined with room-filling reverbs and delays, catapult your sound to the next level.

And thanks to the focus as a practice amp or small gig amp, there is no need for a stadium-ready volume for good sound. On the contrary: the THR handle compression at low volume really well.

With the added USB option to plug into your favourite DAW and use new interfaces for new sounds, this is definitely on the top of my list, along with the following suggestion. If you’re looking for good guitar tones, this is the heavyweight option.

Yamaha THR5 Mini Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
$284.61
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01/20/2022 12:42 am GMT

Positive Grid Spark Guitar Amp

positive grid amp

Although it lacks the portability that the others offer, this is a recent hall of fame practice amp that has rapidly gathered a lot of attention and media.

Its endless possibilities of sound, cabinet and amp modelling configurations, paired with the Spark app, make it one of the most interesting on this list.

You can build your own sound using 30 amps and 40 effects, with access to over 10,000 presets and Positive Grid’s ever-growing Tone Cloud. It is ideal if you are just starting out and want to improve your technique or define your style.

It has the right size and weight to be considered as a portable amplifier, although not maybe as portable as the Roland Micro Cube, but it does have an interface to send your creations directly to the computer or save them on a USB stick.

It produces accompaniments from your own creations and has plenty of backing tracks of all styles to practice. It also has the advantage of a multi-effects pedal, a Bluetooth speaker and an amplifier all in one!

Positive Grid Spark Guitar Amplifier
$299.00

Import your music from Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube and Spark’s smart app will auto display the guitar chords in real time.

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FAQ

Question: When did Roland start making Roland Cube Guitar Amps?

Answer: They date back from 1978 and have sold over 2 million up to date.

Question: Are there any well-known guitar players that use Roland Cube Amps?

Answer: Yes, such as the likes of Nita Strauss, Rudy Sarzo, Orianthi, Ritchie Kozen, the recent Ren and Sam, and many upcoming artists whose videos busking you can find on Youtube.

Question: How Many GX Cube Amps are there?

Answer: Depending on the size and power, there is the 10GX, which is the smallest, the 20GX, 40GX, and even 80GX.

Question: If I plan to go busking, which is the best option for me?

Answer: As a solo guitarist, or singer-songwriter playing on the streets, having to amplify your guitar, have enough effects, and have your voice plugged in separately, I suggest the Street Cube EX would be the best suited for that purpose. Five total inputs, 50W, and the 6″ woofers will allow giving mind-blowing performances possible, however big the crowd may get.

Summary

The limitations in terms of low-end volume and clean headroom do not change the fact that this is a serious small amp. The sounds are appealing and more than one would expect at the sight of the small cube. Especially convincing is the wide range of sounds at a consistently good level (except for small cutbacks in the clean sound) and the expanded possibilities via i-Cube link and iOS device.

Compared to the popular predecessor, you get a whole range of good innovations for the same price. The amp is a must-have, especially for those who are looking for a small battery amp that can make itself heard in terms of volume and sound. Only the swap of brand and model names between front and back is odd, especially since Roland certainly doesn’t have to hide itself (and its good name) with this amp.

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01/20/2022 12:38 am GMT