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.
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.