If you’re an singer / songwriter who’s fed up of lugging around lots of equipment when busking or playing small venues, this might be the bit of kit for you. In this Roland Cube Street review we’re going to take a look at this tiny yet feature packed little amp.
We’ll take a look at the key features, the pros, the cons and finally we’ll sum up who might find the Cube Street beneficial. Ready? Let’s get started.
Overview of The Cube Street
The Cube Street is designed to be portable with the travelling musician firmly at the heart of the thinking behind it’s design. The design takes the form of a monitor, with it’s exaggerated width and wedge type appearance.
The Cube Street can be powered by a power adapter, which is included, or by 6 AA batteries. You’ll get around 15 hours performance time out of a set of 6 AA batteries. Unlike some amps that can be powered by either battery or adapter, the Cube Street doesn’t lose any power when running off batteries.
The amp features 2 x 6.5 inch speakers which output 2.5 watts each, giving a total output of 5 watts. That might not sound like a lot of power, but the Street Cube does a good job of producing great tones at adequate volumes.
The Cube Street lends itself well to the travelling musician thanks to it’s compact form and lightweight design, weighing only 5.9kg.
The Cube Street has two inputs. One 1/4 inch jack to support an instrument and an XLR input to support a microphone. You can connect a guitar, a ukulele or a keyboard via the 1/4 inch jack. The fact that the Cube Street has dual channels means that you won’t need to haul a lot of equipment around for instrument and vocals. You can output both your guitar and mic from one little box.
The mic channel gives you control over the channel volume but also control over the treble and bass. As a bonus you also get delay and reverb effects on the mic channel. I can see how the reverb might be useful for vocals, but using delay on the voice channel seems a but psychedelic. I guess someone will find a use for it. I did once run my vocals through a flanger pedal, which was fun. But that’s a different story entirely!
Moving on to the instrument channel. Here’s where the Cube Street embraces modelling technology. There are 8 styles included, which can be selected via the amp control knob. The 8 styles are:
- Instrument – Great for when plugging in an acoustic or keyboard
- JC Clean – Roland’s JC-120 Jazz Chorus amp. Ultra clean sound
- Black Panel – Fender twin reverb amp. Good for country, blues and rock
- Brit Combo – VOX AC30 – 60’s British Rock Sound
- Classic Stack – Marshall tones for heavy rock
- R-Fier Stack – MESA Boogie Rectifier – super high gain for metal
- Acoustic Sim – Acoustic sound when using an electric guitar
- Mic – Use when using microphone through this channel
The instrument channel has a full 3 band EQ, giving you control over the bass, middle and treble. That’ll allow you room to sculpt the 8 amp styles further to your tastes. There’s a dedicated volume control knob for the instrument channel, as well as a gain control knob.
The Cube Street builds on the effects available in the mic channel introducing four further type of effects:
Each effect is controlled via a single control knob. The label on the “EFX” control shows you where each effect is zoned. The further clockwise you turn the knob in within the labelled zone the greater the effect level. The delay / reverb control knob is located to the right of the EFX control knob and works in the same way as the delay / reverb on the mic channel.
The Cube Street also has a built in tuner, which is accessed by pressing the “Tuner” button located between the 1/4 input jack and the amp control section. Once the amp is in tuner mode the switch will be lit red. The tuner seems a little convoluted here. If you’re tuning a standard guitar you’ll need to use the amp selector control knob to select the string you are tuning.
For example the left-most position will tune the low E string. Turn the knob one notch clockwise and you’ll be tuning the A string etc. You’ll know when you’re in tune because the LEDs above the tuner switch will guide you. I’d expect the tuner to work in the same way as a clip-on tuner, where you don’t have to tell it which note you’re tuning to. The tuner feels a little basic to be honest.
There’s a 3.5mm AUX input jack that’ll enable you to plug in an external MP3 player. That’ll allow you to play along with backing tracks, handy for a busker, or to simply use the Cube Street as a speaker. There’s no internal control over the volume of the connected device, so you’ll need to balance with your instrument and mic input.
A 1/4 inch phones jack will enable you to connect a set of headphones for “silent” practice. The speakers are automatically muted when a set to headphones is connected to the Cube Street. The amp will support a footswitch, which is sold separately. The Boss FS-5U gives you two pedals, which can be connected at the back of the amp to either the mic or instrument channel.
When connected to the mic channel you can mute the speaker with one pedal and toggle the delay / reverb effect on or off with the other. Similarly when connected to the instrument channel you can toggle the effects “EFX” on and off and toggle the delay / reverb on and off.
There’s a handy power cord hook at the back of the amp. If you’re on the go this is invaluable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been carrying an amp, guitar, guitar stand and a bunch of cables on for the amp power cord to fall out and drag along the floor in front of me becoming a trip hazard.
Here’s a demo video showing what the Cube Street can do.
The Cube Street will handle small bars and will give you enough power to busk. Larger venues will need something with a bit more oomph. Having said that you get a big output considering it’s only pumping out 5 watts of power.
The Cube Street does seem a little light on the bass, but that’s probably because it’s designed for busking. You want the sound to carry without shaking the ground if you’re playing in the street. The Cube Street is a great option for buskers and singer / songwriters that want portability along with a bunch of useful features.
The Cube Street has been recognized by musicians as a high quality piece of kit for a number of reasons. Here are a few of the best bits:
- Compact & Portable
- Powerful Output
- Loaded with Features
There are always a few things that can be improved. Here are a few things I noticed about the Cube Street:
- A Little Light on Bass
- The Tuner Seems Impractical
- No Cab Simulator for Headphones
If you’re a busker or a singer / songwriter looking for a portable and feature loaded amp to help you show off your talents then you should take a serious look at the Roland Cube Street. Sporting one channel for you mic and one for your instrument, the Cube Street and your instrument is all you’ll need to take with you.
The inclusion of amp styles and effects as well as a 3 band EQ on the instrument channel brings in features you’d expect to see on a much higher end amp. The mic channel also features it’s own reverb / delay control and two band EQ giving you greater influence over your sound.
If you’re not looking to busk or perform solo you’ll be better off with a more “traditional” amp. You won’t need the dual channel features of the Cube Street. Instead, a dedicated guitar amp at this price point will usually include a much greater power output, more amp styles and usually memory banks to save custom patches. Two such amps are the Marshall Code 25 and the Boss Katana 50.
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