Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fender Acoustasonic 30 DSP


Today we are looking at a neat little amplifier that would be perfect for small solo acoustic setting: the Fender Acoustasonic 30 DSP, an amplifier that was designed to handle both acoustic guitar and vocals simlutaneously. It was introduced about ten years ago and was discontinued a while back, but you can still find new ones out there for reasonable prices.

This amp is an updated version of the popular Acoustasonic 30, with new digital effects such as reverb, delay, chorus and Vibratone. You can probably figure out from its name that this is a 30-watt amplifier, and this solid state unit drives a single 8-inch LF speaker and a tweeter.

This comes in a nicely-sized package, measuring around 15 x 16 x 20 inches, and weighing a tic under 35 pounds according to my scale. The cabinet is shaped so that you can set it with so the speaker faces forward, or you can tilt it back so you can hear yourself better. It has a pleasant brown tolex covering and a tasteful tan and silver weave grille cloth.

There is not much going on the back of the amp: just an IEC-type power cable (yay!), a ¼-inch line out and a foot switch jack. The inputs are equally simple, with a single ¼-inch instrument input and an XLR microphone input. By the way, the XLR does have phantom power, in case you are using a condenser microphone.

Both of the input channels have their own volume controls, 3-band equalizers, phase switches to control feedback, FX selectors and FX level controls. The instrument channel also has a String Dynamics control to cut rowdy high-frequencies.

I tracked down the optional footswitch, which has two switches to cut the effects to the instrument and microphone channels. It was about 40 bucks, but it was worth it to me.

In the real world it is light and portable, and due to its simplicity, setting it up is a breeze. You won’t even need to look at the manual to solve mysteries of foreign knobs or features (now that I told you what the String Dynamics knob does).

Fender says that the Acoustasonic 30 DSP is “optimized especially for acoustic performers.” I don’t know what this means, but it sure works nicely with my guitars. I tried it with my Takamine EF341SC (active pre-amp) and my Martin D-18 Golden era that as a K&K Sound Pure Mini pickup installed. It performed as advertised with both of them.

The sound reproduction with both instruments was very true with the EQ set flat. As there are no controls on the Martin, I was able to optimize the tone with the EQ. I messed around with the String Dynamics knob, and I did not like the way it worked when playing fingerstyle, but it did calm down the top end nicely when I really laid into some heavy strumming. The effects are ok, but are best when added in small doses. If they get overwhelming the foot switch makes it easy enough to turn them off.

The vocal channel is very good. The effects are a lot more handy for this input, and adding a touch of reverb + chorus or chorus + delay made me sound a lot, well, better. Singing is not my forte…

It gets plenty loud for a coffee-house or small wedding/party gig, and it works well with no drama. So, pretty much it is a winner. I would buy one again if it broke. I still have plenty of the 5-year factory warranty left, though.

As I said earlier, the Acoustasonic 30 DSP has been discontinued, but they are still out there. They have a list price of $499, and new-in-the-box ones are selling for around $350. On the used market they are a real bargain, coming in around $200, or so. If you are looking for a single amplifier to handle your acoustic guitar and vocals, you will not find a better deal out there!



  1. nice review, helped me decide to pick up a used one


  2. I've commited to buy a second hand one. mainly for my daughter to sing and play her maton acoustic electric through but I'm also keen to play my harmonica through it via mike and or bullet mike through instrument channel. Cheers