Sunday, June 18, 2017

Product Review: Roland Micro Cube N225 Guitar Amplifier

Howdy!

My son and I were doing our usual monthly hike through the Long Beach Antique Flea Market recently, and we ran across a cool Roland Micro Cube amplifier, and I was pretty stoked because I had wanted to pick one of these up for awhile. It was in perfect condition, and the price was really good so I snatched it up before anybody else could.

The Micro Cube was introduced in 2004, and it was a revolutionary product from Roland, as it is a modeling amp that is battery powered. The specs have changed over the years, but this is an early model with a little less power than the newer ones. Either way, the end result is an extremely portable and versatile practice amp that also sounds amazing.

It is a small amp, measuring around 10 by 7 by 9 inches, and weighing in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces (without the 6 AA batteries). It is loaded up with a 2-watt class B amplifier (very efficient, and perfect for a battery application) and a 5-inch driver, and the whole thing is covered in the usual super-durable Roland tolex. It comes with a carry strap, and I think it originally came with a 9-volt power supply, but that was not included in my secondhand sale. The strap attaches to a pair of guitar strap pins, so I guess you could grab a guitar strap and wear this thing around the house or march in a parade with it. If that’s your thing…

There are quite a few things on the top control panel and they include:

- A ¼-inch input jack

- VOLUME knob

- GAIN knob

-TONE knob

- EFX knob that is broken into four segments: CHORUS, FLANGER, PHASER, and TREMELO. You can only select one of these effects at a time, so choose wisely.

- TYPE switch that models different styles of amplifiers. These include ACOUSTIC, JC CLEAN (like Rland’s Jazz Chorus JC-120), BLACK PANEL (Fender Twin Reverb), BRIT COMBO (Vox AC30), CLASSIC STACK (Marchall JMP), and R-FIER STACK (Mesa Boogie). There is also a MIC setting if you want to use it as a vocal amp.

- DELAY/REVERB knob that is broken into two segments: left of 12:00 for delay, right of 12:00 for reverb.

- TUNING FORK that plays a concert A tone, with switch positions for ½-step and 1-step down

There are also a few things to be found on the back. These include the power jack and the battery compartment. There is also a pair of aux inputs: 1/8-inch and ¼-inch (so you can plug in an MP3 player or something else to play along with), and a 1.4-inch output that can be used for headphones or a line out. When something is plugged into the output, the speaker is disabled. Lastly, there is a little hole that you can stick a laptop cable into in case you are worried about somebody wandering off with your Micro Cube.

When you take all of these features and add in Roland engineering and quality, you end up with a killer product. This thing sounds awesome, and the DSP for the different amps is surprisingly accurate. It is definitely loud enough for around the house, and it would be great for road trips and dorm rooms too.

So, I am super glad that I finally got my hands on one of these, and though I will use it out in the shop, I had an ulterior motive for picking one up. You see, I will only meet Craigslist buyer in public places, and it will be really handy to have a battery-powered amp so they buyers can try out a guitar before buying it. It is also really handy that this thing sounds so good, so the player gets a true idea of what the instrument can do.

On the used market, these earlier version Roland Micro Cube amps sell in the $60 to $80 range on eBay, and they are worth every penny. If you want a new one, they have a few more features now and an upgrade to a 3-watt power amp, for the princely sum of $149 (street price). Check one out, and you will see what all the fuss is about!

Mahalo!

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