Roland Micro Cube Review

The Roland Micro cube is a tiny little amp that can run on either AC power or six AA batteries. I was never a fan of modeling amps, but this tiny two-watt solid state modeling amp really surprised me.

The amp is built like a tank. I’ve not tried this, but I would be willing to be that I could toss it down a flight of stairs and it would still work. Considering that this is the type of amp that you might literally throw into the back seat of a car, being able to withstand some abuse is a pretty good feature. Since it’s less than 10 inches on it’s longest side, and weighs just over seven pounds, there’s a good chance it could be taken along on many trips.

I wanted an amp that I could bring with me anywhere and this one intrigued me because it runs on batteries. Sometimes I like to sit in the park with my guitar and play. I’ve also taken this guitar with me on vacations and business trips. The most surprising use though has been when buying used guitars. I once met a seller at a train station. I brought my Micro Cube and we sat on a bench by the parking lot, playing the guitar through this little amp to ensure that the electronics worked as advertised.

I paid $99 for this amp, but I usually see them for around $129. For that price you get the following features:

  • Runs on AA batteries or AC power (AC converter included)
  • Six amp models
  • Six effects
  • Simple tuner
  • Aux-in
  • Headphone-out

The amp models include:

  • Acoustic – Make your electric sound like an acoustic
  • JC Clean – Roland JC120 model
  • Black Panel – Fender black face
  • Brit Combo – Vox
  • Classic Stack – Marshal
  • R-Fier Stack – Mesa Triple Rectifier
  • Mic – For using a microphone

This is a tiny amp, so the models sound like tiny versions of the originals. Don’t get me wrong, they sound really good, but you’re not going to get that chest thumping feeling out of the Classic Stack model like you would with a 100 watt half stack. This little wonder will put out some respectable volume, but I wouldn’t expect it to cut through a band setting. With only one tone knob, gain and volume, there aren’t a lot of tweaking options, but you can still have a lot of fun dialing in tones.

The effects are available through two knobs, which means that you can have only one from either knob active at any given time. The knobs are:

  • FEX – Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo
  • Delay/Reverb – Cleverly labeled, this knob controls Delay and Reverb

You cannot have Delay and Reverb active at the same time. Similarly, you cannot have Chorus and Tremolo on at the same time. This amp is not about extreme flexibility though – it’s about practice and portability.

The tuner is a simple affair, and I shouldn’t call it a tuner because it is a digital tuning fork. There are three settings: A, A flat and A double-flat. Chose your pitch, push the button and that tone chimes out of the amp with a nice slow decay. Simple and useful.

The Roland Micro Cube a fun little amp that you’ll find yourself using in surprising places. I’ve brought mine out on the deck for some relaxing guitar time on a Sunday afternoon. Since it works with headphones, I’ve also used it in a hotel room at 11pm so as not to annoy my neighbors. I’ve used it with the aux-in to learn songs when I didn’t feel like firing up my 120 watt 2×12 Peavey JSX.

I will warn you that if you play a lot with batteries, you may think at some point that you’ve blown the little four inch speaker. This has happened to me twice. The amp started to sound terrible, and reminded me of the late 70s when I kept playing through a vintage ampeg after I’d ruined the speaker. The Micro Cube started to sound farty and buzzy and all-together not good. I hadn’t blown anything though; the batteries were just low. I suppose the LEDs might get dimmer when the batteries get low, but in the sunlight it’s tough to tell. Once I replaced the batteries or used AC power, the amp came back to life.

If you’re looking for a fun little amp to play in the wee hours of the morning, in the back seat of a car, at the beach or in a field somewhere, this just might be the amp for you. If you’re looking for absolute pure vintage tone with the size, weight and ear-splitting volume to match, you’d best look elsewhere. If you’re like me, you’ll have this and a huge ear-splitting amp or three. Be careful though, if you’re a tube amp snob, this could be the beginning of you rethinking digital technology. It’s like a gateway drug into the land of modelers.

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