Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Ideal Busking Amp - Roland CUBE Ex?
Ideal Busking Amp - Roland CUBE Ex?
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75 posts
Mar 18, 2014
9:20 AM

I'm not a busker, but I know we have quite a few on this forum.

I just noticed the new Roland CUBE Ex, which the company
is marketing as perhaps the ideal busking rig for mobile musicians.

A glance at the specs are impressive:

  • Under 17 pounds

  • Up to 20 hours of power on one set of eight alkaline or NiMH
    rechargeable AA batteries. (AC adapter provided)

  • Output power (and battery life) is adjustable in three
    levels—Max (50 W), Normal (25 W), and Eco (10 W)

  • Can also be powered with the included AC adapter

  • Ground use, or optional pole mount

  • Can be combined with multiple other CUBE Ex units for larger

  • Built in mixer with multiple options for input types (some
    effects), iOS connections

  • Music sites are taking pre-orders for $499 (suggested retail
    is $600) with 4/18/14 ship date

View from Front
Roland Cube from Front

View with Pole Mount
Roland CUBE Ex on Stand

Mixer Panel - Link to full size view of controls:
Roland CUBE Ex

Roland CUBE Ex - Roland Product Page

Hope this is of interest to some of our forum buskers.



Last Edited by Johncn on Mar 18, 2014 10:02 AM
509 posts
Mar 18, 2014
9:31 AM
$600? is a lot of money.

The srteet cube would work too, the VoxMini3 is a good bet as well.
2679 posts
Mar 18, 2014
9:34 AM
Definitely looks interesting, but these things all have two main problems: 1) they are priced too high, and 2) they all have too small speakers (typically 4-6").

The problem with price is this: When I busk, I don't make that much money.

The problem with too small speakers is this: they don't give an accurate bass response.

These may not be issues for everyone, but a IMO they are serious issues for a harmonica-driven OMB.


I really wish some of these amp manufacturers would focus on making a simple, relatively low-cost, battery-operated rig with decent 10" speakers, and a couple of inputs. I have pedals for all that reverb/chorus/amp modeling stuff, so I really don't need them on my amp too. Just a simple street amp at a reasonable price. Man, that would really be a winner... Too bad they don't make those mouse's anymore!!!
Super Awesome!
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Last Edited by isaacullah on Mar 18, 2014 9:37 AM
685 posts
Mar 18, 2014
10:00 AM
I agree with Isaacullah, I have a Street cube that I used in my garage for testing and noodling but now use a maxi mouse i picked up. The Roland is way too expensive for what a harp player would get from it. They are cool little amps but you could do better for less money. I think I am going to sell my Street Cube now.
76 posts
Mar 18, 2014
10:04 AM
It struck me over morning coffee as having some thoughtful design elements, so thought it may be of interest to someone. I don't have a use for it myself. Maybe the the $499 street price will come down, but it is still a fair chunk of change.

355 posts
Mar 18, 2014
11:13 AM
I busk regularly and have tried lots of small amps.
I use the Crate taxi for guitar and vocals and a pignose for harp.
And people on the street love the crap out of the pignose-
613 posts
Mar 18, 2014
3:51 PM
This thing does look quite interesting an has some interesting design features. Uses 2x8" speakers and two tweeters. Pity the promo video doesn't actually have the unit being played, just a studio recording overdub.

Could be killer but the price point is it's downfall. Having said that I have known professional buskers in the UK who make a shed load of money and might cough up the doo-re-mi if it actually sounded better than anything currently available.

Right now there are a few Maxi Mice for sale on Ebay from $99 (repair job) to a couple where the seller must have smoked something wicked for the prices their asking. Going rate seems to be around the $200 mark more or less depending on condition.

I had one in Holland I paid $150 for and sold for 150 euros when I left. I now have another one which was given to me. Batteries were dead but I replaced those for something like $24. So long ago I can't remember if it was one or two. If you keep them charged regularly they don't ever seem to give up the ghost.

The first time I heard one was with a busker in Wales. It sounded so good it grabbed my attention as I was walking down the street and I went searching for where the sound was coming from. It was that good.

Last Edited by LSC on Mar 18, 2014 3:52 PM
1509 posts
Mar 18, 2014
5:03 PM
I had a Maxi Mouse, the Vox twin 8, Roland Cube and a few other small battery powered amps. The Mouse sounded the best, hands down! However, today you can buy a battery inverter and use any amp you want. My Champ and effects will run for hours on mine, best sound by far. For harp, this is my best set-up. However, guitar players and singers might prefer the above set-up. BTW: Online dealers sell this for 499.00.

Last Edited by rbeetsme on Mar 18, 2014 6:02 PM
291 posts
Mar 18, 2014
5:49 PM
Too expensive. It looks great spec wise, but probably beyond what you need and over priced as well.

I'd go with the Roland Street Cube.

I understand what people say about bass response, but I found the Street Cube feature laden enough and more than powerful enough and very loud....too loud in fact.
I got police complaints from a local busybody at a small wine bar gig once and I had it barely on minimum vol.
[cure jokes about crap music;-) - but even the cops liked it actually, just doing their job!]

Playing on the street doesn't mean you can always crank it up, you only need as much amplification to project yourself for the space you're playing to and in.

Paul Cohen aka Komuso Tokugawa
HarpNinja - Your harmonica Mojo Dojo
Bringing the Boogie to the Bitstream

Last Edited by Komuso on Mar 18, 2014 5:52 PM
1446 posts
Mar 18, 2014
7:18 PM
This IS a cube street, with a few extra bells and whistles. I like the ability to connect to other cube street ex's.

I find the cube street very nice for busking, but I play guitar and harp and sing too... I might choose something different it I was just playing harp.

The extra power looks great, and the extra inputs could be very useful in situations where you add another musician (which I often do).

I AM cheap, however, and will certainly be sticking with my regular cube street...

292 posts
Mar 18, 2014
8:41 PM
"This IS a cube street, with a few extra bells and whistles"

No, it's not. Apart from twice the price, the features and components are more than a few extra bells and whistles.

Apart from more or less the same form factor the guts are significantly different.
EDIT: I take this back. After checking the specs of both there are significant differences in size and weight.
They just look the same form factor.

Regular Cube Street Specs
Compact, lightweight stereo amplifier with slanted cabinet design
Two high-performance 6.5” neodymium speakers
Battery driven (6 x AA, maximum 15-hour continuous use)
Dual-channel architecture with Guitar/Inst and Mic/Line inputs
8 COSM® AMPs, 6 digital effects, and chromatic tuner built in
2-band EQ, Delay/Reverb for the Mic/Line-channel
AC Adaptor included

Cube Street Ex Specs
Innovative new Roland technology provides 50 watts of stereo power from eight AA-size batteries
Selectable output power modes to optimize battery life for different performing situations (Max: 50 W/5 hours; Normal: 25 W/10 hours; Eco: 10 W/20 hours*)
Portable, lightweight design (7.4 kg/16 lb. 5 oz.) with durable ABS injection-molded cabinet
Powerful, full-range stereo sound with dual 8-inch woofers and 2-inch tweeters
Four independent channels for connecting a variety of mics, instruments, and audio devices
Two XLR mic inputs allow two vocalists to perform at once
COSM tones for electric guitar, including Clean, Crunch, and Lead; preamp for acoustic guitar provides clean, natural sound
Angled back for use as a stage monitor; mounting hole for use with optional ST-A95 Speaker Stand
Stereo Line Out jacks for connecting to an external sound system when used as a stage monitor
Stereo Link jacks to connect a second CUBE Street EX for broader sound coverage
Easy recording into your iPhone/iPad via i-CUBE LINK and free CUBE JAM app
Optional CB-CS2 Carrying Case made with water-repellent material

If you're just solo or duo the Cube St would be fine.
The Cube St Ex seems to be for a different use case, if you were anywhere from solo up to 4 or 5 people or any combination.

If I was doing what the Cube St Ex offered it would be a no brainer upgrade for me, but I'm not at the moment so it would be a waste of money.
You could always get your partner to buy a cube street for half the price then you have 6 channels! (2 mic, 2 line, 2 stereo in) plus you can place them in stereo config.

It looks like a great amp to keep in mind though.

Paul Cohen aka Komuso Tokugawa
HarpNinja - Your harmonica Mojo Dojo
Bringing the Boogie to the Bitstream

Last Edited by Komuso on Mar 18, 2014 9:31 PM
1448 posts
Mar 18, 2014
9:32 PM
Really? What part of the name leads you to believe it is not a cube street?

I understand it is significantly more powerful, but it is still called a "cube street ex". Therefore still a "cube street."

Jeez... Do you work for Roland or just the persnickety police?

293 posts
Mar 18, 2014
10:43 PM
That's called a product line kingo, like iPod or iPad or [insert here]

It doesn't always mean the products in the line have simple cosmetic differences (though sometimes they do) or just "bells and whistles" differences.

Sometimes they are significant, as in this case.
I'm not sure how that qualifies as being persnickety or working for roland.

I call it product evaluation.
Here you go, check for yourself:
Cube Street Standard - Click specifications to see
Cube Street Ex Specs

In this case it adds up to why it costs almost twice as much as the regular Street Cube. It's probably worth it, considering the changes I now understand between the two.

The real deal killer for me is the size and weight increase.
I don't think it's shoulder portable for any length of time.

But I'll stick to my regular one. Gotta buy a new audio interface instead...and that will really send you nuts comparing specs!

Paul Cohen aka Komuso Tokugawa
HarpNinja - Your harmonica Mojo Dojo
Bringing the Boogie to the Bitstream

Last Edited by Komuso on Mar 18, 2014 10:59 PM
453 posts
Mar 19, 2014
6:10 AM
I use a Roland Microcube with an Audix Fireball. I don't need a lot of power because I use it mostly with an unamplified guitar player, or with string bands and roots. For blues it works well because the Microcube can be adjusted for a mild distortion that sounds nice enough if you don't overdo it, and it brings the harp up to audible level without overpowering the acoustic guitar, or with the much louder stringed instruments in bluegrass. It's also stingy with the batteries. Equally important is the light weight since I don't use a car and carry it everywhere in a bicycle pannier.

I have a Crate Taxi, but it's useless for harp (and too big/heavy for the bicycle unless I'm pulling my trailer). The input is far too hot even when I crank the mic volume down to minimum, I'm always a breath away from feedback and there's no hope of bluesy tone. Works well for vocals and guitar though.
2685 posts
Mar 19, 2014
8:06 AM
@easyreeder: Are you using that Audix fireball with the Crate Taxi too? If so, it's good to know it doesn't sound that great, since it's one of the only amps (actually it's bigger brother the Limo) that meets most of my specs for what I want.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I convince myself that the best option is to just build my own. I've already got the right battery (12v 5 AmpHour Sealed Lead Acid) and charger, and I've even got an enclosure with the form factor I'm looking for (from an old portable record player). In fact, back in storage in AZ, I even have what's probably the right power amp module assembled and tested (an 18-watt class AB chip amp). Really, now that I think about it, all I need is a speaker. Hmmm... I think I've made up my mind. If it works out, I think I will have spent less than $80 on all of it.
Super Awesome!
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227 posts
Mar 19, 2014
9:33 AM
I'm with easyreeder on the micro cube. I pair mine with an SM57 and for what it is, it sounds great. Lots of volume in a tiny package. Mind you, I'm not going for the thick Chicago sound. I like it but it isn't a requirement for my needs. I give it some delay then add other effects as needed. I also like that when I play with my band I can run a line out to the mixing board so I can manage my volume and effects. Money well spent.

I'm workin on it. I'm workin on it.
454 posts
Mar 19, 2014
10:33 PM
@issacullah: I've tried it with the Taxi, and it works fine for mic-on-a-stick, but I don't like the Taxi when cupping, regardless of the mic. The Audix is better than my 520D (which doesn't have volume control) because the only way to avoid feedback with the bullet is to turn it off.

I got the Taxi at a garage sale, put a new battery in it. Its not rather noisy (hiss) and the input is so damn hot that I wonder if there's something actually wrong with it. Even with an electric guitar it's hard to low volume out of it.

I know another busker who bought a Limo used, and it as some issues, but when it's working well it sounds quite nice. He doesn't play harp though.
52 posts
Mar 20, 2014
12:18 AM
Another one for the street cube. Audix Fireball works well. Backing tracks in using the aux instrument input giving an easily accessible volume control for overall balance. Played mainly clean on the microphone setting with gain a 9 o'clock. Reasonable dirty blues sound with gain at 0' using classic stack setting. Bass response limited by size of speakers, but it gets the job done and it's reliable and not too expensive. I'm sure you could do better, but you could do a lot wares.

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