Fishman hits the spot with a new variant of their Loudbox Mini called the Loudbox Mini Charge™. It's the same amp except is also battery-powered and designed for amplifying acoustic string instruments--guitar, mandolin, and violin. It is a complete standalone amplifier system that measures 9.7D X 13.7W X 12H-inches and weighs 21 pounds. It is nearly completely sealed from moisture and dust and by using its oversized luggage handle, I found it easy to carry around anywhere.
Key to the clear, loud sound of the Loudbox is the two-way speaker system. It has a 6.5-inch woofer and 1-inch soft dome tweeter that are tilted upwards by 10-degrees towards you and your audience. You get a good distribution of sound even when the unit is placed on the floor as I found right here in my living room. The 60-watt amplifier is capable of 108dB SPL from 80Hz to 20kHz and that is more than enough to fill most rooms! The rechargeable battery should last 12 hours using average volume levels.
The Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge has two channels with a master volume control. There is actually a third stereo channel for playing backing tracks or drum machine/sequencer accompaniment. It is accessible using a 1/8-inch jack on the rear panel or via Bluetooth® pairing.
The main instrument channel has a 10-megOhm 1/4-inch input jack ready for any passive or active pickup you might have installed in your acoustic instrument. It has Gain, Low, Mid, High tone controls plus both a Reverb and Chorus effect controls. This channel also has a Phase (polarity flip) if you are mixing your guitar's pickup with a microphone plugged into the second channel. You can also sometimes suppressed low-frequency acoustic feedback by flipping this switch.
The second channel uses an XLR input connector for a microphone (or a direct box) for either another guitar or for a vocal mic for busking. The second channel has a simpler tone stack with: Gain, Low, High, and a separate Reverb level control.
Lastly, a very professional touch is the balanced XLR direct output connector--it's microphone level and ready for connection to an external PA system or recording console--or both. It "mirrors" the exact sound you have dialed in on the amp.
I've been having a lot of fun since I received the Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge. I can go out on my patio and just bring it, plus an acoustic or electric guitar and a cord but not have to drag an AC extension cord. This amp will become very popular for buskers, beach parties or regular small club gigs.
My guitar player friend John M came over and tried both his Taylor 710CE and his Taylor 655 12-string guitars. We both thought the Loudbox Mini Charge sounded very natural and warm considering its diminutive size. It amplified without suddenly sounding electric--he used a mix of the pickup and the microphone built into the guitar. We both like the amp's onboard reverb when used subtly and we also tried it as a personal stage monitor--it sets up quickly anywhere without a power outlet or hassling the sound guy for anything. (Sound guys can thank us later)
The amp comes with an U.S./International line lump power supply/charger and there is also a full line of Loudbox Mini Charge accessories including a deluxe carrying bag, and 12-volt cigarette socket charger/cable. Loudbox Mini Charge sells for $499.95 MAP.
Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. barryrudolph.com