New amps and effects units outed by Roland
With over a million sales notched up, Roland has announced that the next generation of Cube amplifiers is ready to be let loose. The Cube XL series is available in four sizes, starting at the practice 15W version right up to a gig-worthy 80W model. The amps all feature a host of tones and effects and an auxiliary input to allow a portable music player to provide backing tracks. Features on offer from the new range include amp modeling, channel-switching and a strange-sounding power squeeze function. Roland has also unleashed a couple of BOSS guitar effects pedals – one that offers the player pitch control and voice harmony possibilities and the other squeezing some tube amp sounds into a palm-sized stomp box.
The top of range Cube-XL guitar amplifier is the 80XL which perhaps unsurprisingly knocks out 80W of power from its 12-inch speaker. As well as being able to switch between a JC Clean and Lead channel, players are also offered a third solo channel with memory capabilities. Active channels are controlled at the touch of a button or via a footswitch (which is available as an optional extra).
The Cube 80XL offers a choice of 11 Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM) amp models, eight effects types (including a spring reverb and a new heavy octaver) and a three-band EQ to nail the desired tone. There's also an acoustic guitar simulator, a bright switch, a built-in tuner and players are given more control over presence. The amp also features 80 seconds-worth of phrase looping to allow you to play along to your own rhythm.
The Cube 80XL carries a recommended retail of US$488.50
The following video demonstration by Alex Hutchings gives a good idea of what the 80XL and the next amp on our list, the 40XL, are capable of:
The Cube 40XL guitar amplifier
No prizes for guessing the output of this model – it's 40W through a 10-inch speaker. Like the 80XL, this model benefits from three-way channel switching, has eight effects to choose from, a built-in tuner and phrase looping. There's one less COSM amp model to choose from but it does have an intriguing power squeezer mode. Enabling this is said to provide you with all of the power and tone of a full gain amp but at a neighbor-friendly low volume level.
The Cube 40XL has a recommended retail of US$278.50
The Cube 20XL guitar amplifier
Moving more into practice room territory, the Cube 20XL is a 20W amp with an 8-inch speaker. It offers JC Clean and Lead channels plus a solo boost, six different lead types, nine effects and also has the power squeezer mode.
The Cube 20XL has a manufacturer's recommended retail of US$208.50
Guitar wizard Alex Hutchings also gives the 20XL and the 15XL a work out, which can be seen in the following demonstration video:
The Cube 15XL guitar amplifier
The cheapest of the bunch at a recommended US$123.50, the Cube 15XL offers 15W of output through an 8-inch speaker, both clean and lead channels, a threesome of BOSS lead sound effects and the power squeezer mode. Like all of the new XL series, this model features auxiliary-in socket for adding backing tracks via a portable music player and a record out/headphones socket.
In addition to the release of the Cube XL guitar amplifiers, Roland has also announced a couple of effects pedals from its BOSS subsidiary.
The BOSS PS-6 Harmonist effects pedal
The BOSS PS-6 Harmonist gives players access to four effect modes that alter the pitch and voice of the sound. To the top of the unit are four control knobs that allow for precise tweaking of the pitch shift and harmony effects, there's a chorus-like detune effect and a new Super Bend mode, which creates huge pitch sweeps across a seven octave span. Selecting 3-VOICE from the SHIFT dial and choosing a major or minor key allows users to create a multi-voice harmony.
The PS-6 is available this month for a recommended retail of US$241.50
The BOSS ST-2 Power Stack effects pedal
The BOSS ST-2 Power Stack distortion pedal is said to reproduce "the sound and feel of playing through a large, cranked-up, stack-style tube amplifier." Using just one sound control dial, players can alter both gain and tone character and dial in three distinct tones ranging from "vintage crunch and punchy drive to full-assault distortion" and the inclusion of bass and treble knobs add more tonal character. The remaining level dial oversees the overall volume of the output.
This unit could well be helpful to anyone wishing to by-pass the painstaking and expensive process of trying to find a specific stack/distortion effects combination. It's available this month for a recommended retail of US$162.
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Only downside, is that it\'s hard to change effects modes \"mid-song\" with both hands on the guitar...it\'s hard to reach down and twiddle a knob to change the effect. No biggie, usually, but might be a consideration for someone else to think about.