If you’re a singer-songwriter or acoustic player who needs a portable acoustic amplifier with multiple inputs and a good sound to translate your acoustic tones, definitely give the Fishman Loudbox Mini a try.
The Fishman Loudbox Mini is by a company that knows a thing or two about acoustic instrument amplification. The word gets thrown around too easily, but Larry Fishman, the company’s founder, is a true pioneer. The company has evolved from its pickup-only beginning to producing preamp and, of course, amplifiers in addition to its quality pickup systems. The Loudbox series has been well received since its inception in 2003, with the Mini being the most recent addition. Pushing 60 watts out of its sub-20 lb box, the amp is aimed at the small gig (e.g. coffeehouse) crowd. Does it fulfill expectations? Let’s see.
The Loudbox Mini is a 2 channel amplifier with 60 watts of power. It sports a 6.5″ driver and 1″ tweeter. Channel 1 is the instrument channel and has controls for gain, low, mid, high, reverb and chorus. Channel 2 is the microphone channel and has controls for gain, low, high, and reverb. A master volume controls both channels. It also features 1/4″ and 1/8″ auxiliary inputs as well as a balanced XLR out for interfacing with a P. A. system.
I tested the Loudbox Mini with a Takamine EF-341SC and a custom Langejans acoustic. The first thing I noticed upon unpacking is simply how light the amp is. You can easily go to a gig with a guitar in one hand and the Loudbox Mini in the other without breaking your back.
It also sports a foolproof design, with a straight-foward control layout. I plugged both of my test guitars in and was able to find beautiful tones within seconds with very little work. It’s also a lot louder than you might think, given the small package. Sure, if you’re playing a huge club, then you’ll need to step it up, but you could still use the Mini as your personal monitor and simply use the XLR output to feed the PA.
I play a lot of different styles acoustically, from bluegrass flat-picking to jazz chord melodies, and I was pleasantly surprised at the range of sounds and styles the Loudbox Mini could handle. I was especially pleased with the bass response from such a small amp. The reverb added a lot of depth to the sound, as did a mild use of the chorus. I’m not a fan of intense chorusing, but it sounds great in small doses, so I was pleased with the lighter settings.
The microphone channel sounds equally as good, though I was surprised (unpleasantly) that phantom power isn’t available. Fortunately, I always carry a Shure SM58 with me, and it sounded just fine for the background vocals I provided during my test gig. The auxiliary inputs also sounded quite good when I plugged in some backing tracks on my iPod.
If you’re a singer-songwriter or acoustic player who needs a portable acoustic amplifier with multiple inputs and a good sound to translate your acoustic tones, definitely give the Fishman Loudbox Mini a try. It’s tough to beat the price, the tones, and the portability.
Name of Gear: Fishman Loudbox Mini
List Price: $461.46
Manufacturer Info: Fishman Transducers, Inc.; fishman.com
Pros: Portability; excellent value; excellent bass response; loud, given its size; wide array of sound options and interface options
Cons: No phantom power on channel 2