60 watts of acoustic power in a compact package
The Loudbox Mini is a 60-watt, two-channel acoustic-voiced combo amp that includes reverb and chorus, housed in a compact and attractive cabinet.
FISHMAN IS a manufacturer whose reputation is built on the specialized task of amplifying acoustic instruments, from pickups to effects to amps to P.A. systems. The Loudbox family of amps accommodate both instrument and microphones, and are designed for stage, studio, and home use. All provide mixer-like functions for solo and small-ensemble acoustic-based acts. The Loudbox Mini ($461.46) is the smallest and least expensive of the line, but just because it’s a mini does not mean it’s not mighty. I was struck by how well Fishman combined the key factors of size, power, and price into one greatsounding unit.
It’s a Looker The Loudbox Mini represents an aesthetic departure from Fishman’s previous industrial black-box scheme. This understatedly handsome unit just looks more “acoustic,” with its attractive blends of wood-colored browns and beiges and black highlights, and is very much at home placed between an acoustic bass and a dreadnought guitar. The front panel is nicely beveled, positioning the knobs at an optimal viewing angle, whether the amp resides on the floor or is perched on a stand or stool.
Ergonomic Operation Two independent channels allow for instrument and XLR mic inputs. Each channel has separate gain Low, High, and Reverb controls; the instrument channel features additional Mid and Chorus, plus a phase switch. At the far right is a Master level control. The reverb and dual-mode chorus (Mild and Thick) both sound very good, and are tailored to acoustic settings. I found them musically useful even in their extreme ranges.
The back panel is also placed at the top of the amp and is beveled as well—a nice touch that facilitates optimum accessibility. In addition to the power cord and power switch, there’s an XLR output and two Aux inputs—one 1/4", one 1/8" stereo mini. The aux jacks are quite an innovation, as both can be used simultaneously. You could run your MP3/CD player into the mini jack and then use the 1/4" for an external preamp signal (controlling the level at the source). Effectively, this arrangement turns the Loudbox Mini into a three-channel amp with an aux input. With 60 watts and a twoway speaker system (a 6.5" woofer and a 1" tweeter), the Mini can well-accommodate this setup.
No bigger than a lunchbox, the Fishman Loudbox Mini was an able addition to my acoustic rig, far more tailored, well-voiced— with Fishman’s excellent EQ—and suitable than a powered speaker or a conventional combo amp. It can be placed almost anywhere because of its small size and felicitous look, and the gorgeous, clean sound effortlessly fills the room. It’s an ideal companion for conventional stages, restaurants, street gigs, and, of course, the rehearsal studio.
STRENGTHS: A surprisingly powerful and compact two-channel amplification system for an acoustic instrument and dynamic microphone; dual aux-in jacks; loud, clear sound; excellent EQ and voicing for acoustic guitars and other acoustic stringed instruments.
LIMITATIONS: No headphone jack, no phantom power.