My nephew is an avid busker. He is playing a keyboard and practice setting up on a busy street corner, plugging into a Roland CUBE Street battery-driven amp and playing to the music of his heart. I decided to take a stab at it myself and started hunting for the right busking amp or all-in-one PA to suit the bill.
The biggest factor distinguishing busking amps from identical speakers is the fact that they have to run on a charger. Think about it … You play on the highway … Where are you plugging in? Answer: nowhere … you have to carry with you your power.
You need to remember the size and weight of the equipment as well. Are you parking four blocks north, and hiking to your preferred side street place with your gear?
I’m going to walk a couple of blocks in my event, with guitar and bass in hand. What kind of instrument are you playing? I play acoustic guitar and sing back songs, it’s a must for me to have at least one mic input with a guitar channel and aux input.
Detailed Comparison Of Best Busking Amp in 2021
Let’s look at Roland CUBE Street, Roland CUBE Street EX, Bose S1 Pro, and JBL Eon One Pro and decide which buskers are best (and hopefully yours too) for my needs.
Roland CUBE Street
The Roland CUBE Street amplifier is a nicely appointed busking amplifier powered by batteries. This little amplifier provides only (6) AA batteries with 15 hours of use.
It’s nice to run off AA’s rather than a proprietary battery pack, as is common among this type of amplifier. The CUBE Street uses 5 Watts through 2 x 6.5′′ speakers and weighs about 11.5 lbs. It also features 2 channels and 1/8′′ auxiliary stereo audio.
One channel is for a microphone through a balanced XLR connection; the other channel is devoted to the guitar via an unbalanced Hi-Z connection of 1/4′′. All channels offer independent control of the effects, sound, and volume.
In addition to these features, this small amp is ideal for living in an apartment, as it has a 1/4′′ headphone output for quiet practice when needed.
Two-foot switches are also available for channel and effects control. This little busking amp seems to have it all in an affordable, lightweight package. Normally I ‘d be terrified of an amp that just promises to drive 5 Watts, but I’m impressed with the sound after playing with it. Sure, it won’t knock anybody’s socks off with power, but for a small audience, it’s certainly decent performing amplification!
Roland CUBE Street EX
The Roland CUBE Street EX is a big brother of Roland CUBE Street. It claims it’s two 8′′ woofers and 2′′ high-frequency drivers push 50 watts of sound through. When looking at speakers, I’m also suspicious of wattage figures, ever since it can be hard to say whether it applies to RMS or Peak wattage.
I read one analysis of this by an electrical engineer saying that the 50 watts needed to be peak power because the RMS battery output wattage was closer to 5 watts, mathematically.
Aside from electricity, the CUBE Street EX provides twice as many channels as the previous one. These channels and inputs added require two mics and one keyboard (stereo) or even a second guitar.
However, one drawback is that the additional 1/4′′ inputs are line level. This battery-powered busking amp also features a stereo aux jack that not only allows you to play music from your phone or any other MP3 player, but also provides two-way communication with IOS devices for specific applications (I’m not an Apple user, so I can’t profess to know exactly what this does, but it’s there if you need it!).
This busking amp on (8) AA Batteries offers 20 hours of busking time. Kudos again to Roland for the use of AA batteries! This way you can pass by any shop for more power in a hurry if your rechargeables fail!!
This buskers amp provides much of its younger brother’s same effects, modeling, and EQ features while having a little more umph and playtime. I find the Roland CUBE Street Amps are more suited to the busker of electric guitars. Being mainly a vocalist, I wouldn’t choose either unit for my own use. Given the choice of this amp for electric guitars, when it comes to battery life it is the greatest busking amp.
Bose S1 Pro
The Bose S1 Pro is a brand new, multifunctional, battery-powered amplifier. I have been the proud owner of two L1 Compacts for many years now and given their size, I have always been impressed by their sound.
This small battery-powered amplifier is Bose’s little brother to speaker F1 812. It contains three of the F1’s 2′′ high-frequency drivers along with a 6′′ woofer for the low-end frequencies. — of the 2′′ drivers is designed to optimize sound dispersion (as the L1 Compact and F1 do).
Although not as packed as any of the Roland CUBE Street models, it does have 4 channels. Two channels can be used for signals at the microphones, guitars or line level.
Both of these channels come with two of Bose ‘s patented Sound Match (guitar or microphone) settings. Depending on the channel use this Tone Match switch can be set as needed. You should turn off the Sound Match too. Also, each channel has high and low-frequency EQ knobs to adjust as needed, and a very nice reverb effect. There’s also a 1/8′′ auxiliary input on a 3rd stereo channel.
You can also connect this channel to a laptop or phone via Bluetooth for wireless output. For busking, you can turn cabinet back, lay it flat on level ground, or set it on a speaker stand.
There is even a 1/4′′ output for connecting to another S1 or even a subwoofer if necessary. The battery is an actual lithium-ion battery, which takes over as AC power is unplugged on the fly. Charging the battery normally takes five hours, but Bose is smartly equipped with S1 Pro with a quick-charge feature that can charge the battery in 3 hours.
It can provide playtime of up to 11 hours if needed. The Bose S1 Pro is much louder than the Roland Cube Street. The sound is much rounder with a lower end frequency range, too. As owner of two L1 Compacts and a Bose pro sound gear fan, I must say the S1 Pro delivers L1 sound from a tiny package!
JBL Eon One Pro
This distinction is the flagship of the JBL Eon One Pro. It is much more powerful than the other listings, and also provides battery power that would make it amazing as a busking amp straight away. Be careful though, it weighs 35 lbs (if you want to carry it long distances you may need the wheeled case). The built-in amplifier has 7 channels (the stereo aux / Bluetooth channel is the 7th channel).
Every channel offers settings for reverb and hi / low EQ for dialing in just the right sound. As with condenser microphones, phantom power is also available for these microphones.
JBL even included a port for USB charging and a cradle for your choice of phone! A compact line array of six 2″ high-frequency drivers surrounds the 8″ subwoofers. This configuration allows you to play for a much larger group of people when needed because standing bodies do not block the high frequencies.
The whole machine drives the 118 SPL and will play on a fully charged battery pack for up to 6 hours. This is the ultimate busking amp for the busker which needs extra power and inputs.
AER Compact Mobile2 60-watt Amplifier
I’ve been very impressed by the quality of AER amps. It’s not cheap, but these guys certainly know how to make an amp that sounds great, and they’re not cheap either!
An XLR combo and one 14″ input are provided for combining guitars and vocals in this amp. In addition to this, it also provides an AUX input, which is helpful for backing tracks. When you play, you can also choose from four different effects to enhance the quality of your sound.
This amp has a battery that lasts 3-4 hours, which is not as long as some of the other internal batteries you’ll find on the market, but again, you’re getting really high-quality sound from it.
Vox Adio Air GT
Electric guitarists will appreciate it, and it also has a Flat setting, so you can use it with an acoustic guitar. VOX Adio Air is a really cool-looking guitar amp that can pump out 50W of battery-powered stereo output and can easily fit in any guitar bag or bag case.
No matter what genre you’re playing, there are a lot of amp settings and effects built into it, so you can get the tone you want. I like the fact that you can choose from different amp settings as well – this isn’t just a novelty portable amp; it’s a versatile tool that gives you a wide range of perfect guitar sounds that you can use.
In spite of its small size, the speakers of this electric guitar busking set are able to produce a surprising amount of volume. In fact, you should be OK with this if you are an electric guitarist playing with a singer or even a small band on the streets. It only weighs 3kg, and you could easily pack it in your backpack. This is my top pick for an electric guitarist busking.
Comparison Table Best Busking Amp in 2021
Last update on 2022-08-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
My Choice For Best Buskers Amp Is…
Following countless reviews and playing Roland CUBE Street with my nephew, I have decided that the Bose S1 Pro is the perfect busking amp. Its battery life is sufficient for street-side sets lasting more than a full day, and its setup is versatile.
If I’m in a coffee house, I can get it put on a table. If I play with my bigger PA to a bigger crowd, then I can use it as a monitor. And of course, as a busking device, It sets up beautifully.
I’m not a big effects fan so I like a little reverb to sweeten my voice a little bit. The S1 Pro provides both my voice and my acoustic guitar with a good-sounding reverb and Tone Match settings. Another huge advantage to me is the Bose S1 Pro’s Bluetooth audio feature.
The Bose Connect app helps two to connect in stereo at once! Now that you’ve seen my selection process, I hope you can now choose for your needs an excellent buskers amp!