What’s the Best Busking Amp on the Street Now a Days?
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.
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!
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.
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.
For wireless output, this channel can also be connected to a phone or a laptop via Bluetooth. For busking, the cabinet itself may be turned back, placed as a panel on its side, set flat on a level surface or mounted 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!
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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. For condenser microphones, also, phantom power is given.
JBL even included a port for USB charging and a cradle for your choice of the phone! The six high-frequency drivers of 2′′ are located in a compact line array placed above the 8′′ sub. 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.
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My Choice For Best Buskers Amp Is…
After reading countless feedback, playing Roland CUBE Street with my nephew, and reviewing the Bose S1 Pro thoroughly, I’ve decided that the Bose S1 Pro is the perfect busking amp for my needs. The S1 Pro offers sufficient battery life for street-side sets worth more than a full day, and also gives me plenty of versatility for setup.
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 have seen my selection process, I hope you can now choose for your needs an excellent buskers amp!
Busking Amp Feature Comparison
|Roland CUBE Street||Roland CUBE Street EX||Bose S1 Pro||JBL Eon One Pro|
|Speakers||(2) 6.5″||(2) 8″ and (2) 2″||(1) 6″ and (3) 2″||(1) 8″ and (6) 2″
|Power (RMS)||50 Watts||50 Watts||Not Published||250 Watts
|Weight||11.5 lbs||16.4 lbs||15.7 lbs||35 lbs
|Effects / Reverb||Yes||Yes||Yes (Reverb Only)||Yes (Reverb Only)|
|Battery Type||(6) AA||(8) AA||Internal Lithium Ion||Lithium Ion
|Number of Channels||2||4||3||7|
|Battery Life||15 Hours||20 Hours||5 Hours||6 Hours|
|Roland CUBE Street||Roland CUBE Street EX||Bose S1 Pro||JBL Eon One Pro|