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Fishman Loudbox Artist

May 15, 2012
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Evolving out of the Loudbox Mini and 100 platforms, the new Loudbox Artist steps things up with 120 watts of power and an expanded feature set in a lightweight package that measures 13.5" high x 15.5" wide x 11.5" deep. The amp has two fully independent channels, each with XLR and 1/4" inputs, 3-band EQ, antifeedback and phase switches, and a complement of controls for the DSP. Effects are selected with two controls: Effects A toggles between reverb 1, reverb 2, delay, and echo—Effects B chooses chorus 1, chorus 2, flanger, or slap echo. The “A” effects are active on both channels but you can independently adjust their mix via a pair of level knobs. Other controls include Time (delay and reverb) and Depth, which adjusts the intensity of the modulation and slap-echo effects. A pair of buttons labeled “Effects B On” assign the modulation and slap-echo effects to either or both channels.

Using Breedlove Voice Series Concert and Yamaha A3M guitars, I got satisfying tones very easily by starting with the amp’s EQ controls at their mid (flat) settings, and then using minor tweaks on either the guitar or the amp to obtain an optimal response. The Loudbox Artist sounded particularly sweet with the Breedlove guitar—which has only a volume control—and I only had to set the amp’s knobs for a bit of bass boost and midrange cut to get a full and wellbalanced sound.

The Artist’s bi-amped power stage (which pumps 100 watts to the woofer and 20 watts to the soft-dome tweeter) provides excellent headroom, and Fishman’s attention to preamp design, EQ, output stage, cabinet, drivers, etc., enables this system to put out a lot of clear, detailed sound without the annoying midrange honkiness that is often heard from acoustic combos. I also found the Tweeter Level control to be handy for situations where less treble is desired, such as when using the amp with an electric archtop for jazz.

The Loudbox Artist’s abundant volume potential is limited mainly by feedback, and that can be dealt with effectively on either channel with the phase switch and/or the Anti-Feedback control. The latter is particularly useful for eliminating low-frequency howls: Simply raise the volume until feedback occurs, and then sweep the active channel’s Anti-Feedback knob until it vanishes.

The Loudbox Artist’s reverbs, delays, chorusing, and flanging cover the bases for most applications, and you can also patch outboard effects into both channels via the two series loops. On the whole, the effects are quiet and have an organic quality that makes them fun to use. There’s not much to tweak either: only the duration of the delay and reverb, their mix level, and the depth of the modulation and slap-echo effects. You get six repeats max from the pristine-sounding delay, while the echo is lower-fi with fewer repeats, and slap-echo is self-explanatory. The two hall-like reverbs differ mainly in depth, the two choruses provide slower and faster rates of swirl, and the flanger has a nice swooshy character but isn’t too over-the-top for acoustic use.

All considered, the Loudbox Artist is a welcome addition to Fishman’s amplification line. It has the power and features to handle pretty much any performing situation, and would be a great choice for acoustic steeland nylon-string players, singer-songwriters, jazzers, and anyone else that needs an amp with excellent clean range and a variety of useful tonal options.

Specifications

CONTACT Fishman, (978) 988-9199; fishman.com

Loudbox Artist

PRICE $499 street
CHANNELS Two, with combination mic and 1/4" inputs
CONTROLS Channels 1 and 2: Pad switch w/clip LED, Gain, Low, Mid, High, Anti Feedback, Phase switch, Effect A Level, Effect B on/off switch. Global controls: 4-position Effect A selector, Delay/Reverb Time, Aux Level, 4-position Effect B selector, Depth, Phantom 24v switch, Channel Mute switch, Tweeter level, Phantom 24v switch, Master Volume
POWER 120 watts, bi-amplified
EXTRAS Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Delay, Echo, and Slap Echo. XLR DI outs and effects loops for both channels. Mix DI out (XLR). Stereo Aux inputs (1/8" and 1/4"). 1/4" Headphone jack
SPEAKER 8" woofer, 1 soft-dome tweeter
WEIGHT 25.5 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Clear, natural sound. Excellent features. Well-implemented effects.
CONCERNS None.

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