AIMING TO GIVE ACOUSTIC PLAYERS an ultra portable amplifier that can fill a room with quality sound, Fishman recently introduced the Loudbox Mini, which sports the same excellent sounding preamps found in the larger Loudbox series amps, but in a lightweight package that mates a 60-watt power stage with a speaker complement consisting of a 6w" woofer and a 1" tweeter. The Mini’s digital effects include reverb and chorus, each with a knob for adjusting the depth of the effect. There’s also an 1/8" mp3 input for jamming along with recorded tracks, a 1/4" auxiliary input, and an XLR direct out that mixes the signals from both channels to feed a P.A. system or recording console.
As with other Fishman amplifiers, the Loudbox Mini is easy to dial in and translates the sound of your instrument accurately and without the coloration that many acoustic amps often inflict. Tested with a Gibson J-45 Standard equipped with an L.R. Baggs Anthem system and a LAG Tramontane steel-string with StudioLAG electronics, I barely had to nudge the Mini’s tone controls from their center positions to get warm, clear tones that sounded like louder versions of these guitars played acoustically. No weird gating or compressed dynamics—just pure natural sound. Switching to a LAG Tramontane nylon-string guitar, all I had to do was trim the lows on the Mini a bit to make the overall sound a bit slimmer. The fact that you’d even have to reduce the lows speaks mightily about the ballisness of this little amp!
With the Gain about a quarter up, the Master pegged, the chorus off, and the highs rolled down, I also got satisfying jazz tones with both a semi-hollowbody Gibson Johnny A and a solidbody Larrivee RS4. You have to keep the Gain knob on the low side, however, as the Instrument channel can be driven into clipping pretty easily with standard humbucking pickups.
The Mini’s reverb is clean and spacious sounding, and it combines well with the chorus, which, even on its wettest setting, never sounds too effect-y. This amp is quiet, too; even with the Master fully cranked the hiss level is nil.
The Loudbox Mini is well configured for playing in smaller venues such as coffee houses, restaurants, or any other situation that calls for a compact amp that can give your guitar more reach while keeping its inherent voice intact. Owing to its smart design, careful matching of components, and welcome absence of notch filters, the Loudbox Mini successfully delivers the organic Fishman sound in a format that’s as easy on your back as it is on your wallet. For all it offers, the Loudbox Mini receives an Editors’ Pick Award.
CONTACT Fishman, (978) 988-9199; fishman.com
MODEL Loudbox Mini
PRICE $299 street
CONTROLS Instrument channel: Gain, Phase switch, Low, Mid, High, Reverb, Chorus. Microphone channel: Gain, Low, High, Reverb. Master (controls overall volume)
POWER 60 watts
EXTRAS Aux input (1/4"and 1/8"), Balanced XLR D.I. out
SPEAKER 6w" woofer, 1" tweeter
WEIGHT 19.4 lbs
KUDOS Surprisingly big sounding. Preserves your guitar’s tone. Ultra compact.