Review: Mesa/Boogie Rosette 300/Two Eight

After nearly 50 years of creating stellar amplifiers for guitar and bass, Mesa recently turned its attention to acoustic instruments with the introduction of the Rosette 300/Two Eight combo.
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After nearly 50 years of creating stellar amplifiers for guitar and bass, Mesa recently turned its attention to acoustic instruments with the introduction of the Rosette 300/Two Eight combo. As the name implies, the Rosette packs a 300-watt class D power amp and a 2 x 8 speaker configuration with a 1" dome tweeter in a sealed-back cabinet. The unit is quite compact at 13.25" tall x 18" wide x 12.25" deep, and an easy carry at 30 lbs.

The Rosette’s channels are basically identical, except that the upper Mic/Pickup channel carries both XLR (balanced, P-12 phantom powered) and ¼" pickup inputs, while the second channel has just one ¼" input. Derived from high-end recording consoles, Channel 1’s XLR Mic input uses a dual-discrete transistor pair for the differential input to provide lowest noise and optimal tone with low-impedance microphones. Conversely, channels 1 and 2 feature identical current-source-biased FET input stages because high-impedance pickups require the noise-voltage specification to be the first consideration for optimal performance and tone.

The gain range on both channels can accommodate a wide range of passive or active instrument pickup systems, while the back panel affords myriad direct-output options courtesy of a trio of XLR jacks and accompanying switches (see Specs for details).

Selected by a 3-way mini toggle on the front, the onboard effects consist of reverb + chorus, room reverb, and hall reverb. Three Parameter controls allow you to adjust the depth and delay time of the reverbs, and vary the speed and intensity of the chorus. Since their labels are non-specific, you have to play around with knobs or reference the user manual to understand how they impact each effect, but with some experimentation it was easy enough to tailor the sounds to suit the situation. An FX Send knob adjusts the overall effects level, and it’s nice to be able to boost the sounds enough to really make them stand out—and without elevating the noise floor beyond the modest amount of hiss that’s noticeable when the Master Volume is turned up to 2 o’clock and higher.

The Rosette’s expansive EQ features active Bass and Treble controls, a Hi-Pass Filter, and semi-parametric “Low Mid” and “High Mid” sections, each with Gain and Frequency knobs. Available on both channels, it adds up to a complement of controls that lets you dial-in instrument and/or vocal sounds to your heart’s content, and likely achieve what you want to hear.

As with any acoustic amplification system, there’s always the possibility that some instruments will sound better than others. For example, a fiddle player I work with who runs his Zeta electric violin through a Fishman SA330x system, found it difficult to get a similarly “flat” sound from the Rosette. But with some time spent honing the Rosette’s EQ settings—generally keeping the Low Mid and High Mid Gain controls on the low side and adjusting the Frequency knobs to fine-tune the tones for a flatter response—we obtained very satisfying results with a variety of guitars, including a Taylor 512 with ES2 electronics, a Martin D-28 with a DiMarzio Black Angel soundhole pickup, and a Gitane D-500 “gypsy jazz” guitar with an internal contact pickup. Along with plenty of clarity and presence, the Rosette maintained a nice representation of the instruments’ unamplified sounds. On one gig with the Martin D-28 in a high-strung configuration, the guitar sounded gorgeously chiming though the Rosette at a volume that kept right up with the band’s fairly loud bass, drums, keys, and fiddle—and with no feedback problems either, even while sitting quite close to the amp. This may have also been due to using the -6dB setting on the Tweeter Level switch, which smoothed the high-end and made it easy to obtain the right balance of crispness and girth.

All considered, the Rosette 300 Two/Eight is a welcome addition to the Mesa line, and with its smart features, abundant power, and convenient size and weight, it’s an amp that any acoustic-electric player should hear.

Rosette 300/Two Eight

PRICE $999 street
CONTROLS Channel 1: XLR mic and ¼" pickup inputs, Mute switch, Phase switch, Gain, FX Send, variable Hi-Pass Filter (40Hz to 200Hz), active 4-Band EQ controls (+/- 12dB of Bass, Low-Mid, High-Mid, and Treble) with sweepable Low-Mid (150Hz-1,800Hz) and High-Mid (300Hz-5,000Hz) Frequency controls. Same functions for Channel 2, except with one ¼" pickup input. Global effects selector: Reverb + Chorus, Room Reverb, Hall Reverb. Three Parameter controls. FX Master and Master Volume.
POWER 300 watts
EXTRAS Speaker output jack, Tweeter Level switch (Off, Flat, -6dB), ¼" headphone jack, ¼" Mute and FX Bypass Footswitch jacks (footswitches not included), FX send and return jacks, ¼" TRS aux input (line-level mono/stereo). Three XLR direct outs: Ch. 1+2 post EQ/FX with Line/Mic and Ground-Lift switches. Ch. 1 and Ch. 2, both with independent Pre/Post, Line/Mic, and Ground-Lift switches.
SPEAKERS 2 x 8", 1" dome tweeter
WEIGHT 30 lbs
KUDOS Clear sound. Powerful EQ. Lots of signal routing options. Light and portable.

Rosette Acoustic DI-Preamp

Bringing The Rosette’s extensive feature set into a stompbox format must have presented some challenges, but the full-featured Acoustic DI-Preamp ($299 street) packs an impressive array of functions in a convenient package measuring just 5.5" x 8" x 2". Powered by a 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter, the device packs Input and Boost Level controls, variable Notch and Hi-Pass filters, and active 4-band EQ with two semi-parametric Mid controls. There are also footswitches for Boost and Mute (the latter automatically routs the signal to a Tuner output), an FX loop, ¼" and balanced DI outs, a balanced Preamp out (w/level control), ground-Lift switches, and a Source switch with pre-EQ and post-EQ settings.

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In operation, the DI-Preamp sounded excellent running into a P.A. or a guitar amp with my Martin D-28 fitted with a DiMarzio Black Angel pickup. It’s very quiet too, thanks to having identical FET-based high-impedance circuitry found on the Rosette combo. The DI-Preamp does not have a low-impedance XLR microphone input, nor does it have onboard effects or a headphone jack. As it stands, though, the DI Preamp is certainly well equipped for studio use, or as the “heart” of a custom live-performance acoustic system.