BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA-BASED ZT Amplifiers has stirred the scene in recent years with its ever-expanding line of compact, powerful solid-state amps. Housed in cabinets made from a dense, molded material that affords seamless corners, these small amps all benefit sonically from a design that allows the speaker to work effi ciently without wasting energy on vibrating the enclosure itself.
The Lunchbox Acoustic is a very compact amplifier that offers independent instrument and mic channels, an effects loop and variable line out, and even the ability to switch voltage for overseas travel. About the same size as something you’d pack sandwiches in, the 200-watt Lunchbox Acoustic is well made and features such high-quality details as a plate-aluminum back panel, gold-plated jacks, and even a metal “roll bar” to protect the rear-mounted headphone line out Volume control. ZT has done a good job of putting everything together in a way that does not feel cheap, and the result is an amp that should hold up well over time.
The Lunchbox’s sole 6.5" speaker may not seem capable of pushing a lot of SPL, but that’s where the savvy design comes into play, because this amp produces a remarkably full and balanced sound at impressive volumes. Tested with a Yamaha NTX1200R acoustic-electric nylon string, a Taylor GS Mini with ES-Go soundhole pickup, and a PRS JA-15 archtop, the Lunchbox delivered warm, clear tones, with no discernible coloration. And, no matter how hard we pushed it, the well-implemented limiter kept any clipping at bay without squashing dynamic response—even with the Gain turned all the way up. The reverb sounded natural and smooth, working equally well for instruments and vocals.
This all makes for a very satisfying experience with the Lunchbox Acoustic. With minimal EQ tweaking, the tones produced with the Yamaha and Taylor guitars sounded a lot like the unplugged acoustic sounds of those instruments. And when going for a jazz vibe with the PRS JA-15, all I had to do was roll down the tone control on the guitar a little to get a clear and well detailed brown sound. We even got Pink’s guitarist Justin Derrico to do some shredding through the Lunchbox Acoustic, using a Way Huge Green Rhino Overdrive II pedal and an MXR Carbon Copy delay to elicit a fat sustaining lead tone.
The only issue we had with the Lunchbox Acoustic concerned its Feedback Cut circuit, which—probably due to ZT’s intent that it not affect tone—did nothing we could detect to mitigate feedback on any of its three active settings. Other than that, the Lunchbox Acoustic is an impressive performer with a lot to offer anyone seeking a “minimal footprint” amp for gigs, practice, or recording.
CONTACT ZT Amplifiers, (510) 704-1868; ztamplifiers.com
MODEL Lunchbox Acoustic
PRICE $399 street
CONTROLS Instrument channel: Gain, Bass, Treble, Reverb. Microphone channel: Gain, Bass, Treble, Reverb. Master volume, 4-positon Feedback Cut switch.
POWER 200 watts
EXTRAS 1/4" and XLR Mic inputs w/phantom power. Mini jack Aux In, Effects Loop, Headphone/ Line Out w/level control, External speaker jack, Voltage selector
WEIGHT 11.7 lbs
KUDOS Clear, accurate sound. Ultra compact. Smart features.
CONCERNS Ineffective Feedback control.