I was once asked to perform a wedding gig on a beach with no access to an electrical outlet. I reluctantly sprung for a battery-powered amplifier, and sure was glad I did, because it totally saved me. After the gig, I lent the amp to a street musician and never saw it again—but that’s another story.
If you’re a busker, singer-songwriter, or other performing musician, you’ll probably run into a situation where you wish you had a battery-powered amp. That’s where a smart new amp from Fishman—the 60-watt, two-channel Loudbox Mini Charge—can help.
AC AND DC
The new amp is essentially a rechargeable, battery-powered version of Fishman’s very popular Loudbox Mini. I own a Mini, so I decided to compare the two amps. Their front panels are almost identical. The first channel on each has a quarter-inch input jack, gain knob, phase button, three-band EQ, and two knobs for dialing in amounts of reverb and chorus. The second channel has an XLR input, gain, two bands of EQ, and a reverb dial.
The Charge adds a Bluetooth-pairing button that will tether your wireless playback device to the amp, with output level control coming from the Master volume. The simplicity of the Charge is great for a quick setup, but may have drawbacks for those who require more flexibility. For instance, the second channel, designed primarily for vocal use with its XLR input, has only low and high EQ adjustments. And the reverb and chorus effects sound decent, but are not adjustable beyond setting the ratio of wet to dry signal.
The rear panels of the two amps differ slightly in that the Charge deletes the regular Mini’s quarter-inch input, while keeping the 1/8-inch auxiliary input and an XLR DI output.
Both Minis have Fishman’s characteristic clarity and sparkle, but the Charge sounds a little warmer to my ear. The Charge offers plenty of volume for playing on a street corner or in a small club, and if you need more volume, you can always send the DI signal from the amp to a PA system. Fishman claims the amp will last up to four hours at full volume or 12 hours at normal volume on a single charge, which can take up to ten hours using the wall charger. I played through the Charge for a couple of hours and did not notice any deterioration in the sound.
At a modest 21 pounds, and in a compact size, the Charge offers a warm, clear sound for guitarists needing volume and portability.
AMP Two channels, 60 watts; 3-band EQ on channel 1 and 2-band EQ on channel 2; Inputs: 1/4″ (ch. 1) and XLR on (ch. 2); Output: DI out
SPEAKERS 6.5″ woofer and 1″ soft dome tweeter
OTHER Bluetooth connectivity; phase control; 1/8″ aux input; Effects (reverb and chorus); AC adapter; 12″ x 13.7″ x 9.7″; 21.2 lb.
OPTIONS 12-volt car charger; deluxe carry bag
PRICE $499.95 (street)
MADE IN China
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This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.