From the January 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY BILL LEIGH
After more than 45 years of creating powerful electric guitar amps, Mesa has trained its focus on pro-level acoustic amplification with the Rosette series. Compact and portable at an arm-friendly 30 pounds, the Rosette 300/Two:Eight combo amp features two input channels, two eight-inch drivers and a dome tweeter in a sealed enclosure, a class-D power amp driving 300 watts into the internal 4-ohm speaker load, and a cavalcade of sound-shaping and connectivity options. For the player who goes direct, Mesa also offers the Rosette Acoustic DI-Preamp. For its first-ever acoustic products, Mesa has aimed high, crafting what it hopes to be comprehensive, professional amplification solutions for acoustic musicians.
Aside from recent class-D bass amps, Mesa is largely known for its powerful tube amps for electric guitar, so the solid-state Rosette series marks a significant departure. Behind the scenes, the company has tinkered with acoustic products off and on for years, but the addition of designer Andy Fields, who has a decades-long background as a pro-audio preamp designer and front-of-house engineer for acoustic acts, has helped Mesa realize a long-held vision for acoustic products of superior accuracy and build quality.
MESA ROSETTE 300/TWO-EIGHT COMBO AMP
Operating from the assumption that acoustic instruments are already well-crafted sound projection systems conveying complex harmonic content, Mesa’s primary aim in designing the Rosette 300/Two:Eight combo amp was accurate sound reproduction rather than enhancement. Accordingly, Mesa chose high-end recording architecture and components. Instead of a dual-purpose combo jack with a single input stage for microphones and pickups, Channel 1 has separate jacks for XLR microphone and 1/4-inch inputs, each with its own dedicated input stage, with components selected from the recording console tradition.
Aside from Channel 1’s dedicated mic input, the two channels are identical and can be used simultaneously and muted independently via the mini-toggle switches or optional footswitch. On the back panel, three separate direct output XLR jacks—one for each channel and one blending both channels—offer flexibility for interacting with house PA systems. All three outputs have ground lifts and toggle switches for mic or line-level signals, while the two individual channel outputs can bypass the onboard EQ so the house signal isn’t dependent on the Rosette’s tone-shaping settings.
Four bands of EQ are present for precision sound shaping. The low-mid and high-mid bands have sweepable frequencies, helpful for quickly finding and eliminating feedback. The Rosette also offers two other quick feedback-quashing tools: a phase switch and a high-pass filter control for taming low frequency resonances. The effect loop’s FX Send knob completes the set of channel controls, and the effect loop can also be toggled via optional footswitch. The Rosette offers three onboard reverb effects as well, including reverb with chorus. Three knobs control the effects parameters like chorus speed and intensity, reverb time, and low- and high-pass filters. Though the function of the parameter knobs was more manual-dependent than intuitive, I found them helpful in achieving natural-sounding reverbs that provided sweetening while preserving articulation and preventing muddiness.
Mesa thought of everything. The mic input provides always-on phantom power to condenser microphones, and the back panel includes a headphone output and an auxiliary input for playing external music sources. The marine-grade Baltic birch cabinet construction is robust and handsome, as are the durable brown leather handle and matching leather corners. An extendable bottom leg allows the speakers to be angled upward.
I achieved rewarding results playing through the Rosette combo with several guitars, including the rich overtones and bright, chiming sonorities of a pair of Taylor 12-strings. The 300 faithfully represented my distinctly darker-toned Leach Kirby, a smaller-bodied acoustic with rich lows and a sweet top end, conveyed through an L.R. Baggs Lyric microphone pickup. And the amp brought forth each instrument’s unique character, with lively dynamics and house-filling sound. The sweepable low-mid and high-mid EQ was especially helpful in bringing out pleasing properties and subtracting less desirable qualities.
MESA ROSETTE ACOUSTIC DI-PREAMP
Mesa’s emerging acoustic amplification efforts also yielded the rugged Rosette Acoustic DI-Preamp, a low-profile DI box and preamp designed for acoustic players who go direct. With its sturdy metal chassis, the Rosette DI-Preamp’s stompbox format features a mute footswitch that silences all signals except the tuner output, and a boost footswitch with a dedicated boost volume knob for setting a solo level. Like the Rosette combo amp, this full-featured compact unit has four bands of EQ with two bands of sweepable mids, a phase switch, and a high-pass filter, plus an added notch filter for controlling errant frequencies. What sets apart the smaller Rosette from its peers are its output options, including both a mic-level XLR direct out with a pre- or post-EQ toggle out for going to the PA, and line-level balanced and unbalanced preamp outputs with a top-mounted preamp level control for plugging straight into a power amp. The DI-Preamp sounded clean and clear, with a handy toolkit of helpful EQ controls, a notch filter, and a clean boost, all in a small, sturdy package.
The impressive-sounding Rosette 300/Two:Eight combo amp and DI-Preamp both represent significant new professional quality tools for acoustic musicians. We should all be pleased to welcome Mesa to the world of acoustic.
Mesa Rosette 300/Two:Eight
AMP Two-channel solid-state preamp with 300-watt class-D power amp and switch-mode power supply
SPEAKERS Two 8-inch speakers (internal 4Ω load) with dome tweeter
OTHER XLR mic input, headphone output, AUX input, onboard effects, effect loop, slip cover
EXTRAS Optional footswitches for channel mutes or FX loop bypass
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MADE IN USA
PRICE $1,149 street
Mesa Rosette Acoustic DI-Preamp
MADE IN USA
PRICE $299 street
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.