Thanks to their full-range sound capabilities and multiple input options, many acoustic guitar amplifiers have been called miniature PA systems. That has never been so true as with Roy, a top-of-the-line package from Schertler, the Swiss maker. Dubbed a “combo amplifier for acoustic instruments,” Roy (an anglicization of roi, French for “king”) is actually way more than that, packing a huge number of features into a surprisingly compact enclosure. I tested it with a Babicz Identity, a Fishman-equipped Lanikai ukulele, a Carvin bass, and a Neumann TLM 127 to mic up vocals and other acoustic instruments.
Our review Roy features Schertler’s Anthracite enclosure—a rugged, durable gray finish that seems like it could handle any gig-related abuses. (An elegant, living-room-approved wood cabinet is also available.) The front shows the two 8-inch speakers, the 1-inch horn tweeter, and the port residing behind the sturdy metal grille. But the top panel is the real showstopper, with its array of jacks, knobs, buttons, and effects matrix. And just in case you were still thinking that Roy is playing around, it says right on top, “class-A high-voltage preamp, no integrated circuits, no NFB.” No negative feedback? Roy for the win!
I carried Roy into my studio, which is a little more challenging than it sounds due to the amp’s nearly 50-pound heft. I needed to choose one of the seven channels for my Babicz jumbo. Channels 1 and 2 feature XLR inputs and 1/4-inch insert jacks, so I went with channel 3, which, like channel 4, also gives you a handy 1/4-inch instrument input. I turned the volume up and strummed a chord and was instantly pleased with the big, full sound—definitely more muscular than the amp’s size might suggest. The tone was great with the three-band EQ set at noon, but things got sweeter when I bumped the lows and highs a touch. Louder volumes brought on some low-end feedback, and that’s where the handy Reson (as in resonance) switch and knob come in. They allow you to attenuate low feedback at either 150 or 240Hz. This proved very effective at keeping my big sound under control.
Now I was rolling. I grabbed my channel’s reverb knob and added a little bloom. It’s a really good-sounding reverb, reacting nicely to subtle picking and not getting washy with hard strumming. Figuring that if one effect is good, more are better, I selected the Chorus+Delay preset and dialed it in with the Multieffect knob. Now I had a huge, produced sound that really filled the room. This particular delay is set at 150ms, but, if you can live without chorusing, you can choose from 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, and 800ms echoes. Other effect highlights include the medium-speed flanger and the Voice Doubler—a sweet delay/reverb.
Bear in mind, this is all just one instrument in one channel. Roy is capable of way more than that. I plugged my ukulele into channel 4 and didn’t do anything but add a little ’verb for a perfectly gig-worthy tone. Adding the Neumann to channel 1 and engaging the 48v phantom power switch, I selected the Voice Doubler effect, slathered a little reverb on top of that, and sang a uke arrangement of “Daydream Believer” that my cat seemed to really like. As a bonus, channels 1 and 2 feature a semi-parametric EQ for even more precise tone sculpting.
Getting back to the mini-PA idea, I plugged my trusty 1980s Carvin bass into the 1/4″-only channel 5. Now, two 8-inch speakers—subwoofers though they may be—can only handle so much low end. But the fact is, it sounded great. I could absolutely see Roy ruling a coffeehouse gig with guitar, bass, and two (or more) vocals. If you really want to maximize things, you can add an external subwoofer from Schertler for even more of a full-range system.
The last thing I did was aim the Neumann at a few other acoustic instruments (including my cherished 1930 Martin 0-18) and blast them through the Roy, all with stellar results. This got me thinking about the flexibility and potential of this compact powerhouse. You could have several instruments and vocalists, all with effects and EQ. You can run backing tracks, drum loops, and more through the stereo ins on channels 6 and 7. You can slap a compressor or EQ (or any other effect) across all channels with the global insert. You can interface with larger systems, allowing you to scale Roy into Super Roy. I don’t really play the kind of gigs that Roy is so great for, but this system is so smart and powerful it makes me want to book those gigs. Hats off to Roy!
AMP Seven channels, 400 watts; four XLR inputs, three 1/4″ instrument inputs, four 1/4″ channel inserts, one 1/4″ global insert, 1/8″ stereo-in, 1/4″ l/r stereo-in, XLR DI out, 1/4″ line-out, 1/4″ aux-out, 1/4″ headphone-out
SPEAKERS Two 8″ subwoofers, one 1″ horn tweeter
OTHER Reverb with decay and level controls, multieffect with mix and
level controls, semi-parametric EQ (chan. 1 and 2), low cut and mute buttons, 10v and 48v phantom power; 14″ W x 16.3″ D x 20″ H; 48.5 lbs
MADE IN Switzerland
PRICE $2,088 retail
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.