Top positive review
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Compact Powerful and Versatile
on August 29, 2012
The Roland Cube-40XL is a great little amp that packs a punch. It features a wide selection of high-quality Roland tones and effects. A few of my favorites include the awesome JC Clean sound, the legendary R-Fier, and a surprisingly sweet tweed tone, among others. The chorus effect is nice (but mono), as is the tap delay. There are two styles of reverb, spring and plate. The spring reverb perfectly reproduces the mechanical reverb you find on some tube amps, while the plates produce a smoother effect.
This amp features two independent Solo Channels, one clean and one lead, each of which can remember the effects you set. That's a very handy new feature I really appreciate. The built-in tuner can be used on a per-string basis, or optionally as a chromatic tuner. This was a thoughtful improvement.
The built-in looper was a sweet addition I've enjoyed, and have used it to perform some of my original tunes I couldn't have pulled off otherwise. You do need an extra Boss FS-6 pedal to use it, however. This is in addition to one FS-6 for clean/lead/solo, and another for effects. The pedals are not cheap, but well worth the expense. They are all, of course, optional, although if you intend to play live, you'll probably want at least one set. You could opt for pedals from another manufacturer, but frankly, I don't recommend it. The FS-6 pedals work perfectly for the Cube, can be configured for either latch or momentary operation, and can be chained together.
Typical Roland quality, this amp is made to last. I won't conceal the fact that I'm a big fan of Roland gear, and the 40XL doesn't disappoint. It's solid and road-worthy, not to mention stylish. I love its compact size. I can stick it in the window sill at the weekly jam I host, saving space for an extra amp on stage.
There are only a few minor drawbacks worth mentioning.
First, it's a little underpowered for gigging with a live band. That's not really surprising, considering its size. Having said that, I am still using it in a live band setting and it usually hangs just fine with the larger Fender amps. It's only when the volume gets way out of control that the Cube 40XL struggles a little. It's not really a fair complaint, since it's amazingly powerful and full sounding for such a small amp, but it's worth noting.
Second: It is, of course, a digital amp. I'm not a tube purist, by any means, but there's a difference. The Roland modeling, however, is second to none. This thing is a tone monster. It's still not a tube amp, but that's not a big deal for me. Some people can't get past the digital stigma. Personally, I think it sounds killer, tubes or none. YMMV.
Finally, I wish this thing had a line out for a second speaker or amp. If I could plug this baby into my old amp, I wouldn't have to worry about the power issue. It DOES have a Recording Out/Phones jack, but this cuts the sound from the speaker (as it should for those purposes). Also, it would be nice to send a line out to the board, instead of having to mic it. But the tried and tested mic method works fine, so it's not a big deal.
One other thing about the Recording Out/Phones jack, the sound is MONO, which unfortunately diminishes the fantastic Roland stereo effects (like the chorus) when recording or listening through headphones. Though not a deal-breaker, it seems like a disappointing oversight.
Other than these minor nitpicks, I love my Cube 40XL. It's sturdy, powerful, versatile, and cool. It's perfect for practice, rehearsals, and small venues. All in all, another superb piece of Roland gear.
If you're looking for something a bit bigger, check out the Cube 80XL.