Price paid: A$ 649
Purchased from: Roland clearance sale
Sound: I use an Ibanez SR505 which has Bartolini active pickups.
When I first plugged in, I was expecting a fairly decent sound, and I was actually amazed at how good the thing sounded. With a bit of tweaking of both the bass's and the amp's EQs, I was able to dial in tight, fast sounds and classic tones and slap tones (well, as much as I can slap and pop!) and it did it all very well. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it sounded. It was the same sort of feeling I got when I heard my Vox AC30 in the flesh for the first time - "damn, this sounds good!" All in all, I am very impressed with the sound, given what I paid for it. I have found no flaws yet.
The tonal variety is good - the 8 amp models add a stack of variety. Some of the models aren't great, but some are. The digital effects sound satisfactory, not that I really use them other than to check them out.
I daresay a lot of the sound quality comes from the bass itself, but boy do these two work together well. I can say that the amp sounds great with a decent bass plugged into it. All in all, this is a very good sounding amp. // 7
Reliability & Durability: This amp has never once done anything untoward. Admittedly, I haven't thrashed it, but it's never been anything other than perfectly reliable. I also own the Roland Cube 60 guitar amp, and they are as reliable as each other. I've gigged the 60 and it's never failed. Based on Roland's reputation as a quality manufacturer, I don't expect this amp to ever go awry. It's solid as a rock and the knobs are well-built and tight. // 7
Overall Impression: Now, I was vary of rating this amp too highly - after all, I own two very good amps so I do know what a good amp sounds like. And this amp is in a different category to a Vox AC30, but even so, I had a bench mark for quality, with the Vox being a 9.5/10 amp.
My overall impression of this amp is very favourable. It's well built, it sounds very good and it's very easy to use. After playing bass for about a year solidly (and sporadically for around 5 years prior to that) I feel that I can judge this fairly well. I am very impressed with this amp.
If I lost it, I probably would replace it with the same thing. I can really only say that about my Vox - my other Cube would probably get replaced with a 10 W Fender amp or something, if it came to it. But I have no intention of getting rid of this amp.
I compared this amp to other 100 W solid state amps, like the Fender Bassman 100, the Fender Rumble 100, the Peavey TKO 115s, the Kustom KBA 100X, the Ibanez SWX100 and Hartke A100. I found that none offered same value for money, sound quality, level of features or build quality as the Roland. I used a Fender Precision bass to test them, but I would imagine that would hold true for more or less any bass guitar.
In conclusion, this amp is a real performer. It's great, without being brilliant, and I genuinely think it's the best value for money bass amp you can get. It's a perfect bridge between someone who is looking for an upgrade, or someone with a bit of extra cash to burn who can afford something a little nicer to learn with. I would recommend it to just about any amateur bassist, as either a primary or backup amp, because it is reasonably cheap, built like a tank, simple to use and sounds very, very good. Go and try one out today. // 8