Cube-20XL review by Roland

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  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (29 votes)
Roland: Cube-20XL
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Price paid: £ 180

Sound — 8
It's very easy to be dismissive of solid-state/modelling amps, but for 200 notes, you have to admit that the XL20 is packed with features, and delivers a respectable sound. It packs a reasonable punch, but with just an 8" driver, perhaps unsurprisingly it loses clarity when you start to crank the volume. As a small busking/micro gig/practice amp. (which in my opinion is where this product is pitched) it's great. And the combination of a gain and master volume more akin to those of a valve amp do a fair job of replicating the features of bigger (and far ore expensive) amps. 

I use it mainly as a practice amp. The preset tone shaping can come over as a little "electronic", almost buzzy, sounding. But without too much effort and a tweak of the 3-band EQ there's a good, rounded and forceful tone to be had. There's very little noise even at higher volumes, and the built in tuner, effects loop and headphone outputs are all handy. I am rating this for what it is - a £200 mini cube amp.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had this amp for ~2 years now - it gets used most days, and has been faultless. It's very solidly built with a sturdy metal front grille. It's easy to transport, and the ruggedised corners and inset controls will help protect it against knocks and bumps. I'm not one to go about abusing my kit, it's very precious to me, but after two years regular use there's absolutely no sign of wear and tear. Roland would probably disagree, but in my humble opinion it's not really designed for gigging, although it would just manage in my (very small) local! I'd have absolutely no issue with the build quality if it were.

Overall Impression — 8
I play a whole mix of genres, with perhaps a leaning towards the blues/rock end of the musical spectrum. Whilst the XL20 has a host of features - compression/overdrive, reverb/delay, chorus/solo, I find I rarely use most of them - the amp tends to stay on one or two of the predefined shapes with a touch of extra bass in the EQ, and it delivers what I need. I find the headphone jack particularly handy when practicing late at night and I need to avoid disturbing others!

Into this I mostly, but not exclusively, plug a Schecter Raiden special - a bass that is in a class beyond its price-point. If it got nicked, yes, I'd get another - it fits my needs for a practice amp very well. For serious gigging, you want a more serious amp!

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