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more... VideosAmpsGearReviewsAcoustic AmpsApril 2009Fishman

Fishman SoloAmp Review

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“It’s a P.A. and an amp… there’s no need for separate wedge monitors.”

Those statements from Fishman’s promotional materials were enough to get my attention. In essence, it’s a product designed specifically for performing singer/songwriters—a truly portable line array system combining everything you’d want at a gig, including sufficient bass, but without the boat anchor sub. With a Summer NAMM 2008 “Best in Show” award under its belt, not to mention the expected comparisons to the Bose L1 system, the SoloAmp comes with high expectations.

Out of the Box
The portability of the SoloAmp is amazing— everything fits in one case, including the speaker stand. Weighing in at 35 pounds altogether, a packed up SoloAmp is 43.5” long, 7” wide and 14.5” high. The case is well-padded and fairly sturdy, with big plastic clips and a thick plastic zipper that seems ready for the rigors of gigging. My only knock on the case is a greedy one—I would have liked an expanded compartment with room for mic and guitar stands, as well. The case’s long shape makes it a bit tippy when trying to roll it with its built-in wheels, but hey, the fact that it has wheels shows Fishman’s commitment to making the gigging musician’s life easier.

The set up is very slick. I tried it once just to get the feel for it, and then I timed myself. On my second try I went from completely cased to totally set up in 55 seconds, and that was with me struggling with the clips on the case a bit—it could’ve been even faster. The speaker stand has markings on it telling you where to set it. You put that on the ground, the amp on the stick, plug it in and you’re done. It really couldn’t be any easier.

Mission: Controls
The controls on this amp are great. It is basically a two-channel mixer with very versatile inputs and outputs. Each channel has an XLR or 1/4” input, a gain control, High, Mid, Low EQ, an Anti-Feedback Knob (notch filter), a 10dB pad, a phase switch, a Reverb Level with four different reverbs to choose from, and a button for 48V of Phantom Power. Other controls on the front include a Master Volume, a Monitor and an Aux knob (mp3 or CD player), and a Mute switch.

The Anti-Feedback knob is “Ph.D.” simple (push here, dummy)—you need no knowledge of notch filters or parametric EQs to put it to use. You can reduce low-end rumble or remove a bothersome frequency by playing around with the knob until the feedback is gone or the tone is more pleasing.

The back panel is loaded with output options. Each channel has an effects send and return. There are pre-EQ outputs for each individual channel, allowing you to send clean signals from each channel to separate channels on a front of house mixer or a recording device. There is also a Main Mix DI out, which sends a post-EQ mix of channels 1, 2 and the Aux input. The Mute button does not affect this input, so you can play music on your break. The Aux knob on the front panel controls the level of the Aux Input. The Monitor In/Out allows you to connect two SoloAmps together and hear as much or as little of the other SoloAmp as desired with the Monitor knob on the front panel. There also is a Tuner Out, a jack for a Mute Foot Switch and a Tweeter Level knob.