Ratings

Pros:
Freedom to have good, amplified-acoustic tone literally almost anywhere. Bluetooth connectivity and XLR DI are very useful components.

Cons:
USB connectivity would’ve been nice, but I’m not complaining.

Street:
$499

Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge
fishman.com



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Anyone remember when a battery-powered Pignose was just about the coolest new thing? It didn’t matter how the “legendary” amp sounded, because, well, wireless portability is awesome. Fishman’s new Loudbox Mini Charge is essentially the company’s well-established Loudbox Mini, but with rechargeable lithium-battery power that’s said to offer up to 12 hours of playing time. Sure, there are plenty of battery powered amps on the market, but so many seem toy-like and don’t boast performance-worthy tones. This little amp easily fills a room with impressive acoustic tone and 60 watts of muscle behind it. And that opens up so many options: be it playing an off-grid ceremony on the Black Rock Playa or a pop-up snow-bar show in Vail’s Outer Mongolia Bowl.

Like its standard-powered cousin, the Charge has two separate channels (instrument and mic). The 1/4" guitar channel has a 3-band EQ plus reverb and chorus, and it treated me to warm, crystal-clean, and loud sounds that challenge sense, given the footprint and power source of the LMC. The punch, definition, and weight behind the bass truly defies the amp’s 6 1/2" driver. Still, I’ve owned Fishman amps, so I wasn’t that surprised with the great sounds coming my way. It’s the whole package that really impressed me. At just a click over 20 pounds, it’s truly a testament to how far amplification and battery technology have come in terms of weight/power/size ratios.

The sparkling clear XLR vocal channel (with separate reverb dial) only adds to the seemingly unlimited scenarios for this getup. It’s not inexpensive, but the Loudbox Mini Charge is absolutely ideal for the sophisticated busker.

Test gear: ’97 Dell’Arte Dark Eyes with Bigtone pickup, ’77 Washburn W600 with L.R. Baggs iBeam active system, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4, Audio-Technica ATM650