The flagship of Roland’s new Cube line, the 80GX features Clean , Lead, and Solo channels in a compact format with 80 watts of solid-state power driving a single 12″ speaker. Simple enough, but wait, there’s much more. Not only is the Cube 80GX a well-equipped combo for live gigs and recording, it also can function as an interface via its iCube link for using music apps on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (interface cable is included). The amp’s utility factor also expands when you download the free Cube Jam app that plays songs from your library and minus-one jam tracks, allows parts to be slowed clown (while staying in pitch), and also lets you record using the 80GX’s amps and effects.
For an amp with so many features, the Cube 80GX is quite easy to use. Buttons on the top panel select channels, and from there it’s a snap to add effects or make EQ adjustments. The clean sounds are excellent, and you can zone right in on that classic “Jazz Chorus” response or expand it in other ways by adding reverb (the vintage-style spring and studio-style plate settings both sound clear and reflective in their own distinct ways), delay like top delay pedal (the Tap function is highly useful), or one of the modulation effects, such as flanger or smooth, pulsing tremolo like the best tremolo pedal. Thanks to the well-voiced 3-band EQ, I found it easy to get good clean tones with humbucker and single-coil guitars.
The Cube 80GX’s well-implemented tones carry over to the lead channel where you have a wide selection of COSM amp models to choose from. There’s even an Acoustic model, which can pinch-hit for an amplified flat-top if you need that sound. For classic tube tones, there are a lot of ways to roll here, as the selector knob rotates between Fender-like sounds (Black Panel, DLX Reverb, Tweed) and janglier tones (as in Brit Combo), to the increasingly heavy artillery that you can deploy on the Classic Stack, Metal, R-Fier, and Extreme settings. The third channel, Solo, is a programmable function that can be configured with any of the amps and effects (as well as EQ and volume settings) for instant switching into whatever kind of sound you might want to preset–from ultra clean to heavily effected to super sustaining.
We tested the Cube 80GX with the optional GA-FC foot-controller ($119 street), which switches channels and activates effects, and even has two expression pedal inputs for controlling gain and volume settings. A switcher is a pretty essential item for live performing, so it would be nice if Roland shipped the Cube GX amps with even a basic unit that could simply toggle the channels and turn the effects on and off.
The Cube 80GX (which has the exact same features as the 40-watt Cube 40GX and just a couple more than the 20-watt Cube 20GX) could be a great choice for working players who need one amp that can cover a lot of bases and also function as an interface with iOS devices for practice, jamming, etc. The new Cube models also strut a clean and purposeful look with their metal grilles, rugged corner protectors, and block-style logos, all of which will help to make them an attractive option for a lot of players.