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Looking for portable amp on tight budget

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Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby zan1976 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:59 am

Greetings experts! Noob here so bear with me.

I am looking for a portable amplifier for outdoor street performances of two types: the one will be a marionette show, which will involve playing recorded music, so I suppose a simple RCA input connecting to my phone will suffice. The other will be live guitar and singing.
The budget is around 150-200 euros. I know it's not much but we are unemployed right now due to covid and this is all we can afford.
I should say that I am very interested in the quality of sound, especially bass. One of the marionettes plays the double bass, and this sound is a very important element of the performance, I wouldn't want it to sound distorted. Come to think of it, the other marionette plays a music box, high frequencies are also important! I wrote the music, so I feel very strongly about it! :D
I have come across two options:
http://eshop.dt-electronics.gr/index.php?id_product=4901&controller=product&id_lang=1

by ibiza, which is not a very respectable brand, but I have used them before and they're not bad.
and
https://www.thomann.de/gr/roland_mobile_cube.htm
by roland, which many street musicians use, but I'm not sure what bass can come out of such a small woofer.

So I have 2 questions:
1. Which of the two would you suggest? But PLEASE share your own suggestions, too.
2. What specification should I look for sound quality? I thought it was frequency range, and Ibiza has 80-20,000Hz (couldn't find it for the roland), but then I found this 3" woofer little thing https://www.thomann.de/gr/ik_multimedia_iloud.htm that has 50 - 20,000 Hz and I thought that maybe there's something I don't understand.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby resistorman » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:59 pm

From personal experience, I can recommend the Behringer MPA40 in the lower price range, the Street Cubes have no bass to speak of, I tried their bass amp and it was pathetic. My wife had the guitar version and it sounded like cardboard.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:33 pm

Not a fan of the Roland Street Cubes here either for much the same reasons. If you already have amplification that works you are probably better to spend on a means of powering that off grid. I bought one of these last year which works well, though C19 has meant I haven't used it on a gig yet. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B072FPVDWN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:31 pm

Looking at the spec of the Berry resistor man suggests it definitely looks ok for the price, if RM has personal experience then I'd agree that is sounds like an option too.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby zan1976 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:21 pm

I dunno man, the first review on Thomann is dreadful... It doesn't sound like something that would serve the guitar-vocals setup and the quality of materials was poor (battery, knobs). Do you think maybe he got a defective unit?
Any other suggestions maybe? Or perhaps pointing me to the specs I need to look out for on my research?
I do have an active speaker (Ibiza, similar to the one I posted) and it has been suggested to use a powerbank, but portability is also an issue. From what I've seen a powerbank that can produce enough juice may be as expensive as the speakers we're talking about, am I mistaken in this?
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:38 pm

The Behringer is only £170 in the UK so it ain't going to be built like a QSC but you have to moderate your expectations if you are buying cheap and cheerful kit. I have a couple of Bose S1 Pro's, nice little speakers but the bass is only adequate (not a problem, I won't be using them for hip-hop discos) and the were 3 times the price of the Behringer. They have proved to have issues with draining the battery when, supposedly, switched off so even expensive kit us not immune from problems.

The powerbank I linked can supply 200 watts so is more than enough to power a couple of decent PA cabs and should run your Ibiza speaker for a couple of hours at least. But, as you say, they ain't cheap. The other alternative is to buy an inverter and a car battery, you'll probably get more power/runtime but at the cost of weight and loss or portability. Or just buy the Ibiza battery powered speaker as you have experience of their mains powered kit.

TBH the only way you'll know if it meets your needs is to try it, most places (certainly Thomann) have a no quibble return policy on mail order so you can return it for only the postage costs if it doesn't;t do the job.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby AlecSp » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:26 am

The sad truth is that you'll get to choose good *or* cheap - not both....
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby resistorman » Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:10 am

I forgot to mention that I have 2-Bose S1 Pros myself and they almost seem to defy the laws of physics. But the Berry at 1/3 the price sounds very respectable in comparison.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:14 am

Sam Spoons wrote:... The other alternative is to buy an inverter and a car battery, you'll probably get more power/runtime but at the cost of weight and loss or portability....

Actually, you don't need a car battery... They're designed to be able to give the high-current 'kick' needed to turn the engine as it starts. I've found that a 'Leisure Battery' as fitted to caravans etc is perfectly suited to this kind of portable amplification application. It's a few years since I bought one, but I recall that it was cheaper than a car battery. You can also get carrier-devices to make them easier (but not easy!) to move about.

Random Leisure Battery Supplier: https://advancedbatterysupplies.co.uk/leisure-batteries-uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwwOz6BRCgARIsAKEG4FXUpm7Oj50yc3wJAhtgwl7l5DtRoFtSFA67VF-WbVeeR7R-nNPRh18aAiKBEALw_wcB


And while I'm here... I've just bought one of these: https://www.avsl.com/brands/qtx/product/178.860UK-pal8-portable-pa-unit-with-bluetooth-and-led-fx for less than £60. Surprisingly competent and versatile. Come with handheld VHF radio-mic, Bluetooth connectability, various powering options incl. onboard rechargeable battery, dynamic mic/guitar input - and can be carried easily in one hand. Oh! It's also got a 35mm socket for standard speaker stands.

Important point: The LED lighting effect can be turned off! :lol:

HiFi/Pro it ain't, but for the money... :thumbup:
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:18 am

I bought a qtx unit for busking a while back. As you say, it's not HiFi but does a good job for the money, even with electric bass and kick drum.
It might actually do the job for the OP (not sure why i didn't think of it earlier), i'll go find a link.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:25 am

Hmm. Looks like the one i have has been superseded, but it was the older version of this: https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Li ... tooth/1160
Was about £160 when i got mine so was able to include a wireless headset mic and a simple 3-way TS mixer for less than £200. Also powered from a normal IEC lead.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:46 am

Mike Stranks wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:... The other alternative is to buy an inverter and a car battery, you'll probably get more power/runtime but at the cost of weight and loss or portability....

Actually, you don't need a car battery... They're designed to be able to give the high-current 'kick' needed to turn the engine as it starts. I've found that a 'Leisure Battery' as fitted to caravans etc is perfectly suited to this kind of portable amplification application. It's a few years since I bought one, but I recall that it was cheaper than a car battery. You can also get carrier-devices to make them easier (but not easy!) to move about.

:thumbup: A Leisure battery is a better choice, a car starter battery will supply the same amount of energy but will be less happy about being regularly run down than a 'deep cycle' battery (AKA Leisure Battery). 'Tis all to do with the design of the plates I believe and even leisure batteries are better not drained below about 40-50% capacity too often.

I have a little Epiphone Valve Junior, 5 watt all valve guitar combo that I converted to run off a 7AH sealed lead acid battery and an inverter. It works a treat and runs for about 2 ½ hours off a charge.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Stratman57 » Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:23 pm

Plus 1 for the Behringer MPA40, I bought one for an outside theatre production and it handled music and sound effects, including some thunderclaps, (it was a Shakespeare play), very well.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby zan1976 » Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:54 am

Hello friends, sorry for not replying, a lot has been going on.
I was considering the Ibiza again, but the retailer told me this: "you need a mixer if you want to plug in the guitar! Otherwise, you will burn it. It needs a preamp. Everyone plays the instrument differently so you might burn the cone if you play too loud and the guarantee doesn't cover it". And stuff like that. She didn't sound like she knew her sh!t, she kept saying "that's what they told me from the firm". Is this true? Would a DI do the trick perhaps? Or is this simply bull?

This is the speaker
http://eshop.dt-electronics.gr/index.php?id_product=4901&controller=product&id_lang=1

I should also mention that I've tried playing in the active, plug-in speaker I already have and it worked fine! "It worked fine" means that I didn't burn it, but doesn't mean I won't in the long run, right? This one:

http://eshop.dt-electronics.gr/index.php?id_product=4372&controller=product&id_lang=1&search_query=ibiza+slk+10a&results=239

Is there a difference between the two, that makes it ok for the one and a no-no for the other? Is there something in the guitar that should be considered?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Looking for portable amp on tight budget

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:00 am

You won't 'burn the cone' by plugging a guitar into a mic input but it will distort very easily and distortion could damage the tweeter. A passive DI might work to reduce the guitar signal to mic level but, as the unit doesn't have phantom power, an active DI will not work.
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