A full-featured combo amp for acoustic musicians
By Jon Chappell, Senior Editor, Harmony Central
When Fishman introduced the Loudbox Mini recently, it completely changed the look of Fishman acoustic amps. Gone was the business-like black in favor of warm earthtone hues of brown and beige, appealing
more to the aesthetic of the unplugged instruments it was serving. But the Mini
was more than just a cosmetic makeover. This compact amp had an incredibly
elegant design, great tone, and a loud, clean sound that belied its “Mini” moniker. How was Fishman going to improve on that?
By making it bigger, that’s how. Fishman is reversing the trend of starting high
and then releasing lower-end spin-offs by taking a successful platform and going
large. The Loudbox Artist appears to be, in footprint and dimensions, an exact
scaling-up of the Mini: It sports the same attractive color scheme and angles—
including the slightly up-facing ( 10 degrees) speaker baffle and control panel, the
beveled rear edge that contains the power switch, and the well-designed control
panel with its gracefully faceted knobs and firm-feeling switches.
In addition to being bigger than the Mini, the Artist has a more evolved two-channel design. The control layouts of the two channels are exact copies of each
other and include a full complement of controls. From left to right, each channel
features: a combi jack input (accepting either XLR or 1/4"), Pad switch/Clip Indicator
LED, Gain, Low, Mid, High, Anti-Feedback, Phase switch, Effect Level A, and Effect B
switch. Over on the right side are the more global controls: Effect A selection (Reverb
1, Reverb 2, Delay, Echo) with corresponding Time control, Effect B selection (Chorus
1, Chorus 2, Flanger, Slap Echo) with corresponding Depth control, Aux Level, Headphone jack (1/4"), Channel Mute switch (that suppresses the audio path from the
channels, but not the Aux Inputs), Tweeter volume control (a small, trim-pot-sized
control, so you don’t adjust it inadvertently), and a 24V Phantom Power switch.
The Artist’s back panel features Ins and Outs that make the unit quite versatile,
capably fulfilling the duties of both a direct box and a line mixer. Each channel
has an effects loop with separate 1/4" Send and Return jacks. Then there are three
XLR Direct Out jacks—one each for the two channels, and a Mix Out for the
combined channel sound. This is incredibly useful in a large live-performance
situation, where you need both a healthy stage monitor sound and a direct out
to feed to the main board. Rather than employing separate direct boxes, the Art-
ist’s Mix Out allows you to neatly deliver a pre-mixed sound if you’re using both
channels simultaneously. And you as the performer are assured that what’s going
to the board is the same as your carefully crafted stage sound—effects, and all. As
a bonus Fishman provides two Aux Input jacks on the back, a 1/4" and an 1/8"
mini stereo, for accommodating both mp3 players (and mobile phones) as well as
submixes from a more pro-audio-oriented device. What’s more, both can be used
simultaneously. Last but not least, there’s a jack that allows for a dual footswitch
muting of either channel (effectively giving you hands-free control over the
corresponding front-panel switch) or Effects B—handy when you want to selec-
tively bring in the modulation effects in different sections of the music (and also
corresponding to its front-panel counterpart). That’s quite a high degree of control.
Having two full-featured channels makes dealing with the Artist easier since you
don’t have to differentiate where each instrument or mic has to go with respect
to the inputs. This channel equality also increases versatility—you can bring two
mics, two 1/4" jacks, or any combination to the amp and not have to stop and
think about optimizing the instrument to its specific channel. Both channels
are agnostic and no adapters are necessary, so you don’t have to think about
effects-to-channel assignments, etc.—just plug in and go.
The Artist is also powerful— 120 combined watts ( 100 in the woofer + 20 in the
tweeter) vs. the Mini’s 60. The increase in power means that the Artist can easily
wrangle two simultaneously sounding sources for most small- and mid-sized venues.
I had no trouble getting my passive, low-output banjo transducer up to the levels of
my active-system acoustic guitars with headroom to spare. The Anti-Feedback control,
again, channel-specific and applied in heavier doses to the banjo than the guitar,
saved the day here too. The effects are well-placed, with all the ambient treatments
in Effects A, and the modulation and more “effecty” Slap Echo delay in Effects B.
If I needed a bigger amplification source for my one or two instruments plus vocals,
I’d probably be heading into small PA territory. Otherwise the Artist—with its controllability, connectivity, tasteful effects, and clear, loud sound—is all I need for my
acoustic gigs both small and large. Whether you’re a solo artist on a coffeehouse stage
or a multi-instrumentalist in a large ensemble, the Loudbox Artist fulfills your acoustic
amplification needs completely and elegantly.
For a great amp featuring high-quality sound, two channels, and a full complement
of tone-shaping tools and effects, check out the Fishman Loudbox Artist. Order
today from Musician’s Friend and get our 45-Day Total Satisfaction and Lowest
Features & Specs:
• Two mic/instrument channels accept 1/4" or XLR sources
• Input channels fitted with 3-band EQ and feedback controls
• Aux stereo input with 1/4", 1/8" connectors, and level control
• Dual digital effects section, with independent channel and
• Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Delay, Echo, and Slap Echo
• DI (balanced XLR outputs on each input channel and main mix)
Loudbox Artist PRO-LBX-600 Acoustic Combo Amp
H75605....................................MSRP $769.15 $49995
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