Top 5 Best Mini Amps 2020:
- Roland CUBE Street Amp
- Marshall MS-2 Battery-Powered Mini Amp
- BOSS Katana Mini Amp
- NUX Mighty Lite BT Mini Amp
- Pignose 7-100 Legendary Mini Amp
Mini guitar amps are often not taken seriously by guitar players but instead thought of as toys. That is a common misconception, and all of you who believe this is true should think again!
The best mini amp is not only portable & inexpensive but also offers all the features you need to practice at your home or on the go. I have tried out many and found five shockingly big-sounding mini amps for you to consider.
What is so great about all these amplifiers? Stay tuned, and you will find out!
5 Best Mini Amps In 2020: Detailed Reviews
1. Roland CUBE Street Amp – Designed for home & street
If you’re looking for an amp, you can use for home practice and bushing – Roland CUBE Street amp is right up your ally. It is a solid-state, battery-powered amp that features a rugged yet portable design – perfect for playing on the go. Unfortunately, it is not the cheapest unit out there, but quality always comes at a specific price, doesn’t it?
The straightforward controls are located on top of the amp for easy access. You have three EQ controls (bass, middle and treble), the FX and delay/reverb rotary controls, gain, and volume controls, and COSM amp models control. There is a separate mic control section on the left side of the control panel, and it includes volume control, 2-band EQ (bass and treble), and delay/reverb.
Cube Street offers 5 watts of power and quite a few features, especially considering its size and price. There are two high-performance 6.5″ neodymium speakers housed in a modern-looking black case. Weighing around 15 pounds and measuring 20 x 13 x 11 inches, it is a compact and light amp that you can carry around. Thanks to 15 hours of battery life, it is ideal for street performers too.
Cube Street has excellent modeling potential that derives from eight different COSM amp models and six onboard digital effects. Performers who sing and play at the same time will also appreciate two channels with both XRL and 1/4″ microphone inputs. There is an auxiliary input for MP3 too. The perks do not stop there, though; this model features a built-in chromatic tuner and comes with an AC adapter too.
- Eight COSM amp models and EQ controls
- Satisfactory range of effects
- Stereo sound is noticeable
- Ideal for practice and performers on the move
- Portable and reliable
- No foot pedal control for the onboard effects
2. NUX Mighty Lite BT Mini Amp – Micro amp that does not sacrifice tone and versatility
NUX Mighty Lite BT amp is a tiny device that weighs only 2.25 pounds and measures 6.5 x 3.9 x 4.9 inches. As a result, it is ultra-portable and ideal for players on the move, but you can use it for home practice as well. Three watts might not make it the most powerful mini amp on my list, but it still manages to live up to much bulkier acoustic at a much lower price.
It stands out mostly due to the intuitive companion app and Bluetooth connectivity, which makes it versatile and easy to use. It is easy to power as well – you can plug it in, let it run on AA batteries, or connect it to the USB power bank. The plastic casing might not be top quality, but it feels rather sturdy and is sure to withstand a few bumps here and there.
Regardless of its micro size, the Mighty Lite BT offers all the controls. On the top section, there are gain, volume, and tone knobs, a delay/reverb dial, and three buttons to control voicings, drum tracks, and switch between tracks. The available app allows you to modify the sound even more as well as add modulation effects to the signal.
There are both the aux and headphone inputs so you can practice with any backing music you choose or in complete silence. There are some downfalls as well; the sound lacks volume and can feel a bit weak and boxy, but it could be expected for an amp as small as this. You lose some; you win some.
- Increased tonal flexibility
- Saves your presets for individual channels.
- Double as a standard speaker
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Decent reverb and delay
- The app offers additional modulation effects
- A metronome helps you stay in rhythm
- Boxy, weaker sound without an upfront punch
- Lacks the volume
3. Marshall MS-2 Battery-Powered Mini Amp – Small, cheap, and portable but mighty
Marshall MS-2 mini amp is an ultra-mobile micro stack amp ideal for playing while out and about. The controls are limited and thus simple to operate too. There is an input jack for your guitar, an on/off switch that serves to toggle between channels as well and two knobs for volume and tone control. Even in this small format, you will get the famous Marshall’s OD channel.
This miniature amp looks like a standard-size Marshall stack and has the same excellent build quality you would expect from a renowned brand such as Marshall. Although it weighs a mere 0,75 pounds and measures only 2.4 x 4.3 x 5.5 inches, it offers more than enough power to serve its purpose. I know that 1 Watt of power might not be much, but MS-2 manages to deliver a high-quality tone nonetheless.
Even at high volume, the battery should provide enough power to hold a decent practice session. The unit also has a headphone jack for silent practice when you want to avoid disturbing your neighbors. A belt clip enables you to hook this amp to your belt while playing too.
As I have already mentioned, MS-2 delivers almost the same quality of sound as some bigger Marshall brothers. Of course, the sound is a bit thinner, but never hard to the ears. Even at 1 Watt, you can still use this amp for busking and get the volume you need. It is an excellent choice if you are on a tight budget.
- Weighs only 12 ounces
- Both battery and mains operated
- Offers full Marshall tone
- Switchable Clean and Overdrive channels
- Can be clipped onto a belt
- A single tone control
- A headphone output
- A 9V DC power adapter is not included
4. Pignose 7-100 Legendary Mini Amp – Simple, stylish and functional
Rather affordable, Pignose 7-100 mini amp features a unique look and boasts an even more recognizable quality. Weighing about 4.5 pounds and measuring 7.8 x 5.6 x 11.2 inches, it is easy to carry with you and practice whenever you feel inspired. It is the simplest unit on my list, but is that a good thing or a bad thing?
All Pignose portable amps have the same problem or advantage – it depends on your point of view. Namely, the controls are limited to the on/off switch and a volume knob. Consequently, if you want to be able to shape your tone, you will have to use the volume knob on your guitar and open up more gain. You might find this inherent simplicity extremely limiting, or appreciate it, it is up to you, but I have to add that both the price and performance of 7-100 make up for it rather well.
The Legendary 7-100 offers 5 Watts of power via a well-voiced 5 Inch speaker at the front. It is battery operated, but you can buy the AC adapter and use it with this device too. The pre-amp port on the back of the amp makes the Pignose Legendary 7-100 fairly versatile.
The tone this unusual amp produces is so detailed that you can easily make a mistake and think that you are listening to an all-tube amp. Unfortunately, once you record the tones with the preamp out, they lose their quality somewhat. If you are a fan of a vintage vibe, this is an amp of your dreams!
- Bang for the buck value
- Unique design
- Simple controls
- Preamp out jack
- Easy switch between clean and dirty tones
- Vintage tone quality.
- It can be attached to a standard guitar strap
- Lack of modding potential
5. BOSS Katana Mini Amp -Ultra portable amp suitable for all music styles
Boss Katana Mini is an ultra-compact amp that goes wherever you want to go practice playing. It weighs only 2.65 pounds and measures 4.2 x 2.7 x 3.7 inches but offers 7 watts of power that guarantee loudness when you need it.
Katana Mini is a battery-operated unit and can last you up to nine hours of non-stop play on a single charge, but you can buy an optional AC adapter for added convenience as well. It is one of the most versatile amps on my list thanks to three different amp types (Brown, Crunch, and Clean), built-in tape delay, 3-band analog tone stack, and a multi-stage analog gain circuit.
It boasts an Aux input to connect to your phone or laptop and choose a favorite backing track straight from your smartphone and almost all the controls you would typically see on the standard size amplifier. There are knobs that enable you to choose the amp type and control the gain and volume. You can also use the EQ controls, as well as bass, middle, and treble knobs. They have even found a place to add time and level knobs.
This little powerhouse produces almost the same Katana sound as its much larger counterparts. It might not be as loud, but the sound will definitely be bigger than what you expect from such a compact device. Thanks to the EQ controls, you’ll be amazed by all the details and expressiveness as well.
- Compact & lightweight
- Bigger and richer sound than you expect
- The authentic multi-stage analog gain circuit
- Three-band analog tone stack
- Three amp types: Brown, Crunch, and Clean
- Built-in tape-style delay
- The AC adapter must be bought separately
How To Choose The Best Mini Amp
New generations do not like to be tied down to one place; they are out and about exploring the world around us. As a result, the market is overflowing with portable gadgets, and mini amps are just a part of that trend.
It is not easy to choose an amp that will fit all your needs, especially in a market that is overflowing with seemingly almost identical amplifiers of different brands and prices. So, where should you start?
The initial step should always be defining the criteria, so I have done this for you.
The first choice you need to make is to choose between getting a basic or feature-packed amp. Both of these types have advantages:
- Basic amps are not only small but also easy to use, thus making your practice effortless. You do not have to waste precious time trying to figure out complicated controls and settings – you simply plug in your guitar and start doing your magic.
- Feature-packed amps are normally more expensive and more complicated, but they give you a more extensive choice of settings that can further enhance your playing skills as well as boost your creativity.
The choice is on you, all that matters is that you enjoy your practice and can improve your skills while having fun too. Here are a few more things you should consider before making a purchase:
1. Power Output
- The power of a mini amp is measured in wattage. The rule of thumb is – the larger the wattage number, the more power your mini guitar amp has. Typically, mini amps offer from one to five watts of power, and therefore you can choose a device in this range that best suits your needs.
2. Input Options
- Mini amps are made to be portable, and it is thus highly important that you can connect them with your other mobile devices such as your phone or laptop and be able to play along with your favorite artist.
- When you are on the go, you often stay at hostels or camping sites, and you do not want to disturb the people around you. For this reason, your mini amp needs to have a headphone line in too. Headphones will allow you to carry out silent practices no matter where you are or how many people are around you.
- An RCA input can be useful, too, as it allows you to connect the amp to your speakers.
3. Onboard Effects
- Regular-sized guitar amplifiers offer a plethora of built-in effects, but most mini guitar amps are limited in this regard. Nonetheless, there are some models of micro guitar amplifiers that will offer at least some onboard effects such as overdrive channels or a tape delay effect. If you would like to have the advantage of using such effects, make an effort to find a unit that has them but also be prepared to pay a few extra dollars.
4. Power Supply
- Most mini amps are battery-powered, but some can also be plugged into the mains as an alternative. In my opinion, it would be best to buy an amp that has both options since that would eliminate the need to mind the battery life while you are at home or in a hotel.
- Mini guitar amplifiers are not designed for loudness, and thus you should not expect them to be able to fill your room with a loud sound. They are not suitable for performing with your band either. Some mini guitar amps will be louder than others, though, and some will even be loud enough to perform live in front of your friends or for busking, but that’s it – for anything more than that, you must buy a proper amp.
6. Tonal Range
- The best mini portable guitar amp should have a lot of tonal range. What does this mean? It means that you need an amplifier that offers you some control over gain tone and shape. Customizing the sound settings gives your music another dimension, and will, in time, make you a better performer as well.
The amps I have reviewed are some of the best mini amps you can currently find on the market. You now must consider why you need the portable amp and then choose the right one for you.
My guide should provide you with a head start in your quest to find the best mini guitar amp, but I will go a step further and list my favorites.
Roland CUBE Street Amp is an excellent solution if you are a player on the move or a street performer but also the most expensive amp on my list.
If you value mobility over everything else, choose Marshall MS-2 Battery-Powered Mini Amp. It is not only the smallest and the lightest unit I have reviewed but also an amp that delivers a high-quality tone you are sure to enjoy.
Finally, the amp that balances price, quality, and performance the best is BOSS Katana Mini Amp. It has all you need to simply plug in your guitar wherever you are and start playing your music.