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AER Acousticube IIa Amp

In the few weeks I got to live with the AER (Audio Electric Research) Acousticube IIa, I came to appreciate the refined sound, musicality and rugged build of this tiny 120-watt dynamo, which unlike many popular archetypes of portable sound boasts something analogous to an authentic high-fidelity bandwidth. Furthermore, by digitally regulating the excursion and gauss rate of the speaker, AER is able to achieve exceptional efficiency and bass response from its diminutive 8-inch coaxial speaker system. So while the Acousticube IIa is not the last word in volume, it produced more than enough distortion-free gain for any of the acoustic-scaled situations I tossed its way.

Of its two independent channels, channel one features a special input for straight feeds from a passive piezo device, plus a line input, while channel two features an XLR-1/4-inch combination input which doubles as a symmetrical mike input (with a 48-volt phantom power supply) and a straight line-level input for sources with active preamps and magnetic pickups. And how does it sound? Mostly what I noticed was that I didn’t notice much of anything. The Acousticube IIa doesn’t really impose a subjective electronic artifact on your sound, and by carefully manipulating the pan and return knobs on its 100-voice digital processor, one is able to add discrete brushstrokes of ambient color without degrading the purity and transparency of the amp’s taut, neutral acoustic. Employing a Gibson L-4 with traditional humbuckers, I was able to achieve an exceptionally clear, balanced sonority-a bit polite, perhaps for these vacuum-tube ears, but jazz guitarists looking for a smooth, sweet, conservative portrayal of an undistorted amplified acoustic box will positively plotz.

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