The 5 Best Busking Amps (2021) – Advice From a Busker

Busking amps have to be sturdy and loud, yet light enough to transport. You also need to consider if you want one with an internal battery or if you’re happy to power it with an external one.

I’ve got quite a lot of experience with busking amps. If you’re just starting off, then I’d highly recommend getting one with an internal battery. It’s a bit awkward to power them externally, and the price can add up when dealing with power supplies and inverters.

I’ve put together a list of 5 of the best busking amps on the market today. My top pick is the Roland Street Cube EX, with Bose S1 at the close second place.

However, if you’ve got the budget, then I’d highly recommend checking out AER amps as they are among the best I have ever heard on the street.

The 5 Best Busking Amps (2021)

1. Roland Cube Street EX
Our Top Pick - Louder and with more inputs than the original Cube Street
2. Bose S1
Runner Up - A very decent busking amp with an internal battery from a great brand
3. AER Compact Mobile2
Pro Option - One of the best busking amps available. AER sure know how to make a great amp!
4. Roland BA 330
Versatile 6-channel amp with large speakers
5. Roland CUBE Street
The classic busking amp, it’s small and versatile

Let’s go through them a bit more detail.

1. Roland Cube Street EX

Our Pick as the Best Busking Amp
The higher-powered version of the hugely popular Roland Cube Street model, with more input options
View Price at Guitar CenterView Price at Sweetwater

Roland Street Cube EX is the latest of Rolands busking amps. The Street Cube is by far the most common amp I ever see buskers use. To be honest, the sound of these is certainly not world-class, but they are very decent.

This amp has switchable power (10, 25, and 50W) and is equipped with two XLR combo jacks and a pair of TRS inputs (which can be used for mono or stereo sound). You could use these for many different purposes. For example, you can easily hook up a microphone, a guitar, and an additional backing track all at once.

It can be powered by either an included power supplier or with 8xAA batteries, which can give you up to 20 hours of playing time. If you’re going to use this regularly on the street, then I highly recommend that you buy a set of rechargeable batteries from a good brand. These can last for years, and they are way more cost-effective than buying disposable batteries.

Pros

  • 2 XLR inputs (e.g., for mic and guitar) and a pair of line inputs (e.g., keyboard or backing track)
  • Three built-in effects: Chorus, Delay and Reverb
  • Ability to connect several of these amps together for better power
  • It’s far louder than the regular Roland Street Cube (non-EX version).
  • It can run on batteries.

Cons

  • It may be more than you need—the lower-powered Roland Street Cube (non-EX version) can be good enough for smaller outdoor spaces.
  • Sound quality not quite as good as pro amps by brands such as AER
  • It uses AA batteries (I would recommend getting rechargeable ones and a separate charge).
Battery Power: up to 20 hours
Power: 50W
Weight: 7.4 kg

You can also use reverb, delay, and chorus effects. As for the output, you have two mono ¼“ jacks, headphones out, and two footswitch inputs. This is a great-sounding amp that has enough power to give you a clean and nice sound when you’re on the street.

2. Bose S1

Another Very Popular and Capable Busking Amp
Great sound quality in a portable amp from a very well-respected brand
View Price at Guitar CenterView Price at Sweetwater

Bose is a household name in the audio amplifier industry and this amp lives up to their brand. It comes with two separate channels, which both have their own EQ. They also include ToneMatch technology, which can automatically even your tone and give you automatic EQ if you need one. You can set each channel to settings for voice or instrument.

Pros

  • Great for using as an amp for vocals and guitar
  • Nice effects and amp modeling options
  • Very compact and light, but still can be quite loud when required
  • Can run on batteries or a via a power adapter

Cons

  • Only 5W of power (but it’s still quite loud on the street)
  • It doesn’t have as much headroom as some of the higher-powered amps on this list.
Battery Power: 11 hours
Power: 150W
Weight: 6.8 kg

The S1 is powered through a power cord or a Li-Ion battery, which is rechargeable and gives you up to 11 hours of playing time in a go. The output power is 150W, so you don’t have to worry about volume when playing. It also has a USB-B input for service use if you need one to recharge the battery.

3. AER Compact Mobile2

One of the Best Busking Amps Available
AER sure know how to make a portable amplifier, but they're not cheap!
View Price at Amazon

I’ve been extremely impressed by the quality of AER amps that I’ve heard on the street. They’re not cheap, but these guys really know how to make a great-sounding amp!

This amp is designed for a combination of guitar and vocals, with one ¼” input and one XLR combo input. It also includes an AUX which is useful for backing tracks. You can also choose from four different effects to up your sound when you play.

Pros

  • Great for using as an amp for vocals and guitar
  • Nice effects and amp modeling options
  • Very compact and light, but still can be quite loud when required
  • Can run on batteries or a via a power adapter

Cons

  • Only 5W of power (but it’s still quite loud on the street)
  • It doesn’t have as much headroom as some of the higher-powered amps on this list.
Battery Power: 3-4 hours
Power: 60W
Weight: 14 kg

The battery gives 3-4 hours of playtime. This is lower than some of the other internal batteries on the market, but again, you’re getting really high-quality sound from this amp.

4. Roland BA 330

A Versatile 6-channel amp with large speakers
If you need more inputs then this is worth considering.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

If you’re in need of a portable amp with more channels, the Roland BA 330 is a great pick to consider. It has up to 6 channels, with 4 stereo channels or 2 stereo and 4 mono channels. With it, you will find EQ, reverb, delay, and wide effects.

Pros

  • Great for using as an amp for vocals and guitar
  • Nice effects and amp modeling options
  • Very compact and light, but still can be quite loud when required
  • Can run on batteries or a via a power adapter

Cons

  • Only 5W of power (but it’s still quite loud on the street)
  • It doesn’t have as much headroom as some of the higher-powered amps on this list.
Battery Power: 10 hours
Power: 30W
Weight: 14 kg

It works on AC power or 8xAA batteries. There are 4 speakers in it and it has 10 hours of working time in it. You can also connect two of these and get more channels at the same time and more speakers as well. It’s perfect for people who need more channels and has more sounds than just the voice and one instrument.

5. Roland CUBE Street

The Classic Busking Amp
The Roland Cube Street punches well above its weight as a 5W speaker, there's a reason this is so popular among buskers.
View Price at Amazon

Cube Street is the original version of the first item on the list. It is a really small compact amp with lots of options, but it still can be quite loud. It has two channels, with one TRS and one combo XLR jack. You can also use 6 effects and 5 amp modelings. It works on 6xAA batteries or a power adapter.

Pros

  • Great for using as an amp for vocals and guitar
  • Nice effects and amp modeling options
  • Very compact and light, but still can be quite loud when required
  • Can run on batteries or a via a power adapter

Cons

  • Only 5W of power (but it’s still quite loud on the street)
  • It doesn’t have as much headroom as some of the higher-powered amps on this list.
Battery Power: 12 hours
Power: 5W
Weight: 5.2 kg

Street Amplifiers—Important Things To Know

Battery-Powered Amps

There are two main types of batteries. They can be either rechargeable built-in batteries, which are usually the best option, or disposable AA batteries.

If you’re buying an amp that uses AA batteries, you should consider getting rechargeable AA batteries and a charger, since it is much more cost-effective in the long run.

The main benefit of getting an amp that uses separate batteries is that you can have separate ones ready to go and power it for longer.

How To Power Amps Without Internal Batteries

If you don’t have internal built batteries, you will need to buy a battery and an inverter such as the BESTEK 500W Power Inverter.

This is a machine that converts power from the batteries you put into it and gives it to the amp through a cord. The batteries it uses can be either a large lithium polymer battery or a deep cycle, sealed lead-acid (SLA) battery. You will also need a charger for the battery.

Sound Quality

When busking, you need good sound quality and a good volume level. This is because a lot of times you’re out on the noisy street and you need to bore through the noise to get your music out. So, apart from being light, busking amps need to have nice and large speakers as well.

Weight and Portability

Busking often requires a lot of walking, so you should only get an amp that’s big enough for your needs. If the amp is still too large for you, you can always get a case with wheels or a trolley to help you move around with it and your instrument at the same time.

Reliability

Busking requires playing in outdoor conditions, so the amp might get rained on or be dropped many times! To keep your amp safe from the weather, you can always buy a bag to keep it in and help you protect it.

Also, busking amps should be sturdy in build with thick walls ready to take the bumps and weather on.

Summary

When looking for a good busking amp, you should look for an easy-to-transport amp with good battery life and the best sound quality possible. The Roland Street Cube EX is a great option, whereas, if you have a larger budget, I’d recommend checking out the AER Compact Mobile2.

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