What are the “Best” Amps for Busking?

Choosing the right amp for your act can be intimidating for a new street performer, and still pretty confusing for an old one.

The amp that’s right for you will depend on your act (guitarist? singer?) your budget, how much weight you want to carry, how loud you want the amp to be and so on. Put simply, when busking, no matter what your act is, each amp has its own benefits and compromises. There is no single amplifier which will suit the needs of all performers.

To help you out, I’ve written an honest review for 28 of the most popular (and best) amps for busking on the marke, ranked from highest rated to lowest rated, and noted which are best depending on your needs/performance.

“All amps sound great until you get them out of the store!”

Beware the music store. Music stores are often designed to be the most beneficial environments for the performance of instruments and amplifiers. You can quite easily fall in love with your new amp as you carry it out the door, believing it to be the holy grail of awesomeness… but once on the street you want to cry with despair due to the now horrendous sound it’s producing.

“A 20 watt amp is NOT twice as loud as a 10 watt amp.”

Assuming that two amplifiers are identical apart from their power wattage rating, one amp would need to possess tenfold the power in order to be twice as loud; i.e. 200w is twice as loud as 20w. However, this is not a set rule, as many variables affect the volume produced by an amp.

Also, adding a second speaker, as some busking amp manufacturers have done, slightly improves the projection, but does not double the output volume. The only way that you can know how loud an amp will be is by testing it or by consulting others who have done so.

“Busking amps do NOT need to be rechargeable or take batteries.”

For the most part, the best sounding and best priced amplifiers tend to be those not designed as busking amps. However, mains-powered amps tend to be heavier and harder to transport.

Using an external power source, even when an amp has the facility to take batteries, is often the most economical way of powering your busking rig; this is especially true if you are using disposable batteries.

Confused? Then read my post on how to power amps (and which batteries to buy) here (coming soon).


About the Author

Zahra Lowzley, 30, has been a working busker for 15 years, session musician for 12 years, columnist for 3 years (Ukulele Rhythms), composer for film (Trainspotting 2), is the author of Theory of Opposition and Principles of Unity, and plays 30 instruments, including the balouka, bansuri, bouzouki, clarinet, djembe, dulcimer, erhu, glockenspiel, mandolin, mbira, melodica, pipe organ, saz, spoons, ukulele, xaphoon and xiao. Zahra is currently on a continuous 30 year tour to inspire unity – www.tour30.com.

Author’s Note:

I have either owned or street-tested all of the amps listed below. But, I currently use the Fender Rumble V3 40, powered with a 140w Solar Panel Array. These reviews are from a MUSICIAN’S perspective; if you’re a circle show performer or just use a backing track, you might disagree with the options below.


 THE BEST AMPS FOR BUSKING


Fender Rumble Bass Amps – Writer’s Choice

Fender Rumble Bass Amp, one of the best amps for busking out there.

Size: 8″ x 15″ x 15″ (20.3 x 37.9 x 37.9 cm) to 14″ x 19″ x 23″ (35.56 x 48.5 x 58.42 cm)
Weight: 5kg to 17kg
Power: 10-500 watts
Price: $99 (10w) – $599 (500w)
Battery Power: No
Buy on Amazon (USA) *

“The best platform upon which to build your sound for the money.”

Features: Variable – the 50w basically comes with nothing, the 500w has XLR output, effects loop, horn defeat, additional 8 ohm speaker output, overdrive circuit and 2 – 10″ speakers. Features change with the size of the amp you choose.

A bass amp? I hear you cry in horror.

Yes. In general, bass amps produce the clearest, most unprocessed sound true to the instrument that you can get. As long as you have a good pickup on your instrument, these amps will reproduce your sound flawlessly.

They come in a range of sizes to suit the intended use. The smallest 15w version weighs a mere 5kg. The largest of the range, the 500w, still only weighs 17kg. You might think this extremely low weight would reduce the bass response, but you will be pleasantly surprised, as they sound just as good as an amp 3x the weight.

The 20w version is loud enough for the average busk, whereas the 40w version will give you lots of headroom with the benefit of a larger speaker.

There are no effects on any of the amps in this series, but this is just as well, because very very few amps come equipped with effects worth bragging about. It is always a better option to choose a pedal, or pedals, which complement your musical stylings.

The Fender Rumble Bass Amps also have no input for a microphone, but again, this can be addressed with external equipment allowing you to increase the amount of inputs the amp has.

If your one concern is sound quality, then the Fender Rumble Bass Amps are the best amps for busking on the market.


Roland BA 330

Size: 26″ x 18″ x 18″ (66 x 45 x 45 cm)
Weight: 42 lbs (19 kg)
Power: 30 watts
Price: $599.00
Battery Power: Runs on 8 AA batteries
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“Great professional sound in an attractive package”

Features: Inset handle (so you can sit on it). The back panel features six channels, an equalizer and special anti-feedback control.

The Roland BA 330 is loud and crystal clear. With an inset handle, you can sit on it as you play without posterior discomfort (a.k.a. no bum hurt). The sound is at home in a professional setting.

You may find that you want to get an EQ pedal to extend its tonal versatility, but it is certainly a good platform from which to build. This is an excellent versatile amp. You won’t find a more versatile machine for the money!


Roland CUBE Street Ex – Best for Singer/Songwriters

Roland Street CUBE Ex, one of the best amps for busking for singer-songwriters

Size: 19″ x 13″ x 12″ (49 x 33 x 30 cm)
Weight: 16 lbs (7kg)
Power: 50 watts
Price: $499.00
Battery Power: Yes, 8 x AA
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“The ultimate (or at least the standard) buskers amp.”

Features: Very light and slim. Four independent channels; Audio in, Line in and two inputs for microphones. Four speakers (two woofers and two tweeters), a built-in tuner, 3-band EQ, reverb, chorus/delay and an audio output jack.

If you see a busker using an wedge-shaped amp, and you hear a great sound, they are most probably either using this amp or the discontinued Crate Limo. The Roland CUBE Street Ex is not as good tonally as a Fishman Loudbox Artist (see below), but for the price and portability you really can’t go wrong. It is light enough to carry comfortably, it’s easy to use and the wedge shape helps with projecting your sound – a sound that is both clean and natural.

Typically, this is the upgrade performers get after they had the Roland CUBE Street, its smaller brother (also see below). But, the Roland CUBE Street Ex is a vastly superior amp. However, it doesn’t project in noisy areas well. This is an expensive, entry-level kit.


Tanglewood T6 – Best for Electro Acoustic Guitarists

Tanglewood T6, one of the best amps for busking for electro-acoustic guitarists

Size: 13″ x 13″ x 11″ (34 x 34 x 28 cm)
Weight: 13 lbs (6 kg)
Power: 60 watts
Price: £499.00
Battery Power: No
Buy on Amazon (UK) *

“Awesome acoustic amp for the price”

Features: Clean, accurate sounds. Two channels (Mic/Line and Guitar), MP3/ Auxiliary input, built-in digital FX include chorus, delay, hall and plate, external FX loop, headphone output.

The amp for those whom considered getting the Fishman Loudbox Artist (below), but wanted to spend less time during the day playing with knobs. The Tanglewood T6 is not battery powered, but can easily be powered with an external battery pack and inverter.

The sound of the Tanglewood T6 is excellent, and has great connectivity for extending your sound to other powered speakers or to a PA system. The effects are useable but are very basic, you may wish you add your own pedals, but for the price this amp is a great basis for a great performance.

Tanglewood also offers the little brother the Tanglewood T3 (30w), also a fine amp but has much less low-end bass response. Even at ¼ volume the Tanglewood T6 is truly a great amp for cutting through on the street, regardless of how well populated the area is.


Fender Passport Venue – Best for Large, Musical Circle Shows

Fender Passport Venue, one of the best amps for busking for groups and circle shows

Size: 11″ x 29″ x 33″ (27 x 73 x 83 cm)
Weight: 50 lbs (22 kg)
Power: 600 watts
Price: $999
Battery Power: No
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“The world’s most versatile musical suitcase”

Features: Lightweight and compact, for what it is. 10-channel powered mixer, 4x XLR inputs, 2x ¼” instrument jacks, 1x ¼” stereo, 1x ⅛” stereo, built-in USB port, High EQ, Low EQ, volume and reverb for each channel, headphone output.

The suitcase PA that breaks into 3 parts to create a full system – two speakers and a main console unit. Convenient, portable, runs off batteries, has a somewhat overwhelming panel at first glance, but quickly becomes second nature to navigate around. Has the usual modern USB capabilities, and just simply gets the job done. Sounds are sonically impressive enough to support the audio backbone of any event. It would be excessive for the solo busker, but for large musical groups or indoor performances, this PA will not disappoint.

For those on a tighter budget, Fender also offer their smaller version of this PA, the Venue Conference (UK, US).


Fishman Loudbox Artist

Size: 13.5″ x 15.5″ x 11.5″ (34 x 39 x 29 cm)
Weight: 25.5 lbs (11.5 kg)
Power: 120 watts, bi-amped
Price: $574.95
Battery Power: No
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“Great acoustic amp, a battery powered option would be a dream”

Features: Light and portable. Really loud. Great control over your sound. Two channels (mic and other music equipment) that feature 3-band EQ with feedback controls, various effects, boasting combinable modules for reverb, chorus, flanger, delay, echo, slap echo. A lot of fiddling, but great signal.

The amp for those whom considered getting an AER (see below), but decided to go for a better, cheaper amp. It is not battery powered, but can easily be powered with an external battery pack and inverter.

The Fishman Loudbox Artist is favoured by professional musicians. Regardless of the performance setting, this amp will deliver the goods. It has the volume to take on most crowds, but is still portable.


Marshall AS50D

Size: 21.3″ x 16.3″ x 10.2″ (54 x 41 x 25 cm)
Weight: 35 lbs (15 kg)
Power: 50 watts
Price: $399.99
Battery Power: No
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“Great amp in a bulky package”

Features: Clean tones and brilliant highs. Two channels, Digital Chorus and Reverbs assignable to either or both channels, Microphone input, External FX loop.

This amp is a great acoustic guitar workhorse amp. Whatever you need to do, whether it is busking, gigging or recording, this amp has got you covered. It might not be the best sounding amp in the world but it is good enough for most listeners.

The biggest downside to this amp is that because of its shape, size and weight, you are not going to enjoy carrying this anywhere. Even putting it on a trolley is awkward due to its width. Having said that, the reason it is extra-wide is due to its two 8 inch speakers, which, once you have it in place, perform excellently.

Tailored specifically for the singer-songwriter, this amp fits well within that role.


Roland CUBE Street

Size: 19.5″ x 13.5″ x 11.2″ (49 x 34 x 28 cm)
Weight: 13 lbs (5.8 kg)
Power: 2.5 watts x 2.5 watts
Price: $299.00
Battery Power: Runs up to 15 hours on 6 AA batteries
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“Legendary, jack of all trades amp”

Features: Lightweight and easy to carry. Two channels (Guitar/Inst and Mic/Line), Built-in chromatic tuner, digital effects (Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo), mini jack for mp3 player, headphone output.

The most common answer to “what amp do you use for busking?”, the Roland CUBE Street is a mid-priced workhorse amp. It might not have the best sound (in fact, it certainly does not), but it is tough and will serve the needs of most street performers. The Roland CUBE Street has more features than you can shake a chapman-stick at, and is the go-to for the busker on a budget for good reason; it gets the job done. Note: it’s better for the singer-songwriter than the instrumental musician.

The Roland CUBE Street is designed to be extremely versatile; it is equally at home with a folk singer as it is with a heavy metal musician. It boasts an impressive amount of amp models and effects, meaning that it is possible to perform without the need to carry many pedals with you.

Do not be deterred by the seemingly tiny 5w power rating; this amp will handle a moderately populated street. However, despite having more projection and better sound quality than the smaller Roland Micro Cube, at a higher volume this amp loses a lot of its clarity, becoming tonally muddy.

For densely packed streets or large open areas you will find that its bigger brother, the Roland CUBE Street EX (see above), will be the better choice.


Roland Mobile

Size: 13″ x 9″ x 10″ (33 x 22 x 25 cm)
Weight: 11 lbs (4.9 kg)
Power: 15 watts + 15 watts when using adaptor, 10 watts + 10 watts when using batteries
Price: $179.99
Battery Power: Runs for approximately 15 hours on 6 AA batteries
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“The amazing amp-to-go”

Features: Three channel mixer with individual inputs for Guitar, Mic and Aux. Chorus, Reverb and Wide effects. Rich and lush stereo sound. Travel friendly.

The Roland Mobile represents the very lowest you can spend on an ultra-compact amp which can be used for busking and sound good enough for purpose. The QTX8 sounds better (see above), and is cheaper, but it is nowhere near as portable; the Roland Mobile is so compact that you can carry this anywhere with you in a shoulder-strap bag.

Similar in size and weight to the Yamaha THR5A (see below), but doesn’t sound quite as good. However, the Roland Mobile has a microphone input whereas the Yamaha does not. The effects are also comparable in quality and functionality.

Don’t get this confused with the Roland Mobile AC – which does not offer the guitar amp models, but is instead intended as a small PA for voice and audio presentations (which is why I’m not linking to it).


Traynor TVM50

Size: 13″ x 19″ x 13″ (33 x 48 x 33 cm)
Weight: 31 lbs (14 kg)
Power: 50 watts
Price: $279.00
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery
Buy on Amazon (USA) *

“The mighty and surprisingly good wedge”

Features: Lightweight and very simple; two channels (XLR and 1/4″) with a 4-band EQ on the second.

An excellent amp, for the money, the Traynor TVM50 can compete tonally with amps much more expensive. If your budget does not extend to the Roland CUBE Street EX (see above), this is probably the closest you will get of a similar wedge configuration. Certainly loud enough for any busking situation you may find yourself in.

Though you could certainly use it as a straight PA system in small areas, the Traynor TVM50 should be of special interest to electric guitar players. On a full charge it should give about 8-10 hours of playing time.


Yamaha THR5A

Size: 10″ x 7″ x 5″ (27 x 17 x 12 cm)
Weight: 4.4 lbs (2kg)
Power: 5 watts
Price: $199.00
Battery Power: Yes, 8 x AA
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK,) *

“Great tough little amp with a few tonal issues”

Features: ¼” Guitar input, ⅛” aux input, four mic simulations (Condenser, Dynamic, Tube and Nylon), digital effects (Compression, Chorus, Delay and Reverb), built-in tuner, USB port, headphone output. In addition, Yamaha supplies an editor software, which works on PC and Mac, that provides three bands of EQ, bass, mid and treble, extensive controls over the reverb/delay, and extra effects (Flanger, Phase, Tremolo and Noise gate)

Designed as a recording amp, the Yamaha THR5A is not at all limited to just one environment. The effects are of a high quality and very user-friendly. The tone sweep control is very subtle.

To get the most out of this amp you will need to utilize an external EQ device, as it is lacking in the high frequencies, and the speakers are able to manage more bass frequencies than the onboard settings will allow. If you have an EQ pedal with a pre-amp boost option, this amp can handle being pushed a little further than the volume control allows.

Unfortunately, the Yamaha THR5A lacks some of the most useful features of its larger brothers such as the THR10 (not a dedicated acoustic amp, and should not be used as a one). The larger THR10 (UK, USA) allows users to create their own amp models on a computer and transfer them to the amp.

The Yamaha THR5A allows you to create you own amp models and effects, but they are only useable when you have the amp connected to a computer, so unless you want to take a laptop with you when busking, this feature is of no real use.


AER compact 60

Size: 12″ x 13″ x 14″ (30 x 33 x 36 cm)
Weight: 19.3 lbs (8.7 kg)
Power: 60 watts
Price: $1,199,00
Battery Power: No
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“Expensive, but pretty”

Features: Two channels (Guitar and Microphone). Combination 1/4-inch/XLR input, line/mic switch, gain, bass and treble controls on Mic channel and gain, color, bass, middle and treble control on the Guitar channel. Several digital multi effects with two reverbs, delay and chorus, and a TRS effect footswitch jack. Crisp and transparent sound.

Listed as no review is complete without it, the AER Compact 60 is small, lightweight and easy to carry. The tone is clear and punchy, but is it worth the price? Probably not.


AER Compact Mobile2

Size: 12″ x 13″ x 14″ (30 x 33 x 35 cm)
Weight: 28.7 lbs (13 kg)
Power: 60 watts
Price: $1,799.00
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery, 4 hours without power supply
Buy on Amazon (USA) *

“Overpriced, but with a great sound.”

Features: Two channels; 3-Band EQ (colour switch) and 2-Band EQ (phantom power, digital reverb/echo), aux in, effect loop, tuner-line-headphones-di-out.

The caviar of the battery-amps, A E R are the three letters everyone wants on their amp. It has a very clean and clear sound. Although it is not a lightweight amp, the size is very manageable, with a good solid carry handle. AER also make a good quality carry case for this amp. It has phantom power, a very useful feature of you are a fan of condenser microphones (but this feature is not limited to high-end amps). The battery life of this amp is okay, but roughly half that of other busker amps.

This is a fine professional busking amplifier, with a price to suit. You will certainly have no complaints regarding the sound, look, or versatility… but it is overpriced – there are other, better options for a more reasonable price.


HiWatt BSK15/8R Maxwatt Busker

Size: 5″ x 7″ x 11″ (12 x 17 x 27 cm)
Weight: 22 lbs (10 kg)
Power: 15 watts
Price: £246.00
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery, can last up to 8 hours
Buy on Amazon (USA) *

“Jack of all trades, master of none”

Features: Small and lightweight. Two channels for simultaneous Guitar and Microphone inputs with separate Volume and Tone controls for each, AUX input, digital effects (Reverb, Delay, Compressor, Chorus and Flanger), headphone output.

The HiWatt BSK15 Amp uses an “amp simulation” (where the amp tries to emulate the sound of other classic amps), with varying success. It is designed to be used for any instrument. Tonally, there are much better options. On a busy street this amp lacks the awe-inspiring projection to grab a crowd. It is, perhaps, a good second backup amp.

It is easy to transport in keeping with other similar busking amps. It also has a headphone socket and various effects. The HiWatt BSK15 is comparable to the Roland CUBE Street (above).


Laney AH4x4

Size: 21″ x 7″ x 7″ (54 x 17 x 17 cm)
Weight: 36 lb (16.5 kg)
Power: 70 watts
Price: £280.00
Battery Power: Yes
Buy on Amazon (UK) *

“An innovative, good, all-round PA”

Features: Portable, and easy to use. Bluetooth enabled. Standard input options (Jack, XLR, mini Jack) as well as the option to connect a second AH4X4. Up to 24 hours of performance. Digital effects (reverb, echo).

A different take on the standard PA system, the Laney AH4x4 has a column design (i.e. it’s tall and thin), although it can also be used either upright or on its side. It’s loud enough for most busking situations. But, it is also more suited to those wanting vocal amplification; instrumentalists will probably want to add an external EQ device in order to get the best sound as it only has a few pre-set buttons. The price is reasonable and it is easy to transport. It has an unusual look which will intrigue listeners.

The Laney AH4x4 does come with a sweeping reverb/delay control, which although not excellent is certainly useable for performance. It also has the facility to add additional speakers for better sound projection.


Roland AC-33

Size: 13″ x 9″ x 10″ (33 x 22 x 25 cm)
Weight: 11 lbs (4.9 kg)
Power: 15 watts + 15 watts with adaptor, 10 watts + 10 watts with batteries
Price: $419.00
Battery Power: Runs for 8+ hours on 8 x AA batteries
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK,) *

“Great sound, little sound”

Features: Designed specifically, for acoustic guitars. It has two separate channels for Guitar and Mic/Line (XLR type), both with EQ, volume control and effects. FOOT SW (Reverb/ambience, Chorus)

The Roland AC-33 sounds great, but it is downhill from there. It struggles to stand up to the projection of the other amps on offer. The 40-second looper is a neat feature but is poorly executed, as each overdub acts as a limiter upon the entire track resulting in a volume drop, a feature which really needs to be improved or removed, as it turns a good idea into a source of frustration.

A nice lightweight package, brilliant for quiet performances or late night jam sessions, but its sound is easily lost on a busy street. It has a kickback stand allowing you to project the sound toward listeners.

The AC-33 would be more at home in a studio than on the street due to its lack of projection, which is a shame because it does have a very sweet tone. For small gatherings; it would really serve you well in performance.

For the price, there are much better options, as it is clear that you are paying a premium for the ability to run the amp using AA batteries.


Vox Soundbox Mini

Size: 5″ x 7″ x 11″ (12 x 17 x 27 cm)
Weight: 5.3 lbs (2.5 kg)
Power: 2.5 watts
Price: $100.00
Battery Power: Yes, 6 x AA
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“The little amp with lots to offer”

Features: Extremely portable, good battery life. Small, lightweight and easy to carry. Has 11 amp models that support four different instruments; acoustic and electric guitars, bass and keyboard. AUX input, 1/4″ microphone jack. Variety of effects including reverb, delay, a compressor, chorus and flangers, which can be used two at once.

The Soundbox Mini has all the amp models you could need. Although this little amp is capable of handling quiet busking situations, it is more at home…. at home. It is an excellent practice amp or for competing with louder acoustic instruments. It is not advisable to use the Vox Soundbox Mini beyond 75% volume as the sound quality deteriorates. The Yamaha THR5A (above) is a better option for sound quality and is close to the Vox Soundbox Mini in both weight and dimensions (albeit twice the price).


ZT Lunchbox Junior Amplifier – Best for Light Carry Shows

ZT Lunchbox Junior Amplifier, one of the best amps for busking

Size: 7″ x 8″ x 5″ (17 x 20 x 12 cm)
Weight: 5 lbs (2.3 kg)
Power: 35 watts
Price: $249.00
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“Simple amp, very lightweight, with a good tonal platform.”

Features: Incredibly portable and very simple to use; the top panel has just three knobs (volume, tone and gain), and the back panel has a detachable power cord, ⅛” headphone/line out jack and a 9V power output jack that can power effect pedals.

Simplicity itself.

Volume, tone and gain are your parameters. If you an instrumental performer, you will most likely find yourself needing to add pedals to this amp in order to render it useful. With this in mind, a convenient 9v output socket has been added to the rear panel from which to power your pedals, this is a very nice feature which should be integrated into more amps – a big plus point for this little amp.

The ZT Lunchbox Junior is incredibly light and has more power than you would expect. ZT also offer a larger version of this amp if you find the 35w to be too limiting.


Mackie Freeplay

Size: 13″ x 21″ x 25″ (33 x 53 x 63 cm)
Weight: 14.5 lbs (6.5 kg)
Power: 300 watts
Price: $299.00
Battery Power: Yes, Rechargeable internal battery
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK,) *

“If there are no other options, it’ll do…well it’ll try”

Features: Lightweight, and compact. It has four channels including 2 XLR inputs with 1/4″ and AUX, each with their own volume, tone, equipment and 3-band EQ. Accessory control via Bluetooth (the app is called ‘Mackie Connect’, available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store). 16 digital effects on each channel, and a Feedback Destroyer.

If the words “bluetooth” and “app store” bring excitement to your day, you will like the features on the Mackie Freeplay. If you want a light compact amp that can play backing music for you, which can be controlled remotely from your phone, you may also like this amp.

But, if you are an instrumental musician who values sound above all else, this amp will fall short. It would suit a performer looking for a lightweight amp for vocals, but there are better options available.

The Mackie Freeplay has a “FEEDBACK DESTROYER!!!”, which makes it sound far tougher than it actually is.


MIPRO MA 303

Size: 9″ x 11″ x 7″ (22 x 27 x 17 cm)
Weight: 6 lbs (2.7 kg)
Power: 60 watts
Price: £431.01
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery
Buy on Amazon (UK) *

“The mouse of the PA world”

Features: Robust design but very lightweight. Easy to operate. Built-in 1 or 2 diversity receivers, USB music player and recorder with LCD screen.

Aww it’s so cute ! The MIPRO MA 303 is a dinky little PA system, with a big price tag. Whilst adorably small, this amp has not got the power needed for the serious requirements of a busking PA. This is a good option for playing background music to accompany your act but at this price it is no better than other options for 1/3 of the money.


MIPRO MA 505

Size: 11″ x 16″ x 9″ (28 x 40 x 22 cm)
Weight: 18 lbs (8 kg)
Power: 145 watts
Price: £625.20
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery, up to 8 hours without power
Buy on Amazon (UK) *

“For musicians who like an alarm siren on their amps”

Features: Compact one-piece speaker cabinet, which provides a powerful and clear sound. It comes with a wireless receiver that can link to another MA 505 within 100 meters, and a built-in digital audio player with optional CD player.

Another take on the compact PA, the Mipro MA 505 is very portable and compact. It has been designed to be primarily a vocal amplifier, or for presentations. It comes complete with an alarm siren, which might be useful if someone tries to take your busking tips. On reflection, this seems like it would be a useful feature for all busking amps…


MIPRO MA 707

Size: 19″ x 13″ x 12″ (49 x 33 x 30 cm)
Weight: 30 lbs (14 kg)
Power: 70 watts
Price: $899.00
Battery Power: Yes, Rechargeable
Buy on Amazon (USA) *

“Easily out-performed by much cheaper alternatives”

Features: Control panel with Tone, Master volume, Line and two Microphone input controls. Up to two receivers can be added to the system along with a CD/MP3 module. Built-in storage compartment for microphones, spare batteries and other accessories.

Designed primarily for vocal presentations, the Mipro MA 707 would be best for those not using instruments. There are indeed cheaper alternatives. For the asking price, one would expect much more from this offering in terms of versatility. It has a good clean sound, and has the volume required to meet most requirements.

Easy to carry, can be placed on the floor, desk or tripod. The MIPRO MA 707 delivers a clear and loud sound.


Samson Expedition

Size: 13″ x 20″ x 13″ (33 x 50 x 33 cm)
Weight: 16 lbs (7.2 kg)
Power: 100 watts
Price: $246.78
Battery Power: Rechargeable internal battery
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK) *

“There are better options available”

Features: Lightweight and portable. Four audio channels, each with their own volume control. Bluetooth connectivity and Aux input for playing backing tracks.

One of the smallest PA systems you will find, the Samson Expedition delivers clean sounds for both vocals and instruments. Its main speaker is only 6 inches, which limits its ability to reproduce the low frequencies that the average musician desires. Its portability is really its best feature. If you need a slight boost to your vocals or instrument, the Samson Expedition might work for you just fine, but there are better options.


Stuff and Things M4K Stuffed Thing

Size: 11″ x 7″ x 5″ (27 x 17 x 12 cm)
Weight: Stuffed: 8.8 lbs (3.9 kg), Thing: 7.3 lbs (3.3 kg)
Power: 150 watts
Price: Approximately $1200 – $1800 (depending on your specs)
Battery Power: Yes, Rechargeable
Buy it (Here) *

“Overpriced, expensive and costs too much”

Features: A few features include; 150 watts of power, acoustically transparent carrying case that won’t block the sound, simple knobs and jacks. Full PA system; two very loud boxes that can be used independently without sacrificing any sound.

This amp is a favourite among circle-show performers – indeed, many will tell you that this is one of the best amps for busking on the market. It is an excellent item for vocal amplification, or for use with pre-recorded music from an mp3 player, it has a pretty design, it’s simple and… well, it’s exclusive (you have to be a well-known and/or talented circle show performer to get one, as supply is limited).

For instrumental performers, this is an amp not worth considering; it just doesn’t have the tonal range that a dedicated acoustic instrument amplifier has. This is before looking at the price – then nothing more needs to be said.


Roland Micro CUBE GX

Size: 10″ x 9″ x 7″ (27 x 22 x 17 cm)
Weight: 5 lbs (2.3 kg)
Power: 3 watts
Price: $149.00
Battery Power: Runs up to 25 hours on 6 AA batteries
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK,) *

“Keep it in the bedroom”

Features: Compact, and lightweight. A Memory function that saves your favourite amp and effects settings, 8 DSP effects that include Heavy octave and Delay/Reverb and a built-in chromatic tuner, Input jack and iCUBE LINK jack that provides audio interfacing with iPhone/iPad and iPod touch.

The next generation of the Micro CUBE, a classic amp, and at the time it came into the marketplace there really wasn’t much competition in the busking amp category. In recent years it has also been improved to compete with other models, but unfortunately falls short.

The Roland Micro CUBE GX is a great practice amp, but if used for busking, you will always be thinking about upgrading. It is indeed versatile, in that it offers many amp models and effects, but none would really be at home in a professional setting.

There are other amps at roughly the same price that could serve your busking needs for years without the need to upgrade (The cheaper QTX8 for example, or Yamaha THR5A, also appearing higher up on this list).


Peavey Solo Portable PA (CH-D) – Worst for Everything.

Peavey Solo Portable PA (CH-D), definitely NOT one of the best amps for busking

Size: 14.8″ x 8.6″ x 14.8″ (37 x 21 x 35 cm)
Weight: 15 lbs (6.8 kg)
Power: 10 watts
Price: $118.99
Battery Power: Yes
Buy on Amazon (USA, UK,) *

“Is it a chair? Is it a bookend? No… it’s just terrible”

Features: Two channels, one XLR input, two 1/4″ jacks

This is an exceptionally good portable firestarter, matches not included. The best thing about the Peavey Solo Portable PA is the price.

If you want to sound like you are playing through the world’s first radio system, and are going for a unique…and quite terrible sound, this amp may be for you.

Able to be powered with 8 D-Cell batteries, this amp really pushes the boundaries of amp development into the modern age. Can also be powered via an AC plug.

For around the same price, a QTX portable PA system (listed above) would be the better choice. Effects on cheaper amps generally sound a little worse than one would expect at the price point, but this amp still manages to disappoint. The Peavey Solo Portable PA is only mentioned on this list of “the best amps for busking” because of it’s inexplicable popularity. Perhaps it’s the font?


The bottom line

Simple: there are lots of options, so it is always best to try every amp you can get your hands on before making a purchase, as everyone has different tonal preferences.