At the start of NAMM 2013, Roland announced two new models in its Cube line and an iOS app to complete the trio. Both the Cube Lite and Cube Lite Monitor are on display in all of their dual-connecting glory, but we're far more interested in the former for its guitar amp wares. The 10W compact unit touts built-in JC Clean, Crunch and Extreme tones alongside Chorus and Reverb controls. We were pleasantly surprised with how well these on-board sounds came across at the strings of a Stratocaster during the booth demos we witnessed. Usually included presets can be really hit or miss, but these are quite serviceable -- especially in a portable unit. As you might expect, all of the usual controls are here including volume, treble, bass and drive and the requisite 1/4-inch input graces the backside. That's all quite nice, but the real story here is the iOS software and aux connectivity.
That iOS app, Cube Jam, allows you to record and play along with tunes from your iDevice and connects via the i-Cube Link stereo auxiliary input from the headphone jack of a slate or handset. We were a bit disappointed that the connection didn't come at the hands of a 30-pin jack or Lightning port, but overall the unit worked quite nicely in our limited time with it. The separate volume control for the aux port is quite nice and allows the user to adjust levels of the amp and the accompanying track independently to keep things just so. We'd surmize that you'd be able to connect an Android, BB10 or WP8 device for playback, if you're willing give up the Cube Jam software. Cube Lite also requires a tethered power supply and doesn't support Bluetooth connectivity like we saw on the iLoud from IK Multimedia. If you don't have a need for the guitar functionality, the Cube Lite Monitor wields the same 1/8-inch input, but offers stereo 1/4-inch jacks instead and tosses the in-built tones. Head on past the break for a quick tour and a closer look awaits in the gallery just below.