The need for small private sources of amplification has grown as the sophistication of the music industry has grown. The days when a band would huddle in a dressing room desperately waiting for gaps between DJ's records to try and get a string in tune have gone. Musicians insist on having the time and facilities to tune properly.
Now and again circumstances deny usual facilities and the need arises for a headphone guitar amp. There are also many other uses for a small transistor amp.
The Rocker is a small headphone practice amp produced by a new electronics company, Etime, of Sunderland. It's contained in a strong plastic case and there are controls for gain and, unusually, tone.
At first sight it is surprising that Etime have built the unit to be powered by two PP9s or VT9s when a smaller battery might have done the job. But in practice the batteries act as ballast and as well as giving long life they also keep the unit stable.
The amp is automatically switched on when a guitar is plugged in and the amount of gain available is reasonable but not great.
The circuit is well constructed using an IC as the major component but we felt that the battery connection wires should have been held by a security clip before they are soldered to the PC board — particularly as the batteries are heavy and they could potentially fall out of the case and pull off the connecting wires. The pots are mounted in a position which allows the tags to be directly soldered to the PC board but the earth connection is made to the pot bodies by a thin uninsulated wire which could easily get broken or damaged, especially as the user has to get regular access to the interior for battery renewal.
Another point that would have helped would have been self-retaining screws for the casing. It's easy to drop them and if they were self-retaining like the central screw in 13 amp plugs life would be a lot easier.
Retail Price £14.65