J.H.S. 'Rock Box'
Since the introduction of the excellent Tom Scholz 'Rockman', several less expensive variations on the theme of a headphone practice amp with effects have appeared, seeking to do a similar job at lower cost.
One of the latest of these is J.H.S.'s 'Rock Box', a particularly sturdy Japanese-made metal-clad unit, offering what appears to be a very complete range of facilities with a high build-quality at a notably low price.
Like the Scholz Rockman, the Rock Box is a small, flat unit (approx. 5"x 6 1/4"x 1 1/2") mainly intended to be battery powered, although it will also take a 6v. mains feed. For portable use 8 AA size batteries are needed, so (bearing in mind battery prices) a step-down transformer would be useful along with your Rock Box.
Facilities provided on the front panel are very comprehensive, combining standard 1/4" jack sockets for stereo or mono output, a recessed screw controlling the amount of depth of an (analogue) delay circuit (switched in or out by a pushbutton), chorus on/off button, a mini-jack socket for stereo headphones (a pair of which are, incredibly, included in at this low RRP), followed by a rotary click-stop selector which governs the main options of sound types.
The selector provides for a quartz-generated A440Hz tone (for tuning your A string, and 100% accurate for 'concert pitch"). Normal (a 'dry' setting for clean sounds), Clean 1 (heavily compressed effects for Knopfler-like guitar tones). Clean 2 (less compressed but still showing a degree of that effect, with a fundamentally clean sound), Overdrive (halfway between clean and distortion and, on the whole, not bad for chords, plus Distortion - a full-blooded 'over the top' lead sound, which we reckoned to be particularly impressive when used with the delay.
The full complement of facilities ends with a slider volume control plus 1/4" jack sockets for 'input' and 'aux' use. Side panel jack sockets offer mains step-down input plus effects send and return 1/4" jacks.
Overall we were highly impressed with this very fairly priced unit. The output power could have been a bit higher (but that's probably a good point - excessive headphone levels can be dangerous to your hearing if too loud, of course) but the chorus effect was good, the delay much better than just 'good', and the Distortion setting (especially when used with either the delay or chorus) was very convincing.
Build quality of the JHS Rock Box was more than high for the asking price, and the effects (whilst not, obviously, quite up to the standard of a genuine Scholz unit) were extremely good.
At this very affordable price we must award the JHS Rock Box a very high rating indeed. Check it out for yourselves - we're sure you'll see why we rate its price, facilities, sound and build quality so highly.
£99 INC. VAT
More details from John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd., (Contact Details).
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