THE BOT TOM L INE
®
PERFORMANCE TESTING BY TOM MULHERN & ASSOCIATES, CAMPBELL, CA (408) 374-1353
AT A GLANCE: Volume and tone are important in an acoustic
amplification system, but Fishman’s Acoustic Performer Pro also
provides unmatched versatility and portability. It includes a built-in
digital reverb, three effects loops, anti-feedback notch circuitry, and
a high-power, ultra-high-fidelity amplifier/speaker complement.
By Tom Mulhern
Fishman Acoustic
Performer Pro
Amplifier/Compact
Performance System
O
ver the past decade, acoustic players have taken centerstage with
as much authority and importance as their electric counterparts.
And it’s causing an interesting bit of deja vu: Like 40 years ago
when the appearance of solidbody guitars and rock and roll necessitated
more powerful, more toneful amps, acoustic players today are faced with a
similar situation. The big difference is that acoustic guitarists demand
clarity and high fidelity, not just volume. After all, it’s one thing to make a
$300 slab sound loud and fierce, and another to make an acoustic costing
$1,000, $2,000, or even more sound exactly like itself—only louder.
Without a doubt, the Fishman Acoustic Performer Pro amplifier’s clarity, power, and flexibility are on a par with the best acoustic guitars. This is
noteworthy, since a guitar and its amp both contribute to the final sound.
Therefore, it’s a huge blunder to underestimate the importance of an amp’s
quality. A significant consideration, too, is that the Acoustic Performer
Pro isn’t merely a guitar amp. A high-quality, high-powered P.A. in a compact enclosure, it has multiple inputs and outputs, a feedback-control
notch filter, and built-in digital reverb, plus EQ controls and phase-reverse
switching for each channel. Its speaker complement exceeds most highquality stereo systems for clarity, and it’s able to withstand the heavy
pounding that comes from amplifying the percussive sounds of a guitar.
The Acoustic Performer Pro’s input section accepts the signal from a
piezo or magnetic pickup and/or a guitar’s internal microphone—a common combination in high-end instruments. The 1/4" inputs for a pickup
and an instrument microphone have trim controls so that you can tame
extremely high levels or match them to each other. There’s one more 1/4"
input jack for plugging in the TRS (tip/ring/sleeve) plug of a 3-conductor
cord from a guitar equipped with both a pickup and an internal mic. That
isn’t all: You can switch on 15-volt phantom powering, great for condenser
mics. Channel 1 has an XLR (3-conductor) input for plugging in an auxiliary source or a high-quality vocal microphone. It, too, has a phantom
power switch; this one delivers 48 volts, just right for pro vocal microphones.
Fishman even thought of another useful front-end feature: a Tape/CD
input, which lets you plug in a sound source for accompaniment, or to provide “filler” music while you take a break.
When you amplify an acoustic guitar, feedback is often a problem.
Thwarting it is easy with Fishman’s built-in notch filter: Just dial in the
offending frequency with one knob and use the second knob to cut out the
source of the howl and screech. The notch can also be used to filter out
any “wolf ” tones (exaggerated pitches that come from too much resonance)
in the guitar. Sometimes you can eliminate feedback with the Phase switch
on either channel, which inverts the signal’s phase and creates cancellation.
The built-in reverb is well-designed, providing five different reverb times
via a rotary selector switch, plus control over the wet/dry mix through a
second control. An extremely cool feature is the pair of switches for selecting
reverb on either or both channels; LEDs tell you when reverb is assigned to
them. The reverb has a good, musical sound, plus it offers a lot of headroom—
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Mulhern is a bassist, guitarist, and writer who specializes in audio- and music-related technology. The former Managing Editor of Guitar Player magazine, he’s an independent consultant to the music industry.
Fishman’s compact, powerful Acoustic Performer Pro (left) and Fishman Acoustic Monitor Pro (right) deliver crisp, clear sound.
whacking the heck out of my guitar, I found it virtually impossible to get
it to distort. This is very handy if you’re a dynamic player, because you
get a solid reverb effect regardless of how you approach the instrument.
By the way, when the reverb is assigned to Channel 1, the signal from
the aux/mic input is treated by the reverb.
It’s no secret that outboard effects can sound great on acoustic
guitar. The Acoustic Performer Pro has an effects loop for each input
channel, plus another loop for the master section. I tried using a harmonizer on Channel 1 (with only vocals through the aux/mic input)
and slapback echo on my guitar in Channel 2; finally, I added a slight
touch of chorus at the Master stage. The Effects wet/dry control on
each channel lets you dial in the amount of effects you want—and
reverb can be used with any of them.
The Mute switch is great for a couple of reasons. First, when you’re
tuning, the audience doesn’t have to be serenaded by the activity (the
tuner output is still “live” when Mute is selected). Second, when you
take a break, you can hit the Mute switch to leave the amp in a “standby” mode, so you don’t have to mess with the level controls. A rearpanel jack lets you plug in any on/off footswitch to control the Mute
function from afar.
Fishman built the Acoustic Performer with the road in mind. It’s
compact—considering its output power and overall loudness, you
might consider it downright small. The cabinet is designed to stand
upright or lie on an angle to act as a monitor, and it even has mounting holes for an optional kit to set it up on a stand. Its construction is
extremely solid, including a steel grille to protect the speakers, so it
will come through the rigors of being bounced around unscathed. All
knobs and switches are recessed, protecting them from being inadvertently snapped off if the amp is ever knocked over or treated roughly when it’s tossed into a car, etc. Touring overseas? There’s a dual-
Fishman Acoustic Performer Pro
get your sound across to an audience. Every bit of
tone that’s in your acoustic guitar is amplified with
brilliant clarity and all the tasty tone that made
you choose your guitar in the first place. With its
combination of great sound, flexibility, portability,
and power, nothing else even compares with the
Fishman Acoustic Performer Pro.
voltage switch in the power section, so all you
need is the appropriate power cable to plug into a
foreign socket.
One of the real beauties of the Fishman
Acoustic Performer Pro is that you can use it in
any size of venue and have control over your
sound. In a small place, you can use it as your primary amp, where you shape your acoustic sound
and then set the volume to bring that great
sound to your audience. In a larger venue, you
can add an optional Fishman Acoustic Monitor
Pro, which delivers 270 watts into its speaker
complement. When you hit the big stage where a
massive house P.A. is in place, you can use the
Fishman Acoustic Performer Pro as your personal
onstage monitor and then send line outputs from
it to the P.A. The Acoustic Performer has three
high-quality direct boxes built in, with XLR outputs—one for each channel and one for the mix
output. In addition, each has its own ground-lift
switch, which helps it interface with P.A.s and
not introduce ground-loop hum in the process.
There are so many features and ways to use the
Fishman Acoustic Performer Pro amp that it’s
hard to cover them all. Obviously, I’ve only
scratched the surface. However, if you care about
your acoustic guitar’s tone, there’s little doubt
that you should consider this system as the way to
LEVEL 1
1
PHASE
LEVEL 2
Channel 1
1 + 2 BLEND
IN
TWEETER
LEVEL
GND Ch 1 Ch 2
ON
15V
PHANTOM
PICK-UP IN
INST MIC IN
10 MΩ
1 MΩ
TAPE / CD
IN
TRIM
TRIM
ON
48V
PHANTOM
AUX / MIC IN
TUNER
GND
LIFT
Channel 2
CLIP
LEVEL AUX EFFECTS
Channel 2
MUTE
SWITCH
The Acoustic Performer Pro’s front panel (below) offers EQ, effects-blend, and level controls for each channel, plus it provides switchable reverb and a notch filter. The many inputs
and outputs on the rear panel (right) allow interfacing with guitars, mics, and effects, as well
as P.A. and recording mixers. Both the Acoustic Performer Pro and the Acoustic Monitor
Pro can be mounted atop a stand (above) for enhanced sound dispersion.
Channel
MIX
CLIP
EFFECTS
PHASE
REVERB
LEVEL
MASTER
PROGRAM EFFECTS
4
5
POWER
LEVEL
GND
GND
LIFT
GND
GND
LIFT
GND
MIX SEND
SEND
SEND
(post - EQ)
(pre - EQ)
(pre - EQ)
EFFECTS SEND
EFFECTS SEND
EFFECTS SEND
EFFECTS
RETURN
EFFECTS
RETURN
EFFECTS
RETURN
Acoustic Performer Pro
3
2
1
DRY
BASS
MID
DRY
WET
TREBLE
PHANTOM
BASS
WET
MID
DRY
TREBLE
WET
1 ASSIGN 2
0
DRY
MUTE
WET
FREQ
100
NOTCH
DEPTH
VOLTAGE
I
15V
48V
50
500
115V
O
SELECT
INSIDE FISHMAN’S ACOUSTIC PERFORMER PRO
Type of amp: Acoustic guitar amplifier/compact performance system
Features: Compact size, steel grille, high power,
extremely high-fidelity sound, multiple input
channels, phantom powering, three effects
loops, built-in digital reverb (switch-selectable for either or both channels), phase
switching on each channel, anti-feedback
notch filter, mute function
Power: 230 watts RMS into 8" woofer; 40 watts
into tweeter
Speakers: One 8" driver and one 1" dome
tweeter
Front panel (L-R): Channel 1 (Clip LED, Level
1, Aux Level, Effects Wet/Dry, Phase switch,
Bass, Mid, Treble, Phantom power LEDs for
15-volt and 48-volt power), Channel 2
(Level 2 Effects Wet/Dry control, Phase switch,
Bass, Mid, Treble), Reverb (Dry/Wet Level,
Program selector, Channel Assign switches
1 and 2 with LEDs, Mute switch), Master
(Power on LED, Effects Wet/Dry, Level,
Notch filter Frequency and Depth controls)
Rear panel (L-R, top to bottom): Tweeter level
control, Mute Switch 1/4" input jack, Mix
Send XLR jack (post-EQ) with ground-lift
switch, Mix Effects Send and Return 1/4"
jacks, Channel 2 Pickup In (10 Megohms),
Trim control, Tuner 1/4" output jack Channel 2 XLR Send jack (pre-EQ) with groundlift switch, Channel 2 Effects Send and
Return 1/4" jacks, TRS 1+2 Blend In 1/4"
jack, 15-volt Phantom power switch, Inst/
Mic In 1/4" jack (1 Megohm), Inst/Mic In
Trim control, Tape/CD In mini jack, Aux/
Mic In XLR jack with 48-volt Phantom
power switch, Channel 1 Send XLR jack
(pre-EQ) with ground-lift switch, Channel
1 Effects Send and Return 1/4" jacks, power
supply section (115V/230V selector switch,
power on/off switch, AC cord receptacle)
Weight: 29 lbs. (13.2 kg)
Dimensions: 19.30" H x 15.15" W x 7.19" D
Options: Acoustic Monitor Pro (powered speaker cabinet for use with Acoustic Performer
Pro), mounting hardware for Acoustic
Performer Pro and Acoustic Monitor Pro
Manufacturer’s address: Fishman Audio Division,
340-D Fordham Rd., Wilmington, MA 01887
Phone: (508) 988-9199 Fax: (508) 988-0770
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