Under general circumstance, amplifying acoustic instruments can prove to be quite troublesome: either you’re plugging straight into the PA and being forced to deal with the icky sound of your dry signal, or you’re combating whirring feedback and tempestuous white noise from your usual amplifier. Although a range of brands have made amplifiers dedicated solely to acoustic instruments, very few possess any notable character or mojo, and for that matter, tend to fall into the gear-hole abyss.
Enter Prodipe’s Natural Acoustic Instrument Amplifier range. These French-designed contraptions are constructed for not just the acoustic guitarist, but for an entire ensemble, offering a comprehensive solution to rehearsals and even intimate performances. With two models available in the series – the 5” speaker equipped Natural 5, and the slightly beefier 6.5”-fitted Natural 6, these amps play host to a wide range of TRS, XLR and even RCA inputs, allowing you to run acoustic guitars, keyboards, microphones and auxiliary sources such as a sampler or iPhone to run backing tracks. This makes the Prodipe Natural range a no-brainer for any jazz group or singer/songwriters who make a living performing night-after-night in smaller venues, and the relatively compact dimensions and weight of both the Natural 5 and 6 (11 and 13 kilograms respectively) ensure that they’ll easily squeeze into your boot or even on the backseat for transportation between gigs.
With two TRS inputs, an XLR input, an RCA I/O and a single Direct Out, the Prodipe Natural 5 packs much less than its bigger sibling, but it’ll certainly suffice for solo artists, duos or even trios in a pinch. Each input also features a three-band EQ, gain knob and a control for reverb, which should allow you to shape each player’s tone or into something pretty enough for a live setting, while inbuilt phantom power lets you plug in your favourite condenser microphone to ensure your singer’s vocals sound as crisp live as they do in the studio.
I tested the Natural 5 out solo with an acoustic guitar and condenser microphone for my vocals, and was quite impressed by the woody acoustic tone I received from the amp. Unlike the flat tones of other acoustic amps, the Natural 5 had quite a warm midrange, perfect for finger-picked passages and chords alike, while the 1” tweeter projected high-frequencies without sounding too jagged or icy. I was also surprised to hear that my vocals didn’t sound secondary to my guitar in the mix, and the inbuilt reverb didn’t disappoint. The Natural 5 also boasts a pair of very handy legs to tilt the amp for some sweet sound isolation – if you’re rehearsing from the confines of your apartment, your neighbours will love this feature.
For those needing some extra grunt, the Natural 6 should keep you happy, with four inputs and outputs and an impressive eight reverb presets making it a surefire pick for downtempo folk, jazz or blues ensembles. Prodipe stake the claim that the 50Hz to 20kHz bandwidth of these amps should let it play nicely with drums, synths and bass sounds, so I thought I’d put the Natural 6 to the test with a singer, keyboard, bass guitar and a Roland SP-404 plugged into the RCA input to trigger some drum loops. After a few tweaks to the mixer section, I can happily report that the Natural 6 definitely didn’t crumble under pressure. The low-end frequencies, whether via a kick drum, thumping semi-hollow bass or the rumbling bottom notes of a Rhodes, delivered a nice punch that a normal guitar amp might lack. The Natural 6 also features a pole socket for stand mounting, which is certainly a welcome feature for live performances.
Prodipe have definitely tapped into a good little niche with these Natural Acoustic Instrument Amplifiers. They’re compact, abundant with useful features and sound surprisingly good: for those acts gearing up for the corporate festive function season, these amps will definitely be your mate.
Hits and Misses
Warm acoustic tones and very usable vocal sounds
Compact size and affordable pricing