Lots of amps have the traditional bells and whistles, but when you look at AER amps, you get the distinct sense that nothing is either a bell or a whistle: Every feature is remarkably well-designed and is actually something that guitar players will use. Every mic channel includes switchable phantom power and a hybrid jack, so you can plug in microphone or guitar. Every channel on every AER amp gets gain controls and a clip/overload light, so you can set your gain structure properly. All effects are footswitchable, and every amp has a tuner send and headphone jack. These are the basic, practical features we'd love to see on every acoustic amp. And, of course, one of the most appealing features of AER amps is their light weight. Even their top acoustic guitar amp, the 120-watt Acousticube IIIA, weighs in at less than 30 lbs.

Of course, all the efficient design in the world is meaningless if the amp just doesn't sound good. With AER amps, though, you have nothing to worry about. The transparent, articulate, warm acoustic tone produced by these amps is considered by many players to be the finest in the business. This industry-leading combination of portability, intelligent design, rugged construction and transparent acoustic tone doesn't come cheap—the entry-level AER amp is $899—but I think the added expense is worth every penny.

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