Price paid: $ 75
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Ease of Use: The JamVox is trying to do a lot of things at once, and for the most part pulls it off. I didn't read the manual initially, but instead just kind of messed around with it to figure it out. The basic functions were pretty easy to figure out, but the GXT feature which is used to remove a guitar part from a recording in order to play along with it seems to take a little time to get used to. How successful the GXT feature is at removing guitar parts seems to depend a lot on how it was initially mixed in the recording. Some songs you are really able to pull the guitar part out completely, and others it just seems to dampen the guitar, and in some songs seems to have a negative impact on the overall sound of the song (almost like it is over-compressed). It is still a very useful feature the vast majority of the time.
The Music Player built in with the JamVox software is pretty awesome as it allows you to slow down songs without altering pitch, or allows you to alter pitch without changing tempo. I've used this some to change songs to my current guitar tuning to play along. King Crimson's "Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" is played with everything tuned 2 full steps down from standard, and I don't normally tune more than 1 step down so this allows me to change the pitch of the recording without changing my tuning which allows me to more easily play along with the song. The feature to slow down a track without affecting the pitch is great when you are trying to tab out or learn fast passages or rhythmically complex pieces.
The Monitor has two 3 inch speakers and while the sound is not the best in the world, it is better than what you would expect for two 3 inch speakers. I find these really useful when practicing, but not so much when recording. When recording the live monitoring via the speakers seems more distracting than anything. I do use headphones when recording and they seem to work for me a lot better. The monitor is usable as an audio interface for any ASIO or CoreAudio compatible software and it can also be used as your regular computer speakers.
While this isn't all immediately intuitive in use, none of it is super complicated and you can figure out the majority of the functionality without the manual, and then just use the manual to fill in the gaps. // 7
Sound: The Amp/Effect modeling software is really pretty decent. Before using this I was using Line 6's Gearbox and POD Farm software, which I really enjoyed. I had thought that Line 6 was the best in amp/effects modeling software as I have previously tried Guitar Rig, several versions of AmpliTube, several free sims, etc... I think the Vox amp/effects modeling is equal to the Line 6 if not a little better. I did find a few sounds I got with Line 6 Gearbox that I haven't been able to get just right with the JamVox yet, but for the most part I'm really enjoying the JamVox. Where the Line 6 software is maybe more focused on getting a very specific range of heavy sounds over other things, the Vox seems a little more geared to bluesy and clean sounds. Maybe this is just my perception of it, but I do know I'm getting much better clean and bluesy sounds from the Vox.
The amp models included in the software are 2 versions of the AC15 and 2 versions of the AC30, 5 UK amp models ranging from "Blues" to "Modern", Blackface, Tweed, a couple of Boutique models, a couple of US models, including a nice "HiGain" amp model. Overall there are 19 amp models. There are 12 cab models that go along with this. To me, by far the best amp models are the AC15, AC30, UK Blues, both Tweed amps, the UK Modern and the Modded OD. I had to spend a little time with the knobs to get the best sounds from each of these, and I listened to them through higher quality headphones as the monitor speakers are good for practice but don't do the tone justice when listening.
There are 54 effects modeled, but 12 of those are reverbs and 11 are delays. Having this many reverbs and delays with editable parameters does give you a lot of control in finding the exact delay and/or reverb sound you are looking for. Of the other effects there are several different types of OD, distortion, chorus and fuzz as well as a nice treble booster. There are also a few other one-off type effects thrown in that are pretty nice. There is a noise gate, which is useful. There are over 100 presets modeled after specific famous songs and guitarists, and about half of these are decent, and maybe a dozen are really good. You can listen to each preset before actually changing to it in order to preview it. You can have 5 effects units and the Korg Tuner going at one time. You can place the effects where you want them in the chain. There is a pickup modeling function that lets your guitar pretend to have single coils instead of humbuckers, or humbuckers instead of single coils. It is somewhat useful in making single coils sound thicker, but I don't like the result I get with humbuckers set to single coil. Overall, I'm really impressed with the sound of the JamVox, especially the clean and bluesy sounds. // 8
Reliability & Durability: The JamVox uses phantom power which is a really awesome feature that manages to power the interface and the monitor of the JamVox. The JamVox is heavier than it looks and appears to be made very sturdily. I heard a lot of complaints about the speakers in the JamVox, and I want to address that here. No interface I've used for recording or amp and effects modeling before has had built in monitor speakers. I've normally used either headphones or ran the headphone jack to speakers. The speakers are not awesome amazing speakers. They are 3 inch speakers. On the other hand, you can use a good pair of headphones with the JamVox just like any other interface. Also, some people have awesome speakers hooked up to their computer, and I wish I did, too, but I have little crappy speakers and the JamVox speakers are way better. Basically, the point I'm getting to is people complain about these speakers but it is something extra that isn't normally with an interface and you don't have to use them you can use your headphones like you've been using, etc. I don't understand complaining about a feature on an item that is an extra feature that is just like icing on the cake, it just gives you the option to not use headphones. I absolutely believe that this will last virtually forever. // 8
Overall Impression: I would like the option to use my Gearbox software with the JamVox as well, and maybe it can be done but I can't figure it out. I imagine that if it can't be done it is due to Line 6 making their products proprietary. I have pretty much decided that the JamVox is more than a worthy replacement for my TonePort UX2 and my Gearbox software, and I've retired them to a friend who needed an interface. I've recorded from the JamVox to Audacity, Reaper and Adobe Soundbooth just as tests and they all worked great. I think basically anything that lets you record from ASIO works fine with the JamVox. If I get super picky down the road I might look into putting some better speakers into the JamVox if I can actually find some really mind-blowing 3 inch speakers (if such a thing even exists).
Before the JamVox I couldn't find an interface/software package that even compared with the Line 6 TonePort UX2 and the Gearbox software in my personal opinion. I feel like the Vox JamVox has done this and has raised the bar on what you can expect for a product of this caliber. These are going new from $75 - $250 new. I can only guess this is because Vox didn't do the best job initially rolling out this product from a marketing standpoint. I've heard also that some of the earlier models had some issues with the software (which can be resolved via updates) and this may have negatively impacted their initial sales and the reputation of this piece of equipment. Bottom line is they've worked out the bugs at this point and this is an awesome product especially at the reduced price you can find these for right now. // 9
- Brandon East (c) 2011