Price paid: $ 1300
Purchased from: Austin Vintage Guitars
Features — 9
2 channel head with high and low inputs in each channel. Each channel can operate with a master volume or the master volume can be bypassed to give a direct volume control for each channel. Bass and treble controls for the top boost channel as well as a hot switch. Bright switch for the normal channel. A universal cut knob that is always in effect. 15/30 watt switch. They included a speaker cable, foot switchable hot/cool thing, and a dust cover. I don't use the footswich because I don't like the hot setting (one less thing on my pedal board) and I don't use thrust over because I move it around twice a week and play on it.
Sound — 10
This head can fit almost any music style. Blues, rock, country, alternative... I play in my church twice a week so I play it pretty clean mostly. At home, I turn it up and play rock and blues, so it covers everything I need from it. The master volume bypass switch gives great flexibility with sounds. If you want super clean put on the bypass with 30 watts and you've got a nice Fendery roundness or a Vox sparkle (depending on the eq controls). The different channels and inputs give a ton of flexibility. The low inputs are cleaner and give a more "edge of break up sound" and can get crunchy and rockish if you turn up the channel volume enough. The high inputs are punchier and more overdriven as the volume increases in comparison to the low inputs. For classic rock, the high inputs are my favorite. They cut through the mix and sing really well with my Les Paul.
The watt switch is one of my favorite features. More headroom/less headroom. The 15 watt channel is perfect for smallish gigs (but can still get creaming loud) and the 30 watt mode add that extra "umf" that you sometimes need. I have an 80 watt Fender Showman class AB amp and the 30 watts from this Vox is almost equally as loud.
My favorite feature is the bypass switch. Having a master volume is awesome but sometimes you want to crank it up and if you have a master volume, the tone simply isn't as good (in my opinion). So when the signal is going through one volume knob and driving the power tubes and preamp tubes together, the sound seems more natural.
I do not like the hot/cool switch. I can see why others might like it, but it is too searing for my ears. To cut through a mix you will have NO problem if it's engaged but it's a little too much for me. There's no mid control which might seem like a negative but I don't seem feel like I need one. The tone cut knob does a good job as an overal tone regulator and the bass and treble knobs kinda tweek it.
The normal setting... it's pretty normal. Not much to say about it but that's good because you don't always want to have the top boost gain sound. Sometimes you need normal. Overall, the sound is great. I couldn't be happier with the sound.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had no issues with reliability. The tolex is super durable. I've hit it on plenty of things and it never leaves a dent or scratch. No scratchy pots. Jacks are all good. I don't worry about the reliability, so I guess it's pretty good. I've been told that tubes need to be replaced more often in AC30 than other amps but I've only had it for a few months now so the tubes should last a good while longer. The Handle on the top seems sturdy but I'm not sure it would last long if you carried it with one hand all the time. It's pretty heavy so I don't think using the single handle is that great of an idea anyway.
Overall Impression — 9
From hillsong to U2 to Led Zeppelin, this amp covers just about everything. There's a reason so many guitarists have used an AC30 over the years. I love the head. My only real complaint is the size/weight. The functional part of the head isn't huge, but the ply wood cabinet it's in is pretty heavy and big. It kinda feels like they made it bigger than it needed to be. The one handle that's on it is almost useless. Carrying a 45 pound head with one hand doesn't see practical. I usually just put both hands on each side and carry it around. I do wish they'd have a handle on each side of it like the combo version.