Price paid: $ 700
Purchased from: Local Music Store
Features — 4
This thing looks beautiful and is loud enough to play with acoustic drums. I bought this one new, from a local music store in Tver. Main features are: tube preamp inside, which makes it a hybrid amp, two custom 12" speakers, clean / overdrive channels, 3-band EQ, volume and gain controls, basic non-configurable digital reverb. I think that for an amp of such a price this set of features is rather limited. There is no output jack, no headphones, no way to record the sound except using the a mic. With proper configuration both Shure SM57 and Tascam DR-40 do the trick pretty well. I understand its classic design and so on, but why roomy digital reverb then? It does not belong to the huge amp with a tube inside.
Sound — 9
This nice hybrid sound is very nice for my style, because I mostly play melancholic post-rock. Clean and slightly overdriven sound is really very big, rich and bright, it's a classic Vox tone, tube sensitivity is very nice. Absolutely no problems here, I enjoy it very much, it inspires me. Here comes the difference between AC30 and AC30VR - the VR is able to give you much more gain. I use it with my PRS SE Singlecut, and it sounds rather heavy in drop D with reduced mids and some extra bass and highs, if you use the full gain. Of course, it still is not gonna meet death metal player's expectations, but the sound is awesome. I only rate the amp 9 instead of 10 only because of a rather poor built-in reverb. Keep in mind that setting it to 100% will ruin the sound. Also this amp is not pedal friendly. Boss Chorus is OK, but Marshall Jackhammer, AMT Bulava SS-30 and other overdrive/distortion gear do not sound good with AC30VR.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I only have it for half a year, and I only use it at home, but it seems to be very solid and well crafted. I never had any problems with it. It is heavy as a rock and seems to be an immortal piece of gear. The knobs also feel great and rather expensive, despite being made of plastic. I do not expect any problems with it at all. It works perfect and it should be really tricky to damage it. I can always be assured to have no buzz, because the screws are well suited. Just an amp you can rely on. I'm not scared to sit on it while playing. This may sound barbaric for you, but believe me, this amp does not care about holding my 50 kg body at all, it's more reliable than any of this old chairs I have at home :)
Overall Impression — 9
If you are a metalhead, it's not your amp. If you're not - then it's a great choice, which sounds truly good. Just think carefully about the features you need. The main thing about it is the inspiration. The device looks great, sounds great and gives you a lot for your guitar. Of course, it's not too comfortable to record the amp from a mic, instead of just plugging it to a computer / mixer using output, but on the second thought - mic recording is a classical way to get sound from an amp in studio, so it's not so bad. I have never had an expensive amp before, and that's the best one I ever had. It just can't be compared with Fender Frontman 15 and so on - this is completely another sound and quality level. If it would be lost, I would be heavily depressed, and I would start saving money to buy another one, I thing. The lack of features is the only disappointing thing about it, if you're a blues/jazz player, that Vox AC30VR your perfect choice.