AC4 review by Vox

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (28 votes)
Vox: AC4
3

Price paid: $ 250

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 8
Right now, I'm only using my Epi Les Paul Plus through it, but I cannot wait until my partscaster comes together. I can only imagine what a strat will sound like with this thing. However, my LP sounds awesome through it. A guitar known for that chunky, round, low end being played through an amp known for chimey, singing top end is a very cool combination. However, it breaks up entirely too early. You will find that this is the main, and one of the only, complaints with this line from Vox. However, a tube change and some tinkering can fix that. This amp is very quiet and doesn't seem to hiss much at all... 4 watts will do that though. As I said in the features section, the sound is very vintage, but a tube screamer can push it into some nice, tight distortion. This is no monster, though. An 8 for almost zero headroom and very harsh tones when the volume is at 90%+.

Overall Impression — 8
I play classic rock 90% of the time, and Vox tube amps just seem to be a great fit for that style. I have some metal moments and even with the tube screamer it doesn't quite get there, but it serves me well regardless. After seven years of playing and going through a few bad amps and a couple "wanna be's" I am very happy with this amp. Minus the few problems I highlighted earlier, this is perfect for my playing lifestyle and my tone needs. One last thing that you may want to look into before you buy this amp; is the 12" mini stack available? I wish I had gotten the mini stack instead, the 10" speaker just isn't quite doing it. That doesn't matter too much in the overall scheme of things though. If this were a 12" combo, with reverb and maybe a preamp volume it would be absolutely perfect for everyone. What it is though, and what it does, is damn near perfect for me. You can argue for the Valve Jr, the Blackstar 5w, the Champ 600, the Handsome Devil/Killer Ant or even the Bugera 5 watter, however none of them sound like this amp, and this amp probably doesn't sound like any of those. For what it is, its great.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I do not gig yet. There are some opportunities that might pop up, and when they do I will probably buy a bigger amp from Vox. Like the AC15 or AC30. Vox has stolen my heart with their amps and I am not ashamed to admit that. It seems to be very reliable, though. A tube change is coming very soon for this little guy and I cannot wait to get in there and look around. It seems to be very sturdy, but I won't be kicking it down the stairs any time soon. The only thing that worries me is the fact that this amp is completely enclosed except for about a 3" by 1" strip of vents on top near the tubes. It gets very hot, really quick. So that may be a problem for tube life, but I am a tinkerer and a tone freak so tube changes will come often. No serious problems here; a 10.

Features — 9
Yet another installation in the low-wattage tube amp arms race; boy is this a good one, too! This line from Vox was introduced in 2009 and mine was made late in that same year. I bought this 10" combo tone machine about 4 months ago and I believe I found the perfect fit for my playing lifestyle. This amp is versatile, if you're looking for a gorgeous top end on your cleans and some nice, tube-driven dirt. Those of you that are familiar with this amp know that it only has one channel; lower volumes are clean and the volume drives the tubes in to overdrive. However, a very cool feature on this amp is the built in attenuator. You can Switch between 4 watts, 1 watt and 1/4 of a watt. This is very, very handy. 4 watts is the perfect level for jamming with friends and 1/4 is excellent for bedroom or dormroom practice. The third, and final, knob is the tone knob. The tone know is very responsive, in my opinion. Dime it for that true Vox top end, or kick it back to balance your tone out a little bit. Basically this amp is great at being what it is, a small practice amp with no frills. It looks classic, it sounds classic and the controls are classic. It loses a point for not having reverb though, that would have been just perfect.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    barden1069
    This is one sweet little amp. I have the fender champ 600, and while it's a decent amp on its own (with a few mods) I think this one is better.
    wisaac
    I've got one. Really like it, and it sounds good with pedals too.. one issue, it seems to have some rather annoying vibration when I play the lower bass strings. If I push on the back of the amp where the cord plugs into it, the vibration goes away.. almost seems like something is a little loose. Haven't attempted to fix.
    ElevenBravo
    I've had the 8" version of this amp for about 2 weeks and I love it! Great for late night jamming without disturbing the rest of the house. Sounds great. Buy one - you won't regret it.
    Adam Birtwistle
    This amp rocks. I was worried it wouldn't stand up playing live (it is a practive amp after all). The sound guy actually told me to turn the amp down! I play small gigs so didn't want anything too big as I like to drive the tubes hard. Its a one trick pony and I only have one trick so works fine for me. I don't really use cleans but if I did i'd just use a different amp . When I do I just turn the volume down on the guitar. Check these videos out if it helps. The only pedal used is a TS9 and I didn't need to use that much. I imagine it would take other pedals well. I'm playing it through a Hagstrom Swede and the other guy is playing a Clapton Strat through a Fender Deluxe. Both amps miced up. Hope it helps! http://www.youtube.com/user/birtner?feat...
    Wulver
    ismailchlyeh wrote: hey guys! can it give a similar sound to the one of brian may?
    Brian May tones are ALMOST reachable with this guy. It doesn't have quite enough gain on its own, you need to push it a little harder with a boost pedal or something. For the record, this is an amazing amp. Managed to score the head-cab version for the unbelievable price of $135, and I couldn't be happier. If you like the Vox tone, you're practically obligated to get this little guy.
    soundmagician
    Hi guys, I like your comments! I really like clean tones, does this amp really do a good job with that sound? Does the sound break up too early when trying for clean, and increasing the volume? Thanks, Soundmagician
    Leep_dog
    soundmagician wrote: Hi guys, I like your comments! I really like clean tones, does this amp really do a good job with that sound? Does the sound break up too early when trying for clean, and increasing the volume? Thanks, Soundmagician
    Everyone's definition of clean varies, but in my opinion, yes, this thing breaks up early and lacks clean head room. It has a beautiful tone though.
    MyDogDoesTricks
    Got my AC4TV at Guitar Center this morning for $195 with their Black Friday coupon. I've tried with both an Ibanez AS-73 Artcore and a Hamer Sunburst. Very nice tone both the 4 watt and 1 watt level. Both guitars started getting the overdriven sound right around the 12 o'clock volume position. Sounds a bit boxy at the 1/4 watt level to me, though. It's just been one day with the amp, but I'm really happy with it.