Sound — 8
The other AC4 models come with separate gain and master volumes, and more complex tone controls, but I wanted the raw sound of this little monster. I like the sound of power tube saturation and this Vox delivers. With my Fender American Standard Strat and Tele this amp begins to break up about 1/4 of the way up on the volume. The break up continues pretty evenly up to halfway on the volume. Pushed just past halfway the the amp doesn't get much louder, but the breakup gets richer as the power tube begins to overload. With the P90 on my PRS SE Korina One or the humbuckers on my Hagstrom Viking, the overdrive terrific for such a small amp; think Pete Townshend, or Billy Gibbons. What the AC4TV can't really do though is clean. You have to dial back on your single-coils volume and keep the below the 1/3 mark to get a clean sound and volume that works for practice or home recording. Gigging? No way. The output level control works great, knocking the amp down to respectable volumes when the volume is turned up. Make no mistake though, the amp is loud. On 4 watts, the amp is loud enough to hurt your ears (but don't try to keep up with a drummer). At 1 watt, the volume won't bother neighbors much until you get past halfway up on the volume. At 1/4 watt, you can play fairly quietly, but the tone of the amp is a bit squashed. The tone control is moderately effective. You can shape the sound, but it doesn't represent a huge sweep from bass to treble.
Overall Impression — 9
This small, light, grab and go amp sounds great turned up. You can get a seriously overdriven sound without shaking the walls (much). Or you can attenuate it and play a respectable levels without losing very mush tone. Attenuated all the way down to 1/4 the amp no longer sounds quite as good, but still sounds alright. For the money, this amp is exactly what I was looking for: a raw, rich overdrive machine.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've owned this amp for 4 months now, and have had no problems at all. I expect it to be simple enough that not much can really go wrong with it. I got it for home use, and don't think it's versatile enough to want to gig with it.
Features — 7
This is a simple little 4 watt tube amplifier, made in China in 2012. It has one 12AX7 tube in the preamp, and one EL84 tube in the power amp. It comes with a 10 Celestion speaker and a 16ohm speaker out that disables the internal speaker, and a mere 3 control knobs: volume, tone and output level. The output level is an attenuator, allowing you to play at the full 4 watts, or knock it down to either 1 watt or 1/4 watt. I play classic rock and bluesy punk stuff, and this hit the spot for dirty sounds. It doesn't do cleans, unless you don't need the cleans too loud. Given that this is a small, light, cheap tube amp, there aren't any other features that I would have needed to see here. In fact, the simplicity is what attracted me to the AC4TV.