Price paid: $ 129
Purchased from: Guitar Center - Used
Sound — 7
I have played this amp in a couple of different formats, the mini (6.5" speaker), the regular combo (10" speaker), and the head unit with matching cab. I have enjoyed all of the formats and I really like how each unit has its own tonal characteristics but each one is not so drastically different that it is an entirely new amp. You can easily get the same tone out of each one, it is just a matter of bass response and mids out of the different speaker sizes. For any of those who have read my reviews you know that I am a blues/rock player and lately I have really been trying to turn up the twang on my playing by digging into some good ole' fashioned country. To any country player there are really only two options. Fender Blackface or Vox AC. Vox AC has a truly twangy and chimey tone that everyone from The Beatles to Brad Paisley have utilized. Brad in his own right uses an AC clone utilizing Dr. Z amps. To break it down plain and simple though it is a Vox AC. This Vox does not disappoint. Plug in a Telecaster and boom! Instant Twang. When turned up to a little over first breakup this amp really screams with a smooth yet biting attack. It is hard to describe but it basically falls right in between a Fender Blackface and Marshall Plexi. It has the clean abilities of a Fender and the bite of a Marshall but it has a purely unique tone. Crisp, sparkly, use any word you like but it sounds good. That is the point. It clearly earns a 9 in my books as it delivers a really true tone. There is something to be said about simplistic amps, they work, and work well. I have played plenty of AC30's and AC15's and the Vox AC4 represents its bigger brother extremely well. If you want something you can play at home and not go deaf by pick one of these up. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. The ability to have the power scaling option of 4w, 1w, and 1/4w is truly great. Four watts can keep up in a live atmosphere depending on how you utilize it. I have done it in a live setting and had no problem. It obviously depends how much clean headroom you want but if you want a dirty, overdriven, spanky tone, you will have no problem being heard over a drummer. The watt reducing options simply just make it break up earlier; it doesn't necessarily make it quieter. Just keep that in mind when bringing one of these home. The watt reducing option is not a volume control; it really leads to breakup and how quickly that occurs. Overall I am extremely impressed by this amp. Pure tone, simple to use, and a great look.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall I am really impressed that Vox let the common man, me, get into a Vox AC. Marshall are my number ones, Fenders are my number two, I would never really play a Vox unless I start a country-blues outfit so it is nice for me to be able to achieve the Vox tone without having to fork out $1000+. Unfortunately, and probably like many of you, I do not have unlimited money and unlimited space. I try to achieve every tone possible with the least amount of gear and least amount of money spent. For me, picking up a $129 head that I can put on any one of my speaker cabinets is pretty easy to do and doesn't take up much space. It is nice to achieve a plethora of tones based on what mood I am in and the movement of low wattage tube amps is making it possible. Overall I think you get what you pay for, an amazing sounding amp, minimal options, true Vox Tube tone, and an expected build quality. If you are available to invest a speaker you like this will serve you for many years to come.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Over my years dealing with Vox I have never encountered any issues. I know that is not the case for all of you out there though. I look at it like this, this is not nearly as expensive as an AC15 or AC30 thus you should not expect all the same quality. The wood (particle board) is cheaper, the manufacturing is not as looked over, and the products used are not as high quality, however, it is what Vox needs to do to deliver you an amp that sounds this good for the price they are asking. It is simple business. Find me an amp that sounds like a Vox AC for this price. You will not find one. They have to skimp on some things to make it affordable. Thus, you may encounter some reliability and more so durability issues you may not encounter on an AC15 or AC30. I will also say though that this looks to be built extremely well and seems to have solid construction quality. It is like everything, if you treat it well it will treat you well and if not, well you know the rest of the story.
Features — 9
Specifics are here: Vox AC4TVH - Controls: Tone, Volume, OP Level (4W, 1W, W) - In/Out Jacks: Input, External Speaker Jack (') - Output: 4 Watt RMS 16-Ohm - Speakers: V112TV 1 x 12" 16-Ohm Celestion VX12 custom speaker (this is in the matching cab) - Valve/Tube Complement: 1 x 12AX7 (pre) / 1 x EL84 (power) Pretty basic controls (volume & tone) but also a pretty basic amp based on a classic design. There is not much to do here, no modeling, no sound shaping, just plug in, turn up, and play. It is as easy as that and it is quite easy to achieve great tone. You achieve your gain/overdrive the old school way, it's called a volume dial.