Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
I'm going to be a little long-winded here, but this is the most important part of an amp, in my opinion, and this is where the Vox shines. So, I want to be detailed. This amp really shines in terms of pure tone. I'm extremely happy with the sounds I can pull from it. Again, you have to tweak each of the models to get it where you want. This isn't hard to do at all, though, and once you do, it'll make you weep. The Blackface and Tweed models are superb (push the gain higher and cut the treble back). I use a Holy Grail reverb pedal with these 2 models and absolutely love the tones I get. Very powerful and rich. I can't emphasize this enough. And I'm not even a blues guy. You can get psychodelic tones, goth tones, Floyd tones, you name it. I promise, you'll love it. These 2 models really stand out. The Boutique Clean is nice for shimmering type cleans. Again, the Holy Grail sets this one off and I really enjoy it. The only downside is that you have to push the gain a little to give it any 'oomph' and cutting power. The Boutique OD is also nice. It'll give you a nice mid-level Indie type distortion. The bad. In my opinion, the UK '70s, UK '80s, UK modern, and nu metal models are pretty useless. The UK models, in particular, just come off as the most solid state sounding tones in the line-up. And those are ones I'd expect that classic Marshall type tone from. I have enjoyed the '70s and '80s models a little, but only with a lot of tweaking. And only if playing Zep or Sabbath. I can see where some people might like them. Maybe they're just not my thing. The AC 15 and 30 models are fun. Classic tube Vox sound. Crank up the gain and play some ZZ Top, man. Not that ZZ used Vox, it's just the first thing that comes to mind with these models. These are really good and you can do a lot with them. Not really my thing, but I can see where some players would get a lot of use out of them. Last, but not least, the US hi-gain model. This is where I have to strongly disagree with a lot of the reviews I've read. I personally think that they pulled this one off exceptionally well. It's downright mean sounding. The bottom end is tight and full, the trebles are nice and not at all artificial sounding. Maybe my idea of metal distortion is outdated, I don't know. But I do like to occasionally jam on some Metallica, Slayer, Death, Godflesh, and the like (yes, I'm a bit dated), and I find the tone to be crunchy as all h*ll. I will say this, the 2x12 open back can get a little 'whoofy' when pushed. But it's a 2x12 (with not the greatest speakers). I put the US Higain through my Mesa-Boogie 4x12 cabinet, though, and I'm telling you, all h*ll broke loose. I love the metal tone. Maybe it's just me. All in all, I adore the tones I get out of this little beast. Granted, I would trade some of the lesser models for some more features (more preset), but I realliy do not think you will be disappointed. And, this little bastard is loud. I'm a big fan of it.
Overall Impression — 9
I play in an alt-rock band. They claim post-punk, glam, psychodelic, boogie-rock, and pure rock influences (I say they because I'm new and this isn't the type of music I typically play). It works geat in that setting. But d*amn the preset limitation. Without that I'd be in heaven. I bought this amp initially to be a practice amp to keep at home. My stahe amp for years has been a Hughes & Ketner Attax 200 through a Mesa Boogie 4x12 cab. I immediately noticed the potential of the Vox and I suspect it will soon either overtake the Hughes or become an A/B setup alongside it (again, lack of presets, and the Hughes does rock). I also noodle with very clean, somber music, metal, and classic rock. Personally, I find this amp to nail every one of them. The tone is outstanding.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I can't really comment on this. I've only had it about a month, but I've had no problems so far. I will say that it 'feels' heavy-duty. The cover is tougha and the handles are, too. I hear complaints about the input jack, but I'll just take care and cross my fingers! I'm giving it an 8 just by 'feel' and initial impression, but keeping in mind the issues I've heard.
Features — 7
I think the features have been covered pretty well in other reviews. I do find some shortcomings in that I can only save 2 custom presets. I really, really wish I could save more because I can tweak many of the amp models to sound incredible, but the amp doesn't even remember my settings if I leave an amp model and come back to it. And most of the models need tweaking to sound good for me. If I could save even 5 sounds, I would use this amp live exclusively. The effects are good. The reverb and delay sound great. The chorus, just ok. Flanger is good, compressor I don't really 'get'. Auto-wah, well, I'm not a big fan of wah as it is, so I never use it. The rotary is nice. Tremolo and phaser are pretty good, too. You can adjust the noise gate, but again, if you don't like the setting and tweak it, switching back and forth between models resets everything. Not good.