Lil' Night Train review by Vox

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (22 votes)
Vox: Lil' Night Train

Price paid: A$ 349

Purchased from: Shire Music Centre

Sound — 8
I own several guitars, both a variety of single coils and humbuckers. The main two guitars I use with this amp is an Ibanez RGA72QTMZ and a Squier Classic Vibe 50's Tele and both are truly voiced through this amp. Every guitar sounds different through it. I play a bit of everything, I will say my two main styles is fingerpicking/bluegrass and metal and this amp, surprisingly for a Vox, handles both amazingly. The clean channel offers a great sharp chickin' pickin' sound through the Tele and a raw, powerful distortion for the Ibanez. No noise at low volumes, except the normal hum from single coils on distortion. Cranked it does hum through feedback, but it's no different to any other amp. A noise gate effectively relieves this problem. The Bright channel activates the two band EQ (Treble and Bass) to get anything from a deep rich clean to twangy, crisp cleans. You can Drive this channel into some nice, classic crunch by pushing the Gain knob up and the volume down pushing into nice natural overdrive. Perfect for the blues and classic rocker. The thick channel is where it gets interesting. The two band EQ is deactivated on this setting and the result is a raw, powerful distortion. When the gains cranked up you get a lovely Mastodon, Isis, Neuorosis, etc type of tone. Gainy, raw, growling distortion. When an overdrive pedal is chucked in front of it it tightens up the low end and makes it a bit crisper, perfect for satchurated lead tones. Only concern is there is no way to get to clean but to roll your guitars volume back, nightmare for active pickup users. The clean sound naturally distorts at high volumes, but you if balance the Gain and the Volume the clean can remain solid at very high volumes.

Overall Impression — 8
As I said earlier I play a lot of different genres and I haven't needed a new amp in a year. I've been playing for four years now and own various effects pedals, having recently sold all of my distortion pedals because I loved the sound I got from this amp. All my questions were answered when I heard it. And when I found out it came as a pack I bought it on the spot. I would buy it again in a heartbeat. For someone looking for a small valve practice amp at home at an affordable price, look no further. I love the versatility regardless of it being a Vox, I love the look, the sound, the price and it's size. It's perfect for me as I live in a small rural area. The channel switching, lack of effects loop and mid control is a bit of a shame, however it's a small setback compared to what the amp is. My favourite feature is definitely the Thick setting. I've never heard anything like it on a small amp like this. I compared it to the AC4TV (which alot of people do) and found this to be a lot more versatile. Easier to get gain at low volumes as well.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Owned it for almost a year now without fault, so I would say it's reliable. Though I can't vouch for every amp out there, there's always going to be a dud in the batch no matter what. No service as been required yet, no valves replaced. It's functioning fine. Head is made of durable metal, protecting the delicate valves and transformer. Cabinet is durable, can't see it breaking down on me. Though as I said I wouldn't gig with it, only because of it's wattage not it's reliability.

Features — 7
The amp was built at the tail end of 2010 as well as the cab which is included in the whole bundle. For a 2 watt single channel amp, this thing is pretty versatile. I play anything from fingerpicking to Mastodon and the amp has a wide variety of tonal capabilities. Though for the regions of metal, an overdrive is essential. Incredibly simple layout, from left to right, Gain - Treble - Bass - Volume. There are two voicings which is accessed via a switch inbetween the Gain and Treble knobs, you can choose Bright and Thick which essentially acts as two channels, Clean and Crunch. Features that would be desirable on the amp would definitely be a footswitch to go from Bright and Thick, an effects loop and a mids control. But is a small price to pay for a good amp! I use this in my bedroom and wouldn't dream of gigging with it, 2 Watts valve is perfect for home. That lovely valve sound without the volume! Don't be fooled though, 2 watts valve is still quite loud and I use this as a recording amp as well which fits it perfectly. The amp comes as a package. The Head, 1x10 Cab (With a celestion speaker) and a good quality speaker lead comes all together in a neat little kit. Portable, storable and overall looks killer!

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    slipknot_420 wrote: lil Piece 'O' Crap ha I guess if I had to choose between this and a blackstar Id choose my Mesa
    So why does it say, "Buy my Mesa!" on your profile?
    One of the best practice amp available today. Versatile, clean and quiet. A real treat for those in love with guitar's natural sound.
    Eppicurt wrote: slipknot_420 wrote: lil Piece 'O' Crap ha I guess if I had to choose between this and a blackstar Id choose my Mesa So why does it say, "Buy my Mesa!" on your profile?
    And you'd make a terrible choice!
    I just picked up one of these beauties up yesterday. I also have a Blackster HT1R but wanted something a bit more vintage sounding as well. Having played an AC30 many years ago I missed the Vox chime and I must say I am pleasantly surprised how much vintage tone and chime this little toaster provides. It is a bit trebbly when playing single coils but nothing a small tweek of the guitar's tone control can't put right. Sounds fantastic with humbuckers. Great for 60s and 70s British tone but won't be much use for a modern metal tone without using pedals.
    I have a lil' night train set for about a year now and i'm loving it !! I am a bass player and i use this little gem as a low volume, high pitch practice tube amp at home. Yeah... i know this is in Original state a little guitar gainbeast with screaming VOX tone but with a few tweaks it's acceptable for clean low volume basstones too. Didn't care for the cab though, i play it through an Ampeg SVT 210av bass cab. Changed the Original china tubes for a real nice set of JJ tubes and clipped the C19 capacitor wich provides a darker tone instead of the terrible VOX brightness. On the TDPRI website is a great forum for LNT owners, check this for some great info for tube changes and mods.
    I just bought one for $180.00 and it was used very little. I tossed the Chinese tubes and put some JJs in the pre amp and did not go with the 12AU7 but a 12BH7 EHX in the power amp. This tube mod really helpe this 2 watt amp. I did not want anything to do with the Vox cab and I had a Blackstar 10 X 1 cab. I hate 10" speakers. I replace the crap stock speaker with a Celestion GL12 35, now this thing can breath. I have a Vox AC30 made in 1967 a great amp that helped Vox get a good name that is ruined. The Vox AC 4 TV with a 8" speaker helped to destroy Vox and crap amp that Vox stuck us with. My AC4 blew up, real junk. This funny toaster sucked too with out changes. Stock it is back and toss in the Vox cabinet and they lost more customers. Make them right Vox!
    A great little amp. I sold mine, since I have so much equipment, but that thick crunch tone is really something. Ideal for some lower-volume jamming with friends. And with the headphone jack, perfect for practicing in apartments.
    This thing has a fantastic clean tone. The built in Gain is a little weak for my taste, but you can get some "almost" crunch tones out of it. Use an external drive for it and it's perfect.
    Most_Triumphant wrote: Ok guys, so this one or Blackstar Ht-1 for classic rock?
    I went to some local guitar store a month ago to try either Vox Lil' Night Train or Blackstart HT-1.. try 'em both and I'm leaning towards Vox lil' night train compare to Blackstart HT-1. In my opinion, the sound is more vintage plus it is rich with character. Although I end up buying Ibanez TSA15 combo but for sure if I have some fortune to spend, I will get Vox lil night train or VOX night train for practice amp..
    Ok guys, so this one or Blackstar Ht-1 for classic rock?
    Most definitely the L'il Night Train. Much more natural sounding than the HT-1. Besides the HT-1 isn't a real all valve amp, it's a "hybrid".
    Most_Triumphant wrote: Ok guys, so this one or Blackstar Ht-1 for classic rock?
    Blackstar H1 is a good amp, but its cleans aren't so good as Vox's. So, if you mean Classic Rock, you better choose the Lil' Night Train.
    I bought one about three weeks ago after reading anything I could find about the mods. What's not to love about a 12AU7 P-P? This is an excellent little practice amp with the real vibe and true triode tone. When you get it home stock, it's way too hot (at least for me) and trebly. I generally followed the mod instructions on several websites, which is to disconnect C19 on the circuit board; this disables the horrible glass-shattering highs. I replaced the first preamp tube with a 12AY7EH, and the driver/PI with a JAN Philips ECG 12AT7, and the final with a JAN Sylvania 12AU7. Now the amp is sufficiently dark sounding to offer choices with regard to the tone controls and the speaker cabinet. I am highly pleased with my Vox Lil' Night Train as I have set it up. With the mod and tube changes above specified, the amp is clean (given a stiff speaker - not Celestion) with the Gain at Noon for single coils, and around ten thirty for big Humbuckers. The tone is like nothing I've heard before, and it's great. This is a lot of fun in the practice room/studio and I highly recommend it should be checked out if you're looking for such a tiny beast.
    I have both the HT-1 combo and, the Lil' Night Train. For the record, the HT-1 has a driver tube and a power tube 12ax7 ECC83 and 12au7 ECC82. It is not a hybrid. I feel they both rock! The HT-1 is cleaner sounding. Perhaps this would change if I changed tubes however. The Lil' Night Train has that chimey Vox tone which I love as well. I don't feel you could go wrong getting either one. This is coming from a guy who owns 11 amps.