Pathfinder 15R review by Vox

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.8 Neat
  • Users' score: 8 (79 votes)
Vox: Pathfinder 15R

Price paid: $ 120

Sound — 7
I played several guitars through this amp. Listing the guitars would be Ibanez Artcore AXD83P, Ibanez RG350, Squier Bullet Strat SSS, and a clone of a double cut Les Pau with an upgraded Seymour Duncan Invader in the bridge position. I played some classic rock tunes (Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Kansas, Dire Straits), some metal tunes (Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Metallica), some Blues Rock tunes (Joe Bonamassa, Robin Trower) and some pop rock/alternative tunes (White Stripes, Radiohead, Nirvana) through the Vox Pathfinder 15. This amp is not noisy at all (with the exception of single coils at high gain). This amp has a very warm tone, and it sounds like it is trying to emulate tube tones, but it doesn't quite pull it off.

The clean settings (no gain boost) has a lot of character, but isn't the sparkling clean you would hear from Fender amps. It doesn't seem to distort until you get to around 3 o'clock or so on the volume dial. Just noodling around with the clean channel' and some reverb, playing arpeggios, I got some really nice tones out of this amp. It really has a Vintage rock type of sound and sounds exceptionally nice for a solid state amp at its price.

The gain immediately sounds good with overdriven blues and classic rock tones easy to dial in. Playing just random blues licks was really enjoyable, and again I was getting really good tone out of this solid state amp when you take into account the price point. I ran through several songs and played through a few solos, and I was really impressed. I definitely think the Vox Pathfinder shines when playing mildly distorted classic rock. This amp handles metal fairly well (in my definition metal would be older Metallica and Megadeth, etc.), but the tone gets muddy around 3 o'clock of the gain knob with the gain boost engaged. It was a little worse with the Seymour Duncan Invader than it was with the stock pickups in the Ibanez RG350.

Unfortunately, I don't play black metal, death metal, etc., and can't comment on those besides saying that this amp will not get that distorted without pedals.

The tremolo to me is far too extreme even at its lowest settings, but would probably be nice for someone wanting to play old surf music. I personally felt like the base tone of the amp was hurt when the tremolo effect was engaged.

Overall Impression — 7
I would have liked to play around with the footswitch with this amp, but I do not have it. It would probably be worthwhile to purchase the footswitch. It would also be nice if the reverb were controlled via the footswitch. The amp has a lot of sonic options and every dial on the amp is useful (with the exception of the tremolo effect which is useless in my personal opinion). If I could go back in time I would have liked to have started out with this as my first amplifier. I started out with a Line 6 Spider and this Vox is far superior. The base tone available with this amp is just far superior to what you would expect from a cheap solid state amp. Really, for this price, I am comparing this in my mind to a Line 6 Spider and a Roland Cube. The Vox has far less in the way of effects having only reverb and tremolo but the base tone is just so much better. This is a good amp for practice and small gigs, and I would suggest it for beginners to intermediate players who are in the market for a solid state amp.

Reliability & Durability — 6
This amp is really sturdy and I think this amp would be reliable for some gigs in small venues. I think this amp was really made to be portable for small gigs and practice, and I think it could take the abuse that would naturally occur. It is heavy for its size and feels very solid. The carry handle seems to be very sturdy. I would personally like to see corner guards/bumpers on this, just because it would make me feel better, but I think this amp is very durable as is.

Features — 7
The Vox Pathfinder 15R is a 15 watt solid state amp with Gain, Gain Boost, 2 band EQ (Bass and Treble), a spring reverb and tremolo speed and depth controls. The Pathfinder has a headphone jack, it has a record out jack, it has a jack to hook up to an external cab (8 ohm), and has a jack for the optional footswitch. This is a single channel amp with an 8 Vox speaker. The 2 band EQ actually gives you a fair amount of control over the EQ, though I prefer a 3 band. This amp gets pretty loud for a 15w solid state amp, and would probably be okay for jamming, band practice and small coffee shop type gigs. The reverb sounds very nice. The tremolo on the other hand seems overpowering even at the slowest speed and near the lowest depth. The optional footswitch allows you to turn the gain boost and tremolo effect on and off. This amp seems fairly versatile, but it seems to really want to sound like classic rock seems like it takes a lot more dialing to get other sounds out of it. It has enough gain to play most hard rock and metal until you get into the realm of black metal, death metal and things like that. The Vintage chicken head knobs are attractive on the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder also has a faux leather carry handle. This amp costs $120 US dollars brand new.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This amp only sounds good with an lp. I hook it up with an ltd with emgs and gosh, with distortion it sounds damn awful.
    I recently bought the pathfinder 10. The loudest 10 Watts I ever heard and two channels. I was shocked to find no cabinet corners and it could use a reverb, external speaker and line in. Some good guitar sounds and 55 well spent at Hollywood music.
    Use 2-12's and mic or lIne it out like it should be for a more even gig sound. Great amp and has plenty of tones. I use a Boss OS-2 to drive it and it sounds great. It's the tone we are looking for and this has it. Mic'd you could play in a 50,000 plus stadium!
    I just put a Weber Blue Pup AlNiCo in my '15R. Right off the bat the texture is better and the amp is more lively. Many call me a clown, but I would never show up for a gig using the '15R for power. This amp is wonderful in the studio and for general use at home writing, figuring things out, et-cetera. Great tones without blowing yer brains out. Moving the big stuff into and out of a gig is a big pita, and I love this little amp that can come along to a rehearsal (we don't set up the whole two tons to learn a tune). Now that I've had it for a little over a year, I will say this is the very best little household music tool I own that doesn't require strings. I suppose you could use one live if the drummer played bongos. I'm fairly certain the designers of this box didn't have in mind slaying the Hiwatt brand. What it does, it does better than anything under around four hundred bucks, and that makes it a winner for me. Fender makes a line of solid-state amps with enough power to cover a room, but they are too loud to be useful at home for writing, diddling, or whatever. For $119, this Vox Pathfinder 15R is a remarkable value. Just know going in that you cannot ride it over Niagara Falls.
    Remove the two red LED's, speaker out to two 12s and you can play small to medium gigs. You can get more creamy tones than a 100 watt Marshall that isn't being pushed. I don't use the pushbotton overdrive on the amp. With the gain at 9 and the volume at 12, I was easily able to throw out 94-95 db's at about 8-10 feet. Boss OS-2 level was at about 12. This amp is amazing! Again, if you mic it, the sky is the limit!
    Vox pathfinder 15R, orange crush 10 or orange crush pix 12L? Wich suits better some blues rock?
    I don't know the Orange amps because I never bought one after trying them, too hard rock for me. I've played 47 years, and I've owned two Pathfinder 15Rs. There are lots of good small amps now -- Peavey Rage 258, Fender Mustang I -- but the Pathfinder has the best "base" sound, as a guy said above. The only amp that comes close in their class, IMHO as a small amp freak, is the Kustom Contender, a GREAT 18W lightweight hybrid amp that's a little more pricey. The next step up is the Fender Super Champ XD, bigger, heavier, nearly 3X the price. For the price the Pathfinder 15R is the best blues rock amp out there. It's a practice amp, sure, but you can gig with it, because it has line and speaker outs to run to the house system. When people ask me what amp to buy for their first amp, this is the one I name.
    I like the Idea of a small practice type amp with both Reverb & Tremolo! Its much nicer than others! Blues Rock Rolls...No..You can't have mine!
    A really great sounding amp for the price of 89.00 warm sounding authentic vox sound. Tremolo is a nice feature, I would like the spring reverb to be a little more powerful but gives sufficient atmosphere. I can't recommend this amp enough, I used for a small pub gig and it was plenty loud enough. Looks cool sounds cool and doesn't take up much space easy to carry. Love it!
    Hiker wrote: Bought the Pathfinder 15 used without the reverb. Not using it beyond 5-6 on volume & gain. Very satisfied with it as a home, practice amp for Tele and Strat. Some guys are buying two of these amps to play on-stage-that's my plan for some-future gigs.
    I very much doubt that two 15W amps can be used in a gig, even in a very small one. You need at least 50W for a small club stage, and 15Wx2 make only 30 of them. There is another problem your buddies don't seem to be aware of. Amps are generally designed to deliver more at their highest levels. An amp with 30W output will have a better gain (reverb, overdrive etc.) than 2x15W. The bigger, the better is the law that works with the amps. And, anyway, as a proud owner of a Vox Pathfinder, let me tell you straight: this is the best PRACTICE amp in the world. Outside my bedroom, however, it needs to be replaced by something else. Unless you are a very rich guy, so you can afford a AC100 head cum cabinet, or a AC30 hand-wired, "something else" also means "of another brand": at around 50W, Vox sells only toys. Its stupid Valvetronix line, with those ridiculous DSP and incorporated effects, cannot be used in a gig. Unless you are a clown, of course.