Pathfinder 15R review by Vox

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  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (79 votes)
Vox: Pathfinder 15R

Purchased from: Private Sale

Features — 10
Made in Vietnam between 2012~2013 Bought in New Zealand about 3 months second hand! Contrary to popular Internet myths this is a single channel amp, With my electronics background and checking out examples of the circuit diagram it is a single channel with a boost switch in the second stage. What do you get out of the box?

Top Panel - Input jack, Gain knob, Boost Switch, Treble knob, Bass Knob, Tremolo Speed Knob, Tremolo Depth Knob, Reverb Knob, Power switch and power led. 

Back Panel - Head phone Jack, 8ohm Ext speaker jack, Line output jack, foot switch jack and finaly a wired in three pin power cable (Phase, Neutral and Earth) This thing runs on "Mans power " 220-240V~50Hz the power supply is unregulated for the power amp (+ & - 20V dc to ground) and zenna diode regulated for the pre amp (+ & - 15V dc to ground) So this thing can kill you like a valve amp If you desire to take it apart (there is 4 points were 240V AC are easy accessible when the amp is in parts). The Gain pot is connected to the out put of the first opamp and and then in to the second opamp. The boost switch and the related pedal (accessory) switch in a different negative feedback value to the second op amp in the signal crane. After the second opamp there is a typical LED diode clipper to ground the reverb signal is fed before this clipper to a spring reverb tank and fed back to the volume~tone mixer section. The tremolo section is part of the volume~tone mixer section. The volume~tone mixer section seems to be of the tone stack passive style. The power amp is a single IC power amp with soft clipping diodes in its out put this is connected to the speaker and the line out and headphone jacks, the headphone jack cuts the speaker and the line out does not it seems to be filtered. Why do I know this Well I have been working in the field of electronics for 20 to 30 years at the time of writing. Also I wanted to mod the clipping LED Diodes. The speaker is a 8" Vox Bulldog speaker the cabinet is made out of chipboard but well sealed from moisture it is covered in a vinyl like black stuff, there is some gold piping on the top sides and bottom. Four heavy duty rubber feet. And on the front the classic Vox trimmings brown textile fabric with the diamond pattern the Vox badge on a black vinyl panel and a gold strip and white piping. What do you get well its a all analogue amplifier that looks the part its rated at 15W.

Sound — 8
When I bought this amp I had no preconceived ideas on how it should sound, I just knew when I plugged in a guitar I liked it, This amp is not voiced like a fender valve amp clean clear and full bodied, Nor is it voiced like a Vox AC30 chimy and gritty at same time, It has its own voice it seems plenty loud not sure how it would compete with a loud drummer, but it has been noticeable in playing situations that I have publicly preformed in. When it is driven hard by the gain and boost switch the diode clipping can be very harsh sounding, but even as a clean amp it is a nice dirty clean Its default sound is a little nasal with a guitar equipped with a SHPG1 (pearly gates) but a current Gibson Les Paul was good, A cheep strat clone could be everything from Icepick to boomy with the adjustment of the tone controls, from a players point of view it lets the sound of the guitar be the hero not the sound of the amp with my main guitar H-S-H with various switching and splitting options I can get tones that I love to use from the quack of a strat to the twang of a country guitarist to AC/DC crunch ("Back in Black") with out the aid of pedals even nice warm blues distortion. When using pedals this is a different beast then it is the guitar + pedal is the hero. 

Now this is the non standard sound I modded mine. The clipping diodes where removed, A switch installed and a secondary circuit board installed. I now have the choice of standard LED clipping as factory No LED clipping or Asymmetrical LED clipping. With out the LED Clipping the sound is more open (it still distorts) but is much nicer but it is subtle. With the Asymmetrical Clipping it is sweeter than the original almost an octave effect (faintly). And Finally the Stock clipping well there are times I use it.

When I play there is some quite good touch sensitivity I have gone from crunch to clean just by altering my attack on the strings when I use my fingers the ability to change the tone at will is very impressive, for my playing style which is my own it is great. This amp will not do the super high gain sounds from the '80s on wards but that is not my style. I'm sure with the right pedal and filters that could be achieved 

For the money this is a good sounding cheep amp that you can here what you are playing and improve your skills, as a side note I plugged in to one of the budget amplifiers that come with the student guitars and well no wonder solid state has a bad name, this is not one of those amplifiers if this was built at the beginning of the introduction of solid state who knows.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Ok in the year I have been lugging this thing about it has been as reliable as a reliable thing being reliable. I would not get the thing wet as the cupboard will investigated in our corner of the world we call it weetbixbord in reference to a breakfast food called weetbix, that when wet goes all soft and falls apart. The finish is still great looks newish and not gone tatty but I do look after my gear. The inside of the amp is good production practices ok the jacks are plastic but each supports the other as in the pots are attached to the circuit board but the are also attached to the top panel it all locks in place. As for the power amp section and its heat sink it seems a bit small but it is thermally connected to the chassis too it does not seem to get hot at that point so hope the work was done correctly and a bit of over engineering was done.

Overall Impression — 10
For what I play it works for me. It has its own sound, I still use my Vox Mini 3 that has a whole heap of different sounds each one can not emulate the other but only get close, it is loud enough for what I do, but quiet enough. To get the best out of it needs to move some air so have had some complaints for noise. It does interact with its environment as much as the player and guitar. It is an guitar amp I would replace if stolen, would repair if it let out the magic smoke (I would fix it), I might buy a backup if needed, or run two with a phaser or flanger.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    Found the 15R Mini Stack with the 4x8 cab at the local flea market. I've been struggling trying to find the right amp for a while.... This one plays softly and has clear classic tone. I didn't know what it was until I did some research. I paid $100. I'm getting rid of all my near miss amps now.