Price paid: $ 379
Purchased from: Dancing Dragon OKC
Sound — 8
It is what it is: a 50W combo. It's not a Mesa or any other amp you might want to model, but the engineers at Vox have done a phenomenal job of recreating the intricate details of the response of the preamp, poweramp and even the speaker cabinet feedback stages of the amps in question. There are one or two channels that don't respond to the dynamics the way I would like them to, but that's how the original amps responded! The speaker impedance will squash you flat, which happens here. Other channels don't do that to you - and it depends on what you want. The reason I gave this an 8/10 is that my doctor, whom I trust with my life, got B's in medical school. He's a damned fine doc. This is a damned fine amp. Is it brain surgeon caliber? No. But remember what it costs! For what it is, this is a very nice sounding, highly useful amp. The price differential between this tight little combo and the next step up in quality is, like, five times the price!
Overall Impression — 9
I am highly impressed with this thing. I already have four very good sounds programmed: Crystal clean, blues wail, lead guitar based on Joe Satriani's setup, and face-smashing rectifier-type distortion. What more could you ask for? Well there's country, jazz, hip-hop, Christian, folk, rock, hard rock... Can it do that respectably? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes...
Reliability & Durability — 8
The input jack was broken when I got it. I will tell you first of all that I traded for this amp: a Peavey 5150ii 100W head in very good condition for the VT50. Power for versatility - since the studio is more interesting to me at this time in my life. They were both used: mine obviously as a studio and live performance tool, the VT50 a floor model at the Dancing Dragon, my buddy's shop. I don't blame Vox for the busted input jack. Could it have been heavier duty? DEFINITELY! But amps are not usually subjected to kids and their grubby little fingers shoving things in and out of their input jacks all day long. This minor problem was forgiven, however, because the input module is just that: a module! I checked again on the back to make sure this thing really was "Made in U.S.A." as opposed to Germany. This is German engineering, surely! Nope, British-American engineering. So by removing a couple of little wires I can pull the whole input module out, trash it, and replace it. In fact, you can pull everything out to service it! I was shocked. Most of the crap I've worked on has involved two hours of removing unidentifiable squiggly things, and cutting myself to get to the loose wire that it the source of my woes. This is not the case with the VT50. If something breaks, you yank it out and (assuming it's under warranty as mine is) they send you a free one. Awesome!
Features — 9
There is absolutely nothing missing from this amp! With 22 amp models to choose from, each having 3 factory settings, plus 8 user-programmed channels (two banks of four) that makes for a total of 66 + 8 = 74 different sounds one can potentially bust out in a given situation. The amplifiers modeled move from the cleanest to the most brutally distorted (Mesa Boogie), and amongst them are at least three of each to suit your personal tastes. For example, one can select an amp based on Iron Maiden, Metallica or (don't laugh!) Nirvana. All three are pretty in-your-face, but it takes a bit of imagination to get the exact sound you want. The VT-50 lacks an effects loop, but I honestly don't see why you would need one. For me this is a studio amp, so I tend to record with minimal effects anyway: compressor and possibly a delay if it's a lead part. I like to compress in multiple steps as it's just good recording practice, and the fact that this thing has a decent compressor makes it perfect for juicing up my sound in the studio. Unfortunately the compressor is coupled with chorus, and I do not ever record chorus. It's bad practice. Thankfully you can independently turn the chorus OFF, leaving the compressor fully functional. Each effect has three separate functions to adjust, and 9/10 are actually useful.