|VOX AC4TV Amplifier
Summary: For what it brings to the table, this is a great little amp. While it’s mainly touted as a practice amp, you can easily gig with this at small venues, or attach an external cab to it, and you could easily keep up with a drummer!
Pros: Classic VOX ACx cleans, and nice, warm overdrive via the Class A EL4 power section.
Cons: 1/4 Watt setting really narrows the bandwidth. The amp sounds pretty lifeless at this level, but that’s why I have a great attenuator. I would play this at 4 Watts all the time. No need to ever use the built-in attenuator.
Price: ~$249 street
Tone Bone Score: 4.75 – I was very surprised by this little amp. The 10″ Celestion speaker really packs a nice punch, and the controls are dead simple. I would easily add this to my growing stable of amps!
I’ve been on this low wattage amp craze for awhile, and it’s wonderful to see all these great low wattage amps entering the market! Orange has the Tiny Terror, and VOX also has the Night Train. Those amps just mentioned are all pretty much modern styling, but I should qualify my craze. I love the old vintage styled low wattage amps.
It all started out with the Fender Champ 600, which I reviewed awhile ago here. I was looking for a low wattage tube amp that I could get some serious overdrive tone from without making my ears bleed. I immediately fell in love with that amp, and since I’ve had it have only made some minor changes, like putting in NOS tubes. But other than that, this amp has served me quite well, both in the studio and even in small venue gigs (using a 1 X 12 of course).
So it was a very nice surprise to encounter the VOX AC4TV in a store yesterday. This is a sweet looking little amp, with the classic TV type of box harkening back to yesteryear. The blonde vinyl is a very nice touch!
How it sounds…
The AC4TV is little tone monster. This single-ended amp packs quite a punch, despite its diminutive size and 10″ speaker. Surprisingly great tones are to be had with this amp, from your classic VOX EL84 cleans to some very nice crunch and grind when you push it. As a single-ended amp, it’s simple as expected, just a volume and tone knob, plus a selector switch for choosing 4, 1 and 1/4 watt output.
At 4 Watts, the amp puts out a great clean tone. With a Strat it starts mildly breaking up at about noon on the volume knob, and at about 10 o’clock with a humbucker – for that, I used a gorgeous sunburst finish Gibby ES-335 – damn I wish I hadn’t sold mine! Cleans with the ES-335 were incredibly lush as expected from that semi-hollowbody, yet they were also very chimey due to the natural character of the EL84 power tubes. It was a very good combination!
Going into grind, you get that classic EL84 crunch, but it’s obvious VOX must’ve installed a filter cap to prevent the power tubes from over-saturating and creating a compressed, squishy mush. The overdrive remains nice and open, with great dynamics and touch sensitivity.
At 1 Watt, the amp still retains a very nice tone, though the tone bandwidth is slightly narrowed. It’s not bad at all, and at this power setting you can crank the amp up (but keep in mind that sonically, 1 Watt is still pretty loud), but the volume will be fairly reasonable.
The 1/4 Watt setting was not really pleasing at all, though in a pinch, if you really have to be quiet, it’ll do as a reference point for practicing. At this setting, the tone gets muddy and the dynamics are abysmal. Were I to get one of these, I’d get the head and cabinet version so I could use a proper attenuator with this, and keep the amp in its 4 Watt mode to get all the gorgeous tones that the full power setting has to offer.
I any case folks, this is classic VOX tone. The EL84 are bright and chimey as expected, and when pushed, the amp doesn’t produce over-the-top overdrive. It’s nicely controlled and surprisingly smooth.
The rating says it all. I love the tones that this amp produces, and I love that classic blonde look. At a street price of $249, it’s a very nicely priced amp to boot! You can use this for practice or, with an external cab, there’s no reason it will not fit right in at a small venue gig. The custom power transformer has a lot to do with the power handling here, and it helps the amp produce a big voice for such a small package. Definitely a thumbs up for the VOX AC4TV!
Here’s a great demo video of the AC4TV from VOX: