Vox AD50VT Review
Original Author: Kaz
Weapon: Guitar Amp
Price: €270 (second handed)
This amp is very versatile, because of all the features! It’s a modelling amp, which means it can simulate different famous amps. This means there’s no standard clean en overdrive channels, but way more! For me it was very important that I could play nice, Fender like cleans, but also high gain rocking Marshall tones, and all that on a bedroom level. Then what do you need? You need a modelling amp with a built in attenuator. This amp has that all, and a little extra… The valvetronix technology, but more on that later!
- -11 Amp Models, ranging from nice clean amps (black 12x12) to old classics (the Vox AC30TB) to old boutique amps and high gain Marshall half-stacks.
- -2 Banks for storing your favourite settings, which are switchable with the Vox Footswitch.
- -Manuel mode, which will reflect the settings of the knobs. They have included this because, when I switch to channel 2 (second bank), my knobs aren’t in the correct settings! Pressing manual mode would then give the sound of the knob settings.
- -A power level control. This is a very cool feature! This allows you to go from about 1 Watt all the way up to 50 Watt! This way you can crank your volume pot, but still keep the thing on bedroom level.
- - One 12” Celestion Speaker
- - Eight effects, with some cool combinations, leading to a total of 11 knob positions.
- -A adjustable Noise Reduction-
- -Three parameters for effects, a gain knob, a volume knob, and the treble, middle and bass (EQ) knobs. It also features a tapping knob to set the speed of Delay, phaser etc.
- -11 presets, one for every amp.
- -External speaker output (8 Ohms)
- - Headpone/line out.
- - Online "Vox Toneroom" website where you can see other peoples presets.
I’m missing an Effects Loop!! That costs the Vox a point.
In the name of the amp, you can find the two letters VT, which stand for Vox’s hybrid amp pride, the Valvetronix technology, or in full sentence, the valve reactor technology. This technique was first used in the 60 and 120 Watt’s version, but later the 15, 50 and 100 Watt versions were made.
Explanation: normal modelling effects don’t include a power amp circuit, output transformer or speaker. They only have a preamp circuit. A real valve amp, however, gets part of it’s sound by the tone and distortion of the power amp. The AD series (and the new VT series) all include a low-wattage valve power amp circuit, a virtual output transformer and a dummy speaker circuit that simulate the effect a valve amp’s speaker would have on the sound. Now all the modelling and effects on this amp are done digitally, the Valve Reactor power amp is fully analogue. This makes sure that the sound you get the feel and tone that you should get from the amps Vox has modelled. The power amp uses 12AX7 Tubes, which are the same as ECC83’s. The fact that the power amp design is partly simulated, gave Vox the opportunity to make the amp’s models even more realistic! The idea behind this technology is that we have the cool side of digital amps, the modelling and effects, and the great sound from tube amps. So the best of both worlds!
I immediately start with a high point. The sound on this amp is just very good! Considering it’s very affordable, and it’s not a full tube amp, I think it sounds very nice and warm. I think overall it sounds a bit warmer then for instance Marshall amps, but with some EQ-ing it’s possible to get the Marshall sound, since we’re modelling it.
The amp selection knob goes clockwise, kind of starting at 7 o’clock and goes all the way to 5 o’clock, generally increasing in gain. Let’s start of with the clean sounds. I can get a very descend clean sound for songs like Under The Bridge, and for if I just want some chords to sing along. A really nice thing is that one or two of the modelled amps can give you the exact amount of gain (with the correct gain setting of course) which will give you nice clean solo sounds, or soft chords, and then some crunch when you start hitting the chords a bit harder. There are also a few models which are right in between clean and distorted, or better said, they can handle both. For instance the AC15 can handle both low gain clean sounds, and higher gain crunchy sounds.
Now our amp knob hits the 12 o’clock, and here we start the higher gain amps. First off the UK 70’s, UK 80’s and UK modern amp. With these three amps you can get pretty distorted, high gain, lead sounds. They really serve to get that high treble UK sound! Then we have the NUmetal amp. I don’t really like this one a lot, because it’s a bit to metalish for me, but for the real metal fan, this could be just what you’re looking for! The last two, US higain and Boutique overdrive. The first one has a higain sound (hence the name…) and I really like it. It sounds fat, very distorted, and ready to rock! It really fits my needs for a nice and solid lead tone. Also the factory preset for this amp is really cool, because it has the exact right EQ settings, and just a bit of delay/reverb on it. Last, but certainly not least, there is the Boutique Overdrive, which gives a very AC/DC-ish sound when playing power chords.
The effects on this baby are not really the highest quality, but pretty nice for the price. The problem I have with them, is that they’re all one button, so you can’t really combine them. They’ve made a few standard combinations, like compressor + phaser, but I can’t (for instance) choose reverb and delay, or flanger and delay. That kind of bothers me, because I feel the need for a compression, but also for reverb, but that’s not possible! Also, there’s no effects loop. This is a really bad thing, because it means that people with lots of pedals can’t use them properly! I only use a Boss DS-1, or just nothing, in front of it, so I don’t have troubles with it.
For me this amp is very capable for bedroom use! If you don’t have money, or if you’re afraid of the huge noise, for a tube amp, this might be your perfect solution! The attenuator gives you the opportunity to crank the volume and still have a bedroom level, but also to crank the volume… and go wild on stage! It goes crazy loud, I never have it on full 50 Watts, so it’s more then enough, and if you think it’s not enough, you could also buy his bigger 100 Watts brother (which features an effects loop). For me this will be the perfect match until I want something bigger, or full tube. To follow the tradition… “if it were stolen, would I buy the same one?” I think this is actually one of the fewest pieces of gear that I might say yes…. I always want to experiment, and play on different pieces of gear, so I naturally want to try something out, but if I don’t have money for an upgrade, I don’t think there are any better amps for this price, so I might just buy the same one!
Hmm.. of course I could say buy a 100 watt version, or the Vox AD50VTXL but those are all from the same brand as mine. A real contester in this price range would be the Kustom HV65. A 65 Watt’s hybrid amp, with a tube in the pre-amp. The Kustom also has 12” speaker, and some cool effects. I’m not familiar with this amp, so it’s kind of hard to tell you a lot about it. Now there is one thing very cool about this Kustom…. It has a total of THIRTEEN pots!! How cool is that On the other hand… I think the vox is way better looking, and of course the Kustom doesn’t use any valvetronix technology.