I recently received three new Vox VX50 amps—the AG (acoustic guitar), KB (keyboard), and BA (bass) models, which were immediately put to use in band rehearsals. All performed above their weight class, and though the bass and keyboard versions were easily outgunned by the musicians’ standard stage gear, we all agreed that these new Voxes were impressive considering how small and inexpensive they are. Focusing on the AG for the balance of this review, this amp is equipped with everything found in pricier acoustic models, including dedicated Instrument and Mic channels (phantom power available on the latter), independent EQ controls, built-in effects (chorus and reverb on the Instrument channel, reverb only on the Mic channel), and a 50-watt output stage that provides good headroom and plenty of volume.
Upstream of all this Vox has deployed a NuTube 6P1 twin-triode vacuum tube, which, developed and produced by Japan’s Noritake Itron, is a small, directly heated glass tube that offers low power consumption and long service life, while still able to generate the rich harmonics that a standard 12AX7 tube and its close cousins are known for. All of the VX50 models feature NuTube technology.
Tested with a Martin D-28 equipped with a DiMarzio Black Angel soundhole magnetic pickup and a Taylor 12-string with Expression 2 electronics, the VX50 AG delivered good sounds with little effort. The complement of tone controls on the Instrument channel are effective and well voiced, and since the amp doesn’t sound boxy to begin with, getting natural acoustic tones does not require much knob twiddling at all.
The VX50 AG also sounds more tubelike than solid-state, and even though its closed-back cabinet is quite small, the 8” speaker working conjunction with an internal bass-reflex structure provides a surprisingly big sound with firm bottom and more depth than expected. The effects are controlled by a single knob that sweeps between chorus, reverb, and a combination of the two. Moving the knob through each preset adjusts the wetness of the effect, and, if you like to hear a lot of swirly modulation, you’ll likely dig what’s on tap here. The reverb does exactly what it should to add depth and ambience, and I simply left it in a setting that enhanced the sound of my guitars. Overall, the effects are satisfyingly rich and also very quiet.
The Mic channel has a slightly simplified EQ (no Middle control), and a single Reverb knob instead of a multi-effects dial. The XLR jack accommodates a wide range of microphones thanks to selectable phantom-power, and it turns the VX50 AG into a cool micro P.A. for vocals, backing tracks, or break music from your Mp3 device. Again, there’s a goodly amount of volume when the Master is turned up, and the delivery is clear and focused.
Vox’s VX50 series are useful solutions for players that want ultra-compact amplification for rehearsals, small venues, and practice. In particular, the VX50 AG is a solid performer for its size and cost, a good choice for anyone seeking good amplified acoustic sound, and it looks cool too.
MODEL VX50 AG
PRICE. $229 street
CONTROLS (Instrument Ch) Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Effects, Phase switch. (Mic Ch) Volume, Bass, Treble, Reverb, Phantom Power switch. Global Master
POWER 50 watts
TUBES One NuTube twin triode
EXTRAS Chorus, Reverb, Chorus-Reverb, and p for guitar channel. Reverb and Phantom power for Mic channel. Aux In and Heaphone jacks.
SPEAKER One 8” in sealed-back cabinet with bass-reflex structure
WEIGHT 9 lbs
KUDOS Super compact. Surprisingly full sound for such a small cabinet. Control panel is oriented for viewing from the front.
CONCERNS Wish it had a plug-in AC cord instead of an in-line adapter.