“This exciting era of acoustic-electronic innovation hasn’t seen much action on the amp front, which makes this a welcome addition”: Taylor Circa 74 AV150-10 acoustic amplifier review

A Taylor acoustic guitar (left) and a Taylor Circa 74 AV150-10 amplifier
(Image credit: Taylor)

Taylor’s big announcement at the 2024 NAMM show was a Bob Taylor side project honoring the company’s 50th anniversary: the AV150-10, a boutique dual-channel acoustic amplifier that's taken on a life of its own under the brand name Circa 74. Taylor says the project reminded him of the freewheeling days when Taylor Guitars was a startup, circa ’74, which inspired the name. 

The AV150-10 is a handsome, wood-crafted acoustic guitar–and-vocal combo packing 150 watts into a 1x10 enclosure with a tan grille cloth. It sits on a neat wood stand and looks like it would fit as easily into a home’s decor as it would a studio setting. I was excited to hear the sound and very curious to see how the wife would react when I boldly brought it out of my office studio and set it in our family living room.

It passed her inspection, and with good reason. The AV150-10 features truly furniture-quality craftsmanship, with an elegant aesthetic that harks back to the golden age of vinyl, but it’s also both modern and classic enough to work in a variety of settings. Solid mahogany never goes out of style, and the way the amp and its lovely mahogany stand fit together is rather ingenious. 

Taylor Circa 74 AV150-10 amplifier

The AV150-10 has a tidy control panel with white knobs and an amber power indicator that glows warmly (Image credit: Taylor)

Four little indented holes in the stand receive the rubber foot pads on the amp’s bottom for secure placement, and the back legs are slanted slightly to the rear so that the cabinet tilts upward. 

I also appreciated the straightforward layout. Controls for both channels are the same and feature white plastic dials for level, bass, mid, treble, and reverb. Channel A has a combo input for a vocal mic or instrument, while channel B has a standard guitar input. There’s no need for a bunch of bells and whistles, but Bluetooth connectivity is a welcome modern feature for playing tunes. 

The AV150-10 hits a Goldilocks zone, with just the right amount of juice in a portable cabinet

There’s a button with a blue indicator light next to the global volume dial, as well as a mini jack for the aux in and another for headphones. The amber power indicator light gives off a lovely warm glow, and the back panel has a rocker switch for mains power, an XLR direct out, and a ¼-inch line output. 

As straightforward as the design may be, it’s also quite flexible and practical. The AV150-10 is designed to accommodate a variety of different pickups commonly used on acoustic instruments, and the integrity of the vocal signal is not an afterthought. 

There’s a user guide with suggested settings for pickups from Fishman, Baggs, K&K and Taylor’s Expression System, plus microphones from Shure, Electro-Voice, and Telefunken. The amp has no phantom power for a condenser mic, but fortunately, my live mics are dynamic.

Taylor Circa 74 AV150-10 amplifier

The included stand tilts back and has indents to securely hold the amp’s foot pads (Image credit: Taylor)

I was eager to put it through its paces and started with a Taylor Builder’s Edition 814ce with proprietary ES2 electronics in Channel B. The overall sound is very much what one might expect from a flagship Taylor guitar through a Taylor amp: high fidelity, dynamic, and very touch-responsive. It’s not all in the mids like some acoustic amps, particularly those with small woofers. 

The shiny, smooth tone from this 10-inch speaker covers a broad sonic spectrum, which is great for the vocal side of the equation as well. Troubadours will dig how vocals sound full, like they would through a PA, and that goes for tracks streamed from your phone as well. The reverb is a single digital recreation of a classic room reverb with independent level control for each channel. It sounds nice and lush, and it does the trick.

There’s real power here from the Class D solid-state amp as well. Turn it up, and, boy, is it punchy. The AV150-10 helps notes sing out with strong sustain, and the mahogany cabinet seems to contribute to the punch and projection as you crank it up. There is some circuit noise that increases with volume, but that comes with the territory for an old-school analog amp, and it stays in the background. There’s also plenty of headroom.

With the AV150-10 amp, you can get a real feel for what different pickups are supposed to deliver. For example, I plugged in a Martin CS-SC-2022 with a Baggs HiFi bridge plate transducer system and a Baggs M1 passive magnetic in the soundhole. With all the controls set to noon, the difference between the body energy of the former and the distinct string sound from the latter was very apparent. I made a few tonal tweaks to home in on the best combination, which yielded a wonderfully comprehensive sound. 

I also experimented using an old Taylor 514ce with a Fishman Prefix piezo system, complemented by a Seymour Duncan Active Mag in the soundhole. Here again, the distinct qualities of that piezo and the active magnetic were apparent, and I was able to dial in a beautiful blend. All in all, the AV150-10 is an inspiring platform for a variety of signals.

This exciting era of acoustic-electronic innovation hasn’t seen much action on the amp front, which makes the AV150-10 such a welcome addition. The fact that it comes from Taylor makes it feel familiar even as it arrives out of left field. I also dig this power level and speaker configuration. 

With them, the AV150-10 hits a Goldilocks zone, providing just the right amount of juice in a portable cabinet. Yes, it costs more than the average acoustic amp, but not as much as some in its class. Given its high sound quality, straightforward yet flexible I/O, and living-room aesthetic, the Circa 74 earns an Editors’ Pick Award. 


CONTACT Taylor Guitars

PRICE $1,199 street (stand included)


CONTROLS Each channel has 3-band EQ (bass, mid, treble) plus level and reverb. Global volume also controls aux in. Bluetooth button 

CONNECTIONS Inputs: Channel A combo XLR/¼”, channel B ¼”, aux ¼” line-level, Bluetooth. Outputs: XLR direct, ¼” line 

POWER 150 watts RMS solid-state Class D

SPEAKER 1x10 (full range)

CABINET DIMENSIONS 16.5” x 9” x 14” 

STAND DIMENSIONS 16.75” x 9.25” x 16” 

WEIGHT 24 lbs. (without stand)


KUDOS Furniture-quality craftsmanship
with classy aesthetic, clear and full tone, intuitive layout 

CONCERNS Some circuit noise. No phantom power for vocal condenser mic

Jimmy Leslie has been Frets editor since 2016. See many Guitar Player- and Frets-related videos on his YouTube channel, and learn about his acoustic/electric rock group at spirithustler.com.