eBay Prize: Vox DA5

I’ve been a sucker for good-sounding portable amps ever since I bought my first Pignose and was captivated by its “play anytime, anywhere” factor. Later, I discovered the rechargeable Mouse and Crate amps, followed by a lot of tinny-sounding 9-volt-powered micro amps. But about five years ago, Roland came out with the Micro Cube, which featured two watts of power, a 5" speaker, seven amp models, digital reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, phaser, and flanger—and all with a battery life of 25 hours to boot!

Then, Vox came out with the DA5 amp. It took portable amps to a whole new level with a whopping five watts, a 6.5" speaker, 11 amp models, and 11 built-in digital effects with more parameter adjustments than any portable amp on the market. Although these street for $140, I bought one on eBay for around $100 plus $20 shipping—not a great deal. But I was totally knocked out by it, and whenever I find something I really like, I need to have a backup. So, it was off to the ’Bay to find another one, but this time I wanted to see how little I could pay.

I bookmarked a search for “Vox DA5” on eBay and for “Time: Newly Listed” which enabled me to find the best BIN (Buy It Now) price for one of these whenever it came up. I searched three or four times a day, and it was several months before I found this 2007 model. It had a BIN of $59.99 along with a shipping charge of $14.99, and it was by far the cheapest one I had found. I quickly the checked payment options, seller feedback, and the item description (to make sure it wasn’t damaged), and then I pulled the trigger. Bargain BINs need to be acted on fast.

The amp arrived about a week later, the six C batteries were knocking around loose on the inside of the amp—never a good sign. When I plugged in the AC adapter, the amp worked fine, but when I tried it with the batteries, it was dead. The batteries tested good, so I took the amp apart to see if the loose batteries had damaged anything during shipping. Sure enough, I found a loose wire that connected the battery compartment to the circuit board. I quickly soldered it, and—voila—it worked like a charm. The moral here is that sellers don’t always pack things well. If the price is cheap enough, it may be a better option to live with the damage or fix it rather than sending it back to the seller and possibly paying return shipping.

So how does it sound? Fabulous! If you’re not a fan of amp modeling, this amp may make a believer out of you. Whenever I take it over to a friend’s house, they go on eBay the next day looking to buy one for themselves. All I can say is, I’m working on a backup for my backup amp—a true sign of a great piece of gear.