What Is It: Electric Guitar Amp Head
For decades the Vox guitar amp has been legendary. While the tone is highly sought after and often simulated by multi-effects pedals, these amps have always had a few drawbacks. Namely, mass and cost. The AC 30, which this unit is modeled after, is as big as it is heavy, ridiculously loud, and fairly expensive but for those who crave its iconic sound, it’s totally worth it.
There are two conventional analog ways to have a guitar amp. The first is the one most people are familiar with, the all in one amp and speaker box with a handle on top known as a “combo”. However, you can also run them separately. To have just an amp, known as an “amp head” and then connect that to a separate boxed speaker/s known as a “Cabinet” or “Cab” for short.” It is also possible to digitally simulate what an amp and speakers would do in the form of a pedal. This device is a combination of the latter two.
By utilizing a new micro-tube technology based on fluorescent lights, this is a true analog amp head that can power a speaker cab with up to 50 watts of power. Which in most rooms is enough to peel the paint off the walls. A three-way toggle switch on the back lets you select the proper power setting to match the demands of your speaker cab. Impressive performance from a unit no bigger than most guitar pedals.
You can also plug directly into a sound system via a line out/headphone jack that taps into the digital speaker modeling aspects of the unit. This configuration would be useful for those who don’t want to lug around an amp or those who don’t need sound to come from a speaker. You could just mount it to your pedalboard and then based on your preferences place it at the end or the front of your signal chain.
There are four versions of this new concept. Clean, AC, Boutique, and High Gain. Since I own a traditional combo amp by Vox known as an AC15 I wanted to see how the MV50 AC compared. The features are simple and effective. Like on most all guitar amps the Gain knob does contribute volume but it mostly increases how much distortion is being added to the sound and then by making corresponding adjustments with the Volume knob you can create the right tone at the right output level. There is also a Tone knob that adjusts the balance between low sounds (dark) and high sounds (bright).
That’s how it functions, but how does it sound? The answer is great. You can get a wide range of tones that many players would be happy, ecstatic even, to have. The biggest criticism for most people will be because of comparison. Does it sound like an AC 15 or an AC 30? Pretty much but there are differences. While I initially struggled with the comparisons, my son thought it sounded amazing and put it right to use. Once I stopped comparing it started sounding a lot better.
Pros: It really does sound good. It’s small, light, portable, and powerful.
Cons: Some settings caused an unpleasant clipping sound in the distortion and maybe it’s to be expected but it really sounds different plugged in vs. using a speaker. Lastly, this unit requires 19v of power so you can’t power it like a pedal and must use the included power supply.
Bottom Line: A powerful tiny amp head that can add a lot of great sounding tones to your guitar.