Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars
Average:4.8 out of 5 stars

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VOX AC30HW2 Hand-Wired VOX Combo Amplifier, 30W, 12

Pros:

  • Ethereal clean tones
  • Versatile and useful features
  • You can reduce the power and receive even more sonic options

Cons:

  • A bit expensive

VOX made the history when it was introduced to the market back in late ‘50s. Even their first models were a hit, catching on among up and coming musicians. There was something special about their design and sound that captured the hearts and souls of guitarists. And such kind of pattern has been maintained by the brand ever since. VOX decided to spice things up by introducing the Hand-Wired series and adding a little twist to their famous amplifiers. The unique thing about this series is that each and every component is hand-built, guaranteeing maximum sound quality and elaboration. AC30HW2 is one of the most distinguished members of the Hand-Wired family and features the magic of tube amps. If you want to find out specific details about this bad boy, just keep on reading as I guide you through the spectacular world of VOX amplifiers.

Features

Right off the bat, VOX AC30HW2 is a real deal. Just the fact that it is a tube amplifier already means that we have something really versatile awaiting for us. This 30 watt magic has three ECC83/12AX7 valves in its preamp section, four EL84 tubes in the power amp section and the GZ34 rectifier. It delivers its scrupulous tone through two 12” Celestion G12M Greenback speakers. AC30HW2 has two channels: Normal and Top Boost. The former is a clean channel, while the latter offers a whole different dimension of purity. It is worth mentioning that the Top Boost channel has Cool and Hot modes, which offer various types of VOX sounds. Each of these channels has high and low inputs, elaborating your sound even more. This bad boy has a Tone Cut feature, as well as a Bypassable Master Volume, which allows you to practice at lower volumes without interfering with the purity of your sound. AC30HW2 also allows you to cut the power in half and receive various tones with each setting. We have a lot going on in terms of jacks and sockets. This amp has four inputs for your instrument (2 for each channel), a single output for the extension speaker (which runs along the internal speaker), a single output for the external speaker (mutes the internal speakers), a footswitch socket for connecting the foot controller (allows you to control the device on the fly), as well as a Mains Input connector for supplying the device with power.

Controls

You might have gotten a bit scared from all the features we discussed above. When an amp has so much to offer, it is only natural that its control panel is messy and overcrowded. However, VOX somehow managed to be sleek and fancy here as well and organized all the knobs intelligently. We basically have three sections on the front panel, which makes all the knobs easily configurable. Apart from typical controls, we also have some that you might not be familiar with. So let’s discuss each of them and try to make everything as clear as possible.

The first section on the front panel is dedicated to the Normal channel. It has Volume knob which sets the preamp level of this channel and a Bright switch that adds high-end sparkle to your tones. Next we have the Top Boost section. The Volume knob adjusts the preamp level of the top boost channel, Treble modifies the character of the high-end frequencies, while Bass balances out the bottom-end. Here we also have a Hot/Cool switch. Top Boost channel acts ordinarily with the Cool setting, however, the Hot mode forces the signal to bypass the tone controls partially (but not completely) and delivers the purest sound with a lot of gain. Then we have the Master section: Tone Cut operates in the power amp section and reduces the treble when turned clockwise; Master Volume sets the level of the overall output; MV/Bypass switch eliminates this control from the circuit, once again enhancing the purity but allowing for practicing at lower volumes. We have two more knobs on the front panel: OP Mode changes the output level of the power amplifier (15 watts or 30 watts). And of course the power switch that activates the device.

The rear panel features the Impedance selector that allows you to choose between 8 and 16 ohms. This allows you to plug extension and external speakers properly and match them with the impedance of this amp.

Sound

Can amp sound bad after all that? I do not think so. Such a conclusion is a bit “superstitious” but you would not wrong if you assumed that. AC30HW2 offers an extensive range of sounds that will be hard to compete with. The Normal channel delivers classic VOX sound that is saturated with warmth and sweetness. Clean tones have their own distinctive character and can be modified to be extremely shimmery and sparkly. The Top Boost, and the Hot mode in particular, is where things get even more interesting. It purifies your sound in a way that does not deprive it of its tonal character. The ability to modify the level of the power amplifier gives you more sonic options than you would expect. At 15 watts, the signal does not distort as much and is subtler, while 30 watts breaks up your sound and creates a dense, organic distortion that is like no other. In other words, AC30HW2 is the definition of jaw-dropping sound.

Conclusion

VOX decided to pay attention to the smallest details when they designed AC30HW2. Everything about this amp screams meticulousness and elaboration. It offers full control over your tone and allows you to improve even the smallest inaccuracies. Once you tweak it properly, there is not much you will have left to do. The amp will take care of everything else. Good luck!

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