When it comes to small practice amps, it is crucial to know which brands to pick out. Even though your sound will not be heard by the audience, you need the maximum clarity in order to grasp what mistakes you are making in your performance. If you cannot perceive your notes clearly, it will be impossible to discern any good or bad properties in your sound. For this reason, you have to choose the brands you can trust with your life. One good example of such reliable company is VOX. Their tube amplifiers have made history and incorporating amp modeling and digital processing took their game to a whole new level. Valvetronix VT20X continues that pattern of quality and delivers the most ethereal sounds. Just keep on reading, as I review various parameters of this unit!
VT20X is a hybrid: it has a 12AX7 tube in the preamp section, which is surprising for the unit of this ilk. It has a single 8” speaker with 20 watts of power, which makes this amp suitable for home practice or small gigs. The most distinctive feature of this device is probably its VET (Virtual Element Technology) which models the circuits of the classic amps rather than their sound. This way VT20X acts as those amps and creates a natural tone. Additionally, it offers Amp Class and Bias shift, further enhancing the tone controlling options. This amp has 11 amp models, 13 effects including noise reduction, 8 user programs (2 banks with 4 channels) and 33 in-built programs. The online Editor/Librarian software allows you to increase the number of provided features: 20 amp models instead of 11 and 60 in-built programs instead of 33. VT20X has an input for your instrument, auxiliary input for mp3 players and other devices, FOOT SW jack for optional foot controller, headphone jack and a USB (Type B) port. And finally, this bad boy has a chromatic tuner that keeps your instrument in tune at all times.
At first glance, the control panel on VT20X seems like an over-complicated jumble of knobs and buttons. It takes some time to get used to the interface and figure out what each control does, but once you do, you will step into the beautiful universe of VOX tones.
Let’s start with the top part of the panel. The first thing you will see is the Preset Program button, which activates the in-built programs. Then we have Amp Models knob, which allows you to choose between Deluxe CL, Tweed 4×10, VOX AC30, Boutique OD, VOX AC30TB, Brit 800, Brit or MKII, Double Rec, Boutique CL, Brit 1959 and Boutique Metal. Next we have the standard package of controls: Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Volume, Power Level, which are quite self-explanatory. On the lower part of the panel, you will see 5 buttons: Bank, CH1, CH2, CH3, CH4. They can be utilized in order to record your own programs. Then come the Pedal 1, Pedal 2, Reverb, which offer 12 different effects, including compression, overdrive, chorus, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay and four types of reverb. They are followed with Tap (which can act as a tuner or tap tempo), Value 1 and Value 2. And finally, there are Bias switch and Class switch, the former shifts between cold, hot and neutral, the latter – between A and AB (more on that below).
We have already seen that the features and controls on VT20X are all-encompassing, which created our positive attitude towards this unit. However, once we discuss the sound, you will absolutely fall in love with this amp. The tube preamp section warms up the tone and adds that legendary sweetness to it. VET circuitry guarantees that amp models are as natural and organic as possible. They offer anything from clean sound to distorted haven, giving way to your creativity. Onboard effects are distinctive and thick, emulating the effects pedals themselves. The Hot Bias is a bit more aggressive and accentuates the top end, while the Cold Bias is way more pristine. Class A and Class AB guarantee more natural response from the amp models. In short, VT20X produces the beautiful sound so characteristic to VOX and creates the room for experimenting with your performance.
In conclusion, it can be said that VT20X is a badass practice amp. The sound quality of this bad boy is spectacular, while the features it offers are as versatile as it can get. This unit is very useful for those who are keen on out-of-the-box thinking and want to create something unique. If you have not tried this amp yet, I have no idea what you are waiting for!
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