Vox is best known for their tube amps, there is no doubt about that. However, this legendary brand also has a couple of pretty interesting modern designs in their arsenal. Case in point, Vox AV15. Is it a classic tube amp? Not really. Is it a solid state/modeling unit? Definitely not. Vox AV15 is unique, let’s put it that way. What we do know is that it is one of the best amps to get for less than $300.
The control interface on this model resembles something you expect to find on your average modeling amp. Yet it is nowhere near that technology. As usual, Vox likes to divide their controls in different clusters. The top is where you find all your standard stuff. This means your gain, volume, and a three-band EQ. However, there is also a knob labeled ’circuit preset’ which draws attention. We will discuss this feature later, but it allows you to select a variety of ’channels’ including two clean and a multitude of dirty options. Underneath the main cluster is where you’ll see an effects group, with its delay and reverb. On the far right, there are a couple of switches that allow you to select two versions of pres amps and power amps.
Vox AV15 is marketed as an analog modeling combo. What that means is that you get a dose of versatility similar to that of a digital modeling amp, only everything is done using analog circuitry. In other words, tubes. AV15 packs a single 12AX7 tube that is hooked up to 8 different preamp circuits. The tone is pushed out of a single 8 Inch Vox speaker that has a pretty well-defined tone profile. That preset knob we have mentioned earlier allows you to switch between the 8 preamp circuits, each of them with offering a different version of a pretty solid tube tone. With 15 Watts of power, Vox AV15 is both powerful enough and compact enough for a variety of applications.
Given all of the presets and the preamp/power stage switches, it is fair to say that versatility is something Vox AV15 does pretty well. You can dial in a wide range of awesome tones that all bring that unmistakeable tube vibe. Add the three available effects to that mix and you have one pretty capable little amp. Vox has designed this thing to be a practice and recording rig for those who want some of that tube sound but still insist on flexibility. As such, it hits the nail right on the head. The effects were an area which caused some doubt, considering that they are digital in nature but voiced to sound like their analog counterparts. For the most part, they sound pretty alright, but you will probably get better results using dedicated effects pedals.
At the end of the day, Vox AV15 really broke the monotony of standard modeling guitar amplifiers. Vox took things into an unknown direction but has delivered a true masterpiece. If you, just like many other guitar players out there, are looking for an affordable tube setup but also like the versatility of a modeling amp, Vox AV15 is the solution. You will rarely find a model that fits the bill any better.