Review – Vox AC30 “amPlug”

22 Nov Review – Vox AC30 “amPlug”

This is my first gear review here at SoloDallas. Some of you have shown interest in practice amps and/or amps on a budget, so I thought a review of the Vox AC30 “amplug” that I own would be useful, including a couple of pictures and a sound test to give you an idea of how this thing works in practice.

A bit of background. The Vox AC30 amplug is a portable, battery-powered solid-state amp that plugs in directly to your guitar and provides a headphone output. It’s a convenient little portable amp. This is the first amp I owned – I purchased it last year right after I purchased my guitar. Since then, the line of these Vox amplugs has grown – they now have classic rock, lead, metal variants – but I have not tried any of them. My review will focus on the AC30 model.

What is great about this amp is that it’s portable, very easy to carry around. You can pretty much leave it plugged in to your guitar; if you often practice unplugged because you don’t want to be loud, or are not near an amp, it is quite convenient. For me, in the beginning it’s been very useful because I didn’t want to subject wife and kids to bad playing amplified – accoustic is suffering enough. For you, it might be useful in the same case. Or, if you are visiting your in-laws… or if you want to go out on Halloween trick-or-treating as Angus – strap on a portable speaker and let yourself go playing on the streets.

You can read more detailed specifications from their Web site, but long story short: the amp runs off two AAA batteries; has the guitar plug input as well as an “aux” input (e.g. to jam along an mp3 player), a headphone output, and provides three knobs (volume, gain, and tone). It costs about US$45-50 new. Here are a couple of pictures of it plugged into my guitar, and near the bridge so you have an idea of size:

Vox AC30 amPlug and headphone

Vox AC30 amPlug near bridge

Tone-wise: of course, it’s not near any of the other gear featured here that keeps us drooling. But I think it’s pretty good for what it is and for how much it costs. I bought it without the benefit of being able to listen to it first, and was pleasantly surprised. Here is a sampling of some AC/DC riffs that I recorded to give you an idea of what to expect for the kind of sound that this community likes. The amp goes from clean to distorted with the gain/volume knobs, this sample focuses on just one setting that I used:

Click here to open another window and play sound samples

Very minor drawbacks: the knobs are a bit hard to adjust and to read the labels. Because it weighs more than a typical cable you plug in to the guitar, you need to watch out for it loosening the nut of the guitar’s output – not a big deal. There’s no indication when the battery is running out of juice. It’d be neat if they supported Bluetooth, getting rid of the single cable that is needed now (to the headphone); well, I guess you can always plug in a Bluetooth transmitter to the output of this amp.

avatar
Renato Figueiredo
rjofig@gmail.com

Renato @ Florida; I bought and started learning to play guitar about two years ago, a bit late in life (I am 39). Still a beginner, but motivated and inspired by Fil and other 'bedroom rockers'. I've been posting a few videos here and sound bites on soundcloud, as sort of a logbook with snippets of how my playing (hopefully) evolves, and it may help inspire others who love music to take an instrument, practice, play, and have fun. To contact me by email, my gmail.com username is the same as my username here.

30 Comments
  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 18:03h, 09 December

    By the way Renato, i got mine (Classic Rock) and I’m happy with it. Has a nice Rock amp tone and is pretty loud too.

  • avatar
    Marsenal
    Posted at 17:10h, 09 December

    yo tengo esa misma epiphone, tal vez lo compre, no es el sonido de mi humilde marshall pero vale la pena para entretenerse, muy buen material no sabia de la existencia de este dispositivo.

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 17:25h, 09 December

      Yeah, my idea with the review was to let people know that this exists and provide some sound bites, glad it was useful to you. Cheers,
      (I can read Spanish alright but I don’t dare trying to write :)

  • avatar
    Lemmiwinks
    Posted at 21:11h, 28 November

    I have the classic rock one but I rather play acoustic than using one of these. The tone gets boring after an hour

    • avatar
      banane
      Posted at 22:13h, 28 November

      Hm, why does it get boring?

      • avatar
        Lemmiwinks
        Posted at 18:49h, 29 November

        I dont know, It sounds dull and fizzy but what could you expect from little electronics like these. But you want to play distorted without making any noise at all THIS IS A LIFESAVER! Sry for saying its boring. All I ment is that its not a thing you want to play all the time, maybe as a on-the-go thing or when you cant make any noise. But for clean for clean stuff I recomend this thing. One of these with reverb must be great!

      • avatar
        Lemmiwinks
        Posted at 18:50h, 29 November

        I dont know, It sounds dull and fizzy but what could you expect from little electronics like these? But IF you want to play distorted without making any noise at all THIS IS A LIFESAVER! Sry for saying its boring. All I ment is that its not a thing you want to play all the time, maybe as a on-the-go thing or when you cant make any noise. But for clean for clean stuff I recomend this thing. One of these with reverb must be great!

  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 15:51h, 23 November

    Just ordered the Classic rock one, together with new amp tubes and a Shure SM 57. Will be my own birthday gift :)

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 16:51h, 23 November

      Cool – I hope it works well and you enjoy it!

    • avatar
      Angusrocks
      Posted at 22:13h, 29 November

      hahahaa, du machst dir aber viele Geburtstagsgeschenke……und der Weber auch noch (((-:

      • avatar
        banane
        Posted at 22:18h, 29 November

        Ja, und ein SM 57 auch noch…naja, man wird nur einmal 40 :-)

        • avatar
          Angusrocks
          Posted at 22:22h, 29 November

          uiiii, jaaa, das stimmt, ist bei mir auch schon 5 Jahre her. Lass es krachen…..

  • avatar
    Chris
    Posted at 15:17h, 23 November

    got that amplug
    and have to say i love it ^^
    didn’t use my amp for over two weeks because of that thing
    just sound nice and you get easily a crunchy bluesy sound out of that thing
    i recommand that to everyone who wants to play when other people are sleeping
    it’s just amazing how this little thing sounds^^

  • avatar
    ar2619Rob
    Posted at 13:09h, 23 November

    Thanks for the review, I am going to get one of these for playing at night.

  • avatar
    HagusYoung
    Posted at 20:42h, 22 November

    Dont get the AC30 model, there is a Plexi model also available from these amPlugs.

    • avatar
      Guitarjosii
      Posted at 20:50h, 22 November

      there is a “classic rock” model, but, hearing some sounddemos on youtube, i liked the ac30 model better

    • avatar
      Chris
      Posted at 15:22h, 23 November

      what plexi model are you talking about ?
      i just know the ac30, classic rock, metal, lead, and joe satriani, and for me the ac30 is the best one
      nice crunchy bluesy sound

  • avatar
    Angusrocks
    Posted at 20:23h, 22 November

    For that little piece and that little money it sounds really awesome !!

  • avatar
    Guitarjosii
    Posted at 20:11h, 22 November

    LOL. Today I got my AC30-Amplug, too and then suddenly there is this review. I’m amazed how good this little thing sounds… on my PC-speakers, it’s a little bit muddy but it gives you a cheap possibility to record your playing nicely.
    Here is a record of me. Please exuse the crappy playing, especially my little timing-problem in Back in Black but it’s just to demonstrate how it sounds.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHqOpVUSBLg

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 00:39h, 23 November

      What a coincidence! Thanks for the link. Yes, took a bit of tweaking to get a good sound going into the PC for recording.

      • avatar
        rpatzelt
        Posted at 09:38h, 23 November

        Hi rjofig! Your guitar is an Epi, right? The amPlug sounds pretty decent but seems to come to life with Guitarjosii’s Gibson. Nice little gadget :)

        • avatar
          rjofig
          Posted at 14:05h, 23 November

          Thanks! yup, mine’s an Epi.
          Yeah, Guitarjosii’s sample is great! I think the difference is more due to better fingers than better guitar :)

  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 19:27h, 22 November

    Great review, thanks! Sounds fine, and I think, I’ll also buy myself one. I have a small Marshall MS-4, but it’ll be nice to walk around and exercise without having to struggle with the guitar cable.

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 00:43h, 23 November

      Yeah, two for one: skip the gym, and get more time to practice :)

      • avatar
        banane
        Posted at 07:10h, 23 November

        Hehe, yeah 😀
        Well, if I only had the time to practice…for the moment, I’m working all the time, all customers want new servers and things before christmas, spending the rest of their yearly budget. And this will continue till mid December, I fear.

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