Posts tagged ‘kombovahvistin’

02/01/2017

Review: Juketone True Blood

juketone-true-blood-logo

If you’ve always lusted for a hand-soldered guitar amp you were left with two options until quite recently:

You could either buy an expensive boutique/custom shop amplifier, or – if you’re handy with a soldering iron – opt for a DIY amp kit.

Now there’s a third choice for those of us neither well-heeled nor technically savvy:

British company Juketone offers a range of tasty Fender tweed inspired, hand-wired guitar amplifiers at very moderate prices, thanks to Chinese production and selling direct via the Internet.

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juketone-true-blood-front-angle-1

The Juketone True Blood (250 £; introductory offer for a limited time only) is the company’s smallest combo.

The True Blood is based on Fender’s legendary 1950s Tweed Champ (specifically the 5F1 version), with a few small tweaks.

Tweed Champs have been built with several differently shaped cabinets over the Fifties, depending on their exact vintage. The True Blood comes in the all-straight cabinet seen on most mid-Fifties originals, while Fender’s current Custom Shop version features the later angled front.

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The tweed covering on our review sample was very neat and crisp.

The combo’s cabinet is made of plywood, except for the back covers, which looked (and felt) like MDF-board.

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The two most important differences between a vintage Champ and Juketone’s True Blood combo lie in the speaker-type and rectifier valve choices.

In addition to the two audio signal valves – a Ruby Tubes 12AX7 and a 6V6GT – Juketone has chosen a slightly less-known 6Z4 rectifier tube. The 6Z4 used in Juketone amps is a Chinese version (aka the Sino 6Z4) that is not compatible with the American rectifier valve of the same name.

Jensen has traditionally been the speaker brand of choice for vintage tweed amps, but their bass response very often sounds a bit flabby by modern standards. In my opinion, Juketone has made a very good decision in choosing a more British-voiced speaker for their True Blood combo. The eight-inch Celestion Super 8 could be described as an alnico-driven version of their popular Eight 15.

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Inside the metal amp chassis you will be greeted by high quality components and clean workmanship. This is genuine hand-soldering using soldering lugs riveted to a fibreglass board.

You’d be foolish to expect the wiring to be on the same, insanely high level – in terms of its neatness – as generally seen on boutique-grade amps, but the True Blood is definitely in line with Juketone’s ”affordable boutique” ethos.

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juketone-true-blood-control-panel

Maybe the most important part in the charm of a 5F1-type Champ (or Champ clone) is the directness of this small combo’s approach to tonal nirvana. There’s no master volume, no tone control, no effects – just a single volume control, and the straightest signal path from input jack to speaker known to mankind.

To some, this type of diminutive Fifties practice amp looks like it’s hopelessly ancient, but the Tweed Champ still has a lot of fans.

The Juketone True Blood’s secret to success lies in the combo’s interactive behaviour. The most traditional way to use the True Blood would be to dial in the maximum amount of volume (and distortion) needed, and then control the amp using the guitar’s own volume and tone controls. Thanks to the naturally rich compression this combo produces when pushed, turning down the guitar volume for cleaner sounds will result in less of a volume drop than expected. Here’s a short clip using a double humbucker guitar (Hamer USA Studio Custom):

If you need more clean headroom from your True Blood (Blues harpists, listen up) than what the factory 12AX7 has to offer, you could easily drop in one of a number of ”cooler” 12A_7-family replacements, such as a 12AU7 or a 12AT7.

Here are three clips of a Fender Telecaster, a Gibson Les Paul Junior and a Hamer Studio Custom, respectively, with their bridge pickups selected. Each clip has been recorded with the combo’s volume control set to ”6”, ”8”, ”10” and ”12”, using a Shure SM57:

The Juketone True Blood’s low volume and tasty compression make this combo an excellent choice for use in the (home-) studio. Just add a little EQ and compression, and season the result with a bit of reverb and/or delay during mixdown, and you’ll be surprised at how big this little chap really sounds:

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juketone-true-blood-front-angle-2

I can only recommend Juketone’s True Blood warmly for use as a living room and recording amp.

Laying your hands on a hand-wired tweed-style combo has never been so easy or affordable. The warm, big bass response of the Celestion speaker is a definite improvement, at least in my book!

This Juketone combo is a serious alternative to your run-of-the-mill mass-produced practice. It sounds pure and sweet. A hand-soldered combo, such as this, is also far easier to repair (or modify) than a PCB-based design.

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Juketone True Blood

250 £ (introductory offer)

Contact: Juketone

Pros:

+ affordable

+ workmanship

+ hand-wired

+ sound

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29/12/2016

Testipenkissä: Juketone True Blood

juketone-true-blood-logo

Jos on halunnut itselleen uuden, käsinjuotetun putkivahvistimen, vaihtoehtoja on tähän mennessä ollut käytännössä kaksi – joko ostaa kallis boutique- tai custom shop –vahvistin, tai kasata vahvistin rakennussarjan pohjalta.

Brittiläinen Juketone tarjoaa kuitenkin kolmannenkin vaihtoehdon tweed-faneille – edullisia, Fender-henkisiä putkivahvistimia, jotka suunnitellaan Englannissa ja valmistetaan Kiinassa.

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Juketone True Blood (250 puntaa plus lähetyskulut) on firman pienin kombo.

True Blood perustuu suurilta osin legendaariseen 1950-luvun Fender Champ -komboon (5F1-versio), johon Juketone on tehnyt pieniä muutoksia.

Tweed-Champeja on rakennettu 1950-luvun eri vaiheissa kolmella eri kaiutinkotelolla. True Bloodin kaiutinkotelo on kokonaan suorakaiteinen (niin kuin 1955/56-malleissa), kun taas Fenderin Custom Shop -versiossa pohja on syvempi kuin kansi (50-luvun lopun versio).

juketone-true-blood-back-angle

Tweed-kankaalla päällystetty kotelo on valmistettu lähes täysin vanerista, lukuun ottamatta takalevyjä, jotka ovat kuitulevyä.

juketone-true-blood-valves-and-speaker

Tärkeimmät erot vanhan Champin ja Juketonen True Bloodin välillä löytyvät tasasuuntaajaputkesta ja kaiuttimesta.

Audio-osaston Ruby Tubes 12AX7- ja 6V6GT -putkien lisäksi vahvistimesta löytyy hieman harvinaisempi kiinalainen 6Z4-tasasuuntaaja, joka ei ole yhteensopiva samannimisen amerikkalaisen putkityypin kanssa.

Vanhoissa tweed-Champeissa on yleensä Jensen-kaiutin, mutta Juketone on valinnut komboonsa selvästi brittiläisemman, kahdeksantuumaisen Celestion Super 8 -mallin, joka on alnico-versio saman valmistajan suositusta Eight 15 -kaiuttimesta.

juketone-true-blood-electronics-2

Metallisen vahvistinkotelon sisältä löytyy kauttaaltaan laadukkaita komponentteja, jotka on juotettu siististi lasikuitulevyn juotoskorviin.

Työnjälki ei kuitenkaan (luonnollisesti) ole aivan samalla viivalla verrattuna esimerikiksi Bluetonen valmistamiin boutique -vahvistimiin, joissa styrkkarin sisälmykset näyttävät suorastaan taideteokselta. Juketone True Blood tarjoaa kuitenkin hämmästyttävän laadukkaan putkivahvistinelämyksen todella edullisesti.

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juketone-true-blood-control-panel

Tärkeä osa 5F1-tyypisten Champien (ja Champ-kloonien) viehätystä on se, että ne tarjoavat soundille suorimman mahdollisen tien kitarasta kaiuttimelle. Ei masteria, ei taajuuskorjaimia, ei efektejä – yksi kanava, kaksi tuloa ja pelkkä volume-säädin, siinä kaikki!

Vaikka tämä 1950-luvun harjoituskombo vaikuttaakin monien silmistä muinaisesineeltä, on Tweed Champillä silti yhä monta ystävää.

Juketone True Blood -kombon salaisuus piilee vahvistimen interaktiivisuudessa. Luontevin tapa käyttää tällaista pikkukomboa on asettaa sen volume-säädin täysille (tai lähes täysille), ja hallita soundia soittimen omilla volume- ja tone-säätimillä. Vahvistimen tuottaman luontaisen kompression ansiosta saadaan eloisia ja täyteläisiä puhtaita soundeja myös pienelle säädetyillä humbuckerilla.

Jos kaipaa True Bloodilta hieman enemmän puhdasta headroomia (esim. huuliharppua vahvistettaessa), kannattaa etuasteessa kokeilla 12AX7-putken sijaan 12A_7-perheen hieman ”heikompia” malleja, kuten esimerkiksi 12AU7 tai 12AT7.

Tällä tavoin soivat Telecasterin, LP Juniorin ja Hamer Studio Customin tallamikrofonit True Blood -kombon kautta. Jokaisessa klipissä kombon Volume-säätimen asennot ovat ”6”, ”8”, ”10” ja ”12”. Taltiointiin on käytetty Shure SM57-mikrofonia:

Juketone True Bloodin pieni teho ja muhkea kompressio tekee kombosta myös oivan työkalun (koti-) studiossa. Hieman kaikua ja kompressiota, sekä pieni ripaus EQ:ta lisämausteiksi miksausvaiheessa, ja lopputulos kuulostaa paljon isommalta ja mehevämmältä kuin uskoisi:

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juketone-true-blood-front-angle-2

Juketone True Blood on mielestäni oiva valinta suoraviivaista putkikomboa olohuoneeseen tai kotistudioon etsittäessä.

Se on helppo ja edullinen tapa saada itselleen aitoa tweed-tyylistä soundia. Celestion-kaiuttimen tuoma jäntevä keskialue ja muhkea basso ovat minun mielestäni ainoastaan plussaa!

Juketone-kombo on varteenotettava vaihtoehto tavallisille, massatuotetuille pikkukomboille – eikä vain hyvän soundinsa ansiosta. Käsinjuotetun elektroniikan etuja ovat myös helpompi huolto ja modifiointi.

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Juketone True Blood -kombo

250 £ (+ lähetyskulut)

Lisätiedot: Juketone

Plussat:

+ hinta

+ työnjälki

+ käsinjuotettu

+ soundi

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27/12/2016

Tulossa –– Coming soon –– Juketone True Blood

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juketone-true-blood-control-panel

Contact: Juketone

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04/05/2016

Review: Vox AV15

Vox AV15 – logo

Vox Amplification’s new AV-series comprises three affordable guitar combos. The Vox AV15, AV30 and AV60 – named according to their power amp wattage – are modelling valve hybrid amplifiers that combine the best elements of solid state and tube technology.

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Vox AV15 – front view new

KitarablogiDotCom took the smallest of the trio, the Vox AV15 (street price in Finland approx. 269 €) for a spin.

The AV15 is a compact little combo (height: 37 cm, width: 45 cm, depth: 23 cm), weighing in at just below eight kilos.

AV15 cabinet construction

The combo’s cabinet has taken a big leaf out of the book of hi-fi speaker construction. Normally a guitar cab is meant to add its own bit of tonal modification into the mix, but when dealing with a modelling amplifier meant to imitate a number of different amp and speaker configurations, the more linear frequency response of a bass reflex cabinet is highly desirable.

Vox AV15 – back angle

Vox AV15 – back panel

The only thing you’ll find on the Vox AV15’s back panel is the connector for the amp’s external power supply unit (12 VDC, included).

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Vox AV15 – control panel 2 LRG

The Preamp Circuit-switch lets you select one of the eight amp models offered by the Vox. The selection takes you from Fender Twin-style cleans, and Vox- and Marshall-type crunch, all the way to Rectifier-like high gain tones.

You can fine-tune your tone using the three-band EQ section. The AV15 also comes equipped with an effects section made up of three different effects – reverb, delay and chorus (called modulation on the front panel). You are free to choose any or all of the effects. Each effect allows you to control a second parameter (in addition to the effect level) by keeping the respective effect’s effect button depressed while turning the Effects-control. You can change the modulation speed of the chorus, the delay time for the delay effect, and the length of the reverb tail of the reverb effect. The effects are the only digital bits in the AV-combo’s architecture, the rest of the Vox’ signal path – including the amp modelling – is kept all-analogue.

Here are three short clips illustrating the AV15’s effects (Gibson Les Paul Junior, Shure SM57):

CHORUS (with a little added reverb)

DELAY

REVERB

It may seem a bit unusual, but the AV15 features three different ”volume controls”, which all have a different bearing on the combo’s sound:

The Gain-knob sets the signal level before the signal is sent to the preamp’s valve stage. Low Gain settings result in a clean sound, while higher Gain settings will lead to preamp break-up and (depending on the chosen amp model) distortion. The Volume-control adjusts the signal level right in front of the power amp’s tube stage. Lower Volume settings will give you a clean and dynamic signal, while higher settings will bring in some power amp compression and saturation (= distortion). The last volume knob – called Power Level on the Vox AV15 – determines the final volume level in your room (or in your headphones).

Vox AV15 – tube and switches LRG

While its bigger siblings – the AV30 and the AV60 – feature two valves in their architecture (one for the preamp, one for the power amp), the smaller Vox AV15 makes do with just a single tube for both pre- and power amp duties. This is made possible by the way the good-old 12AX7-valve is constructed, offering you two triodes in one single tube. This means, you can split this valve type to perform two jobs simultaneously.

This Vox’ Valve Stage-section features four small slider switches that you can use to modify the way the two valve stages react and sound:

The Pre Amp side of things sports a Bright-switch for adding sparkle to your top end, as well as a Fat-switch that will boost the bass response.

The switches labelled ”Power Amp” really do make a significant difference to this combo’s ”feel”. The Bias- and Reactor-switches let you select how much the power amp’s tube section is ”pushed” and how much power amp compression will be audible.

Listen to these two sound clips – clean and crunch – to get an idea of how the Valve Stage switches change the combo’s sound (Gibson Les Paul Junior, Shure SM57). Both clips start with all the switches in the left position. Then I put one switch after the other to its right position (starting with the Bright-switch, and continuing left to right):

Vox AV15 – front angle 2

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Vox AV15 – front angle 3

Snobbism seems to be the fashion of the day – we’ve got cork sniffers, we’ve got vinyl snobs, and we’ve got valve amp anoraks.

But in our heart of hearts, most of us ”old farts” would have been more than happy, if we would have had such a great-sounding and versatile amp as the Vox AV15 when we started playing in the 1970s and 80s! The AV15 really wins you over with its array of inspiring tones and its affordable price tag.

The Vox AV15 is a real amp, not a plastic toy sucking all of the sheer joy of playing out of an eager novice. Vox AV-series hybrid combos can also serve more advanced players as fun living room amps, they can be used for backstage warm-up, and they also make a good figure as home studio amps (as you can hear in the demo songs).

BLUES demo

Rhythm guitars: Fender Telecaster (left channel) & Epiphone Casino (right channel)

Lead guitar: Fender Stratocaster

ROCK demo

Rhythm guitars: Fender Telecaster (left channel) & Gibson Les Paul Junior (right channel)

Lead guitar: Gibson Melody Maker SG

METAL demo

Rhythm guitars: Gibson Melody Maker SG (left channel) & Fender Stratocaster (right channel)

Lead guitar: Hamer USA Studio Custom

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Vox AV15 – front angle 4

In my opinion Vox Amplification’s new AV15 is a fine choice as a practice amp, for guitar teachers, or for school bands. The affordable Vox AV15 is easy to use and sounds great.

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Vox AV15

Finnish street price approx. 269 €

Finnish distributor: EM Nordic

A big ”thank you” goes to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review amp!

Pros:

+ compact

+ lightweight

+ versatile

+ Valve Stage-section

+ sound

+ value-for-money

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21/04/2016

Testipenkissä: Vox AV15

Vox AV15 – logo

Vox Amplificationin upouusi AV-sarja koostuu kolmesta edullisesta kombovahvistimesta kitaralle. Lähtötehonsa mukaan nimetyt Vox AV15-, AV30- ja AV60 -vahvistimet ovat mallintavia putkihybridejä, jotka yhdistävät puolijohde- ja putkielektroniikan parhaimpia puolia.

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Vox AV15 – front view new

Kitarablogi sai testiin Vox AV15 -kombon (arvioitu katuhinta noin 269 €), joka on AV-perheen kuopus.

AV15 on mukavan kompakti kokonaisuus (korkeus: 37 cm, leveys: 45 cm, syvyys: 23 cm), ja se painaa vain hieman alle kahdeksan kiloa.

AV15 cabinet construction

Vahvistinkotelon (= kaiutinkaapin) rakenne on selvästi ottanut inspiraatiota hifi-kaapeista. Tavallisesti kitarakaappi antaa oman lisämausteensa lopulliselle kitarasoundille, mutta AV-sarjan kaltaisissa mallintavissa vahvistimissa refleksikaapin lineaarisempi taajuusvaste auttaa useiden eri soundien jäljittämisessä.

Vox AV15 – back angle

Vox AV15 – back panel

Vox AV15:n takaseinästä löytyy ainoastaan virtaliitin kombon mukana tulevalle ulkoiselle virtalähteelle (12 V DC).

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Vox AV15 – control panel 2 LRG

Preamp Circuit -kytkimellä saa valittua yhden Vox-kombon kahdeksasta vahvistinmallista. Tarjolla on riittävästi vaihtoehtoja Fender Twin -tyylisestä cleanista, sekä Vox- ja Marshall-mallinnuksien kautta jopa Rectifier-tyyliseen High Gain -meininkiin.

Vahvistinsoundien maustamiseksi tämä Voxi tarjoaa kolmikaistaisen EQ-osaston, sekä kolme efektiä (chorus, viive, kaiku). Kaikkia kolmea efektiä voi käyttää samanaikaisesti. Jokaisessa efektissä pystyy säätämään efektitason lisäksi vielä toisen parametrin (pitämällä efektinappia alas painettuna, samalla kun kääntää Effects-säädintä) – vatkaamisnopeutta choruksessa, viiveaikaa delayssä, sekä kaiun pituutta reverbissä. AV-kombon efektit ovat muuten vahvistimen ainoat digitaalisesti toteutetut osat, Voxin muu signaalitie – mallinnusta myöten – on täysin analoginen.

Tässä kolme lyhyttä pätkää efektiosaston soundeista (Gibson Les Paul Junior, Shure SM57):

CHORUS (ja pieni annos kaikua)

DELAY

REVERB

Hieman epätavallisesti löytyy AV15-kombosta jopa kolme eri ”volyymi-säädintä”, joiden toiminta vaikuttaa soundiin eri lailla:

Gain-säätimellä säädetään tulosignaalin tasoa, ennen kun signaali menee etuvahvistimen putkiasteelle. Pienillä Gain-asetuksilla soundi pysyy puhtaana, kun taas isommat Gain-asetukset tuovat signaaliin rosoisuutta ja/tai (vahvistinmallista riippuen) selkeätä etuastesäröä. Kombon Volume-säätimen rooli taas on säätää etuvahvistimesta tulevan signaalin tasoa juuri ennen päätevahvistimen putkiastetta. Pienillä Volume-asetuksilla signaali pysyy puhtaampana ja dynaamisempana, kun taas isot Volume-asetukset lisäävät signaaliin hieman kompressiota ja päätevahvistimen saturaatiota (= säröä). Power Level -nupilla sitten säädetään kuinka kovalla kitarasoittosi kuuluu kaiuttimen (tai kuulokkeiden) kautta.

Vox AV15 – tube and switches LRG

Vaikka AV30:ssä ja AV60:ssä on kahdet putket – yksi etu- ja toinen päätevahvistimelle – Vox AV15 tulee toimeen vain yhdellä putkella, joka toimii sekä etu- että päätevahvistimessa. Tämän mahdollistaa perinteikkään 12AX7-putken nerokas rakenne, joka tarjoaa kaksi erillistä triodia samassa kuoressa, minkä ansiosta tätä putkityyppiä voi ja saa splitata.

Valve Stage -osio tarjoaa neljä liukukytkintä, joilla voi vaikuttaa suoraan putkiasteiden toimintaan ja soundiin:

Etuvahvistimelle (Pre Amp) löytyy sekä Bright-kytkin diskantin lisäämiseksi että Fat-kytkin, jolla bassontoistoa saadaan muhkeammaksi.

Päätevahvistimen (Power Amp) kytkimillä on vielä suurempi vaikutus vahvistimen soundiin ja ”tuntumaan”. Bias- ja Reactor-kytkimillä valitaan kuinka ”kuumana” päätevahvistimen putkipuolikas toimii ja miten dynaamisesti päätevahvistin reagoi etuvahvistimesta tulevaan signaaliin.

Tässä kaksi ääniesimerkkiä – clean ja crunch – joissa aloitetaan kaikilla kytkimillä vasemmassa asennossa, ja jossa laitan sitten kytkimet peräkkäin (aloitan Bright-kytkimestä) oikeaan asentoon (Gibson Les Paul Junior, Shure SM57):

Vox AV15 – front angle 2

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Vox AV15 – front angle 3

Snobismi näyttää olevan tällä hetkellä muodissa – on viinisnobismi, on vinyylisnobismi, on putkisnobismi.

Mutta kun ollaan ihan rehellisiä olen ihan varma, että moni meistä ”vanhoista pieruista” olisi ollut enemmän kuin onnellinen, jos hänellä olisi ollut aloittelijana 1970-/80-luvun taitteessa ollut näin hieno vekotin kuin Vox AV15! AV15 on nimittäin hyvin monipuolinen – ja todella hyvällä soundillaan vakuuttava – hybridikombo erittäin soittajaystävällisellä hinnalla.

Vox AV15 on kunnon vahvistin kunnon soundilla, eikä muovinen lelu, joka lannistaisi kitarauntuvikon heti alkumetreillä. Varttuneellekin soittajalle AV-sarjalaiset voivat olla järkevä hankinta olohuonekomboksi tai backstage-lämmittelyyn, ja myös kotistudiossa AV15-kombosta on paljon iloa (kuten demobiiseissä kuulee).

BLUES-demo

Komppikitarat: Fender Telecaster (vasen kanava) ja Epiphone Casino (oikea kanava)

Soolokitara: Fender Stratocaster

ROCK-demo

Komppikitarat: Fender Telecaster (vasen kanava) ja Gibson Les Paul Junior (oikea kanava)

Soolokitara: Gibson Melody Maker SG

METAL-demo

Komppikitarat: Gibson Melody Maker SG (vasen kanava) ja Fender Stratocaster (oikea kanava)

Soolokitara: Hamer USA Studio Custom

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Vox AV15 – front angle 4

Minun mielestäni Vox Amplificationin AV-uutuussarja on oiva valinta esimerkiksi omaksi harjoitusvahvistimeksi, opetuskäyttöön tai vaikkapa bändikerholaisille. Edullinen Vox AV15 on helppo käyttää ja se kuulostaa mielestäni todella hyvältä.

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Vox AV15

Arvioitu katuhinta noin 269 €

Maahantuoja: EM Nordic

Suuri kiitos DLX Musiikille testikombon lainaamisesta!

Plussat:

+ kompakti

+ kevyt

+ monipuolinen

+ Valve Stage -osio

+ soundi

+ hinta-laatu-suhde

20/04/2016

Two Kitarablogi-videos: Vox AV15

Vox AV15 – tube and switches LRG

Contact: EM Nordic

12/04/2016

Now on SoundCloud: Vox AV15

Vox AV15 control panel

Contact: EM Nordic

11/04/2016

Tulossa… +++ Coming soon… +++ Vox AV15

Vox AV15

Lisätiedot: EM Nordic

29/03/2016

Press Release: Fender The Edge Signature Stratocaster & Deluxe Amp

The Edge Strat is engineered for top-notch performance with versatile tone and effortless playing. Unique features include a pair of special Custom Shop Fat 50s single-coil pickups with flat pole pieces, a DiMarzio® FS-1™ bridge pickup, upgraded quartersawn maple neck with “C”-shaped profile and 9.5” maple fingerboard, modern two-point synchronized tremolo bridge with pop-in arm and fully adjustable saddles. The Edge’s signature is also included on the front of the large ‘70s-style headstock.

The elegant guitar combines the classic curves, appointments and effortless playability of the Stratocaster with modern enhancements and materials to create a dream instrument for players and U2 fans alike.

edge strat front

The Edge Deluxe signature model is an updated take on the classic ’57 tweed Deluxe used to craft the Edge’s sonic identity. This amp also produces the tone and articulation of the vintage Fender Deluxe amps that are an important part of the artist’s complex multi-amp effects setup.

This 12-watt hand-wired amp features modified circuitry for tighter low-end response and high-impact tone, a 12” Celestion® Blue speaker, custom-tapered volume control and altered component values that tighten up low-end frequency response. The Edge himself also hand-designed the special grille logo badge, which distinguishes the traditional tweed amp as a distinctive tool for guitarists everywhere.

edge amp angle

11/09/2013

Review: Roland Micro Cube GX + Cube-80 GX

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Roland’s popular Cube-series of COSM-combos has recently been updated.

The new Cube GX-amps boast some new features, like the iCube Link (first seen in the Cube Lite), which allows you to use the guitar combo as a soundcard with Apple iOS devices.

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The Roland Micro Cube GX (current price in Finland 134 €) is the newest version of one of the most successful battery-powered practice amps ever.

At first glance the GX-version looks very similar to the Micro Cube’s previous incarnation, with only the large Cube logo on the metal grille hinting at the combo’s updated status.

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The Micro Cube GX’ back panel is a good deal smaller than on the last version.

The new combo sports mini-sized headphone and line-level outputs.

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The GX still runs on six AA-batteries, but the new battery compartment is much easier to use.

A power supply can be found in the box.

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The front panel has gotten a serious overhaul:

Above the guitar input you can find the i-Cube Link connector, which allows you to hook up you iPad or iPhone to the combo using the supplied cable. Thanks to the i-Cube Link you can use the GX-amp as the iDevice’s sound-card, as well as record and practice using Roland’s free Cube Jam-app. You can get more info on the Cube Jam-app in Kitarablogi’s Cube Lite review.

Another important new feature of the Micro Cube GX is the Memory-function, which offers you one memory slot per COSM Amp Type. Memory stores all settings of the chosen Amp Type, namely the settings of the Gain-, Volume-, EFX- and Delay-controls.

The tuner section has also received an overhaul. The old Micro Cube came with an electronic tuning fork on-board, giving you an ”a” (or Ab or Abb) to tune to. The brand-new Micro Cube GX comes equipped with a genuine digital tuner. The default setting for the tuner is chromatic, but it can also be set to A-only, which comes in handy when changing strings.

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The Roland Cube-80 GX (current price in Finland 384 €) is the current top model in the GX-series, offering you 80 Watts of output power through a single 12-inch speaker.

The clearest difference between the predecessor – the Cube-80 XL – and the GX-version is the addition of the i-Cube Link in favour of the old model’s built-in looper.

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Also new is the GA-FC-connector on the amp’s back panel, which allows you to use Roland’s guitar amp foot-controller the GA-FC (optional) with the Cube-80 GX.

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This is what the foot-controller looks like. When used with the GX, you can switch amp channels and turn the combo’s EFX-, Delay- and Reverb-sections on/off separately. You can also connect two expression pedals to the GA-FC, if you want to adjust input and output levels on the fly. The Cube-80 GX comes supplied with a special overlay for the foot-controller, so you can change the GA-FC’s labelling to match the correct functions.

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Some things have stayed the same, though, like the rugged design of the Cube-series.

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The Cube-80 GX is a three-channel guitar amplifier:

The JC Clean-channel is reserved for ultra-clean tones in the style of Roland’s legendary Jazz Chorus-combo. The Lead-channel, on the other hand, offers you nine different COSM-models, as well as an acoustic simulator for your occasional steel-string needs.

The third channel is the so-called Solo-channel. I say ”so-called”, because actually the Solo-channel is the Cube-80 GX’ memory slot, which you can fill with any amp setting you wish, regardless of whether it is a setting for soloing or not. The crucial difference between the Solo-channel and the other two channels is the fact that the Solo-channel uses its own (stored) settings for the EQ-, EFX-, Delay- and Reverb-sections, while JC Clean- and Lead-channels have to share the current control settings.

Apart from the i-Cube Link, the Cube-80 GX’ features list is very similar to the Cube-80 XL-version. You can get more info on the i-Cube Link and Roland’s free Cube Jam-app in Kitarablogi’s Cube Lite review.

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Roland’s brand-new Micro Cube GX offers you even more than its already legendary predecessor. The built-in tuner makes life much easier, and the new i-Cube Link/Cube Jam functionality genuinely adds value to this diminutive powerhouse. If you own an iDevice you will have your own practice set-up up and running in no time.

The little GX-combo also gives you three new sounds – the fantastically über-Metal amp type called Extreme, a fine polyphonic octaver effect, as well as a spring reverb model. The Micro Cube GX’ spring reverb simulation sounds good, but very small area designated for it on the Reverb-control doesn’t allow for much in terms of tailoring the spring reverb. It’s more of an on/off affair.

Overall the GX sounds better than the original Micro Cube, with more realistic amp simulations and clearly less hiss in the effect section.

These four clips have been recorded using a dynamic mic in front of the combo, and playing a Fender Stratocaster:

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Roland’s new Cube-80 GX is a compact, yet powerful guitar combo for the gigging guitarist.

The sounds on offer cover all bases, and the amp types and effects all sound great. Depending on your guitar of choice there can be a very slight tendency toward a crowded lower-midrange – especially with clean sounds – but this can be easily kept in check with the amp’s nice EQ-section.

I feel that if you want to use the Cube-80 GX live, buying the GA-FC-controller is almost compulsory, as it is the only way you can fully control all the combo’s functions on the fly. 100 euros seems a bit steep in relation to the Cube’s own price tag, but from a practical standpoint the additional outlay makes a whole lot of sense.

Be that as it may, Roland’s Cube-80 GX is a cool amp for both gigging and studio use.

These four examples have been recorded with the same set-up are the Micro Cube GX-clips:

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Roland’s Cube GX-series is a good choice if you want a wide variety of different amp tones and effect sounds to choose from. For teaching and/or practising purposes the iOS-compatibility and Roland’s own Cube Jam-app add a lot of value to an already very enticing package.

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Roland Cube GX-series

Micro Cube GX – 134 €

Cube-80 GX – 384 €

Finnish distributor: Roland Scandinavia

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Pros:

+ value for money

+ i-Cube Link

+ Micro Cube GX: new Memory-feature 

+ Cube-80 GX: GA-FC-compatibility

+ sound

+ rugged build

Cons:

– Micro Cube GX: spring reverb effect hard to adjust

– Cube-80 GX: price of GA-FC-controller