Posts tagged ‘Vox’

17/10/2018

Testipenkissä: Vox AC30S1

”Älä muuta mitään. AC30 on sinun lapsesi, ja sen tarina tulee jatkumaan ikuisesti!”

Näin sanoi Voxin alkuperäisen emoyhtiön, JMI:n, perustaja ja pomo Tom Jennings hänen pääsuunnittelijalle, Dick Denneylle (kuvassa), joskus 1960-luvulla.

Jo ennen kuin Marshall-vahvistimien tuotantoa edes suunniteltiin, Voxista oli jo tullut ensimmäinen brittivahvistimien legenda. Alkuperäistä Vox AC30:tä kehiteltiin vuonna 1959 The Shadows -yhtyeelle, AC15-mallin isommaksi versioksi. Hank Marvinilla ja Bruce Welchillä alkoi nimittäin tulla vaikeuksia saada kitaransoittoansa kuulumaan, koska bändin (ja Cliff Richardin) yleisöt ja keikkapaikat kasvoivat yhä nopeammin.

Vox AC30:n ensimmäinen versio oli yhdellä 12-tuumaisella kaiuttimella varustettu kombo. Kun The Beatles -yhtiön kitaristit alkoivat käyttää AC30:tä vahvistin oli jo kasvanut kahdella 12-tuumaisella varustetuksi versioksi, jota Vox kutsui ”Twiniksi”. John Lennon ja George Harrison olivat myös ensimmäisten joukossa saaneet kombon (silloin) uusimman version Top Boost -piirillä. Maailmaa järisyttävä Beatlemania oli Voxille parasta mahdollista mainontaa ikinä.

Voxin AC30 Twinistä Top Boostilla tuli Vox Amplificationin lippulaiva, joka on edelleen yksi maailman ikonisimpia kitaravahvistimia. Kiitos tästä kuuluu myös kaikille näille kitaristeille, kuten Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher, Lenny Kravitz ja U2:n The Edge, joille AC30 on ollut ja/tai on edelleen oman soundin kulmakivi.

Alkuperäisiä AC30-komboja (ja niiden uudelleenpainoksia) arvostellaan usein niiden koon ja painon vuoksi. Joillakin alkuperäisillä 60-luvun versioilla on myös taipumus kuumentua liikaa, vahvistimen uumenissa sijaitsevien putkien takia. Tämän lisäksi kaikki alkuperäiset AC30:t on rakennettu ilman master volume -säädintä, minkä vuoksi kombon omia särösoundeja saadaan tuotettua vain silloin, kun styrkkari pyörii (lähes) täysillä volyymillä.

Onneksi Voxin nykyisestä mallistosta löytyy monta eri nykyaikaisia ja virtaviivaistettua AC30-versioita.

Upouusi Vox AC30S1 (katuhinta noin 780 €) pakkaa AC30:n parhaita soundeja helppokäyttöiseen, master volumella -varustettuun ja helpommin kuljettavaan muotoon.

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Uusi Vox AC30S1 on firman hyvin suositun kiinalaisen Custom-malliston uusin jäsen.

AC30 Single -kombolla on edelleen klassisen Voxin ulkonäkö, mutta yhdellä 12-tuumaisella varustetun uutukaisen kotelo on hieman perinteistä kapeampi. Tämä versio painaa ”vain” 24,5 kiloa, mikä on peräti yhdeksän kiloa vähemmän kuin Custom-sarjan AC30 Twin (AC30C2).

Uudessa kombossa on yksi kanava kaksikaistaisella EQ:lla, sekä master volume -säätimellä.

Tämän Voxin sisäinen kaiku on digitaalinen mallinnus perinteisestä jousikaiusta.

Ihan niin kuin 60-luvun esi-isällä, AC30S1:llä on puoliksi avoin takaseinä.

Vox Custom -sarjan vahvistimet on suunniteltu nykypäivän sähköturvallisuusmääräyksien mukaisiksi. AC30S1:n tapauksessa tämä näkyy esimerkiksi helposti vaihdettavissa ja hyvin tuuletetuissa vahvistinputkissa, metallisessa turvaverkossa (joka estää suoran pääsyn kuumiin putkiin), sekä irrotettavalla sähköjohdolla IEC-liittimellä.

AC30S1:n etuvahvistin käyttää kahta 12AX7-putkea, kun taas päätevahvistimessa pyörii peräti neljä EL84-putkea.

Kombon kaiutin on 12-tuumainen Celestion VX, joka on suunniteltu varta vasten tälle vahvistimelle.

Takapaneelista löytyy lähtö lisäkaiuttimelle (16 Ω), sekä efektilenkin liittimiä.

AC30S1:n EU-versioihin on lisätty myös Eco-ominaisuus, joka laittaa kombon omatoimisesti pois päältä kahden tunnin tyhjäkäynnin jälkeen.

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Upouusi Vox AC30S1 on selkeästi helpompi nostaa ja kuljettaa kuin perinteiset Twin-versiot, mikä on varmasti hyvä uutinen meille kaikille.

Nyt seuraa pieni varoitus:

Vaikka Voxin mainoskuvissa uutta AC30 Singleä esitellään monissa olohuone-tyylisissä tilanteissa, tämä kombo ei mielestäni ole oikea valinta olohuonekäyttöön. Vaikka tässä on kyseessä ”vain” yhdellä 12-tuumaisella kaiuttimella varustettu styrkkari, AC30S1:llä ei ole minkäänlaisia ongelmia tarjota henkeäsalpaavia volyymitasoja. Totta, tässä on master volume -säädin, mutta sen toiminta on – ainakin testiyksilössä – epätasainen juuri potikan alkumetreillä, jossa hypätään hiljaisuudesta lähes suoraan noin 30 prosentin teholle. Tämä vahvistin ei kuulu kerrostaloon tai olohuoneeseen, vaan se haluaa isoon studioon tai Rock-klubin lavalle.

Vaikka uutukaisen toimintasäde on hieman Twin-versiota kapeampi (koska kotelosta löytyy vain yksi kaiutin), Vox AC30S1:n soundit ovat kuitenkin täynnä ehtaa AC30-magiaa. Niin kuin AC30:ssä yleensä, puhdasta headroomia ei ole tarjolla niin runsaasti kuin esimerkiksi Blackface-tyylisissä Fendereissä. AC30:n juju on juuri sen tasaisesti kasvavassa reunasärössä, joka lähtee liikkeelle jo kohtuullisen pienellä gainella, sekä crunch-särön tiheydessä ja purevuudessa.

Tästä pätkästä saa hyvän idean AC30S1:n soundimaailmasta. Gain on säädetty täysille ja vahvistimen säröä ohjataan Fender Stratocasterin volume-säätimellä:

AC30S1:n digitaalisesti mallinnettu jousikaiku kuulostaa erinomaiselta – tämä on ehkä paras putkivahvistimen sisäinen digikaiku pitkään aikaan:

Demobiisissä soitan pätkiä neljästä Vox AC30:llä soitetuista klassikkobiiseistä – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), sekä ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (magneettisella Seymour Duncan SA-1 -mikrofonilla)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Mikrofonit: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Delay-efektejä on lisätty miksausvaiheessa:

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Minun mielestäni uusi Vox AC30S1 on erinomainen lisäys firman AC30-valikoimaan. Uusi Single-versio tarjoaa miltei kaikkia klassisia Vox-soundeja hieman kompaktimmassa koossa.

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Vox AC30S1

Katuhinta noin 780 €

Maahantuoja: EM Nordic

Kiitos DLX Musiikille testivahvistimen lainasta!

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Plussat:

+ paino

+ laadukas digikaiku

+ efektilenkki

+ soundi

+ kovaääninen

Miinukset:

– master volume -potikan jyrkkyys

– kovaääninenSave

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16/10/2018

Review: Vox AC30S1

”Keep it as it is. The AC30 is your baby, and it will go on forever!”

These prophetic words were spoken by Tom Jennings, the founder and head of Vox’ original parent company JMI, in the mid-1960s to his chief designer Dick Denney (pictured above).

Well before Marshall Amps arrived on the scene, Vox became the UK’s first legendary guitar amplifier brand. The original Vox AC30 was developed in 1959 as a larger version of the AC15 for the group The Shadows. Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch started having problems getting themselves heard over the ever-growing crowds they were drawing at ever-larger venues.

The first version of the Vox AC30 was a combo equipped with a single 12-inch speaker, but by the time the Beatles arrived on the scene the amp had evolved into what Vox called a ”Twin amplifier”, meaning a combo with a pair of 12-inch speakers. The Beatles were also the first band to receive AC30s with the company’s (then) new Top Boost -circuit. Vox couldn’t have dreamt up a more potent way of promoting their products than Beatlemania.

The AC30 Twin with Top Boost became Vox Amplification’s flagship product, which still stands today as one of the most iconic guitar amplifiers of all time. This is thanks in no small part to the great guitarists, such as Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher, Lenny Kravitz and U2’s The Edge, who made the combo a vital ingredient of their respective signature sounds.

Vintage AC30s (and faithful reissues) are often criticised for being quite large and heavy. Some 1960s examples also seem to have a tendency for overheating, due to the valve layout inside the chassis. Original AC30s also are non-master volume designs, which means that break-up and crunch sounds can only be had close to full volume levels.

Luckily, Vox’ line-up also includes more modern and streamlined AC30-versions.

The brand-new Vox AC30S1 (current Finnish street price around 780 €) takes everything that is great about the AC30, and puts it into a streamlined, master volume-equipped, and much more portable single speaker combo.

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The new Vox AC30S1 is part of the company’s very successful Chinese-made Custom range.

The AC30 Single keeps the classic Vox look, but comes in a narrower cabinet. At 24.5 kg the newcomer weighs a good nine kilos less that the Custom Series AC30 Twin (AC30C2).

The new combo offers a single amp channel with a two-band EQ-section and a master volume knob.

The built-in reverb is digital, and modelled after a classic spring reverb.

Just like the classic Sixties design the AC30S1 also sports a half-open back.

Vox’ Custom Series amps have been redesigned and updated to comply with all necessary safety regulations for modern tube amplifiers. In the AC30S1’s case this means well-ventilated valves that are easy to access, a safety grill to prevent anybody from touching piping hot tubes, and a detachable IEC mains cord.

The AC30S1 uses a pair of 12AX7 valves for the preamp section, as well as four EL84s in the power amp.

The speaker is a 12-inch Celestion VX model, designed specifically for use in this combo.

The back panel offers an additional speaker output (16 ohms) and an effects loop.

EU-versions of the AC30S1 also come with a switchable Eco-function, which will turn the amp off automatically when left running unplayed for two hours.

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The brand-new AC30S1 is noticeably easier to lift and carry than any of the regular Twin versions, which is great news for virtually any of us.

A word of warning first:

Despite Vox’ promo pictures showing the new AC30 Single in different living room set-ups, this isn’t really a combo for noodling on the couch. Despite being a single 12-inch speaker combo, the AC30S1 has no problem whatsoever in dishing out ear-shattering sound pressure levels. Yes, there is a master volume knob, but – at least on our review sample – the pot’s taper isn’t especially even, instead jumping rather abruptly from ”off” to something like 30 percent power. This combo doesn’t belong in a block of flats or in a sitting room, this amp belongs in a full-blown studio or on a club stage.

Despite the inevitably narrower throw of a single speaker (compared to a twin speaker set-up) the sounds gleaned from the Vox AC30S1 are pure AC30 magic. Typically, clean headroom isn’t available in Fender Blackface-style amounts. An AC30’s sound is defined by the smooth and steady break-up at comparatively moderate gain levels, and by the bite and density of its crunchy distortion.

Here’s an example of the range of textures you can get from the AC30S1 with its gain at full, while using a Stratocaster’s volume control:

The AC30S1’s digitally modelled spring reverb sounds terrific; probably the best onboard digital spring reverb I’ve heard in a long time:

The demo track features my covers of four classic Vox AC30 tracks – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), and ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (with Seymour Duncan SA-1 pickup)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Microphones used: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Any delays were added during mixing:

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In my view the new Vox AC30S1 is an excellent addition to the company’s AC30 range. This combo gives you virtually all of the classic Vox tones, but with far less bulk.

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Vox AC30S1

Street price in Finland approx. 780 €

Distributor: EM Nordic

Thanks to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review amp!

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Pros:

+ lesser weight

+ high-quality spring-style digital reverb

+ effects loop

+ sound

+ high volume levels

Cons:

– master volume taper

– high volume levelsSave

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11/10/2018

Vox AC30S1 – the Kitarablogi-video

VOX AC30S1

• Single-channel design inspired by the AC30’s trademark Top Boost

• All tube design featuring two 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and four EL84 power-amp tubes

• Equipped with a single Celestion-made 12-inch speaker, specially voiced for the AC30S1

• Effects send/return and external speaker output are provided for pairing with pedals or external cabinets

• Equipped with digital reverb that simulates a classic spring reverb

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The demo track features my covers of four classic Vox AC30 tracks – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), and ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (with Seymour Duncan SA-1 pickup)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Mics used: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Delays added during mixing.

01/10/2018

First Look: Vox AC30S1

VOX AC30S1

• Single-channel design inspired by the AC30’s trademark Top Boost

• All tube design featuring two 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and four EL84 power-amp tubes

• Equipped with a single Celestion-made 12-inch speaker, specially voiced for the AC30S1

• Effects send/return and external speaker output are provided for pairing with pedals or external cabinets

• Equipped with digital reverb that simulates a classic spring reverb

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The demo track features my covers of four classic Vox AC30 tracks – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), and ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (with Seymour Duncan SA-1 pickup)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Mics used: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Delays added during mixing.

29/01/2018

Review: Bluetone Shadows Jr.

Following in the wake of their very popular Shadows Reverb combo, Finnish boutique makers Bluetone Amps have recently introduced a smaller sibling, called the Shadows Jr.

The Bluetone Shadows Jr. (combo starting at around 1,300 €) is a hand-built, all-valve guitar combo, whose sound is based on the classic Vox AC15. Instead of being a straight, slavish copy, though, the Shadows Jr. incorporates many of the up-to-date features that have made Bluetone such a well-regarded boutique maker.

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The Shadows Jr. has the clean and business-like looks that active players truly appreciate. You don’t want to be slowed down on stage by a control panel that’s hard to decipher. The Bluetone is clarity itself.

This is a single-channel all-valve combo running in Class AB mode giving you maximum output power at just over 10 watts.

The Shadows Jr. is designed around a trio of 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of EL84s powering the speaker. The combo’s power valves are cathode-biased, which means that swapping tubes won’t necessitate a trip to your friendly amp technician.

Bluetone is one of the very few amp makers who use torroidal power transformers. These doughnut-shaped devices (the black thing in the upper left corner) are lighter and more dependable than traditional transformer designs, and they offer more exact tolerances. As a valve amp is highly dependable on a stable and electronically quiet power supply for superior tone, Bluetone decided on using torroidal transformers early on, and they’ve never looked back.

The Warehouse Guitar Speakers Green Beret is an excellent choice for a strongly Brit-flavoured combo. Bluetone break in all of the speakers they use with low-frequency sine waves.

Despite being a compact single-channel combo amp (weighing only around 10 kg), the Bluetone Shadows Jr. offers an amazing amount of different clean and gain tones, thanks in no small part to the amp’s PPIMV master volume and the three-step OPC-switch.

PPIMV stands for ”post-power inverter master volume”, which is the preferred way of master volume design at Bluetone Amps, because it eats up the least amount of an amplifier’s tone, when in use. And if you turn the master volume knob all the way up, a PPIMV design makes the master volume ”disappear” electronically, making it completely transparent.

OPC, on the other hand, stands for ”output power control”. On the Shadows Jr. you have a choice of three settings, giving you 0.2, two or the full 10 watts of power, respectively. The magic of the OPC circuit is that it will turn volume levels down very noticeably without changing the tonal character of your settings, while also leaving almost all of the dynamics intact. Many lesser output power designs will turn a clean setting into an overdriven sound when you select a lower output level. The Shadows Jr. will sound almost the same on ten, two or 0.2 watts – the small tonal differences are the result of the speaker being driven differently. With the OPC at the lowest setting you will get approximately 95 percent of the full ”Shadows Jr. experience” at bedroom/apartment block volume levels. That’s fantastic!

The back panel gives you a choice of using the internal speaker or an external 4- or 8-ohm cabinet.

Bluetone have also included their tasty buffered, switchable effects loop with a dedicated volume control. When the loop is not in use, the circuit can also serve as a handy lead boost.

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Are you looking for a cool little tone machine with a strong Vox-y flavour, and no-compromise build quality? You should do yourself a favour and try the Bluetone Shadows Jr.

The Shadows Jr. ticks all the right boxes:

You get that classic clean tone with that sweet mid-range ”attitude”. A clean tone that is lively, but never glassy or brittle.

With the front-end volume near the other extreme you’ll get overdrive and distortion that is more gritty and dynamic – think later era Beatles, windmilling Townshend, or multilayered May – than creamy and compressed.

But don’t forget to check out the wide scope of break-up Blues and Rock ’n’ Roll sounds to be had between 11 and 2 o’clock on the volume (gain) control (depending on the guitar used). You’re in for hours of wailing soloing and chunky rhythms without ever needing an overdrive stompbox.

Here’s a Gibson Les Paul Junior on its own:

Demo track number one features two rhythm guitar tracks – a Fender Stratocaster (stereo left) and a Gibson Les Paul Junior (right) – as well as a Hamer USA Studio Custom on lead duty:

The second demo track features a Gibson Les Paul Junior (rhythm left), an Epiphone Casino (rhythm right), and a Fender Telecaster (lead guitar):

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The Bluetone Shadows Jr. is a fantastic little tone machine for the Vox-inclined player, who likes warm clean tones, dynamic break-up sounds, and gritty late-Sixties/early-Seventies dirt.

The build quality is miles ahead of any mass-produced guitar amplifier – this is a handcrafted boutique-grade valve amp. Modern additions like the PPIMV master volume, the OPC circuit, and the switchable effects loop, also raise this amp above any vintage-style copies.

For many the crucial question with low-wattage amps is volume. How loud is the Bluetone Shadows Jr?

Let’s just say that if you’ve only ever tried 10-watt tranny combos before you’re in for quite a surprise! These are ten (-plus) watts of British-style valve amp majesty, with every last ounce of loudness wrung out of the power amp and speaker.

With the OPC and the master on full, this little chap will easily get you into trouble with your neighbours in your block of flats on clean tones alone. If you don’t need 100 percent clean tones, the Shadows Jr. will easily get you through many rehearsals and gigs in small venues. And there’s always the option to stick a mic in front of the speaker.

So, don’t expect a Heavy Metal-type volume onslaught, but be prepared for some serious business.

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Bluetone Amps Shadows Jr.

Prices starting from 1,300 €

Contact: Bluetone Amps

Pros:

+ Handmade in Finland

+ Master volume

+ OPC

+ Effects loop

+ Sound

+ Value-for-money*****Save

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09/11/2016

Review: Bluetone Shadows Reverb

For many guitarists the Vox AC30 is the greatest guitar amp ever made – bar none.

The combo was originally designed for the instrumental group The Shadows, but it became known worldwide as ”The Beatles Amp”. Over the decades, many other guitarists have favoured Vox’ best known design. Users include people like Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher and U2’s The Edge. Many Finnish Shadows-/Ventures-style bands (”rautalankka”) also favour the AC30.

Despite their legendary status, vintage Vox AC30s also do have their issues:

This large 2 x 12″ combo weighs quite a lot, making it a little hard to carry alone. Old Voxes also are non-master volume amps, which means that attaining natural distortion comes at the cost of serious sound pressure levels – often too much for small clubs and function gigs. Old AC30s also have all their valves – yes, also the power amp tubes – placed inside an almost completely closed metal chassis. This has led to vintage-Voxes getting an infamous reputation as relatively prone to catching fire.

vox-chassis-studiofreak-photobucket

(photo: Studiofreak/Photobucket)

Boutique amp makers Bluetone (from Helsinki, Finland) have recently come up with their special take on the beloved classic combo. Their new amp is called Bluetone Shadows Reverb, and it comes with a whole number of welcome improvements and modern features.

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bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-angle

Bluetone’s Shadows Reverb (reviewed version: 1,950 €) is a single-channel all-valve amp loaded with a genuine spring reverb. The combo represents the company’s view of what constitutes a perfect Top Boost-channel tone, all presented in a much more compact format.

The Shadows Reverb is a class AB amp, and it offers between 15 and 30 Watts of output power, depending on the setting of its built-in Variac.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-back-angle

The combo’s cabinet is made from high-grade plywood. The Shadows Reverb is a good deal smaller and less deep than its classic forebear from the 1960s.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-speakers

This reduction in heft is due mostly to the use of 10-inch Celestion Alnico Gold speakers in place of the AC30’s 12-inch speaker pair.

The speakers in the Shadows Reverb combo have been ”played in” for a number of hours (using an oscillator) to get rid of the typical tightness of brand-new Alnico Golds.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-power-amp-valves

This Bluetone-combo uses three 12AX7-tubes, and a single 12AT7 in its preamp section.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-premp-valves-transformers

The power amp runs on a quartet of EL84 valves. The Shadows Reverb is a cathode-biased valve amp, which means that replacing the power amp tubes doesn’t usually necessitate any rebiasing.

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bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-panel

Yes, the Bluetone Shadows Reverb is ”just” a single-channel combo, but it is far from a single sound guitar amplifier. In large part this is thanks to the brilliant modern features Bluetone has incorporated into this homage.

The Shadows Reverb offers you two guitar inputs – High and Low – for use with single coil- and humbucker-equipped instruments.

The preamp features a two-band Baxandall EQ-section – with typically interactive controls for Bass and Treble – as well as a three-stage Bass Cut rotary switch, which offers you two fatter alternatives to the famously bright and wiry Vox Top Boost sound.

The onboard spring reverb sounds fantastic and is a real treat to work with, giving you everything from completely dry tones to Surf Music antics.

The power amp section comes with three controls:

Cut allows you to make overall adjustments to the combo’s treble output.

Bluetone’s Master Volume-control is placed after the phase inverter, right at the end of the signal chain. This allows you to get juicy power amp distortion at low volume levels, and with only minimal changes in the amp’s tone.

As mentioned before, the Shadows Reverb comes with a built-in Variac circuit. Although the Variac also has a bearing on the combo’s output level, it works in a completely different way to the master volume, namely by dropping the voltage the power amp runs on. Turning the Variac down will result in a good deal less clean headroom and more power amp sag.

Due to large public interest, I had to return the Shadows Reverb much earlier than anticipated, but I still managed to record two different demo tracks with the Bluetone amp.

The first (clean) track features rhythm guitar tracks played on a Fender Telecaster (left channel) and a 1970s Japanese copy of a Gibson ES-335 (Kasuga; right channel). The lead guitar part was played on a Fender Stratocaster. All guitar tracks have been recorded with an AKG C3000 microphone placed approximately 80 cm from the combo’s front:

The second track (overdriven) has been recorded with a Stratocaster. The distortion comes from the Shadows Reverb (no pedals used), and all tracks have been close-miked with a pair of Shure SM57s:

bluetone-shadows-reverb-master-section

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Bluetone’s Shadows Reverb is an outstanding boutique amp take on the Vox AC30 motif. Like all other Bluetone amps, the Shadows Reverb is carefully handmade in Finland to the company’s strict quality standards. This results in reliable top-drawer tools for the musician, with extremely low levels of hiss and negligible AC hum.

I had a great time test driving this combo. The Bluetone Shadows Reverb simply delivers all it promises with style and panache. The combo weighs approximately half of the original classic (AC30s usually weigh between 31 to 36 kg, depending on their specific vintage and the speakers they come loaded with). The reduced size means you won’t be having any problems lifting this beauty into the boot of a small car, such as a Ford Fiesta.

Thanks to the additional features of this Bluetone combo – like the Bass Cut and the Variac – you will be able to enjoy the great sound of the Shadows Reverb anywhere you want, be it at home or on stage.

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Bluetone Shadows Reverb

Prices starting at approx. 1,700 € (reviewed version: 1,950 €)

Manufacturer: Bluetone Amps

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Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ size

+ weight

+ valve-powered spring reverb

+ Variac- and Master Volume-controls

+ sound

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04/11/2016

Testipenkissä: Bluetone Shadows Reverb

Monelle kitaristille Voxin AC30-kombo on se yksi ja ainoa varteenotettava kitaravahvistin.

Alun perin brittiyhtye The Shadowsia varten kehitetty AC30 tuli kuuluisaksi The Beatles -vahvistimena, mutta se on löytänyt tiensä monien erityylisten kitaristien backlineen. Tunnetuimpiin käyttäjiin kuuluvat mm. Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher sekä U2:n The Edge. Myös Suomen rautalankabändien keskuudessa AC30 kuuluu vakiovarustukseen.

Suosiosta huolimatta vanhoilla AC30-komboilla on myös huonot puolensa:

Isokokoinen, kahdella 12-tuumaisella kaiuttimella varustettu putkikombo on melko painava ilmestys. Vanhoissa Voxeissa ei myöskään ole master volume -säädintä, mikä tarkoittaa sitä että vahvistimen omaa säröä pystyy hyödyntämään asianmukaisesti vain isoissa keikkapaikoissa. Lisäksi vintage-Voxeissa kaikki putket – kyllä, myös pääteputket – on sijoitettu lähes kokonaan suljettuun metallikoteloon, minkä takia vintage-AC30:t voivat (käyttötavasta rippuen) syttyä palamaan herkemmin kuin moni muu vanha kombovahvistin.

vox-chassis-studiofreak-photobucket

(kuva: Studiofreak/Photobucket)

Helsinkiläinen vahvistinpaja Bluetone tarjoaa nyt oivan ratkaisun klassikkovahvistimen ongelmiin Bluetone Shadows Reverb -nimisen putkikombon muodossa.

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bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-angle

Bluetone Shadows Reverb (testattu versio: 1.950 €) on yksikanavainen, jousikaiulla varustettu täysputkikombo, joka lupaa aitoa Top Boost -soundia selvästi pienemmässä paketissa ja nykyaikaisilla ominaisuuksilla höystettynä.

Shadows Reverb on AB-luokan vahvistin, joka tarjoaa 15-30 wattia tehoa, riippuen Variac-säätimen asennosta.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-back-angle

Shadows Reverbin kaiutinkotelo tehdään vanerista, ja se on selvästi pienempi ja litteämpi kuin 1960-luvun esikuvansa.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-speakers

Pienempi koko on osittain mahdollistettu käyttämällä klassikkokombon 12-tuumaisten kaiuttimien sijaan 10-tuumaisia Celestion Alnico Gold -kaiuttimia.

Shadows Reverbin kaiuttimia on, siniaaltogeneraattoria käyttäen, ajettu sisään useamman tunnin ajan, minkä ansiosta on saatu vähennettyä uusille Alnico Gold -elementeille tyypillistä alkukireyttä.

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Tässä Bluetonessa käytetään etuasteessa kolmea 12AX7-putkea, sekä yhtä 12AT7:ää.

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Päätevahvistin tuottaa tehonsa neljän EL84-putken voimalla. Shadows Reverb on katodibiasoitu kombo, mikä tarkoittaa sitä, ettei pääteputkia yleensä tarvitse biasoida vaihdon yhteydessä.

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bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-panel

Vaikka Bluetone Shadows Reverb on ”vain” yksikanavainen kombo, sen soundimaailma on selvästi laajempi kuin uskoisi. Kiitos siitä kuuluu Bluetonen monipuolisille ominaisuuksille.

Shadows Reverb tarjoaa kaksi kitaratuloa – High ja Low – single coil- ja humbucker-mikrofoneja varten.

Etuasteesta löytyy kaksikaistainen Baxandall-EQ – interaktiivisilla basso- ja diskanttisäädöillä – sekä kolmiasentoinen Bass Cut -bassoleikkuri, joka tarjoaa aidon Vox Top Boost -soundin lisäksi kaksi hieman muhkeampaa vaihtoehtoa.

Reverb-säätimellä hallitaan kombon putkivahvistettua jousikaikua. Kaiun soundi on erinomainen, ja säätimen skaala yltää täysin kuivasta kaikuisaan Surf-vatkaukseen.

Päätevahvistimelle on varattu jopa kolme säädintä:

Cut-säätimellä voidaan säännöstellä kombon kokonaisdiskanttia.

Bluetonen Master Volume -säädin on signaaliketjun loppupäässä (vaihekääntäjän jälkeen), ja sen ansiosta voidaan tuottaa päätesäröä myös pienillä volyymeillä.

Shadows Reverbissä on myös kolmiasentoinen Variac-tehonsäädin. Variac toimii eri tavalla kuin perinteinen master volume -säädin, se nimittäin muuttaa pääteasteen sisäistä jännitettä. Tehoa laskettaessa päätevahvistimen puhdas headroom ja putkikompressio muuttuvat.

Testikombon palautuksen suhteen tuli ylättäen hieman kiire, mutta ehdin kuitenkin äänittää kaksi erilaista demobiisiä Bluetone Shadows Reverbillä.

Ensimmäisessä kappaleessa komppikitarat soitettiin Fender Telecasterilla (vasen kanava) ja vanhalla japanilaisella puoliakustisella (Kasuga, oikea kanava). Soolokitarana toimi Fender Stratocaster:

Toisessa biisissä särösoundi tulee pelkästään kombosta itse. Kaikki raidat on soitettu Stratolla:

bluetone-shadows-reverb-master-section

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Bluetone Shadows Reverb -kombo on erinomainen boutique-luokan muunnelma Vox AC30 -teemasta. Kuten muutkin Bluetone-vahvistimet, Shadows Reverb rakennetaan kokonaan käsin Suomessa tiukkojen laatustandardien mukaan, mistä kielivät mm. kombon erittäin alhainen kohinataso, sekä käytännössä olematon verkkohumina. Vahvistimen laatuun suhteutettuna pidän Shadows Reverbin hintaa erittäin reiluna.

Testikokemuksen perusteella voin vain todeta, että Bluetone Shadows Reverb lunastaa lupauksensa avokätisesti ja tyylikkäästi. Bluetone-kombo painaa lähes tarkalleen puolet vanhan klassikon painosta (AC30 painaa noin 31-36 kg, vuosimallista ja kaiutinvarustuksesta riippuen), ja sen pienempi koko tarkoittaa, että Shadows Reverb mahtuu helposti esimerkiksi Ford Fiestan takakonttiin (kokeiltu on).

Bluetonen lisäominaisuuksien – kuten bassoleikkurin ja Variacin – ansiosta Shadows Reverbin tarjoama soundikattaus on yllättävän laaja, ja kombon erinomaisista soundeista voi nauttia sekä omassa olohuoneessa että keikkalavalla.

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Bluetone Shadows Reverb

Hinnat alk. 1.700 € (testattu version 1.950)

Valmistaja: Bluetone Amps

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Plussat:

+ käsintehty Suomessa

+ koko

+ paino

+ jousikaiku

+ Variac ja Master Volume

+ soundi

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27/10/2016

Bluetone Shadows Reverb – The Kitarablogi-video

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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25/10/2016

Coming soon… *** Tulossa… *** Bluetone Shadows Reverb

bluetone-shadows-reverb-master-section

bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-angle

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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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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