Hey there, music lovers! Have you heard about the exciting new release from VOX? They’ve just unveiled their Hand-Wired Series at NAMM 2024, and it’s definitely something to get excited about. This series is all about recreating the iconic sound of the vintage VOX AC amplifiers from the ’60s that were used by legendary musicians like the Beatles, Brian May, and Rory Gallagher.
To ensure absolute tonal accuracy, VOX’s engineers went above and beyond. They acquired a 1963 copper panel VOX AC30, analyzed its circuitry and construction, and used that data to build the Hand-Wired Series. Even the cabinets have been made slightly thinner, just like the ’60s models. The series includes six combos – the AC4 practice amp, AC10, AC15, AC15X, AC30, and AC30X – as well as an AC30 head with a matching V212X cabinet. Each amp is equipped with ECC83/12AX7 and EL84 tubes, providing the authentic vintage sound. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these retro wonders, and I’m sure you’ll be just as thrilled when they’re released this summer. Stay tuned for more information on availability from Guitar Center!
Overview and Features of the VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers
The VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers are a new line of amps that aim to recreate the iconic sound of ’60s VOX amps. These amps have been used by legendary musicians such as the Beatles, Brian May, Rory Gallagher, and The Edge. The engineers at VOX went back to the basics to ensure tonal accuracy. They acquired a 1963 copper panel, “golden era” VOX AC30 and thoroughly examined its circuitry and construction. This data was used to build the Hand-Wired Series, even down to making the cabinets slightly thinner to match the ’60s models.
The 2024 VOX Hand-Wired Series includes six combos: the AC4 practice amp, AC10, AC15, AC15X, AC30, and AC30X. It also features an AC30 head with a matching V212X cabinet. Each amp in this series comes equipped with ECC83/12AX7 and EL84 tubes. The AC15 and above models also include ECC81/12AT7 and GZ34 tubes. The speaker options vary depending on the size and format of the amp, with options including Celestion GM12 Greenback speakers or Celestion 12″ Alnico Blues for the X versions.
Developing the VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers
The development of the VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers involved a detailed study of the vintage VOX AC30 amps. The engineers at VOX acquired a 1963 copper panel VOX AC30, which is considered the “golden era” of VOX amps. They disassembled the amp, measured every component, and thoroughly understood its circuitry and construction. This in-depth analysis allowed them to recreate the vintage sound of the original amps.
To achieve the vintage sound, the engineers made sure to handpick parts for voicing recreation. They carefully chose components that would accurately replicate the tonal qualities of the original amps. Additionally, they incorporated a new power transformer designed to recreate the characteristics of the vintage unit. The cabinets were also made thinner to match the weight and acoustics of the vintage models.
Playing Demo of the VOX AC Hand-Wired
To showcase the capabilities of the VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers, a playing demo was conducted. The demo highlighted the chime, shimmer, and roar that these amps can achieve. The amps were able to recreate the iconic sound that was loved by musicians such as the Beatles, Brian May, and Rory Gallagher. The demo also showcased the various features of the amps, including the top boost and normal channels, spring reverb, master volume, and effects loop.
The Basics of the New VOX Hand-Wired Series
Recreating the Vintage Sound of VOX AC Amplifiers
The goal of the VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers is to recreate the vintage sound of the original VOX AC amplifiers from the ’60s. These amps were known for their unique chime, shimmer, and roaring tones that have become synonymous with the VOX brand. Through careful analysis of a 1963 copper panel VOX AC30, the engineers were able to recreate the tonal qualities that made those amps so iconic.
Inspiration from ’60s VOX Amps
The design and construction of the Hand-Wired series draw inspiration from the ’60s VOX amps. These vintage amps were used by famous musicians during the height of the British Invasion, including the Beatles and The Edge. The designers aimed to capture the essence of these amps and bring them into the modern era while retaining their vintage aesthetics.
Accuracy in Tonal Reproduction
To ensure accuracy in tonal reproduction, VOX’s engineers went through a meticulous process of part selection and voicing recreation. They carefully handpicked components that would reproduce the unique characteristics of the vintage amps. By balancing part variance and sound performance, they were able to create amps that sound consistent and faithful to the vintage sound.
Design and Construction of the Hand-Wired Series
Acquiring a 1963 copper panel VOX AC30
The development process of the Hand-Wired Series involved acquiring a 1963 copper panel VOX AC30. This specific model was chosen due to its reputation as a “golden era” VOX amp. The engineers disassembled the amp and studied its circuitry and construction to gain a deep understanding of its design.
Thinner Cabinets for Vintage Acoustic Properties
To replicate the vintage acoustic properties of the ’60s VOX amps, the cabinets in the Hand-Wired Series were made slightly thinner. This adjustment allows the cabinets to have the same weight and acoustics as the original vintage models. The thinner cabinets contribute to the overall vintage sound and feel of the amps.
Handpicking Parts for Voicing Recreation
Part selection played a crucial role in achieving accurate voicing recreation. The engineers handpicked components that closely matched the characteristics of the original amps. By carefully choosing parts, they were able to reproduce the same tonal qualities and nuances of the vintage amps.
Incorporation of Effects Loop
While staying true to the vintage design, VOX added a modern feature to the Hand-Wired Series: an effects loop. The effects loop allows players to easily incorporate external effects into their signal chain. The loop is designed to be true bypass, meaning it won’t affect the signal when no effects are plugged in.
Modern Features and Vintage Aesthetics
The Hand-Wired Series combines modern features with vintage aesthetics. While the amps faithfully recreate the vintage sound, they also include practical features such as the top boost and normal channels, spring reverb, and master volume. The vintage aesthetics, including the brass vents, copper panel, and block letter logo, pay homage to the iconic design of the original ’60s VOX amps.
Lineup of the Hand-Wired Series
The Hand-Wired Series offers a variety of options to suit different needs and preferences. The lineup includes the following models:
- AC4 Practice Amp: A compact practice amp with vintage-inspired tones.
- AC10 Combo: A versatile combo amp suitable for small gigs and studio recording.
- AC15 Combo: A classic combo amp with increased power and versatility.
- AC15X Combo: An enhanced version of the AC15 with additional features for a wider range of tones.
- AC30 Combo: The flagship combo amp offering legendary VOX sound and power.
- AC30X Combo: An upgraded version of the AC30 with new features and improved tonal capabilities.
- AC30 Head with V212X Cabinet: A head and cabinet combination for maximum customization and power.
Each model is designed to deliver the distinctive sound and performance associated with VOX amps, with variations in power, features, and speaker options.
Tube Configuration and Speaker Options
The tube configuration and speaker options in the Hand-Wired Series contribute to the authentic vintage sound of the amps. The amps are equipped with ECC83/12AX7 and EL84 tubes, commonly found in classic VOX amps. The AC15 and above models also include ECC81/12AT7 and GZ34 tubes, providing additional tonal options and versatility.
For speaker options, the Hand-Wired Series offers Celestion GM12 Greenback speakers or Celestion 12″ Alnico Blues for the X versions. These speakers are renowned for their quality and ability to reproduce the classic British tone that is essential to achieving the vintage VOX sound.
Bringing Back Vintage Features
The Hand-Wired Series pays homage to the vintage VOX amps by bringing back some of the classic features that were found in the original models.
Brass Vents for Authenticity
One of the noticeable vintage features in the Hand-Wired Series is the brass vents. These brass vents were commonly seen in the original ’60s VOX amps and contribute to their authentic look. By including brass vents in the new series, VOX aims to capture the vintage essence of the amps.
Copper Panel and Inverted Text
The Hand-Wired Series features a copper panel, a design element commonly found in vintage VOX amps. Additionally, the text on the panel is inverted, resembling the original design of the ’60s models. These details were changed for convenience but serve as a nod to the classic aesthetics of the vintage VOX amps.
Vintage Block Letter Logo
The Hand-Wired Series reintroduces the vintage block letter logo that was used on VOX amps in the past. This logo design was iconic and heavily associated with the brand. By including the block letter logo, VOX brings back a nostalgic touch and remains faithful to the vintage aesthetic of the original amps.
Recreating the Golden Unit
The process of recreating the iconic sound of the vintage VOX amps involved finding the right “golden unit” for reference.
Finding the Right Unit for Reference
To ensure accurate voicing recreation, the engineers at VOX carefully selected a specific unit to serve as the reference. This unit, referred to as the “golden unit,” was chosen based on its tonal qualities and characteristics. By basing the voicing on this reference unit, VOX was able to achieve a faithful reproduction of the vintage sound.
Designing to Achieve the Vintage Sound
Instead of strictly following an original schematic, the design process focused on achieving the vintage sound of the amps. The engineers aimed to recreate the sonic qualities and nuances that made the vintage VOX amps so coveted. They took into account part variance and designed the amps to sound consistent and faithful to the reference unit.
Balancing Part Variance and Sound Performance
One of the challenges in recreating an amp that is 60 years old is accounting for part variance. Each individual unit of the vintage amps had slight differences due to the components used at the time. To overcome this challenge, the engineers at VOX balanced the part variance with sound performance. They used modern, accurate parts with low tolerance to ensure that the Hand-Wired Series amps sound consistent and maintain the same tonal qualities across different units.
The VOX AC Hand-Wired Amplifiers are a testament to VOX’s commitment to recreating the iconic sound of the vintage VOX amps. By going back to the basics and thoroughly studying the ’60s models, VOX’s engineers were able to recreate the chime, shimmer, and roar that made those amps beloved by legendary musicians. The Hand-Wired Series offers a range of amps with various power levels and features, ensuring that musicians can find the perfect amp to suit their needs. With their authentic vintage sound, modern features, and timeless aesthetic, the Hand-Wired Series is a fitting tribute to the golden era of VOX amps.
Learn more about VOX amps from Guitar Center:
The new VOX Hand-Wired Series takes you back to the basics. It meticulously recreates the signature sound of the iconic ’60s VOX amps that were used by legendary musicians like the Beatles, Brian May, Rory Gallagher, The Edge, and many more. These amps were famously heard on Britain’s Ready Steady Go! from 1963-1966. To ensure that every detail is captured, VOX’s engineers spent time with an original 1963 copper panel, “golden era” VOX AC30. They carefully analyzed its circuitry and construction, using the data to craft the Hand-Wired Series. Even the cabinets were made slightly thinner, just like the ’60s models.
The 2024 VOX Hand-Wired Series offers six different combos to choose from. Whether you need an AC4 practice amp, AC10, AC15, AC15X, AC30, or AC30X, there’s a perfect match for you. Each amp is equipped with ECC83/12AX7 and EL84 tubes, giving you that authentic vintage tone. For the AC15 and above, ECC81/12AT7 and GZ34 tubes are also added. You’ll also find either Celestion GM12 Greenback speakers or Celestion 12″ Alnico Blues, depending on the size and format of the amp.
Discover the latest from NAMM 2024 at Guitar Center:
- New from NAMM 2024
Jonse Becker, a seasoned guitarist and music aficionado, founded his blog to share his passion for all things guitar. With over 20 years of experience, Jonse expertly navigates the realms of vintage acoustics and modern electrics, offering readers a rich blend of technical knowledge, history, and industry trends.