Vox AC4TVH Tube Amplifier Head and V112TV Cabinet
Vox Amps, voxamps.com
AC4TVH, $300.00; V112TV, $250.00
Originally published in Guitar World, April 2010
The AC4TVH head and V112TV cab combination provides the big sound that has made low-powered vintage amps many guitarists’ favorite secret weapons.
During the Eighties and most of the Nineties Vox coasted along mainly on the reputation of its legendary AC30 combo amp. However, Vox stopped resting on its laurels about a decade ago and started producing new models that have kept the Vox legacy alive and well. From the futuristic modeling technology of the acclaimed Valvetronix Series to the unique combination of vintage-inspired designs and modern enhancements provided by the Heritage Collection and Custom Classic series models, Vox now offers amps for almost every type of guitarist.
Last year, Vox debuted the Modern Classic Series, which includes the ultracool Night Train and the retro-inspired AC4TV combo. The AC4TVH is a head version of the AC4TV paired with the matching V112TV 1x12 speaker cabinet. Although the AC4TVH features late-Fifties Vox “TV front” styling (similar to an early Vox AC15), cream-colored covering and brown diamond-latticed speaker cloth, it is not a recreation or replica of the original Vox AC4 that debuted in 1960 but rather a new circuit that produces thick, creamy vintage-style tones. Vox describes the AC4TVH head and V112TV cabinet as a “mini practice stack,” but don’t be surprised if you spot a few onstage at clubs or other small venues.
While the AC4TVH is not a reissue of the original Vox AC4, it does share a few common features. Like its Sixties predecessor, the AC4TVH is a four-watt amp powered by EL84 and 12AX7 tubes. Its only controls are a single volume knob and a single tone knob. The new circuit does away with the obscure EF86 power and 6V4 rectifier tubes as well as the tremolo section, which is replaced by a switchable output level control with 1/4-, one- and four-watt settings. The rear panel is as stripped down as it gets, featuring only a single 1/4-inch 16-ohm output jack and a plug for the AC cord.
The V112TV speaker cabinet is the ideal match for the AC4TVH head sonically as well as cosmetically. Inside the cabinet is a custom-made Celestion VX12 12-inch speaker that pumps out the low-fi grunt of a broken-in vintage combo speaker, although it also delivers enhanced treble and deeper, tighter bass response, partially thanks to the closed-back cabinet design. The speaker can easily handle all four of the AC4TVH’s roaring watts without farting out, but it’s not overspec’ed either, so you can get a little bit of speaker distortion if you want it.
The AC4TVH sings with the harmonically rich distortion that only a hardworking power tube in a single-ended Class A design can produce. Although the AC4TVH provides a decent amount of clean headroom before it succumbs to overdrive, your best bet is to crank this baby up to “meltdown” and back off your guitar’s volume control when you want to make your tone spic-and-span. The amp is very dynamic and responsive, and the tone remains consistent at the 1/4-, one- and four-watt settings, although the output level is noticeably lower at the 1/4-watt setting. Don’t be fooled by the four-watt output rating—this amp is loud enough to use to play small club gigs. If you need more volume, a 4x12 cabinet does the trick, and it makes the AC4TVH sound even bigger.
The AC4TVH sounds much bigger than the average combo, mostly thanks to the V112TV’s 12-inch speaker and closed-back design. With a Tele or Strat it delivers the gnarly grind of a classic Keith Richards rhythm track, and with a humbucker-packin’ solidbody the sound is about as close to blues-rock nirvana as you can get with a present-day low-powered amp.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The AC4TVH head and V112TV cab combination provides the big sound that has made low-powered vintage amps many guitarists’ favorite secret weapons. Unlike classic combos, this mini stack is loud enough to gig with, but its output level control also lets you get big sounds at low volume.
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