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152 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good!!
I recently discovered this little tone wonder by cruising the guitar effect pedal vids on You Tube. (I discover a lot of new things that way, especially with independent user reviews). The sound of this little effect box was a real eye-opener! Plus, I was looking for something that would be very simple for practicing on the couch, that didn't require connecting a lot of...
Published on October 28, 2008 by Kevin W. Sturges

versus
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok but cheap construction
This product worked ok for about 3 weeks and then bit the dust. Replaced cheap batteries, tried different guitars, but still no sound. Junk. As far as the sound while it was working, the distorted tube sound was ok for those that like that - and I do at times. But if you are seeking a crisp, clear, non-distorted tone, then this may not be the device for you.
Published on May 8, 2009 by V. Brancart


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152 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good!!, October 28, 2008
By 
Kevin W. Sturges (Milwaukee, WI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
I recently discovered this little tone wonder by cruising the guitar effect pedal vids on You Tube. (I discover a lot of new things that way, especially with independent user reviews). The sound of this little effect box was a real eye-opener! Plus, I was looking for something that would be very simple for practicing on the couch, that didn't require connecting a lot of wires or an AC adapter. Everyone seemed to be very positive about it - which has got to mean something.

My gear lust got the best of me, so the next day when I happened to be in Best Buy, I checked with their new music department (!) and there it was, they had several of them. I purchased it on the spot and couldn't wait to get home and tear the wrapper open.

There are almost no instructions included, except to tell you the obvious not to break it. I was a bit worried that it would not fit into the jack cavity on my two Stratocaster's, but it does quite nicely, so obviously that was part of Vox's design criteria.

All the Amplug effect plugs were made to be plug and play as simple as possible. All you need is a set of headphones, and your guitar to be ready to go. The body features a very bright red LED indicator for on/off status, and three tiny embedded pots labeled: gain, tone and volume. That's it!

The most obvious difference between this and any other distortion/amp modeling effects I've tried, is that the Amplug is completely modeled with analog circuitry. There is nothing digital involved. The benefit is like night and day. The unit totally reacts to your playing, and your guitars pick up and volume settings. When you push it hard, it sags a little bit, and pushes back at you like a real amp and does - NOT like a digital model. The effect is uncannily warm and realistic, like a real tube amplifier.

There is one simple headphone output, which is fine for personal listening, but is a bit of a minus for recording. After hearing this thing I definitely decided that I'm going to be using it for a lots of my recording sessions, but it is a little weak in the output department, which adds a little noise to the signal. It's not a horrible issue, and certainly not worse than using a real amplifier, but I wish they could have addressed this and given the output a hi/lo setting. I record with this by using an eighth inch stereo adapter cable from its headphone output to the stereo RCA ins on my mixer.

The unit is powered by two little AAA batteries. I think it goes through them faster than the 15 hour rating, because it's crucial that you use it with full battery power, otherwise the tone suffers. So, if you buy this keep several pairs handy (or better yet use rechargeables.

I am giving this a rating of 10 for sound quality simply because it just sounds so good!. It's the closest thing I've ever heard to a real Vox AC30 tube amp, without having the real thing cranked and miked up in a room. The fact that you can have that kind of sound for $40 is pretty unbelievable.

I have had several tube preamps (Hughes & Kettner), a Marshall combo, a Roland VG-88 modeler, and most of the latest guitar amp software - this little unit simply blows them all away. The sound is rich and juicy, without ever becoming shrill or brittle, no matter how you set the controls. The three knobs are extremely touch sensitive; the slightest change makes a huge difference in the sound. I have never had anything that reacts so much to changes in my guitar settings. In fact, before this I always left the volume and tone on my guitars all the way up. You have nearly an infinite variety of sounds from clean to dirty (within the realm of an AC30 - this is definitely not a metal device), and even after hours of playing you'll find yourself discovering juicy new tones from it.

The basic sound is warm yet chimey, like a classic AC30. Roll the gain past 8, and the drive suddenly kicks in and puts you in Brian May territory. So convincing! It can also do cleaner Beatles 60s type sounds.

Every other distortion type effect I've tried (especially in Guitar Rig3 and Amplitube - yuch), simply sounds like a dead layer of brittleness stuck on top of your sound. Usually they don't change depending on how you play and lean in. This is completely different, it's more organic like a real amplifier. Back off and it's clean - push in hard and it really rings and grinds. I was really surprised by how it did that - and I'm wondering why it took so long for any manufacturer to do it right - especially since this is built with older analog technology.

With the tone control up past five there is definitely noise introduced. It's not horrible, and no different than any real amp I've played, but you'd think they could make a modern device a little quieter. It sounds very good with all my guitars and seems to bring out their true character, but it really sounds the best with my Fender Strat with stock single coils. Chime city! With my Les Paul I was able to coax out sounds from buttery smooth to 70s rock. It was easy to get the chunky sound from the beginning of T. Rex's "Bang A Gong" (no digital modeler ever let me do that before), to the blocky rhythm guitar sounds from Thin Lizzy's "The Boy's Are Back In Town".

I was also surprised that it sounds very good with my two bases (a Hamer Cruise Bass and a Thunderbird). With a little low end EQ added into the mix, I was able to get a very warm and satisfying recorded bass sound. Not the SVT I'm looking for, but that's another search....can't wait to try the Amplug Bass when it comes out.

The build is made from very light plastic. It looks nice, but it feels a little cheap. I worry that the pots, and the jack are not going to last very long. For something that sounds this good I do wish they could have made it more robust - because I plan on keeping this around for a very long time. Oh well, guess I can't complain for $40. At this price point, if it broke I would definitely go out immediately and buy another. This device is just begging to have a pro-model made that uses the same analog technology, but in a rocksolid floor mount case, with better output options.

I've been playing guitar for longer than I'm going to admit here. My playing and tastes tend to go a little towards the eclectic. I like 70s album rock and progressive styles ranging from Zepplin, to early Genesis to Killing Joke, with a dash of Terje Rypdal. All played with taste of course ;)

Currently, I am primarily concerned with recording in my home studio. For the last few years most of my guitar sounds have been coming from my Roland VG-88, primarily using my own patches that I've spent ages tweaking. I'm not going to put down the VG here, as I plan on keeping it for ever, but since getting the little Amplug AC30 this week and recording with it, the Amplug has now earned it's place as MY sound. It's that good. In fact, I'm going to put my opinion on the line and say that this device with my two Strats is possibly one of the best guitar sounds I have ever heard. At least coming from my hands anyways....

In my studio instead of plugging it into my guitar, I have it plugged into the output jack of an MXR 10 band EQ so it can always stay in one place, with an adapter cord going from it to my mixer. My guitars plug into the MXR pedal. Don't think you can put another distortion pedal in front of it - it can't handle any type of boost in the sound and will break up in the most horrible brittle way. The MXR EQ is just tweeaked ever so slightly to remove a bit of middle and add top end.

It's very important to remember to change the batteries as soon as the light begins to dim, otherwise the sound loses its character and becomes very thin and brittle as well. Keep several sets handy. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that a $40 pedal has become my signature sound - but it's the truth. I plan to try out the other Amplug flavors, and maybe collect most of them, but the AC30 seems to be the most versatile as it can go from clean to dirty.

Oh yes, one more useful thing that I've discovered about it: if you turn the bright red LED on and and hold it by the jack plug right up to somebody's face, and tell them it's a small personal Taser device, they tend to jerk back really quick as it's really very convincing at that too....
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Pleasant Surprise, March 4, 2008
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
How many times have you bought an effect or a gadget like this for your guitar, take it home and find yourself totally disappointed? If you're lucky, you may be able to return it for a store credit at best. Well, after leaving the guitar store, I sat there over a cup of coffee and thought, what did I just spend $39.99 on? A little plastic box with a brown sticker to make look like a "cutsie" miniature Vox amp head, a jack and a few control wheels. However, I really needed something to plug into late in the evenings because my neighbors don't seem to share my appreciation of music. Looking at the Amplug, on the back, it appears it was Made In Japan. "I thought that's interesting, some of the best effects were manufactured in Japan like the original Tube Screamers and Boss pedals, maybe this would turn out OK".

Finally got home, installed the batteries, plugged it in and nothing... The batteries include with any of these devices are usually ready for the recycle bin straight out of the package. New batteries and WOW! I've heard AC30's before and this little device actually sounds like one. I was very surprised at the dynamics and the openness of the sound. It has three wheel controls: volume, gain, and tone. Turn up the gain and you get a nice Brian May-type overdrive. Dial the gain down, turn up the tone and volume and it's very Beatles mid 60's clean. I was very surprised at the lack of compression. I've heard the other two versions of the Amplug(classic rock and metal) and didn't like them because of that "over-compressed" sound. To me, they were fine if you really like the distortion factor but with this AC30 version, you can take it from clean with nice high-end boost to a useable overdrive i.e. SRV, without the coloration of the guitar's true tone. The literature claims it uses analog modeling and it must be the case. True-digital effects have a very cold sterile sound quality. This has a warmer analog-tube feel to it. Again, this is a $39.00 device, it has limitations but overall, it appears very well designed, somewhat frail looking but sounds better than advertised. Whoever designed the modeling circuit, got it right. I've used it with a '63SG Jr., '74SG Special, and custom built Strats with Kinman pickups and I'm more and more impressed with tones I'm getting from it. There's a lot of tonal flexibility with the three controls.

If you get one of these Vox Amplugs, use a decent set of headphones, it really allows you to hear more of the harmonics. The only criticism I have is that it could have been constructed of heavier plastic for better durability. Other than that, it's one of best devices of any sort for guitarists that I've seen in a long while. You'll end up using this a lot more than you can imagine. Comes in very handy if you're out demo-ing guitars.

Check out sound clips of the other two versions(classic rock and metal) as well before you buy.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect practice tool!, January 16, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have always thought of getting some sort of small headphone amp to plug into my guitar and practice with while lounging on the couch or around the house.

When I saw that Vox had made something that fit that description, I wasted no time in ordering this. I have a Vox Tonelab and just love it. This little do-dad is easy to use...thumb wheel controls for Gain, Tone and Volume. There is an Aux jack to plug in a CD or MP3 player to jam along with, and then of course there is the headphone out for your choice of headphones.

The analog circuitry inside is said to emulate AC30 amp, and I think it really does sound more like an amp than a tiny headphone amp. The Gain and Tone controls give you a pretty good control on tones either dirty and distorted or chiming and clean. I think you could even take the headphone out of this and go to a recording device to get a different tone for solos or recording projects as something different!

My take is that this little do-dad is well worth the $39.99 price tag!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok but cheap construction, May 8, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
This product worked ok for about 3 weeks and then bit the dust. Replaced cheap batteries, tried different guitars, but still no sound. Junk. As far as the sound while it was working, the distorted tube sound was ok for those that like that - and I do at times. But if you are seeking a crisp, clear, non-distorted tone, then this may not be the device for you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginners First "gadget"..., March 5, 2012
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
I read some of the reviews-good and bad on all the different models...After a few days of this, I got aggravated because as a beginner, I don't "know" the exact tone or sound I am looking for...I know what I like to listen to, and hope to one day emulate though...So I went to the Vox website and found "sound demos" of all the different models...Now I am sure these are "experts", but I was able to LISTEN to the different models, and thus able to boil it down to the sound I like the most, and hope to be able to play...At the very least, it gives you a way to compare your "sound" to the experts "sound"...You have no way of knowing all that went into there "demo", but for me it closed the deal, quickly...

I was able to settle on two different models, AC30 and Twin...Do yourself a favor and go listen to the demos before you purchase, then re-read these great reviews...

I play through my computer/home theater set up with out an amp...This will help me be able practice once and awhile without having to set everything up...Each of you have different reasons for wanting this, but for me it is a matter of simplicity...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent portable amp for a great price, March 2, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
This is a great little device that performs exactly as listed: providing great sound and portability for those who want to practice on the go, or who are looking for options to practice easily with their earbuds. I'm a guitar novice, but I think the sound coming off of two AAA batteries is a lot better than I expected, and I really like the option to plug in my MP3 player into the axillary jack. Also, purchased this from J&R Music and the order was fulfilled promptly with no problems. Highly recommended all around.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Bargain!, January 28, 2008
By 
D. Ward "Stratcat" (Rescue, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I bought this to be able to practice anywhere without bothering other people. I'm going to buy a travel electric to use with it. Directly into the guitar you have a clean signal with volume, tone and gain controls. However in my home studio I plugged it into the last pedal in my chain and was able to get great sound, even with all pedals on at the same time. In fact it sounds as good as my regular amp! This was a pleasant surprise. It's made of plastic, so I wonder how durable it will be, but for $40 can one really complain?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty neat., May 5, 2008
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
I really like this little headphone amp. It has great sound, a few different effects and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. When I was looking around I was trying to find a portable with a little built in speaker. This does NOT have a speaker. Headphone use. It does have an aux on it which is fairly neat. The batteries it came with actually worked fine for me. All in all this isn't what I was looking for originally but I am so impressed I'm going to keep it and use it. I have a set of portable speakers for my psp that this plugs into just fine and is actually fairly loud. So I would give this a "GREAT BUY" title.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vox Amplug AC30: What's it good for?, March 22, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
The Vox Amplug series are interesting items. For somewhere around $40 you get an amplifier emulator (in this case the venerable Vox AC30)that could fool you into thinking you were plugged into its namesake so long as you own a decent pair of headphones. If you're not clear on what this gizmo is for, it's essentiallly designed to work with solid body guitars for practice and play when you're not around an amp. YOu plug it into your guitar's amp jack and then plug your headphones or buds into the Amplug. The Amplug has volume, tone and gain dials to assist in balancing the sound you are looking for. I own a second one that emulates the Fender Twin. My purchases were aimed at travel practice and my Traveler Ultra-light guitar that has no built-in listening circuitry. It's dead on perfect for that role. Note: you can also plug in an mp3 device to the Amplug allowing you to play along with tunes that are found on your mobile device. Also great for those living in apartments with thin walls so as not to disturb your neighbors in the wee hours of the morning. It is powered by two AAA batteries. (included) Thumbs Up!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice!, March 8, 2009
By 
Charland (Bowling Green, OH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp (Electronics)
This little thing sounds just like a Vox Super Beatle tube amp. Wow, nice sound. Be sure you get a comfortable set of ear phones to go with this little gem, because you're going to want to be playing for hours with this!
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Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp
$56.00 $39.99
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