Vox AC30 vs AC15 amps: review, differences and opinions

Vox AC30 vs AC15 amps: review, differences and opinions
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Vox AC30 vs AC15, review and opinions, specifications, characteristics, features and prices of these classic british tube guitar amps, so that you know which one best suits your needs.

Vox AC15 vs AC30 two classic tube amps

If we talk about the Vox AC30, it is inevitable to think of bands like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Queen, U2, among many others. The Vox AC30 marked the era of the British Invasion -British Invasion- of bands. After more than 60 years, the Vox AC30 continues to be chosen by musicians of all genres.

However, the Vox AC15 should not be downplayed. This amp, initially called Vox AC1 or AC1 / 15 in reference to watts of power, was the one that started it all. It was the team that fell in love with Hank Marvin from The Shadows, who, needing more power, spoke with Dick Denney, owner of Vox, to make them something bigger than the AC15, giving rise to the Vox AC30. You can see this in more detail in our post of the history of the iconic Vox AC30 and AC15 amps.

Vox AC15 vs AC30: characteristics, specifications, similarities and differences

Both the Vox AC30 and Vox AC15 are two classic tube amps. The models analyzed are two of those currently marketed by the brand and the “standard” ones: the Vox AC30 Custom (AC30C2) and the Vox AC15 Custom (AC15C1). We say standard because there are other versions of both models such as the VR, which is a hybrid version, that is, it has a valve, but fundamentally it is in solid state or transistorized, the version with Celestion Alnico Blue speakers, the Handwired (HW) and others.

Both bring you the British sound that you can hear on hundreds of recordings of the bands from the “British Invasion” to the present day. Both will give you that chimey English tone in two different formats. Thus, in summary, we can say that the big difference is that the Vox AC30 is 30 watts while the AC15 is 15 watts of tube power. But also, let’s take a closer look at the specifications and characteristics of these two emblems of tube guitar amplification.

Vox AC30 (AC30C2) the older brother of the AC15 (AC15C1)
Vox AC30C2

Vox AC30 vs AC15: specifications and features

Of course, both amps are fully tube-driven, both preamp and power. They are manufactured in China for several years.

In the preamp, they both come with three ECC83 / 12AX7 pre-tubes. In power, the Vox AC30 has four EL84 valves, while the AC15 has two, which gives it half the power, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the use that is given, we will see later.

Here, it is worth mentioning that among its main criticisms it stands out that it is factory equipped with poor quality valves. Therefore, it is recommended to change the valves or tubes for higher quality ones such as Mullard, JJ, GT or Tesla, among others.

Both tube amps feature Celestion Greenback G12Ms that handle up to 25 watts each. But the AC30 has two Greenbacks, while the AC15 has only one. In addition, on its rear panel both devices come with 2 speaker outputs with an impedance selector 8 Ohms and 16 Ohms.

Vox AC30: true bypass FX loop for effects

A difference that can be important if you are playing with many effects such as modulations, the AC30 comes equipped with a true bypass FX loop so that you can connect your effects pedals. This is not provided by the Vox AC15.

Power attenuator

It is worth noting that both combos do not have a power output attenuator. This functionality is only available in the head versions that are the AC30CH and the AC15CH of Custom Head.

Vox AC30 and AC15 controls

  • Master Volume
  • Master Tone Cut
  • Tremolo Deph and Speed
  • Reverb: Level
  • Reverb: Tone – AC30 only –
  • Top Boost (channel): Bass, Treble, Volume
  • Normal (channel): Volume
  • Inputs: one for the Normal channel and another Top Boost on the AC15, and two High and Low for each channel on the AC30.
Vox AC15C1 Control Panel
Vox AC15 Control Panel (AC15C1)
Vox AC30C2 Control Panel
Vox AC30 Control Panel (AC30C2)

As you can see, the controls are pretty much the same. The two differences is that the AC30 has Tone for the Reverb, and two inputs instead of just one for each channel as the AC15 has.

Both have optional pedals not included: 165749 Vox VFS2 or 198735 Lead Foot FS-2 to turn Reverb and Tremolo on and off.

Weight and size of the Vox AC30 and AC15

This is not a minor issue, since the Vox are characterized by being heavy equipment, very heavy. In addition, they also have large cabinets, especially the AC30 that has a 2×12 box to support the two 12-inch Celestion Greenback G12M speakers or loudspeakers.

Vox AC30C2: Weight and size

  • Dimensions (width, depth and height): 702 x 265 x 556 mm / 27.64 x 10.43 x 21.89 inches.
  • Weight: 32.2 kg / 70.99 lbs.

Vox AC15C1: Weight and size

  • Dimensions (width, depth and height): 602 x 265 x 456 mm / 23.70 x 10.43 x 17.95 inches.
  • Weight: 22 kg / 48.50 lbs.

Vox AC15 vs AC30: Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages and disadvantages of the Vox AC30 vs the AC15

The advantages that the Vox AC30 has over its younger brother, the AC15, are its greater power, which will allow you to play in medium to large venues without miking and have a sufficient sound pressure or volume level. Also that higher power gives you more clean headroom.

Finally, it has another great advantage that is its Effects Loop -FX- True Bypass that gives you more flexibility and versatility as an amplifier, especially if you are a guitarist who uses modulation, delay or other effects through the effects loop.

As disadvantages, the Vox AC30 does not perform as well when played at low volume, its audio is a bit spiky. That is, you need a minimum volume higher than the AC15.

The other disadvantage is its great weight, with more than 10 kilos than the AC15, it makes it a heavy and hard to move device. Finally, it is not a disadvantage in itself, but it can be for those looking to achieve saturated, distorted and dirty sounds, it may be more difficult to get the sound of the AC30 to break, therefore, you need more volume given its greater headroom

Advantages and disadvantages of the Vox AC15 vs AC30

Vox AC15 (AC15C1), the younger brother of the Vox AC30 (AC30C2)
Vox AC15 (AC15C1)

The advantages that the Vox AC15 has over its older brother, the AC30, is that if you are looking for saturated, distorted or “rotten” audios, its lower power will allow you to achieve them more easily. This in places with miking will give you more versatility of use. Also, the AC15 performs much better at low volumes than its bigger brother, giving excellent tone at home volume levels.

The other advantage is its lower weight, with less than 10 kilos than the AC30, makes it more portable amplifier. Although with its 22 kilos of weight it is still a relatively heavy amp, especially considering its wattage.

As disadvantages, the Vox AC15 is its lower power to play in large places without a microphone, and its ability to keep clean if you want to play with Clean audios, especially when using dual coil pickups (humbuckers). But, you have the option of connecting a 2×12 box with two 12-inch speakers.

Another major weakness of both is the lack of Effect Loop -FX- True Bypass. Many guitarists who use modulation, delay, or other effects via the effects loop, tend to discard the Vox AC15 for this reason.

Vox AC30 C2 and AC15 C1 price

Both amplifiers stand out for being inexpensive, so you can find the Vox AC30 (AC30C2) in large musical instrument stores and online sites at € 893.00 USD 979.99 and the Vox AC15 (AC15C1) at € 617.00 USD 679.99.

Opinions on Vox AC30 and AC15, which is better?

Both are two great tube amps that will give you that legendary audio of British Rock and Classic Pop bands, representative of the audio of the “British Invasion”.

One of the points against or critics of both teams, but especially of the AC30 is its weight. With more than 30 kilos, it can be a critical issue if you are a person who does recital tours, especially when you have to park your car several meters from the club or pub where the recital is, or from the room where the rehearsal is. While the AC15, while heavy, with its 22 kilos, it is a bit more manageable. The other is the original valves that it brings, so a change of these will improve your tone significantly.

The advantages they have is that they are equipment, in addition to their extraordinary English audio, is that they are relatively inexpensive compared to their competitors that are notably more expensive such as the Fender Bues Deluxe. Also, in general they are carried with Overdrive pedals, allowing to bring their saturation to High-gain levels, within the vintage audio palette.

The Beatles playing on their Vox guitar and bass amps.
The Beatles playing on their Vox guitar and bass amps

Vox AC30C2 vs AC15C1: recommendations

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of which of these two great high-tone tube amps is the best suited to your needs and tastes.

If the use that you will give it will be more than anything at home and / or for rehearsals and small recitals, the Vox AC15 should be your ideal option. As long as, you can live without an effects loop. It is also a great option if you are going to play in large venues, but have a good sound amplification system and miking. The Vox AC15C1 is an ideal amplifier for these types of uses.

On the contrary, if you are going to use it for rehearsals and / or in medium or large recitals, where you do not have a good amplification system, you will need the power of the Vox AC30. More especially if you want to have enough headroom to be able to get good clean sounds from your amp. In addition, you will have an effect loop. If so, and you can live with more than 32 kilos, which we believe is a lot, the Vox AC30C2 is your ideal amplifier.

Vox AC30 vs AC15, Vox AC15 vs AC30, what is your best tube amp option?

For more information on the guitar, visit Vox Amplification web site.

Related Post: The 16 Most Iconic Classic Guitar Amps Ever.

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