Takamine Forum
It is currently Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:49 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Acoustic Amp review - Vox AGA70
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:11 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:40 pm
Posts: 582
Location: Singapore
Greetings to all on the forum :)

This past week I decided I had had enough of hauling my Marshall AS50D around any time I needed an acoustic amp. The Marshall sounds great and has lots of volume but size-wise it is sometimes a bit much, especially when it comes to going through doors and up and down stairs. Also, at 16kg/35lbs it's not really practical to carry it for more than a short distance. Singapore is full of stairs, lifts, narrow doorways and small parking spaces so I have been looking for something smaller.

On Thursday I decided on a Vox AGA70 - at just over 10kg/22lbs this is a breeze compared to the big old boomer from England. It's also much smaller physically (a cube about 1 foot on each side) and actually has more power than the Marshall (70 watts vs 50 watts).

Amp specs can be seen on the Vox website here: http://www.voxamps.com/aga/aga70/

I've only had this for a few days, so I'll post my initial impressions and then expand the thread as time goes by. I hope to post a video review on my YouTube channel at some point too.

- This amp has 2 channels, one of which uses a 12AU7 preamp tube, the other one being solid state. This is very unusual in an acoustic amp and gives the amp 2 quite distinct voices, both of which are very usable. The solid state channel is clean and clear, the tube channel is a bit more coloured and warm. Note that the tone on this channel is not gain-dependent and it's not designed to give an overdriven sound.
- Both channels have XLR and 1/4" inputs which to me is a big plus - it means you can plug in 2 guitars or 2 mics or one of each, or even a stereo pickup system of some kind. You could even split the signal from your guitar and run it into both channels and then blend the tones together. This sets the amp apart from most of its competition (eg the Fishman loudbox mini) which have a dedicated instrument channel with only a 1/4" input and another mic channel, often with only an XLR input. Both XLR inputs provide phantom power, which is switchable on the amp itself - again very very intelligent and means that you don't have to worry about pops and bangs when you plug in your condenser mic.
- Another big plus is that the EQ section on both channels is identical - bass, mid and treble plus a 'color' knob. Again, this sets this amp apart from others where the EQ section on one channel is more limited, sometimes with just bass and treble.
- Amp has reverb and chorus on both channels - the reverb sounds good (relatively speaking) and is quite usable at all settings. The chorus is fixed and cannot be adjusted and sounds rather psychedelic in my opinion, but good for a laugh.
- The amp has quite impressive connectivity options including a balanced XLR out, a tuner out, a minijack input and a pair of 1/4" inputs. There is no effects loop. There is an 'all mute' switch which mutes all the inputs and lets you plug or unplug in peace.
- Probably the biggest gripe that people have about this amp is the way the inputs and outputs are configured: the XLR output is fixed pre-everything, which means that you cannot send the EQ or effects to it, nor does the tone coloration from the tube affect the DI signal. This is ideal if you are working with a good FOH engineer - what sounds good to you on stage may not be what sounds good in the house, but in other situations it's rather limiting. Secondly, the minijack and 1/4" inputs are fixed post master volume, which means that you have to control their level with an external volume control. I have no idea why they did this, but fortunately these inputs are pre the all mute switch so you can silence them on the amp if necessary.

Sound Quality:
- For its size and price this amp sounds *very very* good. The first thing I always do with a new amp is plug in a fullrange signal like a music track and have a listen - this tells me a lot about how the designers have voiced the amp. The AGA70 has a full, clear sound which complements my guitars well and there is a surprising amount of low end, considering it's only a 6.5" speaker, and no tweeter. It has quite a wide sweet spot too - I found that you don't have to be directly in front of the amp to hear the high end, which is useful if you're using the amp as an onstage monitor for you and the rest of the band to hear.
- The amp faithfully translates the sound that is coming out of the guitars, and even emphasises the differences a bit. My Takamine with its Maple body and palathetic pickup sounded clear and brilliant, with all the pick noise that you associate with a maple guitar. My Breedlove with its mahogany body and LR Baggs undersaddle pickup sounded warm and dark as it does when played acoustically.
- EQ is good and useful but I found I didn't really have the urge to reach for it at all, which is always a good sign.
- The color knob is actually useful as opposed to a gimmick - turned anti-clockwise you get a darker/warmer sound, turned clockwise you get a brighter, airy-er, more expansive sound. I found I liked to run it around 11 o'clock most of the time. The color control is voiced differently for the 2 channels - on the solid state channel it is more subtle, acting like a shelving treble EQ control. On the tube channel it has a more pronounced effect, and according to one review I read it actually interacts with the tube plate voltage to affect the harmonic content of the sound. Nice!
- The tube channel is actually quite inspirational! I was really surprised - I know that lots of manufacturers toss a tube into the preamp section and then claim tone-Nirvana, but on this amp the effect is very similar to Takamine's cool tube preamp - you get a rich, warm sound which makes you want to play and play. I'd say I would use this channel in solo situations, and use the solid-state channel where a more straightforward, clean and up-front sound was required.

Durability/Ease of use:
- This amp has a cloth grille so be careful what you bang it into.
- The control panel is top-mounted (presumably to keep the height of the amp down) which you may or may not like - it does make the controls a bit hard to see when the amp is facing you. It also makes it easy to spill stuff into the guts of the amp, so don't put drinks up there!
- I asked the salesman about longevity issues with the tube and he said there weren't any... Hmm... anyway preamp tubes generally last a fairly long time and do not need re-biasing when they are replaced. However the tube in the amp is not user-serviceable (you have to disassemble the cabinet to get to it) so it's not really practical to try swapping tubes around to get different tones, which is a bit of a shame. Also, if disaster happened and you dropped the amp and broke the tube you could still rely on the solid state channel. Oh yeah, and it's cool to see the tube glowing away through the side vents, a nod to those good old days :mrgreen:

In conclusion, this is a great stage monitor/small gig/jam session/practice amp. Small box amps almost always suffer in the tone department and particular in their low frequency extension, which Vox seems to have got just right in this case. It's also very compact and easy to transport, has lots of inputs and a useful combination of retro and modern features. It looks great with its dark patterned grille cloth and white chicken-head knobs. Definitely worth a look and listen!

Some additional resources:

Owner's manual, including the block diagram showing how the inputs and outputs are configured: http://www.voxamps.com/downloads/PDF/AG ... _OM_E2.pdf

Quite a well-balanced review, very critical of the amps connectivity options but it's important to read negative reviews as well as positive ones: http://www.harmonycentral.com/reviews/347581

Good professional video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KygzSFz3-Vw

Comparison of this amp and the Marshall AS50D, also well-written and quite accurate in my opinion: http://www.notplayingguitar.com/2010/07 ... shall.html

Thanks for reading, will post follow-ups in due course!



Note: No affiliation with Vox, just a satisfied customer.

Bruno Goh Luse
Takamine DMP751C/BL
Takamine TSF48c
http://www.youtube.com/glbpro - Guitar and Preamp review videos!

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Template made by DEVPPL