Vox AGA70 Acoustic Guitar Amp Review
The new Vox acoustic amp is an impressive tool for the working musician.
Say what—Vox is making acoustic amps? No,
we’re not yanking your chain, gang. Vox is
making an acoustic amp. The AGA70 is a sexylooking
box—sleek and black and very, very Vox,
with black diamond-weave grille cloth and the
iconic Vox logo slung low on the right. The front
curves at the top, too, which adds to the visual
vibe. The chunky white chicken-head knobs are
a quirky complement to the overall look, and the
bold, white-on-black labeling for each knob and
button is easy to see in any light, thank you very
much. The handle feels secure and comfortable,
easily capable of hoisting the 22.3 lb combo.
Measuring 12.7" by 10.3" by 13" (W x D x H),
the AGA70 has a nice, small footprint and sports
a custom designed 6.5" full-range speaker. Vox
packs 70 efficient watts and two very feature-rich
channels into this little baby, too.
On the rear panel you have the standard stuff: a power switch, a power cable connector, a connector for the optional VFS2 dual footswitch (which toggles the reverb and chorus, and lets you switch the All Mute function on and off), DI out (nice!), tuner out, L/R lines in, and an auxiliary in.
On the top panel, things get more exciting. There’s a Master volume, an All Mute switch, and a sweepable Anti-Feedback control for starters. The two channels are laid out very clearly and sensibly. Both have switchable phantom power (sweet!), a Chorus button, and a Gain switch with High and Low settings (High packs a serious punch), as well as Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Color, and Reverb knobs. Both channels also have XLR and 1/4" inputs— a real plus for singers/songwriters. One channel also has a 12AU7 tube in the preamp.
Most of us associate Vox amps with a wonderful, chimey, growly tone that some describe as “sugarcoated road grit.” With its 12AU7, the AGA70’s Tube Pre channel gives you tone much like that, only appropriately tailored for an acoustic guitar. It’s more like a “sprinkling of faerie dust against a twilight sky” kind of tone. The key is the Color control: Turned counter-clockwise, it gives you a dark, fat, smoky tone. Turned all the way clockwise, it gives you that sparkling, golden-brown goodness.
The Normal channel is nothing to sneeze at, either. It delivers clean, crisp, woody, honest acoustic tone. Some guitarists might favor this over the tube channel, mainly because we acoustic players aren’t accustomed to hearing how a tube can change or enhance our pristine, as-close-to-the-real-deal-as-possible-without-getting-splinters-in-our-ears tone. I happened to plug into the Normal channel first, and I’m glad I did, because I really liked it a lot. But once I plugged into the Tube Pre channel, I began to drool, then got weak in the knees and never looked back.
The Color knob is pretty cool. It’s a post-EQ treble-and-mids sweep that works the same way on both channels, producing tones that range from fat and smoky to chimey and clean. To my ears, Color is more pronounced— and analog sounding—on the tube channel.
Vox designed the digital Reverb and Chorus effects exclusively for this amp. I like the reverb quite a bit—it’s very warm and shiny. The chorus is either on or off—there’s no way to get more or less of it—so it’s not something you’d want to use all the time. But, like the ’verb, it’s warm and friendly, and it allows you to easily expand your sonic menu.
Out Here in the Streets
I took the AGA70 to my usual gear lab, a busy bagel bakery in my neighborhood. I plugged my vocal mic into the Normal channel and my Gallagher A-70 with a K&K Western Mini pickup into the Tube Pre channel. I found I didn’t have to dial the mids back quite as far as I did at home, which was great. I was blown away by the volume. I had the Volume on each channel pretty much straight up, with slightly more vocal than guitar, and the Master turned up to about 3, and it was plenty loud—almost too loud. At this setting, I didn’t get even a hint of a possibility of feedback, and the amp was clearly audible through the whole place. Luckily for me, my good friends Steve and Ruth Armstrong came to hear my set, so I got to listen to Steve play and Ruth sing, and was further astounded by the amp’s remarkable fidelity. It sounded simply gorgeous. The guitar was woody, warm, and alive, and the vocal was smooth and clear.
The Final Mojo
The Vox AGA70 has everything I want, and I love what the 12AU7 does to my guitar’s already killer tone. (I also love the dark, sexy good looks and the chunky controls with their easy-to-see labels.) For small to medium-sized club and coffeehouse situations, and even bigger “listening” rooms, the AGA70 will deliver the punch and oomph you need to be heard—and let your guitar sparkle and growl in all the best ways.
you want a piece of heaven that delivers all a working musician truly needs.
you don’t want a tube in your acoustic amp.
Street $399 - Vox Amplification - voxamps.com/us