VOX Amplification Ltd Lil Night Train by John Eppstein
The Vox Lil' Night Train is, as you would suspect, the little brother of the 10 watt Vox Night Train. It comes as a lunchbox format head or as a set with a cabinet containing a 10" Celestion speaker. This review concerns the head only.
This is an all tube amplifier that puts out 2 watts into 16 ohms or 1.5 watts into 8 ohms and is perfect for applications where even 10 watt amplifiers are excessive. The tube complement consists of 2 12AX7 preamp tube and 1 12AU7 dual triode power tube, operating in Class AB push-pull, just like higher powered amplifiers like the AC15 and AC30. It has a full complement of front panel controls consisting of Gain, Treble, Bass and Volume; it also has a two way mode switch - "Bright" provides a top boost and activates the EQ, "Thick" bypasses the EQ for a "beefier" tone.
The amp has a Headphone/line out jack with speaker emulation for late night practice and soundless recording. I am not thrilled with the quality of the speaker emulation (but I'm not thrilled with the quality of speaker emulation on any other amp, either), but it could be a very useful option for apartment dwellers.
Operating the amp into a Celestion 12" Vintage 30 in a semi-closed back cabinet gives a very useful range of tones for low level recording and band practice. At low levels it gives a nice clean Vox tone, but boosted it gives the kind of grit you expect from a cranked Vox - only it's not very loud, although it can compete adequately with a moderate level drummer.
I got this head used as an impulse buy at Guitar Center, which had it on sale for $150, and I didn't expect it to be nearly as great as it has turned out to be. My lead guitarist looked at it and kinda chuckled when I brought it in but since then he's played through it at nearly every rehearsal, recorded a few tracks with it, and borrowed it over Christmas to show to his brother who is a well known old school punk rocker in LA.
NOTE: At this time several outlets including Sweetwater and Musician's Friend list this amp as unavailable. Amazon lists 2 in stock and Proaudiostar lists it on their site.