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AC15HW or just plain old AC15
Old 20th March 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 
Spano's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
AC15HW or just plain old AC15

I know the rectifier is better in an AC15HW (handwired) but it's double the price....

I want the amp for home recording so the details matter alot to me...

How much of a difference really is there between a handwired AC15 and your normal run of the mill AC15...

also if there is boutique clone at a better price point I would be forever grateful to be pointed in that direction.


OOO and i know a little off topic but are those CREAMback Celestions something to write home to mama about?

haha peace and stay safe, we're all in this together!
Old 20th March 2017
  #2
Lives for gear
Man companies like Vox charge so much for their handwired amps id be tempted to look for a clone

That being said I'm a Marshall guy and know dick about Vox
Old 20th March 2017
  #3

Hand-wired are for people who plan on doing extensive modifications, have the rigors of touring to worry about, or just have to have the more expensive option.

Speaker selection is going to be more important in your case... that and good, non-microphonic/rattling tubes.




-tINY

Old 21st March 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
The HW versions tend to use better quality components as well
Old 21st March 2017
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Old 21st March 2017
  #6
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Old 21st March 2017
  #7
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mintaka007's Avatar
I prefer handwired whenever possible because the great techs in my area tend to not want to touch PCB amps. As has been said, they also many times use better components as they can charge more for the amp itself, keeping the profit margin in the upper range.

Most of my amps are handwired either vintage or boutique, but I do have a couple tubers that are PCB, one being the ac15c1. I wanted that amp for it's specific tone, and have been happy with it. I didn't even mess with changing the speaker as it sounds good to me stock. People who play through it love it as well. If an HW came up used locally for a good price, I would probably pick it up as I like the sound of the PCB version, so I assume I would like the HW. This way if something ever went wrong or I did want to mod it it wouldn't be a pain in the butt.

I never got to try out other versions of the ac15 (c2 etc), but just went off of the folks on this forum and others that recommended the c1 above them, at an affordable price. I paid $400 for the limited addition red tolex version, so not much to lose there, and it is purdy.

I may just be lucky, or maybe it's confirmation bias, but I love all my handwired amps, and haven't wanted to sell any of them. They usually just increase in value as well, so resale if I ever decide to do so will be profitable and easy.
Old 21st March 2017
  #8
A friend brought a Chi-com pcb version to the shop. I replaced the 12AX7B Chi-com tubes with a Tungsol in the first position and a couple of 12AX7A EH's. I also removed the three 10 pf caps in the input jack pcb, that sucked out air.

The rest inside is PCB parts, 1/4 or 1/2 watt Asian metal film resistors and some .1 uf 400V caps. Yes, you could rip it out and put in WIMA poly film, but why bother?

The amp sounds great with those tweaks. Better power tubes should be used.
Old 21st March 2017
  #9
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noah330's Avatar
Used Gibson GA-15RV
Old 21st March 2017
  #10
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spano View Post
How much of a difference really is there between a handwired AC15 and your normal run of the mill AC15...
When I was trying out new, stock ones in a store a few years ago, the HW was a little beefier. But as you say, the price difference was vast. I went with the basic Chinese, but only because I got an amazing deal on it elsewhere, and it was only going to sit in the studio. If I had planned to gig with it, I definitely would have gone for the HW.
Old 21st March 2017
  #11
The cabs really make it sound better to me. see 2nd video for what i mean.



Old 21st March 2017
  #12

The voicing on those is very different. Wonder what the circuit differences are...

I like the OD on the HW, but cleans on the custom.



-tINY

Old 21st March 2017
  #13
Gear Head
 

I've had an AC15HW1 for about five years. Its a really nice sounding amp, and I have used it a lot to record and play clubs. If I had to do it again, I would by the standard AC15 with a Celestion Blue speaker. There may be slight tonal differences due to the cabinet size, but for gigs, the smaller size and built in reverb on the standard AC15 are better for me. I tend to grab my Fender Princeton reverb when I play out for these reasons.
Old 23rd April 2017
  #14
played both and the hw version sounds better for shure. but if you stick an blue alnico speaker in your normal ac15 you can make it sounds waaaay. etter and safe money!
Old 23rd April 2017
  #15
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Lenzo's Avatar
After buying the Boss Katana, I sold my AC15HW. For recording, the Boss worked way better and was much more versatile. I could also buy 5 50 watt Katana's for what I sold the Vox for. I think I'm going to pick up a 100 watt head so I can use my other cabinets. One thing the 50 watt won't do is let you use other cabs. The footswitch set up is a little more limiting on the 50 as well, but not an issue for studio use.
L.

Last edited by Lenzo; 23rd April 2017 at 03:06 PM..
Old 23rd April 2017
  #16
Gear Nut
 
stratobuc's Avatar
 

I have an AC30H2 50th Anniversery. BIG difference over the stock amp. The EF86 channel is like nothing else. The Blue speaker is essential to the Vox sound. The handwired is by far superior, and worth the price. The new ones are tag board rather than PCB, but mine still sounds incredible. Highly recommended.
Old 23rd April 2017
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by stratobuc View Post
The handwired is by far superior, and worth the price.

I get the signal pentode preference - but why do you think handwired is superior to well-built PCB construction?


-tINY

Old 23rd April 2017
  #18
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stratobuc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY View Post

I get the signal pentode preference - but why do you think handwired is superior to well-built PCB construction?


-tINY

I don't. I have a PCB AC30H2. I think the voicing of the amp is different enough to warrant my opinion. My Mullard EF86 in the first channel is like nothing else. I jumper that with the top boost and blend them. Its truly amazing.
Old 24th April 2017
  #19
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mintaka007's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY View Post

I get the signal pentode preference - but why do you think handwired is superior to well-built PCB construction?


-tINY

Some of my pcb amps (ac15c1, vox bruno) have had zero issues, but I also don't have them out and about much.

I have had a couple fender hotrods that have had nothing but issues, mostly with tube sockets. For whatever reason, they always come loose from the board. Had one other issue we never tracked down, I just sold them both.

My handwired amps have had no issues, both vintage and new. There seems to be more give if set down hard or ridding in a car etc.

As far as sound, that is very subjective. Of course I think my expensive amps sound better then my cheaper ones. I do love the sound of that Bruno, and it is my favorite right now for a drop and go versatile amp as well as a good recording amp.

I am putting a show on next weekend where I am supplying backline. I will have my ac15c1, the vox bruno, and the dual showman reverb with 2x12 cab on stage at the same time, so It will be interesting being able to compare them. Of course it's not an apples to apples or anything remotely scientific, but fun nonetheless. I am recording the show as well.

Seems like handwired will hold value better as well.
Old 24th April 2017
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Not AC15 specific but I had an AC30cc2 head and it was a great production amp. Far superior to any current fender reissue stuff imho. But when I bought the Tony Bruno Underground 30 with 3 knob reverb and celestion blues I was in Vox heaven. The guy that sold it to me even said it blew away his Matchless DC30.
Old 3rd May 2017
  #21
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The basic "AC15" reissue and the HW are really completely different amps - they have different preamps, power amps, power supplies, cabinets, and depending on options, usually the speakers. Whether each amp is PCB or hand wired is irrelevant to those differences.

If you want top boost AC30 sounds in a smaller package, the basic AC15 with the blue speaker is intended to be that.

If you want something like a vintage AC15, which is an amp that few people are familiar with, that's what the HW is intended to be, with a few additional modern conveniences. This does not sound like what most people think of when they think of Vox amps ; it's more like a tweed Deluxe; dark, crunchy, and with a very saggy power supply and little in the way of tone control. The HW gives you some more control over the sag and tone than an original; they may omit or have a simplified vib/trem effect as well (I can't remember, but I have a hard time imagining a current amp having that complex of an effect built in that most people don't use, although I love it). These amps will not do a pristine or Fender like bright clean sound, they are not about that.

The normal AC15 without the blue speaker does not sound like any vintage Vox amp, I don't like them but they are similar to many other amps that go for a Marshall meets Fender in a small combo kind of thing.
Old 3rd May 2017
  #22

So, VoX should really come up with more names for their amps....



-tINY

Old 4th May 2017
  #23
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Right, it sucks to be confused about which box we should plug the '72 Fender Vintage Original Reissue Handwashed Resurfaced Hotrodded Modded Deepfried Pawnshop Stratocaster Deluxe Limited into.
Old 4th May 2017
  #24

Well, if GM called their pickup truck, minivan, eco-box, and muscle car by the same name with a "C1" "C2" "CC" or a "CL" suffix, there'd be a lot of confusion...



-tINY

Old 4th May 2017
  #25
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Agreed, I think the problem is that most guitarists are so conservative about gear that they won't buy anything that doesn't have a vintage holy grail name. But they're also superficial, so it doesn't have to actually have much to do with whatever it is named for.
Old 4th May 2017
  #26

Sigh......



-tINY

Old 7th May 2017
  #27
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mintaka007's Avatar
AC15C1HWRI. In 20 years or so we should see this one, but by then GLOBOCON will have purchased every manufacturer of music gear, and they will all be made in the same factory. Who cares if "HW" means robot or human hands.

We should really start watering our plants with Brawndo now and cut to the chase.
Old 8th May 2017
  #28
Here for the gear
 

I've played both and bought the ac15hw1x.

I went down to the local guitar center to play both. I even brought my guitar to hear what it would sound like out of both amps.

The tone out of the ac15hw1x was so much better. Worth the extra $$ IMO. I've practiced with it and gigged with it. It is LOUD. Has to be closer to 20 watts than 15 watts.

I'm really happy and proud of that amp. I'll have that amp for the rest of my life.
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