In this video, I review and compare these two excellent Vox AC15 amps, the AC15C1 Custom, and the AC15HW1 hand-wired.

These amps are similar in many respects:

Celestion Greenback G12MVox AC15HW1 Tubes

  • same Celestion Greenback G12M speaker
  • same preamp and power amp tube complement (3 12AX7’s and 2 EL84’s)
  • same two channels: Normal and Top Boost.
  • same tone cut and interactive EQ controls
  • same weight – 48 pounds. Handwired is larger but birch plywood is lighter than MDF
  • same AC15 legacy and tradition
  • However, there are some obvious differences:

    Vox AC15HW1 handwired on turretboardVox AC15C1 PCBVox AC15HW1 high frequency diffuser

  • cabinet size: the Handwired is about 4 inches taller
  • cabinet materials: birch plywood in the Handwired.  MDF in the Custom
  • Handwired has a high frequency diffuser over the speaker
  • circuit construction: turretboard handwiring versus PCB in the Custom
  • rectifier: tube EZ81 in the Handwired.   silicon 1N4007 in the Custom
  • orientation of control surface text.  Handwired faces back, Custom faces front.
  • differences in the features:
  • Custom has tremolo, reverb and standby switch
  • Handwired has additional low-gain inputs, hot/cool switch, bright switch, power switch, and master bypass on the Handwired
  • And of course the price- the Handwired is twice as expensive as the Custom
  • In the video, I switch between the two amps at a number of different settings, to compare the sound.  At some settings, especially on the clean jangly sounds, the two amps are uncannily similar.    On the other hand, especially at higher gain, the sound can be dramatically different.   The larger more resonant Handwired’s cabinet provides a bit more low end, and is a bit rounder or softer in general.  That high frequency diffuser really does roll off a bit of the highs.  And I find the Handwired’s overdriven sounds to be more pleasing to the ear. 

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