Vox amps are one of the most popular brands on the planet. We all love that chimey British tone, even if we aren’t exactly sure how to recreate it.
Well, a Vox AC line amp is a good start.
But which one?
Should you go with the classic AC30 or the smaller AC15?
Is there even that much of a difference?
These are the questions we’re going to answer in this review.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30 comparison:
- Sounds and tones
- Tubes and power
- Cabinet design
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
30-Second Summary: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
So when it comes down to Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
- Go for Vox AC15 if you’re looking to get that creamy mid-range Vox tone on a budget, don’t require an effects loop, and don’t need too much clean headroom. It’s also a good choice if you’re playing in your bedroom, as the lower wattage allows you to reach saturation without blasting the neighbors.
- Go for Vox AC30 if you need maximum clean headroom, are using the amp for live performances, or need an effects loop for connecting external pedals. It’s also a great choice if you have a couple of different guitars with different output levels, as it has high and low input jacks.
1. Sounds and tones: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Both amps offer pretty much the same tonal palette, using the same preamp circuits and speaker offerings (which we’ll discuss soon).
The clean channel on these amps is decidedly mid-focused, with a present, jangly tone that isn’t crazy sparkly. For example, you’d probably find an AC amp to have a bit less top-end than a Fender amp.
The amps are a fantastic platform for pedals, allowing you to throw in a compressor or delay pedal for a variety of different clean tones.
Both of these Vox amps get firmly into crunchy drive territory, though neither will compete with the balls-to-the-wall high-gain tones from the likes of a JCM900 or 5150.
Crank up the gain on either amp and you’ll get a nice classic rock crunch tone, or throw a TS9 in front for a more highly-drive Texas blues tone.
The top boost channel on either amp is a good fit for lead tones. As you imagine, you’ve got more high-frequency energy happening here, which helps overdriven lead tones really cut through in a mix.
On the whole, both amps deliver pretty the same tonal elements, so this one is a tie.
Sounds and tones Winner: Tie
2. Tubes and power: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Tubes and power: Vox AC15
The Vox AC15 uses three 12AX7 (ECC83) tubes for its preamp section, which deliver that classic AC chimey tone.
On the power amp front, you’ve got 2 6BQ5 (EL84) power amp tubes, which deliver a total of 15watts of output power (hence the name).
Tubes and power: Vox AC30
The AC30 uses the same preamp section as the AC15, but doubles up on the power amp section, packing in 4 of the EL84 valves.
This helps bring the AC30’s output wattage to 30w.
Tubes and power: Bottom Line
This one’s another tie. The amps use the same tubes throughout, with identical preamp sections.
The only difference is that the AC30 has twice as many tubes in the output section, which serve to give it twice the output wattage. Of course, this comes down to preference.
More wattage means louder with more clean headroom; lower wattage means you can saturate the amp at lower volumes.
So, it depends on your playing preferences.
Tubes and power Winner: Tie
3. Speakers Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Speakers: Vox AC15
The AC15 is a 1×12 combo amp, and Vox actually offers two different configurations, allowing you to choose from a couple of popular Celestion speakers.
The AC15C1 uses a Celestion G12M Greenback speaker, whereas the AC15C1X swaps this out for a Celestion Alnico Blue.
Speakers: Vox AC30
The AC30, on the other hand, is a 2×12 combo amp. It offers the same speaker options as the AC15 though.
Speakers: Bottom Line
Again, this is very much a tie. The only difference is that the AC30 has twice as many speakers as the AC15. Of course, this makes it a bigger and heavier unit.
Speakers Winner: Tie
4. Cabinet design: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Cabinet design: Vox AC15
The AC15 uses a semi-open back cabinet design, measuring 602 x 265 x 456 mm.
This allows the speaker to breathe naturally but still provides a robust low end without too much flabbiness.
This amp weighs in at 48.5 lbs, so it’s not the lightest, but that’s pretty much always the case with tube amps.
Cabinet design: Vox AC30
The AC30 is a bigger beast, with a larger cabinet required to fit two of those Celestion speakers in. It clocks in at 71 lbs and measures 702 x 265 x 556 mm.
It too uses an open-back design, which appears to be fairly similar to that of the AC15.
Cabinet design: Bottom Line
There are no winners here. Both amps use the same cabinet design, but the AC30 is just a bit bigger. This, along with the extra tubes and speaker, make the AC30 quite a bit heavier.
But that’s the sacrifice you have to make when you want more speakers and output power.
Cabinet design Winner: Tie
5. Inputs: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Inputs: Vox AC15
The AC15 has two guitar inputs; one for the normal channel, and one for the top boost channel.
That means that you could technically plug two guitars in at once, though you’d be sharing input and output tube power.
Inputs: Vox AC30
The AC30 has a whopping four separate guitar inputs.
There are two for the normal channel (high and low), and two for the top boost channel (high and low again).
This allows you to get different responses out of the AC30, and to experiment with how the preamp responds to the output levels of different guitars and pickups.
Inputs: Bottom Line
The Vox AC30 wins this round, as it has twice as many inputs as the AC15. Both amps also include a footswitch input on the rear panel.
Inputs Winner: Vox AC30
6. Outputs: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Outputs: Vox AC15
On the rear panel of the AC15, you’ll find two output jacks labeled external sp and extension sp.
These two outputs allow you to connect external speaker cabinets. When you plug into the external sp, the AC15 bypasses the internal speaker altogether. When plugging into the extension sp jack, it will play through the external cabinet as well as your AC15’s cabinet/
Outputs: Vox AC30
The AC30 has the same external cabinet options as the AC15, but with the addition of an effects loop output (as well as an input, which we’ll discuss shortly).
Outputs: Bottom Line
The AC30 wins here, but only slightly, as it offers the addition of an FX loop output.
Outputs Winner: Vox AC30
7. Effects: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Both amps have built-in reverb and tremolo effects.
On the reverb front, you can control the level and tone of the spring reverb tank. The reverb itself is quite usable, but it is of course limited to one reverb type: spring.
If you need something with more flexibility or you want to dive deep into shoegaze and atmospheric music, you’ll probably want to bring along a nice reverb pedal.
The same goes for the tremolo. It’s a decent sound effect, with speed and depth controls that allow you to reach a pretty vibey tone, but there’s only so much you can do with it.
The benefit the AC30 has over the AC15 is an external effects loop.
That allows you to place some effects pedal in between the preamp and power amp sections, as is quite common for things like delays and reverbs.
The AC15, unfortunately, doesn’t offer this, which means you’ll have to place all of your effects pedals up front if you’re going to use any.
Effects: Bottom Line
The AC30 wins out here because it offers the effects loop jacks on the rear panel.
For many, this is a make-or-break feature (it is for me), as there are some pedals that just don’t work out in front of the amp.
One such example is the looping pedal. If I want to record a clean loop and then solo over it with a more driven tone, the only way to achieve this is to have the looper in the effects loop. Otherwise, when I switch over to the drive tone, my looped section will also become driven.
So, go with the AC30 if you need an effects loop.
Effects Winner: Vox AC30
8. Price & Value For Money: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Price & Value For Money: Vox AC15
You’ll pay about $700 for the AC15, which, let’s be honest, isn’t cheap.
There are several cheaper amps on the market that are more feature-packed.
However, when you compare the AC15 with other combo amps in its range, like a Peavey Classic 30 or Fender Silverface, then you’ll see that what Vox is asking isn’t so unreasonable.
That’s just the price you have to pay for highly sought-after gear.
Price & Value For Money: Vox AC30
The AC30 is, as you’d expect, quite a bit more. Actually, it will cost you about twice as much as the AC15.
Of course, it has twice as many speakers, twice as much power, and twice as many inputs. Plus, it has that effects loop.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
It’s tough to say that the price difference between the AC15 and the AC30 is justified, given it’s literally twice as much. However, for some, sacrificing the effects loop is completely off the table, which makes it a null argument.
Pound for pound, though, the AC15 does offer better value for money.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Vox AC15
9. Pros & Cons: Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30
Vox AC15 Pros & Cons
- Classic Vox tones
- 2 guitar inputs
- Choice of Celestion speakers
- No effects loop
- No high/low inputs
Vox AC30 Pros & Cons
- Effects loop
- Classic Vox tones
- 4 guitar inputs
- Choice of Celestion speakers
- Bulky and heavy
- Kind of pricey
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30 comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Sounds and tones – Tie
- Tubes and power – Tie
- Speakers – Tie
- Cabinet design – Tie
- Inputs – Vox AC30
- Outputs – Vox AC30
- Effects– Vox AC30
- Price & Value For Money – Vox AC15
Overall: Vox AC30
All things considered, the AC30 is the better amplifier.
Though many of the aspects it offers over the AC15 are a matter of preference (2 speakers vs 1, 30 watts vs 15), it does win in a few obvious areas, most notably the fact that it has an external effects loop.
If that doesn’t matter all that much to you, then the AC15 is a fair bit cheaper and will get you into the territory of Vox tones without completely draining the bank account.
If you want that classic Vox goodness though, with the ability to through some nice reverb and chorus pedals in the mix, then it’s got to be the AC30.
Products Comparison Table:
Spec / Feature
1×12” Celestion Greenback or Alnico Blue
2×12” Celestion Greenback or Alnico Blue
1 x Normal Input Jack
1 x Top Boost Input Jack
1 x Foot Switch Jack
1 x Normal High Input Jack
1 x Normal Low Input Jack
1 x Top Boost High Input Jack
1 x Top Boost Low Input Jack
1 x FX Return Jack
1 x External Speaker Jack
1 x Extension Speaker Jack
1 x External Speaker Jack
1 x Extension Speaker Jack
1 x FX Send Jack
Master Volume, Master Tone Cut, Normal Volume, Top Boost Volume, Top Boost Bass, Top Boost Treble, Speaker Level, Tremolo (Depth, Speed)
Master Volume, Master Tone Cut, Normal Volume, Top Boost Volume, Top Boost Bass, Top Boost Treble, Reverb Tone, Reverb Level, Tremolo Speed, Tremolo Depth
Dimensions (W X D X H)
602 x 265 x 456 mm | 23.70 x 10.43 x 17.95 inches
702 x 265 x 556 mm | 27.64 x 10.43 x 21.89 inches
22 kg | 48.5 lbs
32.0 kg | 70.99
Accessories (sold separately)