Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30: Which one should you buy?

Vox AC15 vs Vox AC30

Intro

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
  • Speakers
  • Cabinet design
  • Inputs
  • Outputs
  • Effects
  • 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

Clean tones

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.

Overdrive 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.

Lead tones

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

Internal effects

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.

Effects loop

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

Pros:

  • Classic Vox tones
  • 2 guitar inputs
  • Choice of Celestion speakers

Cons:

  • No effects loop
  • No high/low inputs

Vox AC30 Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Effects loop
  • Classic Vox tones
  • 4 guitar inputs
  • Choice of Celestion speakers

Cons:

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-hLgTN2jxk 

Product Links:

Vox AC15

https://www.amazon.com/VOX-AC15C1X-Guitar-Combo-Amplifier/dp/B00EZRDGQO 

Vox AC30

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AC30C2–vox-ac30c2-30-watt-2×12-inch-tube-combo 

Products Comparison Table:

Spec / Feature

Vox AC15

Vox AC30

Output power

15w

30w

Output impedance

16 ohms

16 ohms

Speaker

1×12” Celestion Greenback or Alnico Blue

2×12” Celestion Greenback or Alnico Blue

Inputs

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

Outputs

1 x External Speaker Jack

1 x Extension Speaker Jack

OUTPUTS

1 x External Speaker Jack

1 x Extension Speaker Jack

1 x FX Send Jack

Controls

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

Tube Compliment

EL84

4x EL84

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

Weight

22 kg | 48.5 lbs

32.0 kg | 70.99

Accessories (sold separately)

VFS2 footswitch

VFS2 footswitch