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Brief overview of the Valvetronix amp model history

Here is a compendium of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ), tips and tricks, and common troubleshooting solutions

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Brief overview of the Valvetronix amp model history

Postby Voxman » 21 May 2008, 18:08

(NOTE: Floor controllers/pedals can only give floor control access to such functionality as are specifically designed for floor control within the amp - they are NOT effect pedals. The pedal compatibility for each amp is shown. Unless stated, NO OTHER OPTION OR SUBSTITUTE IS AVAILABLE)

The Blue Valvetronix Amps

The first Valvetronix to be released were the AD60/120VT, (followed by the AD120VTH - head) in July 2001. Specifically designed as gigging amps, these hybrid amps were a revolution in tonal quality from previous modelling amps because of the unique 'valve reactor' circuitry that Vox had developed, which utilised valves working with the digital modelling. Combined with quality effects from Korg, it was a superb amp that delivered tone & touch response that was closer to an all-valve amp than had arguably been developed previously by any other modelling amp manufacturer.

The amps included a serial FX loop (stereo in the 120's), headphone out, line-out (2 x stereo in 120's), extension cab out (2 x stereo in 120's) that leave the internal speaker connected, and Hi & Lo impedence guitar inputs. 16 amp models, 10 pedal options, 3 reverb, 3 delay, & 5 modulation effects, noise-reduction, 32 patch memory (all fully user programmable). The reverb, delay, modulation, and pedal sections are all independent so you can choose any one from each section, and a tap control function is included in addition to manual knobs . The amp also has a full chromatic tuner, an 'original value' switch (to see the value of any parameter in a patch) and a 'bypass' switch that cuts off effects. An 'External Control' button lets you select whether an FX can be switched on/off by an external floor controller, and the amp has a 'Manual' mode (WYSIWYG - in manual mode the amp works like a 'regular' amp with the sound dependent on the real position of the dials i.e. what you see is what you get).

Floorcontroller compatibility: Vox VC4; Vox VC12; Vox VC12SV (same as VC12 but silver colour). The VC12 can store 4x32 patches, and in addition to selecting individual patches via 'bank up/down' in 8 banks of 4 patches, full 'stomp-box' mode is available allowing any of the pedal, modulation, reverb, delay sections in a patch to be switched on/off independently. The VC12 also has separate volume and expression pedals, a clearer tuner display (with direct tuner access in any pedal mode), tap control, and a useful 'last patch recall' switch for fast changes between two patches regardless of their bank position. It can also control 2 'Blue' Valvetronix amps simultaneously.

The VTX

Although the AD60/120VT were very good amps that were well received, many customers asked for the amp to have more punch, clarity & bottom end. So, in response the AD60/120VTX were released by Vox in March 2003. The modelling & effects were exactly the same, but physical changes to the cabinet construction (marine birch ply instead of MDF, and closed back instead of open backed) and the switch from 'voiced' Celestions to the excellent Celestion 'Neodog' speakers (a made for Vox custom variant of the Celestion G12 Century Vintage) markedly changed the amps tonal characteristics to make it a much better gigging amp (see the FAQ section for the differences between the Blue VT & VTX, & the Blues vs the Chromes).

Original versions of these amps were made in Korea, but for the last 12 months or so of the VTX' life, production was moved to Vietnam.

These are the full featured Valvetronix amps, referred to as the 'Blue' series because of the dark blue cloth used for the speaker grill covering. Sadly, all these amps are now discontinued. Production of the VTX/VTH ceased over a year ago, largely due to problems regarding new international import controls whereby the costs to Vox for compliance with the new requirements was uneconomic. Although the Blues were very well thought of, they were expensive & whilst still profitable for Vox, the margins weren't that high once original R&D costs were taken into account. The high cost also meant the amps were beyond the reach of most younger bedroom/small club players and the market for them was more limited.

Floorcontroller compatibility: Vox VC4; Vox VC12; Vox VC12SV (same as VC12 but silver colour)

Birth of the Chrome Valvetronix amps - the ADxxVT series with chrome grills

Vox subsequently utilised the existing 'valve reactor' technology to develop a 'new' amp aimed at bringing the Valvetronix to a wider market, at a much lower cost, with less features than the Blue series, but that could comply with the new import standards. In January 2004, Vox brought out the AD15VT and AD30VT, intended as a low cost but very well featured practice and small club combo amp. These amps revolutionised the market giving a quality of tone & features that was not available from any other manufacture at such a keen price-point. The amps were fitted with metal silver coloured grills, thus giving rise to the description of 'chrome series'. The amps offered 11 amp models and onboard effects.

The products pricing, tone, and features made it a huge success for Vox and in July 2004, Vox expanded the chrome range with the addition of the AD50VT (The only model fitted with a Celestion 70/80 speaker), and in April 2005, it brought out the AD100VT. The AD100VTH (Head) version was launched in January 2006. The 100w versions had series FX loops and the 100w & 50w versions had an extension cab out (albeit this disconnected the internal speakers). All models (except the AD15VT) had a power-selector at the rear of the amp.

In January 2007, the AD50VT-212 was introduced, but the cost & weight meant that customers realised they were better off with the AD100VT or the AD50VT. The AD50VT-212 was thus very short-lived and Vox, realising it had got this one 'wrong' market wise, withdrew it from production within a year.

Floorcontroller compatibility: Simple 2-button type - Vox VFS2 (no LED's), also Marshall PEDL10013 (longer lead, LED's) and other similar Marshall 2-button pedals. (NOT compatible with VFS5/VC4/VC12/VC12SV)

The XL's

In April 2007, the XL (Extreme Lead) range was introduced. Based on the 'Chromes', these amps were introduced to appeal to 'Metal' players with different colour cabinets & grills, tweaked EQ with higher gain variations of existing amp models, and a larger 12" speaker for the AD30VT-XL.

Floorcontroller compatibility: Simple 2-button type - Vox VFS2 (no LED's), also Marshall PEDL10013 (longer lead, LED's) and other similar Marshall 2-button pedals. (NOT compatible with VC4/VC12/VC12SV)

The VT's

Launched in Dec 2008, the VT's add a number of features to the original 'chrome' series ADxxVT Valvetronix range. There is a full review on the VT forum with further details in the FAQ section, and I have also loaded 2 VT30 demo's onto 'you-tube' (search for 'voxman5'). Main differences include 22 amp models (was 11), global reverb, 8 patch memory (2 previously), better EQ response and speakers, improved headphone quality, and an improved effects section which loses 'auto-wah' but gains a pitch-shifter. (FX loop/extension speaker out facilities as per equivalent AD50/100VT above)

Floorcontroller compatibility: Vox VFS5 ONLY. (NOT compatible with VFS2, VC4, VC12/VC12SV)

The VT+

An upgrade to the VT, the VT+ was launched in September 2010 with a new look cloth grill to replace the previous 'chrome' grill in the VT. Additional features are: 33 amp models, 22 Effects (including a new pedal section with 11 pedal options) + 3 separate reverb, 99 Programs and 8 user memories, plus a guitar tuner.

NOTE: Although the reverb appears to be in an independent section with a separate reverb knob, unlike its VT predecessor it's linked to all the other effects. So, when you press effects bypass, the reverb is cut off too. In the previous VT, the reverb stayed on when effects bypass was engaged & you could then turn it off from the reverb dial.

There is a headphone and aux.mp3 'out', but none of the VT+ range now has an FX loop or extension speaker 'out' and the 'mix' control for certain FX in the VT is also now no longer available within the VT+. The power-selector has been moved from behind the amp to the main control panel.

The amps are denoted '+' because the new Class D power-stage can be 'pushed' to higher than the amps official rating e.g. the VT40+ can be pushed to 60w albeit the tonal quality may reduce when 'pushed'. However, let's just say that there's some 'marketing poetic licence' here by Vox with regards to the amps power-rating as the older VT equivalents were at least as loud, if not louder!

Floorcontroller compatibility: Vox VFS5 ONLY. (NOT compatible with VFS2, VC4, VC12/VC12SV)

The Valvetronix Pro VTX150 Neodymium

Announced at the Frankfurt Musikamesse and launched in Summer 2011, the 150w 'Pro' comes with a single 12" neodymium speaker and (for the first time in a Valvetronix amp) an EL84 power-tube in the re-designed valve reactor circuit, instead of the 12AX7 that is used in all other Valvetronix. In addition, it has 44 amp models with 132 programs. When connected to the 1x12" 8 Ohm extension cab, this boosts the amps output to 300w. A special edition VTX300 rig is avaiable comprising the VTX150 Pro, extension cab (both in a special metalic red trimmed finish) and VC12SV floor controller.

Floorcontroller compatibility: VFS5 footswitch, VC12/VC12SV (NOT VFS2). This is the first Valvetronix since the original 'Blue' series to be compatible with the VC12/VC12SV floor controller (the VC12/VC12SV units are the same apart from colour). The standard 8 user presets is increased to 16 with the VC12/VC12SV.

Because the VTX150 Pro controls are based on the VT+ amps, with the exception of one combined chorus/delay effect option, you can't select modulation & delay effects at the same time i.e. if you select 'flanger' you cannot have delay also or if you select tape delay you can't select any modulation effect. This means that in 'stomp box' mode, either the modulation or delay pedal will be inoperative unless you select the combined delay/chorus effect (when you can select chorus and/or delay independently).

However, the VTX150 Pro does allow you to assign the function of the VC12's expression pedal which is an excellent feature not available with the 'Blue' series amps. For example, you can assign how much amp gain, delay, reverb, pedal option or modulation effect is 'eased in' as you move the expression back & forth. This gives some excellent control options for gigging.

The ability to store 4 banks of patches in the VC12 or access the additional 48 factory presets are only facilities the VC12 has with the Blue series, and are not available with the VTX150 Pro.


Rich :wink:
"I started out with nothing ...and I've still got most of it left!" (Seasick Steve)
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