Best Modern Vox AC30 or AC30 Copy

bvoshus

New member
Owned a modern HW a few years ago, ended up moving it along. But my interest has been piqued again, was thinking about going the matchless route but thought it might be nice to find something under $2k used. Is the current HW series from Vox the best offering aside from Matchless, and is a Matchless HC30 head and ESD Cab worth paying $3200+ for?
 

Gibsonchild

Active member
Take a look at Bad Cat’s offerings. I’ve had both Matchless and Bad Cat, and the Bad Cat was worlds better, IMO.

The Black Cat 30 is very similar circuit-wise to the DC/HC-30. However, the breakup on the BC is a lot tighter and more “musical”, and had a very full (but not loose) bottom end. The Matchless was thin, flabby and brittle in comparison.


IMO, Bad Cat’s best offering is the Cub IV 40 Player’s Series. That thing sounds incredible (and very Vox-ey). It’s on my short list of amps to get in 2022.
 

braintheory

Well-known member
I can’t advise much if you’re looking to spend under $2k, but I’ve tried most of the boutique EL84 amps out there and my favorites have been the Xits Piper 30 (no longer made) and of course actual early ‘60’s Copperpanel AC30’s. I’m sure the Alessandro and Komet EL84 amps would be up there too or maybe even better given how great their other amps sound, but haven’t tried them yet. The others I’ve tried imo are not needed. Didn’t like Bad Cats or Matchless at all, but some of the earliest ones are supposed to be killer (not sure which version Matchless’s I’ve tried, but have played a good bunch)

FWIW, these are the EL84 Vox-ish amps I’ve tried (spoiler: most were very disappointing). Maybe forgetting some:

-Savage Schatten (very good amp)

-Savage Glas 30 (decent, but not great)

-Tex EF86 Bernie (really nice amp)

-Divided By 13 RSA 31 (decent, but way overrated)

-Bruno Underground 30 (very disappointing)

-Sommatone Roaring 40 (awful, stereotypical sterile/filtered/bland “boutique” amp sound that’s the opposite of why we like good vintage amps (same story with most on this list))

-Dr Z’s (awful)

-various Bad Cat’s (not a fan, harsh, brittle, bad feel)

-Morgan (The Friedman of Vox’s. Will leave it there…)

-Star (can’t remember model name. Really nice cleans, bad overdriven tones)

-various Matchless’s (not a fan at all, but not sure if any were the earliest/most desirable versions)

-various Top Hat’s (just ok)

-lots of the various Vox models that came out after mine (some pretty good, but none that I tried were nearly as good as the old Copperpanels)

Other than the Tex, Savage and Star those other EL84 amps that didn’t do it for me all had some degree of that flat/boring sound that makes them like the “from concentrate” versions where the early ‘60’s copperpanel AC30’s are like the “fresh squeezed” version tonally speaking
 
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DanTravis62

Well-known member
Im on the opposite side as gibsonchild, I think the matchless stuff is way better than the bad cat, but that's because I prefer the vintagey stuff to more modern stuff.

The early 90s matchless stuff is where its at.

The newer matchless stuff is as good at clean stuff but doesnt drive as well. (edit: this goes for matchless, star, and bad cat)

The badcat stuff has more versatility but isnt as good at specific sounds.

Dr Z varies wildly depending on the amp. Some of it is bland, some of it is kickass.

tophat stuff is cool but not doing a 1:1 vox sound - all models are more of a blender of ac30, fender, and plexi circuits

Avoid morgan, 65, and d/13 - theyre all super overrated.
 

cardinal

Well-known member
I liked the AC30HW a lot. The Matchless DC30 was not better IMHO. I hated the DC30. Very harsh/unpleasant sounding.
 

LP Freak

Well-known member
I’ve been curious about this too. I recently tried an AC30 C2 and it wasn’t what I was hoping for
 

* velcro-fly *

Well-known member
Avoid morgan, 65, and d/13 - theyre all super overrated.
I played a Morgan PR12 combo a couple weeks ago that was downright awesome....if that amp was for sale I prob would’ve bought it on the spot....I was picking up a Dr Z Maz 18 MK II for JDub, both amps actually were killer...

Ive had 2 different D/13 amps....the first was some sorta combo like a 10/20 or something that was cool, sold it to fund a brand new one from a new dealer here in OR. Got this RSA23 with a matching 2x12 cab, sounded ok playing chords and stuff, but single lines each note had a flailing little farty flub tone that followed it as it decayed. Obvious AF to the listener, undeniable. I called Fred, explained what was happening, he said I was the first person that had ever mentioned this, then without missing a beat asked what I was using it for, was I in a band using it on stage? I told him no, not at the moment. He said and I quote “you have no business owning that amp...” I responded “Really? Well guess what, you have no business being in business, you can have your shitty amp back” Got a full refund from the shop the next day and never looked back. Fuck that punk rock wannabe asshat 😂
 

* velcro-fly *

Well-known member
Owned a modern HW a few years ago, ended up moving it along. But my interest has been piqued again, was thinking about going the matchless route but thought it might be nice to find something under $2k used. Is the current HW series from Vox the best offering aside from Matchless, and is a Matchless HC30 head and ESD Cab worth paying $3200+ for?
If you can find one I would highly recommend a Valvetech Hayseed 30. I had two of them at one point, fabulous amps and won’t break the bank. The Top Hat versions are killer too.
 

braintheory

Well-known member
I played a Morgan PR12 combo a couple weeks ago that was downright awesome....if that amp was for sale I prob would’ve bought it on the spot....I was picking up a Dr Z Maz 18 MK II for JDub, both amps actually were killer...

Ive had 2 different D/13 amps....the first was some sorta combo like a 10/20 or something that was cool, sold it to fund a brand new one from a new dealer here in OR. Got this RSA23 with a matching 2x12 cab, sounded ok playing chords and stuff, but single lines each note had a flailing little farty flub tone that followed it as it decayed. Obvious AF to the listener, undeniable. I called Fred, explained what was happening, he said I was the first person that had ever mentioned this, then without missing a beat asked what I was using it for, was I in a band using it on stage? I told him no, not at the moment. He said and I quote “you have no business owning that amp...” I responded “Really? Well guess what, you have no business being in business, you can have your shitty amp back” Got a full refund from the shop the next day and never looked back. Fuck that punk rock wannabe asshat 😂
I've heard other stories of him being like that. He actually stopped by once at Chelsea Guitars when I was going there almost daily, but purposely stayed out while he was there lol. I owned an RSA31 and FTR37 and they also had those qualities to the single notes that you mentioned. Not bad amp imo, but just not amazing. All those boutique EL84 amps I've had or tried except Xits, Tex, Star, and Savage Schatten, but even those actually, they can sound good or even very good, but whenever I've had good vintage amps next to it like my '60's Copperpanel's or Marshall's it just gets very exposed to my ears how much is lacking in warmth, detail, full frequency and tonal complexity, at least for me. Just a more filtered/flat sound and response I get with most of those amps that I've grown to really not enjoy
 

cardinal

Well-known member
I had a Morgan Dual 40 which is like his AC30 with the normal and top boost channels. It sounded fine but man that thing could do early Metallica tones with no boost. It was a bit overtop for what most would think of an AC30. Lots of gain.

It was fun but I still preferred the pedestrian AC30HW.

I did not like any of the AC30C# whatever's that are always on the GC floor. Super thin and bright sounding IMHO. Completely over the top "chime".
 

LP Freak

Well-known member
I played a Morgan PR12 combo a couple weeks ago that was downright awesome....if that amp was for sale I prob would’ve bought it on the spot....I was picking up a Dr Z Maz 18 MK II for JDub, both amps actually were killer...

Ive had 2 different D/13 amps....the first was some sorta combo like a 10/20 or something that was cool, sold it to fund a brand new one from a new dealer here in OR. Got this RSA23 with a matching 2x12 cab, sounded ok playing chords and stuff, but single lines each note had a flailing little farty flub tone that followed it as it decayed. Obvious AF to the listener, undeniable. I called Fred, explained what was happening, he said I was the first person that had ever mentioned this, then without missing a beat asked what I was using it for, was I in a band using it on stage? I told him no, not at the moment. He said and I quote “you have no business owning that amp...” I responded “Really? Well guess what, you have no business being in business, you can have your shitty amp back” Got a full refund from the shop the next day and never looked back. Fuck that punk rock wannabe asshat 😂
Isn’t amazing how some builders can’t fathom how not everyone loves their products? 😂
 

cardinal

Well-known member
I played a Morgan PR12 combo a couple weeks ago that was downright awesome....if that amp was for sale I prob would’ve bought it on the spot....I was picking up a Dr Z Maz 18 MK II for JDub, both amps actually were killer...

Ive had 2 different D/13 amps....the first was some sorta combo like a 10/20 or something that was cool, sold it to fund a brand new one from a new dealer here in OR. Got this RSA23 with a matching 2x12 cab, sounded ok playing chords and stuff, but single lines each note had a flailing little farty flub tone that followed it as it decayed. Obvious AF to the listener, undeniable. I called Fred, explained what was happening, he said I was the first person that had ever mentioned this, then without missing a beat asked what I was using it for, was I in a band using it on stage? I told him no, not at the moment. He said and I quote “you have no business owning that amp...” I responded “Really? Well guess what, you have no business being in business, you can have your shitty amp back” Got a full refund from the shop the next day and never looked back. Fuck that punk rock wannabe asshat 😂
The old AC30s are notorious for super low filtering and ghost notes. How anyone uses an amp with loud ghosting is beyond me. Like being doubled by someone out of tune. But maybe the D/13 had that type of filtering. Or it was just broken (I had a Mark III doing it until Mike B fixed it. He did not ask if I was in a band using it on stage fwiw).
 

* velcro-fly *

Well-known member
Just a more filtered/flat sound and response I get with most of those amps that I've grown to really not enjoy
I eventually had to just accept that I love the sound of those amps when other people are playing them....they just don’t work with whatever particular brand of magic I posses 😂
 

braintheory

Well-known member
The old AC30s are notorious for super low filtering and ghost notes. How anyone uses an amp with loud ghosting is beyond me. Like being doubled by someone out of tune. But maybe the D/13 had that type of filtering. Or it was just broken (I had a Mark III doing it until Mike B fixed it. He did not ask if I was in a band using it on stage fwiw).
The 2 D/13’s I had had the same thing going on. The early ‘60’s Vox’s I’ve had ghost loudly no doubt, but it’s not at all the same thing that those D/13’s have going on. Not sure how to explain it, just something you have to hear. D/13’s have this weird decay to the way the notes trail off when played loud. Not a vox thing

I don’t mind so much the ghosting on those Vox’s, even some of the ‘60’s Marshall’s can have it, but I only use my ‘63 AC30TB for clean and light break up these days, so I don’t deal with it anyway
 

DanTravis62

Well-known member
The 2 D/13’s I had had the same thing going on. The early ‘60’s Vox’s I’ve had ghost loudly no doubt, but it’s not at all the same thing that those D/13’s have going on. Not sure how to explain it, just something you have to hear. D/13’s have this weird decay to the way the notes trail off when played loud. Not a vox thing

I don’t mind so much the ghosting on those Vox’s, even some of the ‘60’s Marshall’s can have it, but I only use my ‘63 AC30TB for clean and light break up these days, so I don’t deal with it anyway

I agree, the "decay" thing going on with d/13 just isn't for me 😬
 
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