VOX amPlug 2 Bass Headphone Amplifier
By Team HC |
Since their 2007 debut, VOX amPlug headphone amps have been a go-to product for countless guitarists and bassists looking for a simple way to plug in and play for silent practice. With its compact design, modest price tag and several available models for different tones, the amPlug series made jamming through headphones the easiest it’s ever been, with killer sound to boot—no matter your style.
After seven successful years, VOX has released the amPlug 2 Series, with a host of improvements and new features that make an already great concept even better. VOX sent me the Bass model so I could inform fellow low-enders on its performance and sound.
What You Need To Know
There are some across-the-board changes with the amPlug 2 Series that apply to all models, including the Bass amp. It begins with an improved analog circuit that delivers clear, crisp and consistent tone. I didn’t have a previous-generation model to compare, but the tone of the amPlug 2 Bass model had all the essential qualities you’d expect from a good amplifier—plenty of low-end fullness, a stout midrange and nice overtones from the upper range of frequencies (easily shaped to your liking with the Tone control). There are also three voicings to choose from via the power button, giving you even more ways to easily dial in a great tone for practicing and jamming.
Beyond the circuit, VOX made a significant improvement to the amPlug 2’s design by making the input plug rotate 180 degrees. This allows you to position the unit however works best for your instrument, position and playing environment. Battery life has also been improved—you now get up to 17 hours of playing time on a single pair of AAA batteries!
One of the best additions to the amPlug 2 Bass amp is a series of onboard rhythms to practice to. These rhythms range in styles and provide an in -time background for anything from running through scales to getting ideas out of your head. The volume of the rhythm is adjustable independent of your instrument—a nice touch for sure—and the tempo is also adjustable. As with the original amPlug Series, amPlug 2 models have an aux input so you can connect your audio device and jam along.
In addition to the Bass model, the amPlug 2 Series includes guitar amps in three different styles:
• AC30 - emulates the classic AC30 Top Boost sound
• Metal - American-made, high-gain tone
• Classic Rock - 100W Marshall-esque tone
The guitar models, in lieu of the Bass amp's rhythms, offer modulation effects for enhancing your sound along with the three selectable voicings.
I can only speak for the amPlug 2 Bass, but it's hard to call a $40 headphone amp with this kind of tone and functionality limiting. Really the only limitation I found wasn't with the amp, but the headphones I used. Because it's designed for low frequencies, the amPlug 2 Bass is going to sound better with a heftier pair of cans as opposed to earbuds, for example. To fully experience what this pocket-sized companion has to offer, you're going to want to invest in a good set of over-ear headphones. That said, what you'll typically experience is a loss of bottom end when using smaller headphones.
The VOX amPlug 2 Bass is a fantastic tool for bassists. Whether it's for late-night practice sessions, creative brainstorming when and where the mood strikes or pre-gig warmups, there are myriad reasons we encounter in everyday playing that make a headphone amp worthwhile, and with the amPlug 2 Bass from VOX, you get a great-sounding solution that plugs directly into your bass, gives you great tones to work with, rhythms to jam with and much more. For around $40, it's hard to think of a reason not to have one.
Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.