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Does the Vox AC30 CC suffer from a production flaw??


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Probably not many of you read the rec.audio.pro group but I thought one recent post might be interesting to some of you.

Maybe there are AC30 CC owners here who could verify (or not) the problem.



"Vox AC30 CC the real story....



Generally I am not the type to get caught up in reviewing a

manufacturers product but after my experience with the new Vox/Korg AC30 CC's I felt my findings were important enough to justify a post on the net. If you are thinking about spending your hard earned money on one of these amps try this first....


Chapter 1:

In early Dec '05 a Guitar Center circular showed the new Vox AC30's CC priced for less than $1000.00. Hard to pass up if the thing was even remotely similar to the original, IMHO. I figured since I was in the market for a new amp anyways I'd check it out.


Just to see what current owners were saying I went to Harmony Central (www.harmony-central.com). Overall most owners were happy but a few spoke of horrible problems within minutes. I wasn't really surprised to hear that. Generally on Chineese imports like that you need to test 1 in 10 to get one that actually works right.


One of my first stops was at the Guitar Center store in Sherman Oaks to speak of my concerns with a few sales folk there. After warming up the amp I ran my typical chromatic scale exercises...whole notes starting at the mid neck. Within SECONDS I noticed a strange oscillation underneath my notes....as if the guitar was being piped through a Eventide H3000 with the preset at -5 semitones. It wasn't loud, per se, but loud enough for me to hear it. Thinking the amp was a bad model I tested the next one. Same thing. I brought in the rep and showed him the issue. To

which he responded, "Hmmm...you're right it DOESN'T sound

right...it must be broken. Well...sorry that's all the stock we got..."


Chapter 2

The next day I went to Guitar Center in Lawndale Ca. Same thing... This time I hunted down the kid that attacked me when I first walked in the door and said, "Get your manager, you need to see this." At once they arrive and I plug in to show my test. At first, because the ambient noise level in the store was so stinking loud they missed it. "Get close," I said, "and this time LISTEN!"




"Wow," says the manager, "you know what you need?"


"No...what," I asked.


"You need to check out this original Vox over here...it doesn't make that sound."


(Incidentally it also doesnt cost 1 grand either).


"NO," I said, "I came here for this model and I want one that works. Either get me one that works or pull this defective stuff off your floor so someone else doesn't get tripped up on it."


"Well, maybe something is broken...let me call the rep on Monday and see what they say. I'll have little Joe here take care of ya."


I left them my info and said, "Make sure you follow up with me." And we left it at that.


Chapter 3:

Since I was mildly entertained by the whole quandry I was bold enough to try a fourth store. This time West LA Music would be my target. After a quick walk into the amp room, (subsequently chasing out two street kids making horrible noise), I was greeted by a sales guy to whom I stated, "I'd like to show you something. Please come with me...."


We promptly plugged into the AC30 1x12 (the 2x12 was not available). "Does this sound right to you?", I asked as I tried my revealing tones. The sales guy was stunned, as if he had just been hit upside the head by the amp itself. "I have never heard an amp do that in all my life," he said, "something's not right."


"Well," I interjected, "if you can find me one that doesn't do that

I'll buy it." After respectfully taking down my info he said he would

contact the rep on Monday and get back to me.


Later that night I wrote an email to KORG indicting their product

deficiency to which I got no reply, short of a auto vacation notice.


Chapter 4:

Two days later both stores called me back and gave me Korg's direct number. They both said it was out of their hands at this point. I called the Korg rep they referred me to who, not surprisingly, had no idea what I was talking about. I even had to start explaining why I was qualified to comment on the issue. "Listen," I said, "Please just go try my test and let me know what you find. I guarantee you will be calling me back saying you can hear it. I am that confident of what I am hearing." He agreed he would run the test and call me back.


About 30 minutes later I got a call from the Korg rep, "Dusk, we tried it and you're right. We aren't sure what's causing that noise but we think it goes deeper than just swapping out the tubes.... This could be a more serious issue, possibly down to the PCB.... Anyways I asked around here and Korg's position on this "sound" is that this is a "characteristic" of the amp and we have no plans to modify the sound out of it. Essentially, it's the nature of the beast..."


Funny, the last time I heard that moniker used was in analog tape recording in reference to overbiasing, wow and flutter, and dropouts. I never thought that a built in Harmonizer effect in a tube amp would pass as a "nature" issue.


"You have got to be kidding," I stated, "selling this product knowing what you now know borders on corporate negligence, and at the very least there are ethical implications for walking away from a problem like this. At one point you are going to have to deal with it. What about product liability and legal stuff like that? What if all 3000+ amp owners out there file a class action suit? That's a big deal, isn't it?"


"Sorry, have you tried looking at the older models from the 90's?" was his response.


"Yes," I replied, "but there aren't any left."


"Well there is nothing more I can do for you, Dusk, try writing a

complaint or something." We hung up and left it at that.


Three days later I took his advice and wrote a letter to Korg demanding that in the future they disclose this issue in writing to potential buyers everywhere. I still have not heard back from them as of this writing.


Since then two other stores were made aware of the issue and one claims they will be doing something about it. We shall see...



As one would expect, in my line of work we require intense attention to detail. Especially a guitar that will be compressed at every stage of recording. Eventually all sonic nuances reveal themselves, including "unintended parallel 5th harmonies". As unfortunate as it is, regardless of how many redeeming qualities there are in the new Vox AC30CC, the product will not pass muster for my session work so I go without. Equally unfortunate is the fact that several stores were made aware of the problem but not one has actually pulled the product, or even demanded an explanation for that matter, even though they all admitted the problem sounded "bad". How is that for corporate integrity?


Finally, it is my desire that current Custom Classic owners demand in one voice that Vox develop a workaround for this issue. I believe Vox has a responsibilty to solve the issue rather than ignore it. Corporate responsibilty has become the platform for many political battles in this day and age. IMHO this battle needs to be fought to prevent the whoring out of flawed gear under the names of their classic originals. Clearly, if previous revisions do not exhibit this problem then it is not out of the question to modify the problem out of the new line. All it takes is enough care to demand the level of workmanship expressed on

the models these manufacturers are attempting to recreate.



Dusk Bennett


Stigmata Recorders "


Further down the thread;

""What amazes me is that an AC30 contains very simple circuitry. How did they manage to screw up copying it ?"


1. Speaker driver


2. Output transformer


3. Bad layout with some goofy parasitics somewhere.


I'll almost put money on the first, though.


It's possible that putting a better driver into the thing will fix

the problem. It's also possible that you'll find something else

wrong afterward.




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Wow, that guy really seems to know his stuff. I frequent this Vox forum at the Plexi Palace and I've read equal amounts of complaints & praise from new "CC" owners...but nothing of this.


At the moment, the reverb on the AC15cc is the focus of most of the complaints. Although many guys have returned, or had repairs done to their new AC30cc amps too.


I'm just glad I got my tbx when I did.

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interesting to hear


they got a couple in recently in a local shop, and i must say i absolutely loved the sound i was getting from that amp last time i was in (using a highway 1 tele) and i havent really noticed any odd harmonics or anything


were there any specific setting you were using? one of the channels? volume above/below a certian point? reverb/trem? or is it a common background noise to the amp at any settings?


i wil have to go back and have a look and see if i can hear anything



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Weird...this is the first time I've heard about that particular issue - other complaints have been either due to a bad preamp tube or bad construction in general.


I bought my AC30CC at my local guitar shop(not a GC) where they have an excellent tech. I told them about the issues that people were having with these amps and I bought mine because they will fix any problem with it right there at the store.


Nevertheless, I haven't had any issues with mine whatsoever and it definitely has the great Vox tone.


This dude just posted a review of the amp in the reviews section and said basically the same thing...but obviously(to me) its not an issue that affected all the amps, because mine certainly doesn't have that problem.

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I didnt notice any strange noises in mine either. I'm gonna go to my practice space today and check it out. I'll also try running it through a different cab if I do hear anything, to see if it is the speakers. But if I didnt notice it before it really cant be that bad. Of course I havn't gone into the studio with it yet either.

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When you read the entire text it seems very 'right', but so does the Da Vinci Code :D


I don't take this very seriously. It's so easy to piss on Chinese construction... as if the British made Korg re-issues were very reliable !

The problem described could just be a buzz from poor Chinese pre amp tubes, could be the speaker breaking in, or just a little vibration somewhere in the combo...

Or indeed a vibration of a saddle, tiny bit fret buzz, whatever.



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Like ghost notes? Sounds like they copied the original circuit a little too closely. Back when you used to be able to get 60s Voxes for decent money in the UK I played several originals that had ghost note issues to a greater or lesser degree.

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Originally posted by ColorsoundKid

This is very true. Brand new speakers can ghost note or have undertones which are unpleasant for the first 15 hours.


So, you are presuming that the amplifiers in all the four shops were brand new, out of the box, with zero playing hours?


I find that hard to believe :D

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Originally posted by elctmist

Like ghost notes? Sounds like they copied the original circuit a little too closely. Back when you used to be able to get 60s Voxes for decent money in the UK I played several originals that had ghost note issues to a greater or lesser degree.

Yes and he doesn't even say whether he messed with the cap switch which would change the filtering.


I agree with Lefty Geek, that guy is a pompous asshole.


He should have bought one from GC changed ALL the tubes and seen if the problems went away - which they probably would. Most probs with those have been traced to crummy pre tubes. If he didn't like it after the tube change he could take it back. Some people want to complain and be jackasses.


I played an AC-30CC head through alnico blues in a store when they first came out and it sounded great. One of the switches was busted and I did worry a little about the overall quality of construction but it sounded fine. At that price I wouldn't expect it to be perfect. If that recording dude wants perfect he is going to have to dig in his wallet and get an original and then probably have it rebuilt by plexi palace or similar. Then when he hears ghost notes through that I'll guess he'll complain to the ghost of Jennings. :rolling eyes: I wonder if "Dusk" has ever heard an old Marshall ghost note and wheeze.

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I don't expect a perfect ac-30 for a grand, Robbert. Especially when I know it is made in China and when I know they have had problems with their tubes. But I understand what you are saying - it is a lot of money.


My amp costs about a thousand dollars and it is perfect, hand made and made in America - Dr Z - but it doesn't sound like a Vox.


If you want that Vox sound, you have to play by their rules. The last reissues made in England sound great but had their construction problems too. Even the originals were never that reliable (they had a lack of ventilation for one thing).


But the recording guy that threm linked to seems like he doesn't even understand tube amps. They do produce a sound, not just reproduce it in a hifi manner. They do produce all kinds of harmonics, distortions, and even phasey swirls at times. We know that but recording guy seems like he doesn't know.


If he was hearing motorboating of course that is not desirable, but it was also most certainly the pre tubes. I hate being lectured by people who don't know what they are talking about but think they know everything - Dusk sounds like one of those guys.


It reminds me of the guy trying to sell me an amp who said there was no difference between 6L6's and EL-34's in that particular amp. He was wrong. There might be minimal difference but there is a difference. Condescension sucks!


Of course to that saleman I was just a difficult customer who thought I knew too much. ;)

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Originally posted by shepherdspy

If you want that Vox sound, you have to play by their rules.

Or just buy a ptp hayseed for around the same price...made in the good ol' USA. That's what I'd do if I wanted a Vox style amp. Pretty well all the reviews of that say it's the Vox thing down...even better than the HW.


Anyway, this guy sounds pretty anal (and be thankful you're not him) but you want anal people like this to scrutinize gear so that faults have a greater chance of being picked up earlier. Since the source of the problem isn't known, it may have other implications down the track re longevity.


There seems to be a tendency to brush off problems with the new CC range as being due to crappy preamps...that's 'head in the sand' stuff IMHO.

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Actually, this "defect" sounds pretty cool to me. It's not a defect, it's a FEATURE! :D


No, but seriously, it does sound cool -- I like 'ugly' sounds, to an extent, in music. But of course, if you're playing something traditional it's not such a good idea, I guess..

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Originally posted by Klisk

Actually, this "defect" sounds pretty cool to me. It's not a defect, it's a FEATURE!

No, but seriously, it does sound cool -- I like 'ugly' sounds, to an extent, in music. But of course, if you're playing something traditional it's not such a good idea, I guess..

It needs to be switchable though.

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i have no idea what this guy is talking about...


no disharmonies with my amp - maybe it's his fingers?


the ac30cc series for me is just a very great sounding amp-


i don't care where it is made and as far as i heard the only reliability issues they had was some bad preamp tubes

on the first few amps. one korg guy just said that they did react and the preamp tubes were switched into tsung tols after they realized that the quality of the first ones wasn't as good as they expected. so when you go and buy one now the motorboating shouldn't be a problem anymore.

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