Just got myself a brand new Vox AV15. LONG READ ALERT! Background: I own 4 tube amps: Mesa Boogie Recto-verb 25 (head) going into a 2X10 cab, 1993 '65 Deluxe Reverb 1X12 combo, 1996 Hot Rod Deluxe 1X12 combo, Vox AC4TV (head) that has been put inside an Ibanez TSA 112 cab for a really light combo. I usually run about 6 pedals into any of these amps, usually modulation goes into the efx loop. I tend to work late on weekdays but want to practise at home with just a looper to work on rhythm and lead chops. Obviously the amps I currently own are way too loud for evening practise past 10pm: I live with my elderly folks, they need their night time quiet. The music I play is mainly blues, soul/jazz, pop. Guitars I auditioned with this amp are Gibson SG Classic (P90s), Levinson Blade Delta Classic (tele-style solidbody), Edwards Les Paul with Suhr Thornbuckers. How did I get to the Vox AV15: As I was looking for night-time playing along with MP3s, I looked into things like the Mesa Cab clone (based on multiple forum reports and reviews, apparently the sound was not convincing enough for the price), Torpedo C.A.B. (way too expensive) as well as digital plug-ins like Guitar Rig (I am very sensitive to latency issues). Previously also tried out a Line 6 Pod mini, which I had bought as a present for a relative, but I always felt the sound was too processed. Two friends of mine own the Yamaha THR10, but that amp's price is kind of excessive for what will basically be a headphone amp I have played through several Vox VT and Valvestate amps and was quite impressed with them in a home/rehearsal and small gig situation, where sound is concerned. Very convinced with the amplified sound, but always hated the multitude of buttons which made my Mesa look simple by comparison. Recently got to try several vox amps side-by-side: Vox AC10, Nighttrain 15 combo, VT40+, VX1 and the AV15. So I was mainly comparing the amplified sound initially and would narrow down accordingly while having an amplified sound as reference when plugging with headphones into the amps which had headphone features. In terms of tonality and sound quality I immediately liked the AC10 and AV15 more than the other amps. Why? I felt these two amps projected better, had decent-to-good headroom for their size when compared to amps I already owned as well as the ones I was demo-ing on the spot. Also, tone-wise these had way better clean and dirty tones for rhythm/lead. I also judged the amps by their breakup sounds, as well as how well they reacted to my guitar's volume knob. However, since the AC10 had no headphone-out, I did a shoot-out of the VT40+, AV15 and VX1 through headphones. Automatically, I could tell the VT40+ and VX1 were from the same family of processors and sounded pretty much the same. However, the cab simulation in either amp was not quite as organic and lacking depth when compared to the AV15, which had the bright, fat, bias and reactor switches in addition to the superior cab simulation to further tweak the sound. But more on that later. So let's look into the control panel, and some basic functionality: INPUT: a basic metal jack with plastic washer. I'm SO glad vox has moved on from the ****ty plastic jack with hex nut that always comes out. I always looked askance at any amp that had those nuts, including my Fender HRDx. ON/OFF switch - this is a departure from the world of amps as we normally know it: you press the button and hold it down until the mod/delay/reverb buttons and "valve" light come on. Hold it down again to turn the amp off. EFFECTS: There are 3 effects you can apply to your sound: chorus (modulation), delay and reverb. Each of these effects is controlled by one knob. Some people will hate this, but as I primarily only use reverb, I am unconcerned with this functionality. You access the effects by pressing any of the buttons to activate it. You press the respective button again (the button will blink) to use the knob to dial in the amount of effect you want. Chorus goes from subtle to pretty wet, but never too warbly or "dissonant". Delay is passable, and you can adjust the number of repeats or the amplitude of the delay repeats by pressing the button down a second time. The reverb is a sort-of room reverb sound, you can dial in anything from barely-there to washed-out if that's your kind of thing. Preamp Circuits: There are 8 preamp sections to choose from. You get a Fender blackface, Fender Tweed, Vox AC15, Vox AC30TB, Mid-gain Marshall, High-gain Marshall, SLO and Mesa Boogie style amps. Each of them sound good in their own right, but the amps' respective sounds do require some tweaking in the tone stack and valve stage section in order to sound their best. Tone Stack: You get your basic preamp gain, Treble, Mids, Bass, Master Volume and Power Stage, which emulates the amount of power being sent to output tubes. Valve Stage: Bright(on/off), Fat(on/off), Bias (shift), Reactor (more). On an anecdotal level, I find each of these switches working bets depending on which preamp circuit you go with, and what kind of sound you are after: modern or vintage? As mentioned earlier, each parameter does have a significant impact on the resultant sound hitting your ears, so it's pretty much tweak-to-taste, which can be enjoyable if you're a tweaker, or troublesome depending on whether you're just plug-n-play. AUX & HEADPHONES: this is the main thing I got the amps for: you get two 1/8" (3.5mm) jack to plug your phone/mp3 player into, and a headphone output. Sound quality: The AV15 is certainly a step-up from the valvetronix era, the analogue circuitry in the preamp section is flexible and works well with the digital effects section. The 8" speaker works well and is articulate, the notes are not mushy unless you really push it into uber high gain. I'm no metal player but the high-gain sounds are certainly not as noisy as some modelling amps (IME Line 6 is a real culprit here). It's not a gigging amp as the amp will not fill a bar, but for cafe gigs and sitting around with your pals having a jam at home, it will push a some air, just don't expect a wall of sound. In comparing with a "proper" tube amp, the AV15 responds similarly to the amps I already own. It cleans up well when I roll off the volume pot on any of my Gibson or Fender-style instruments, and the amp is dynamic enough to have the extra grit when you dig in deep. The gain structure is reminiscent of the amps which the preamp section tries to emulate, but as expected, the sag and sponginess is hard to recreate due to the variables in things like tubes, speakers etc. When using the headphone output and Aux input, I found the mp3 audio to be reasonably transparent; obviously, the end-result sound depends on the type of headphones you use. I tried an over-ear AKG K550s and in-ear Audio-technica IM70s, and I preferred the IM70s as they had a more balanced tonality, which brought out the bass and depth of the guitar sound a lot more. Build quality: I must say that when I first lifted this amp up, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty lightweight. The AC4TV 10" combo I used to own was much heavier by comparison, even though it was more compact. At 17lbs (7.7kg) it is lighter than a pedaltrain pro loaded with a dozen pedals. It's definitely WAY lighter than my deluxe reverb. The chassis is a vinyl-clad chipboard sealed box with ported front baffle. It feels reassuringly solid even though there is a lack of corner protectors. The knobs feel decent when turning, but I am concerned about the Aux and headphones jacks which feel like they're just soldered onto a PCB. The same goes for the tiny ON/OFF button which feels more calculator than hi-fi product. Power cabling is a laptop-style plug>transformer>barrel-type plug. No other jacks on the rear. Conclusion: I like this amp. This is a great tool for beginners who want a palette of sounds but don't want too much complications in the control panel. Likewise, this works for those of us who have larger and fancier amps but feel weird plugging their guitars into smaller units. Maybe it's a perception thing, but this sounds and feels more amp-like than any of the other emulators on the market. I cannot compare to the Boss Katana units, but I know this sounds better than the old Roland cube series. I also previously played the immensely popular Vox Pathfinder 15R, and this beats it hands down where sound quality is concerned. I did not pay full price for it (bought second hand off a guy who kept it in his wardrobe for 3 months and only took it out for night time practising) but I would have happily paid the $229 for it brand new. The biggest selling points are fundamentally, the light weight, great analogue preamp circuitry, extra tweakability in the valve stage section and the super usable headphone tones for night-time playing. Cons are the lack of efx loop, digital reverb (just my thing, feel free to disagree); also the cheesy blue light that is OBVIOUSLY not coming from the tube, but Vox is not the only culprit here. Hope this review has been useful! Do share your thoughts and comparisons if you have done your own.