Vox Cambridge50

Discussion in 'Modeling Amps, Plugins and Apps' started by LGOberean, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    It doesn't bother me when price is brought into it; that's a very real consideration. If money were no issue, I would have already ordered a Cambridge50, and would already own a couple of Mini Super Beetles, and a BOSS Nextone Artist. Oh, yeah, and I'd hunt down another Peavey Bandit 65, to replace the one that was stolen, and I'd hunt down a Red Stripe Bandit, just to compare the two. And oh, yeah, I'd have Bob Logan do some pickup and wiring changes on two of my Logan Customs, just because I want to experiment. And of course I'd get another Logan Custom guitar or two...or three...maybe I'd see if I could persuade him to make me an amp extension cabinet out of some of that leftover Long Leaf Pine I salvaged...

    Wait...what was this thread about again...? o_O:twisted:
     
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  2. Stratguy70

    Stratguy70 TDPRI Member

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  3. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting video here... especially good for how the Cambridge cleans up with the guitar volume. The second half of the video is Vox's new range of pedals.

     
  4. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Well, lektronix ain’t never been a hobby of mine, and I ain’t never had me no kolige edumacashun, so I din’t follow all that. :oops::twisted:

    The idea of NuTube technology interests me. That said, I’m not personally comparing it to traditional tube amp performance, because I can’t. I’ve never owned a tube amp, and probably never will. I have test driven tube amps in stores and played through them at friends’ houses, and once recorded some things in a studio through an AC15, but I’ve never lived with one of my own, so it would be foolish of me to speak to a comparison.

    Although I started playing guitar in 1967, it was acoustic guitar. I bought my first ever electric guitar (a tele, of course) in 2008, and my first amp for electric guitar that same year. Since I was playing gigs with an acoustic/electric, I was gigging with a Crate TX50 “Limo” amp. The instrument input had two channels, one for acoustic/electric guitar, one for electric. The former channel sounded good, the latter, meh.

    Tom, a friend who’s quite possibly the best guitarist I know, has been playing strats and teles for half a century, through tube amps. When we were talking about the inadequacy of that Crate Limo for my newly acquired tele, he was talking tube amps, but also offered me an old Bandit neither he nor his wife was using. I didn't take him up on the offer, but the recommendation struck a familiar chord. My younger brother had been in a rock band in the ‘80s, and had used a Peavey T-60 into a Bandit, and I had played that rig of his back in the day. So I bought a 1984 Bandit 65 off of eBay, and was really happy with the sound. I wound up with several Peavey amps (another Bandit, Studio Pros, Envoy 110s).

    Then in 2011, after reading here on TDPRI about the Vox Pathfinder 15R, I got my first chance to play through one on February 22, 2011, in a local pawn shop. I snapped it up, and subsequently bought two more, because I knew I would always want this amp in my amp arsenal.

    So in my experience the technology that enables one to get a good tone and responsive amp has been around for more than three and a half decades. I’ve learned in the last dozen years that I like a warm and/or beefy clean and that I like Vox chime and crunch. But the tone I’m listening for isn’t only associated with tubes. The feel, the responsiveness of the amp I’m playing through is not judged based on decades of tube experience. So to me, that “Blunt” opinion comparing NuTube to old tube is irrelevant. :twisted:
     
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  5. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    I haven't tried the new Vox Cambridge amp, but Vox's previous generation of modeling amps (VTX series) is terrific. VTXs use a 12ax7 preamp tube instead of nutube. The VTX's tweed, AC, Marshall, and boutique clean tones are gorgeous. I have no opinion on whether they sound like real tweed, AC, Marshall, or Dumble amps, only that they sound great in the room. I can't judge their super hi-gain models because that's not my bag. The only model I'm not especially happy with is their version of a blackface amp. It's a nice enough clean sound, I suppose, but rather flat to my ear and without a Twin's sparkle.

    According to the Cambridge manual (available from the Vox website), the amp can be connected to a computer or phone and edited with the Toneroom software. But looking at the Cambridge's top panel, I can see right away that it would be easier to control directly from the amp than the VTX series is. Setting up a VTX through a computer is simple (and fun, if you like that sort of thing), but doing it from the amp involves a lot of button pushing and interpreting blinking lights. The Cambridge's control layout looks friendlier to players who prefer twiddling knobs over scrolling through menus and pressing buttons repeatedly.

    The Cambridge uses an external power converter (like a laptop's power supply), the same as the VTX series. I'm not a fan of that setup because it puts yet another thing on the floor to trip over, and god forbid you lose or forget that special power cord. I suppose it has some electronic advantage. At least the Cambridge has an open back so you can store the bulky cord inside during transport.

    These look like very nice amps. I'll probably skip this generation of Vox modelers because I'm still happy with the previous generation, but I'm definitely keeping my eye on them.
     
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  6. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks for that perspective, and for posting the link to the Cambridge50 owner's manual. When I went to the Vox web page for that amp, I couldn't find a link to the manual.

    I've liked what I've heard thus far, as far as the first half dozen models go. If what I'm hearing in videos will hold true for what it sounds like in the room, then the Boutique Clean and AC30 (clean) would get the most use. For crunchier stuff, the Top Boost and Boutique OD. I might occasionally use the Brit 1959. Beyond that, I'd probably never use those models in performance or even experiment with them too much at home. I've got the Vox VFS2, so I can use that to switch between user programs A and B.

    There is something about the amp model aspect of this amp that I kind of wonder about. I like a 2 channel layout, where you get a tone/amp model you like clean and then with the push of a button or click of a footswitch button you go from clean to dirty. With this amp, I'd have to switch amp models to go from clean to dirty tones, i.e., from Boutique CL to OD, or AC30 to TB.

    Hopefully, an eventual test drive will allay any fears in that regard. Although in practice I had the same concern when test driving the Katana 50.
     
  7. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    The big footswitch stores 8 different choices in two banks of four... so would it be possible to set up one bank to (say) have AC30 clean, a bit of drive, more drive, lots of drive and do the same for the Boutique on the other bank?

    Plus, the drive looks very controllable from the guitar vol, so having a clean and a heavy crunch/lead for four different models would be possible. This is where I get option paralysis and think that just an MV50AC or Boutique or Clean would be best... but I like having a reverb built in and... and... and... *sigh*

    So... a quick trawl around UK shops gives...

    MV50 heads... £150
    VX50 GTV... £220
    Cambridge 50... £275
    Super Beetle... £310

    So the Cambridge is cheaper than two MV50 heads and it has a speaker and reverb etc
    The Super Beetle is super cute... but Vox have thrown it under the bus with the Cambridge.
    I imagine the VX50 GTV will be discontinued??

    It really is a no-brainer.
     
  8. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I haven't priced the VFS5, but since I already have the VFS2 and I really don't employ a lot of changes during a performance, I probably won't spring for the "big footswitch" anytime soon. I've never saved a preset or used one, in performance or at home, so I think I can get by with the amp and what I've got.

    Your probably right about controlling overdrive tones via the guitar's volume. Plus, two of my teles (including my primary gigging tele) each have a 4-way switch, with that 4th position being both pickups in series. So with amp settings clean, position #4 is like a clean boost with the flick of the switch. If the amp's set to edge of breakup, then that series configuration kicks it on into a nice, usable overdrive.

    Oh, and it looks like prices are better for us on these items. Taking your listing, I added to each line the equivalent in US dollars to your prices in British pound sterling, followed by the price listings on Sweetwater Music.

    MV50 heads... £150 = $195.38 = $195.81 (Clean) $219.99 (all the rest)
    VX50 GTV... £220 = $286.56 = $229.99
    Cambridge 50... £275 = $358.20 = $299.99
    Super Beetle... £310 = $403.79 = $329.99

    So yes, the Cambridge50 is cheaper than a couple of MV50 heads, not even counting the cost of a 1x12" speaker cabinet. And like you I would expect the VX50 GTV to be discontinued before too long. And I agree that the MSB25 is just so darn cute. When they first came out, it felt like you were getting an MV50 AC with additional features (expanded EQ, reverb, tremolo and a speaker cabinet with a 10" speaker). Now if you chose the MSB over the C50, it feels like you're getting less features and paying more for "cute." Oh, why didn't I buy one a year ago?!?
     
  9. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    Wow - the US prices are almost dollar equivalent to us. It doesn't surprise me... the UK economy is heading rapidly down the pan for obvious reasons. :(
     
  10. jageya

    jageya Tele-Holic

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    nothing new really....the old valvetronix blue amps and older vtx300 used the similar tech but with 12ax7/ eec tubes. Blueamp uses this similar tech as the olde vr valvetronix amps but with a smaller tiny tube- the nutube isnt actually a tube though from what i gather is it? Where as the bluamp nanotube is actually a tiny tube?
     
  11. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Everything I’ve read says that NutTube is a type of tube, developed from vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) technology, and has an anode, cathode and grid. Korg’s claim is that “Nutube, similar to a conventional vacuum tube, has an anode filament structure, and operates exactly as a triode vacuum tube.” [1]

    And if you want something other than the inventor’s claim, more than two years ago Karl Woodward referred to Nutube as "a new tube on the market," and spoke of its advantages being low power, safe operating voltages, high reliability and its small size. Its disadvantages are low gain and high source impedance. [2]

    Another source described NuTube as “a miniature, low-power dual directly-heated triode device.” [3]


    [1] https://korgnutube.com/en/

    2] Karl Woodward, “Design of a Korg Nutube Amplifier, Part 1: Tube Basics.” 27 Oct 2017. https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/design-of-a-korg-nutube-amplifier-part-1-tube-basics

    [3] https://diyaudiostore.com/products/korg-nutube
     
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  12. Stratguy70

    Stratguy70 TDPRI Member

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    Never mind all that, ...does it sound good?
    If it's anything like almost every previous Vox, and from most of the demos, I think there's a good chance.

    I believe that it has a wood cab too, as previously asked.
     
  13. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Agreed. Based on my experiences with the MSB comparing quality videos to what I've personally heard/played, I believe the AC30 tones of the Cambridge50 will be good. And that gives me hope for the Boutique options. Those would be the models I'd probably use the most.

    And yes, a wooden cabinet, although I haven't seen any details on whether it's LDF, MDF or plywood.
     
  14. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Well, my wife had some shopping to do at a store that was literally across the street from the local GC, so I had her drop me off there. Of the Vox amp offerings that have come out in the last couple of years, the only ones they had are a couple of Mini Super Beetles, one with the iconic AC style tolex and brown grill cloth, the other the Union Jack. I didn't bother to ask to plug into them, for two reasons: I've test driven one 3-4 times before, and there were several guys already plugged into amps doing test drives of their own. And I was hoping to test drive the Cambridge50, which they didn't have. There is another store, Clawson's Music, but it's on the other side of town, so not today. Maybe tomorrow...
     
  15. scattitude

    scattitude TDPRI Member

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    So gents, I went and purchased a Cambridge 50 recently. I also own their mini palm-sized clean version - MV-50. In addition, I have tube amps (D-style, Mesa etc.) and I'll offer my first impressions:

    - I purchased this amp as a lightweight, all-in-one, grab-and-go amp for rehearsals, jam sessions and non-boutique-tone-dependent gigs. It can get plenty loud and for these purposes, it is an inexpensive, quality product that does the job.

    - The cabinet is wood construction - not super-rugged, but helps with the tone.

    - The Nu-tube technology is actually pretty cool. I would describe it as offering maybe 75% of the expressiveness and tube-chime and warmth you would get from a pure tube amp. It definitely is better than the typical pure-digital modeling amps without this tech. Not too far from the older Vox 12AX7 hybrids; except that you never have to worry about replacing the tube and might even be a bit more expressive.

    - I've tried the Fender and Boss modeling amps, and for my taste, they just don't breathe like this one. The Cambridge 50 can really 'bark'. I base this upon very simple tones - clean and light overdrive. When you use heavy distortion and FX, it almost doesn't matter what the design is.

    - The DSP effects are excellent and very true to their original brand-name counterparts.

    - The amp models are nice and give a good variety for live use.

    - Using the VFS-5 footswitch, you can have 8 user presets.

    - The iOS version of the app currently supports the amp, but the Mac version does not. I expect they will have an update for Mac. You get access to a few additional parameters (Mid-EQ, Noise Reduction etc.) through the app, and presets can be saved in the app as well.

    OK, for the negatives...

    - the power-supply is non-standard (19v), so you will be dependent upon it. In addition, the barrel-plug attaches to the back; so I modded it with a cable-clamp to keep it in place. The AC end of the adapter is not a standard IEC 320/C13 connector; rather it uses and IEC 320/C5 (which is more rare, but I actually like the design better).

    - the back is REALLY open, which I don't think hurts the sound quality. I added a 3" bottom-lip to help keep accessories inside when moving the amp.

    - the model-selector knob is detented; but is sort of a soft-click - i.e. the knob moves like a regular pot. So you need to make sure it has really clicked into place when selecting amp models.

    - no dedicated line-out, but you can use the headphone-out as a line-out with cab-sim if you need one.

    Other than that, I really dig it. A great value for $300.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  16. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Okay, first of all, @scattitude welcome to TDPRI. I can already tell your thought through and well-worded contributions to this forum will be helpful to all of us here.

    That was a wonderful first impressions/review of the Cambridge50. Very insightful and very helpful and most welcome to me personally. You made quite a few points that I related to/identified with.

    I’m not sure I have the exact same definition of “non-boutique-tone-dependent” gigs, but I relate to that in comparing it in my mind to a couple of gigs at small-ish outdoor venues that I’ve got coming up.

    My experience with NuTube technology is limited to the 3-4 times I’ve test driven the Vox Mini Super Beetle in our local GC. The tone and expressiveness relates well to my one instance of recording in a studio with an AC15, and to my Pathfinder 15Rs.

    The only BOSS modeling amp I’ve tried is a Katana 50, a couple of times in a couple of different local stores. The tone wasn’t bad on the Clean and Crunch, but the effects layout didn’t strike me as all that user-friendly, or advantageous for making changes on the fly in gigging situations.

    I definitely related to the use of the amp with clean and light overdrive. I would have no use for the Katana's "Brown," or even the Cambridge50's higher gain models like the "Double Rec." And I couldn't agree more that beyond a certain point with heavy distortion, the amp design doesn't really matter. I'm not an aficionado of fuzz or a connoisseur of crunch. As far as I'm concerned, like the old Brylcreem ads said, "A little dab'll do ya." After a point, it just becomes irritating noise to me.

    I have the VFS2, which would allow me to switch between user programs A and B. For me, I don’t think I would need much more than that.

    Could you provide some pics of the mods you made to compensate for the negatives you encountered, i.e., the cable clamp and the 3” bottom lip you added to the back of the cab?

    Again, welcome, and thanks for your input. I look forward to more conversations, and please be patient with me if I ply you with questions about this amp.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
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  17. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Holic

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    I've become a big fan of Vox's modeling amps, so I've been watching this thread with interest. I'm a little disappointed in the models included here... The ones I have include very nice Bassman and AC15 models. I'm not so much a fan of the hi gain modes, which this one seems to include plenty of.
     
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  18. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Although I don't have experience with Vox' previous modeling amps you alluded to (Valvetronix? AV?), I agree that the Cambridge50 and the VX50 GTV before it both lean toward high gain models. The amp models past the "Brit 1959" would probably never get used in any gig of mine. But even so, that still leaves me with 3 clean models (including the AC30 model as clean), and the Boutique OD and AC30TB models for crunch, plus the "Line" for an acoustic/electric, although in most cases live I'd opt for my Fishman Loudbox Mini for my a/e guitars.
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. jageya

    jageya Tele-Holic

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    GREAT review....i think vox with the valve reactor tech and now nutube stuff is really ahead of the game and laways have been in many ways. My only issue has been that after the blue older ad60/120vtx amps and the vtx300 they really dropped the ball and cheapened amps after that. Remember they were going to release an amp like in 2008 called black diamond vtx200 or something which was a next step in vr tech and showed demos at namm but then poof just canceled it. too bad..would have bought that 1-2-3
    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/vox-launches-new-black-diamond-amplifier-1

    I also see thomas blug from bluamp 1 and bluampx is using a nano tube in the same fashion as the olde vox valvetronix amps VR but charging alot more and many have said its very tubelike in dynamics.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  20. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Holic

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    I have a tiny little Mini3 G2 that I picked up when I got back into playing a few years ago, and an AV60 I got last year on clearance for $229... The AV60 is a really nice amp that for some reason never made a dent in the market, and is now discontinued.

    All the models on these two up to the 50s Marshall are very nice, when they get much gainier than that they get less impressive IMO, but I play clean 99% of the time so it's fine with me. The Fender models are a Twin and a Bassman, and they're more Fendery than some of Fender's own models!

    I'm curious about the NuTubes in this Cambridge... Will have to track one down to hear in person! Vox's recent amps are wonderful.
     
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