Vox has put their famous Top Boost preamp in a little single ended package called the VOX AC4C1-BL. This is a full featured little amplifier that packs two 12AX7 preamp tubes, one EL84 output tube and comes with a 10″ Celestion speaker.
The Top Boost preamp includes a full tone stack and uses half of one 12AX7 as a cathode follower. The cathode follower, without getting technical, adds it’s own slightly compressed quality to the amp’s tone and lowers the insertion loss of the tone stack. Less insertion loss means more gain. The preamp requires two 12AX7s rather than the one in other single ended amps like a Fender Champ for example.
The AC4C1-BL definitely has the retro look down. On the one hand it reminds me of an old suitcase that you find in your grandma’s attic. On the other hand it has a very old school, classy/cool British look that makes you think Cavern Club.
The controls include the Treble and Bass knobs for the Top Boost tone stack. There are Gain and Volume controls so I guess that is a master volume setup which is a little unusual for a top boost arrangement but it’s a nice addition to enable some low volume flexibility.
From the Vox Website:
The AC30’s Top Boost sound has fascinated guitarists around the world for over fifty years. Capable of massive crunch or the clean, classic “chime,” this Top Boost tone is the essence of VOX’s identity. The AC4C1-BL now delivers this unbeatable sound in a portable, compact body. Gain control, Bass and Treble tone controls, and a Master Volume allow any player to easily recreate this historic sound. Remarkable not only for its authentic VOX sound, the AC4C1-BL is also captivating in its appearance.
- Output Power: 4 Watts RMS into 16 Ohms
- Tube Complement: Preamp: 12AX7 (x2) Power: EL84 (power)
- Speaker: 10″ Celestion VX10 custom (x1); 16 ohm
- Controls: Gain, Treble, Bass, Volume
- Terminals: Input (¼’) External Speaker output
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 350 x 210 x 350 mm / 13.78 x 8.27 x 13.78 inches
- Weight: 9.0 Kg / 19.84 lbs
- Accessory: Power cord, VFS1 Foot Switch, Dustcover
This is a pretty nice sounding amp and has a good amount of gain. This video has the AC4CBL along with the AC4HW1 and both sound really good to me.