Ever since Orange broke new ground with the Tiny Terror a few years ago, there’s been a surge in giggable mini guitar heads. But the question is: are they any good? Let’s see if a look at the new Vox MV50 can help us to answer this question…
Big, loud guitar amps are part of rock’n’roll mythology. You can’t imagine Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin onstage with only a 20-watt amp with a 1×12 cab, can you? But, back in the real world in 2017, things are a little bit different. As we mentioned on a previous blog, amps don’t need to be too loud now. Most guitarists, if not playing stadiums, will be more than happy with smaller, quieter and more affordable guitar amps. Perhaps that explains the popularity of mini amps!
But one question remains: how BIG does an amp have to be? The answer seems to be… not very big! Since Orange released the ground-breaking Tiny Terror head 10 years ago, the trend for mini and micro heap amps has only become more popular – and the new Vox MV50 amp, announced at the last NAMM show in January 2017, just reinforces this trend.
The MV50 is very affordable – which in a way might get in the way of some people fully appreciating it. Why? Because guitarists who buy a “budget” gear usually do so because, well, they are on a tighter budget. So it follows that a potential buyer will get a MV50 because they can’t afford a bigger and more expensive head – which probably means they’ll use the MV50 with a cheaper and not very great cab, too! In this case – you can expect the MV50 to sound poor!
However – if you do have a great cab, you might choose the MV50 for the right reasons: because it sounds pretty good and it’s so tiny and light! The price tag, then, becomes just a welcome bonus. So, just as with the best mini/micro head amps out there, the MV50 sounds good and is very useable – if you use it correctly, ie., paired with a good cab!
Check this demo, comparing the MV50 against a Vox AC15 (also featuring an Airline 59 3P):
There’s no doubt that today, in 2017, mini amps such as the MV50 can be good enough for rocking out, not just at home but at gigs. Of course, many of us guitarists are not creatures of logic. We’ll stick to big, loud amps – because they rock, and a tiny amp will never look as cool… maybe Jimi was right all along!
What about YOU? What kind of amp do you prefer? Post your comments and let us know!
11 thoughts on “Vox MV50 Review: Are Mini Amps Any Good?”
I definitely prefer smaller wattage amps. I have 5 amps, none over 25 watts, and the higher wattage one at 25 is my bass amp, all my guitar amps are 20 and under. I live in a condo, I record at home, and I don’t gig much anymore, and the last time I did, my micro amp was fine with a 4×12 and a mic to the PA.
There are more “bedroom” guitarists than touring musicians, and even a lot of touring musicians go for inexpensive road gear, if their van or bus gets broken into, they want to be able to replace their gear, if it breaks, would you rather shell out 2,000 or 200 dollars?
Lunchbox amps are the best thing to happen for guitarists, and I’m happy to see more major brands take them seriously. The saying “good tone isn’t cheap” is going away, which I am happy for.
I have an Orange micro terror run through a VOX Nightrain 12″ cabinet – sounds great and plenty loud enough. If I need to go louder it goes through the PA.
Forget the tacky Vox stuff — try the pedal-sized Quilter Microblock 45 or the new Quilter 101 Reverb. Quilter has cured me of my tolerance for big, heavy, high-maintenance tube amps — and that’s coming from a guy whose first amp with an immense blackface Dual Showman purchased circa 1967!
Wow never heard of that! Sounds impressive we’ll need to check it out!
Compared to eg a fender mustang v2 amp 100 watts I cant see too much advantage yet. I mean it has: if u live in a getto of a gigacity like in NYC or even a more crowded place where u prefer to travel by a scooter (eg Hanoi) and concert halls are actually just room sized, a really hypster environment, it must work. But u still need 2 cabinets to compete d drum (hm.. a full tube amp’s 50 watts is probaly more than this hybrid’s one) and ur effects.
And if u use it only itself ur sound will be not unique as everybody ll have d same (which I dont mind bc the sound must be in ur playing style)
I have both the MV 50 Clean and AC models, and run them thru a Suhr 1×12 cab (one at a time, of course). Using the Clean with a pedalboard is way more than enough to compete with the drummer in the fusion band I play in, and believe me, at less than halfway up on the volume, would get me complaints from lots of small club managers, lol. I haven’t used the AC in a live gigging situation, but it’s tone is amazing for what it is. I’ve put my big amps in the garage, and my back thanks me for it.
I bought the MV50 clean and the accompanying vox 12 inch cab. I play in a pub covers band and have found this amp to be an absolute revelation… loud, ballsy and so bloody light and compact. I use a boss multi-fx pedal which fits into a flight case with my amp head and power cables. So much better than dragging big old tube amps around. Absolutely brilliant and I’d say to anyone, put your prejudices and snobbery to one side and try one out!
I use an MV50, replacing my ZT Lunchbox. Both loud enough for gigs thru a 4×12 cab. Need the right cab to take advantage of the great tone, but that’s the case with even the best of amps.
If you had the matching ZT Lunchbox Cab for your ZT and used it with your Vox MV50, that would make a nice little comparison shootout video @Steve Reese .. getting an affordable/budget priced speaker cabinet that sounds decent too would be the next element in the chain. Do you stick with the VOX BC108 or splurge a bit more for the VOX BC112 or VOX V112NT Night Train or Engl E110 Gigmeister or another budget option like the Orange PPC108 or from Laney, Peavey, Jet City, Blackstar, Bugera, Marshall MX112, Boss Katana, etc
I bought an MV50 Rock along with a 160watt 2×12 cab and it not only sounds great but is more than loud enough for gigs! I had to turn down because I was drowning out our drummer! I would definately suggest this amp to anyone looking for a gigable amp in a small package.
I’m a big fan of the MV 50 amps. I have the clean, AC and rock versions, and will soon purchase the boutique.
I do have a few hang ups about some minor aspects of these. The biggest is not having a send and return for modulation. For an amp with no effects, that would make sense. Perhaps the next generation will offer that, but they are so cheap and sound so good with more than enough volume, these little Issues are not a deal breaker for me.