Gear Review: It’s Here! Aracom Amps VRX22
2009 by goofydawg
The article below is an excerpt from guitargear.org's VRX22 review
Summary: This brand-new 22 watter is the newest in the Aracom low-wattage amp series now called the Vintage Rox or VRX series, which includes the original RoxBox 18 (now called the VRX18). Loaded with a pair of 6V6 power tubes, this amp oozes vintage American clean and dirty tone ala Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Pros: More clean headroom in Channel 1 as compared to its EL84-based 18 Watt sibling. And despite its lower wattage rating, this amp is capable of getting LOUD! Plus the VRX series sports what I think are the best power switching and master volume in the business!
Price: $895 Head / $995-$1095 for Combo (dep. on speaker)
- (2) 6V6 Power Tubes
- (3) 12AX7 Preamp Tubes
- S.S. Rectifier with “sag” circuit
- Hi/Low B+ voltage switch (22/10 watts)
- On/Off Switch
- Indicator Lamp
- Custom Heavy Duty Aluminum Chassis
- Custom Wound Transformers
- 4, 8, 16 ohm Speaker Jacks
- Custom HandcraftedTurret Board
Tone Bone Rating: 5.0 (out of 5) - Jeff Aragaki has hit the ball out of the park with this amp!
How It Sounds
I’m not going to rehash features here, since the features are the same as the original VRX18 (RoxBox 18) that I reviewed a few months ago. Again, the fundamental difference is the use of 6V6’s.
Channel 1 is bright and gorgeous. It’s chimey as you’d expect from a classic Tweed sound, but it’s amazingly very lush as well - which is where this amp is really distinct. The words that come to mind with this clean channel are “subltely sensuous.” It’s not like a hot chick dressed in a tight mini skirt. It’s more akin to a gorgeous woman dressed in a simple cotton summer dress who doesn’t need any makeup to enhance her looks, and she has nothing to prove. She just looks to be all-woman. The net result is that you’re just drawn into aura without really knowing why - nor caring. The clean channel of the VRX22 has a similar effect on me. It’s just a gorgeous tone with any guitar (though I especially loved play “Pearl,” my Strat through it. The raw tone just draws you in, and when you add effects, it just handles them beautifully.
Channel 2 is also bright and ballsy, but its breakup is incredibly smooth. This is the channel where I think Jeff has really hit the ball out of the park. One of the things that has bugged me about the power tube distortion in a lot of Tweed-types of amps is the harsh grind from the power tubes that you oftentimes have to tame with some filter cap and capacitor changes - it’s a bit too open. Not so with this amp. The “hidden” gain stage that acts as a tube overdrive pedal that’s always on helps smooth out the distortion by making it a bit tighter, but not so much that you lose that openness that you expect from a Tweed-type amp. I loved slamming the front-end of the amp with tons of input gain, and pushing both pre-amp and power tubes at the same time. Talk about compression and sustain!
I just can’t rave about this amp more! To me, it’s the perfect balance of tone and power for practically all my needs!
You can’t go wrong with this amp. Yes, it’s priced for value, but the tone that you get for that far surpasses anything that I’ve played at these lower wattages.
Click here for sound clips of the Vintage Rox VRX22, including one by Brendan “Goofydawg” Delumpa:
GuitarGear.org is an awesome Guitar Gear blog site. Content includes; unbiased review on gear, Products "Found", tips, interesting articles and more. You'll enjoy the excellent writing style of Brendan "GoofyDawg" Delumpa. In his 35+ years of playing the guitar, Brendan has developed a very good ear for tone and knows a lot about gear and proper set up. GuitarGear.org is refreshingly a non-commercial site; you can count on their honest reviews. The only Gear Review posted on this site is equipment that Brendan personally uses or likes enough to be considered part of his own rig. So when you have a G.A.S.(Gear Acquisition Syndrome) attack, visit guitargear.org before you buy.
For the complete
review on the Vintage Rox VRX22 amplifier as well as reviews on other ARACOM
Amplifier products visit guitargear.org.