Introduced in 2003, the Vox AC30HW Series was offered in addition to the AC-30TB and AC30TBX models Vox had been selling since 1996.
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The AC30TB and AC30TBX were incredibly accurate recreations of the circuitry, cabinet, and speakers from the original Vox namesake. The major difference between original Vox AC-30 and the AC-30TB/X models was how the circuitry was implemented.
1960's era Vox amps were hand wired on tag strips. The connecting leads (or wires) from each electronic part was manually wrapped around a terminal, or "tag," and then soldered. This mode of amp construction is very labor intensive and the workmanship and accuracy of the employee building the amp will affect the performance of the product. It was for this reason that most electronics manufacturers transitioned to phenolic printed circuit boards by 1970.
Printed circuit, or "PC board" construction allows for mechanized insertion of electronic parts and automatic, or "wave" soldering for consistancy in quality. These gains were not without new issues though. PC boards can be much harder to repair. Additionally, in the event of a severe failure such as a shorted output tube there is the potential to destroy a trace on a circuit board. The AC30TB series amps were constructed on circuit boards.
By offering the AC30HW "hand wired" version of the AC-30, Vox now would allow the customer to choose between a circuit board and a tag strip wired amplifier
A design consideration for the AC30HW series was the additional costs incurred due to the inclusion of the highly complex "Vib/Trem" circuitry in the AC-30TB and TBX models. "Vib/Trem" was an original feature of JMI Vox amps made in the 1960's. The "Vib/Trem" effect was unique to the Vox AC-30. Many amps feature "tremolo." In technical terms, tremolo is "variable amplitude modulation." Simply stated, this means a pulsing of the loudness of the output amplifier at different speeds and depth. This is not a difficult effect to design into a guitar amp. Vibrato, on the other hand is "variable frequency modulation." This involves the wavering of pitch. A much more complicated circuit is needed to create the vibrato effect in a guitar amplifier. Looking at the schematic for a 1960s era Vox AC-30 with "Vib/Trem" in the image below highlights the complexity of this circuitry. The area highlighed in yellow shows the part of the circuit devoted to "Vib/Trem."
As the costly "Vib/Trem" channel was not very popular with most guitarists, it seemed like a good idea to eliminate this feature on the hand wired AC30HW Series. The savings from dropping "Vib/Trem"would allow the addition of both tremolo and a high quality reverb circuit to the AC30HW. These features were desired by most guitarists.
The additional inclusion of a "Master Volume" control would allow the new amp to be overdriven at the preamp level without excessive output levels.
Hand wired amps come at a premium price. The AC30HW combo retailed for $4000 USD. The AC30HWH retailed for $3250 USD. The V212LTD matching speaker cabinet for the AC30HWH retailed for $1350.
By 2004, the limited run of this amplifier was sold out.
The AC30HW series was the last new model made in the UK introduced by Vox. In 2005 Vox introduced new tube amp models made in China.
|Features of the AC30HW Series
Totally hand built chassis with tag terminal board construction
Custom hand wound transformers. North Coast Music supplied an origiinal 60's era AC-30 Woden output transformer to Vox to aid in the development of the tone critical output transformer
30 Watts RMS (before distortion)
Two inputs - Hi and Low
Volume control plus highly interactive Treble and Bass controls
Signature VOX Tone Cut control which attenuates high frequencies in the power amp section
Tube driven Accutronics long tank spring Reverb with Level and Tone controls
Tube driven Tremolo circuit with variable Speed and Depth controls
Master Volume control that retains tone when attenuated
Foot Switch for controlling Reverb and Tremolo