The Vox AC4HW1 Amplifier

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The hand wired AC4HW1 combo amp was introduced by Vox at the January 2012 NAMM Music Show in Anaheim, California. It joined the hand wired AC15HW1 and AC30HW2 Vox introduced in 2010.

Let's see how the AC4HW1 stacked up to the 1962 JMI Vox AC-4.

The original 1962 Vox AC-4 had a four tube circuit that included one 12AX7 and one EF86 preamp tube, one EL-84 power tube, and one EZ80 rectifier tube. The preamp section had just three controls: volume, tone and tremolo speed. A single button foot switch actuated the tremolo effect. The four watt, single-ended output amp section powered an 8" Elac speaker.

Both the JMI AC-4 and the Vox AC4HW1 circuitry featured point-to-point hand wired construction. The JMI AC-4 used hook shaped tags riveted to a brown bakelite strip to support the hand wired components. The AC4HW1 utilized barrel shaped turret lugs mounted to a similar bakelite strip.

When Vox designed the AC4HW1, they chose to not clone the circuitry of the JMI AC-4. Vox retained the concept of the original amp while updating it in numerous ways.

The AC4HW1 had two 12AX7 preamp tubes and one EL84 tube. Vox modernized the power supply of the AC4HW1 by replacing the EZ80 rectifier tube from the original JMI Vox AC-4 with a bridge of diodes. The new, more efficient power supply added usable audio headroom to the AC4HW1.

When designing the tone control circuitry for the AC4HW1, Vox abandoned the single passive "cut" control used in the original AC-4 in favor of the classic Vox "Top Boost" tone circuit. "Top Boost" added active bass and treble controls to the AC4HW1 control panel.

The AC4HW1 also added a "Hot/Cool" switch to the amplifier. Selecting the "Cool" setting gave the amp a clean and chimey tone that could be mildly overdriven. The "Hot" setting eliminated the tone controls from the circuit, freeing the preamp tubes to deliver maximum gain.

The "Hot/Cool" circuit could be controlled either by a control panel toggle switch or with the VFS1 single button foot switch, included with the amplifier. Please view the Vox AC4HW1 video at the bottom of this page to hear the "HotCool" circuit in action.

Tremolo was not included in the AC4HW1.

The AC4HW1 was equipped with a 12" 16 ohm Celestion Greenback speaker. This addition required a significantly larger cabinet than the JMI AC-4 which was equipped with an 8" Elac speaker. The larger speaker and enclosure allowed the AC4HW1 to have significantly inproved output and tone when compared to the JMI Vox AC-4. An extension jack allowed a second 16 ohm enclosure to be connected to the AC4HW1.

The enclosure was constructed from birch plywood with brown Vox diamond grill and "fawn" vinyl reminiscent of the vinyl used by Vox in their 1990-92 era AC-30 amplifiers and extension cabinets.

A cloth protective cover with a screened Vox logo was included with the amplifier.

The AC4HW1 was built by Vox in Vietnam.

Model Dimensions Weight MSRP Street Price
AC4HW1 16 x 17.7 x 10.25 inches 29.7 lbs $1100 $799



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