If you need a portable guitar amplifier that offers a wide range of complex clean and overdrive sounds, you should give the Vox Night Train a try.
Vox amps are the stuff of amplification legend. Along with Fender’s clean sounds and Marshall’s crunch tones, the Vox “chime” has defined everyone’s sound from the Beatles to Brian May. It would be easy for them to rest on their laurels. However, they’ve done just the opposite. The Vox Night Train series is evidence that Vox thinks of new ways to accommodate player needs, especially players who have no desire to haul around 80 lb combo amps or huge amp stacks. But how does it sound? The answer might surprise you.
Weighing in at 17 lbs, the Vox Night Train NT15H is a 15-watt amplifier powered by 2 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 EL84 power amp tubes. The front panel sports a single input and controls for gain, treble, middle, bass, and volume. There’s also a bright/thick switch and an output mode switch which gives you the choice between pentode (15 watts) or triode (7.5 watts) mode and also functions as a standby switch. The rear panel features both 8 ohm and 16 ohm outputs. A padding carrying case is also included.
My test guitars were a reissue 1962 Fender Telecaster, a Gibson SG Standard, and a PRS Custom 24. I used the Vox 1×12 cabinet designed for the amp and a Bogner 2×12 cabinet. I decided to give the clean sound a first test, since in my experience it’s far harder to get a complex clean sound than an overdriven one, especially in smaller amplifiers.
Of course, that was before I heard the Night Train
I placed the amp in pentode mode with the bright switch engaged, put the gain at around 5, plugged in the Telecaster, and was in clean tone heaven! The EQ was very responsive and try as I could the amp wouldn’t break up. Still, it responded well to the nuances of my pick attack and brought out all the Telecaster’s twangy goodness. I tried the PRS next with a touch more gain. The sound was rich, full, and rounded – totally beautiful. The clean sound has everything from jazz to country to R&B covered.
For the high gain testing, I switched over to the thick setting and used the Gibson SG Standard as the main instrument. The thick setting is almost a completely different amplifier, and I was able to get roaring lead tones, screaming harmonics, and thick power chord crunch. Using the Bogner 2×12 cabinet only accentuated the amps thick, powerful lead tones. About my only complaint about the sound is that it does get a bit noisy at higher settings.
The amp is also very effect friendly, particularly in the clean setting, though I do wish they had included an effects loop. I can understand the omission of the reverb, given the size of the chassis; however, I just don’t see why the effects loop had to be left out. This is my main complaint about an otherwise superb amp.
The old saying “good things come in small packages” definitely applies to the Vox Night Train NT15H. If you need a portable guitar amplifier that offers a wide range of complex clean and overdrive sounds, you should give the Vox Night Train a try. It’s hard to get a bad sound out of it. It will make your back, your wallet, and your ears happy.
Name of Gear: Vox Night Train NT15H
List Price: $700.00
Manufacturer Info: VOX Amplification Ltd.; voxamps.com
Pros: Amazing clean and lead sounds; small footprint; excellent bargain
Cons: No effects loop; a bit noisy at higher volumes