The VOX Cambridge 50 is a 50 watt modelling amp. What’s a modelling amp? Instead of using a tube or solid state technology, it uses electronics to “model” the sounds of different amps. That means you get the dynamic sounds produced by different amps all in one box. Ultimately that saves you a ton of money. Modelling amps have been criticized in the past for producing sounds that aren’t comparable to traditional tube and valve based amps, however technology has moved on along way. Some modelling amps are producing sounds faithful to the amps they’re emulating, and they usually include a ton of extra features too. In this VOX Cambridge 50 review we’ll break down the features of VOX’s 50 watt modelling amp. Ready?
Background of VOX
VOX began producing amps in the 1950s. VOX’s amps were very popular with British rock bands on the 1960s. The AC30 was a favorite of The Rolling Stones and the Beatles to name a few. Throughout the decades VOX has widened it’s range of amplifiers. From mini practice amps, through tube amps to modelling amps. VOX can offer you anything from the 10 watt pathfinder, to the 150 watt cabinet amp. VOX’s use of styling and the way they integrate technology leads to great looking and quality sounding amps. They’re also always open to diversification, the Amplug 2 range being a prime example. I explain how the amplug 2 works in this post.
Overview of the VOX Cambridge 50
The Cambridge 50 is wooden cabinet design with an open back, which houses a 12-inch Celestion speaker. The VOX VT50, another 50 watt VOX offering, has an 8 inch speaker. With it’s 12 inch speaker the Cambridge is able to offer more punch when cranked up. VOX’s Virtual Element Technology uses electronic circuitry to produce the wide range of tones of many amp types, which can be selected via the control panel.
The amp also has a vacuum tube, VOX’s Nutube technology, to deliver the type of natural overdrive you’d expect from a tube amp. On the plus side you don’t get the maintenance issues that you might with a traditional tube amp. The amp is reasonably light at 8.9kgs and won’t take up a lot of room.
The Cambridge 50 features 10 different amp models and 8 on-board effects. On top of the 10 preset amp types you can save two further user programs to the amp’s memory. If you buy the VFS5 footswtich (sold separately) you can store a further 6 user programs. You input you guitar via the 1/4 inch jack on the top panel. The headphone jack will output via a cabinet simulator to give you incredible tones when practicing “silently”. A USB B type port allows you to connect directly to your PC / MAC or mobile phone with support for both IOS and Android. You can record directly to your choice of recording software from the amp, utilizing the Cambridge’s electronic circuitry.
As is to be expected from VOX, the amp is styled very nicely and features the famous chicken-head knobs to control amp type, effects and EQ settings. The required power adapter is included with the amp. The amp also features an in-built tuner, which is a nice addition. The line amp type is super clean, which enables you to plug in a keyboard or an electro-acoustic guitar. The amp also has an auto-off feature. If there’s no input for an hour it’ll turn itself off. You can disable this feature if it doesn’t suit you.
How Does The VOX Cambridge 50 Work?
When you’re plugged in an powered up you’ll probably want to jump right into playing the with amp types. There’s a button above the input jack, which defines whether the amp is in user mode or preset mode. To access the present amp types, press the button until the led below the “preset” option is lit up. Now use the chicken head knob next to the input jack to select the amp type. Broadly speaking they range from clean to high-end gain. The line type, which is the ultra clean mode, is the last option on the right hand side.
- Deluxe CL: Uses lower power settings to produce the big sound of 60’s clean style guitar
- Boutique CL: Great for single coil pickups. Produces sharper mid-range
- Boutique OD: Models the overdriven sound of a 100w amp. Uses raising gain to add sustain
- VOX AC30: Models the classic 60’s sound of the AC30
- VOX AC30TB: The AC30 with added top boost. Brilliant clean sound with a smooth top end
- BRIT 1959: Models the high treble amps of Britain in the 60’s. At high volume you get a crunchy sound
- BRIT 800: Modelling British made amps in the 80’s you can produce the hard rock and metal tones of the 1980’s
- BRIT VM: More recent early 2000’s style amp that produces a tight low-end and high-gain metal tones
- SL-OD: 1990’s powerful and sustained sound. Boosted low end with compressed mid/high end
- DOUBLE REC: Fantastic for metal. Very powerful with extreme gain. Suits guitars in drop tunings
- LINE: Super clean mode. Ideal for electro-acoustic guitars and keyboards
You can use two of the on-board effects at once. One from the Modulation type effects and one from the Delay/Reverb effect types. Although this seems a little restrictive, you can still produce a wide variety of tones. For example the Chorus / A.Delay combination produces the type of delay utilized by The Edge, the guitarist in U2. The speed / depth of the effect is dependent on where you set the knob. Available effects are:
Modulation Type Effects:
- Chorus: Rich and spacious sound
- Flanger: The swell of a jet plane
- Org Phase: Whooshing effect
- Twin Trem: Classic wavering of tremelo
Delay/Reverb Type Effects:
With these type of effects you can use the Tap button. Located immediately to the right of the delay/reverb effects knob you can set the delay intervals. The maximum is 1.1 seconds.
- A.Delay: Classic delay, echo type
- Tape Echo: Analog tape echo
- Spring: Simulates the type of delay built in to many amps
- Hall: More of a passive effect, but great for clean tones
Unusually the amp also comes with a tuner. hold down the TAP button for at least a second to access the tuner. The LED lights below the PROGRAM section on the left are used to indicate whether or not the strings are in tune. As with most tuners, if the red light to the left is showing, you’re flat. If the red light to the right is showing, you’re sharp. Finally if the green light is lit up, you’re spot on.
You can switch to manual mode by pressing the program button until the program LED goes off. Now you can adjust the Bass, Trable, Gain and Volume knobs to find the tone that suits you. Annoyingly the Cambridge 50 doesn’t have a mid control knob, something that appears to be becoming more frequent in amps of this power range. The preset amp styles compensate for the lack of mid control, but it’d be nice to have it for manual mode.
You can save two manual programs. Once you’ve found a tone you want to recall hold down the program button of at least half a second. One of the LEDs for either bank A or bank B will begin to blink. That’ll tell you where the program is going to be saved. Press the program button to select which bank to save to. Once you’ve selected the right bank, press the program button for at least 2 seconds. Once the LED stops blinking and becomes solidly lit, the program is saved. if you want to cancel the operation, press the TAP button.
There’s an auto power off feature, which is enabled by default. If there’s no input the amp will switch off automatically after 60 minutes. You can disable the auto power off feature. To do so turn off the amp. Then hold down the TAP button whilst powering up the amp. If the greed LED under the PROGRAM area is lit it means that auto power off is enabled. Press the TAP button again so that the two red LEDs light up. That indicates that the auto power off feature is now disabled.
You can use the USB port to connect directly to your computer. Once connected you can use the free Tone Room software to manage and customize amps and effects. This will allow you to record directly to your digital audio worksteam software using the Cambridge’s circuitry, therefore producing the selected styles and effects faithfully. An AUX in port allow you to play music through the amp, perfect for jamming along to your favorite tracks.
Another cool feature is the power adjustment knob. You can get top end punch from the amp by turning the power down and the volume up. That’ll allow you to experience the power of the amp without getting hundreds of noise complaints.
VOX Cambridge 50 Pros
The Cambridge gives you a wide range of amp styles all in one box. Paired with on-board effects it gives you flexibility all in one product. 50 watt amps are the sweet spot to be viable for both live performances and bedroom practice. The power knob is a great feature, allowing you to get the best out of the amp even at lower volumes. I like the cabinet simulator built in when playing via headphones too.
- Wide variety of preset amp styles
- Powerful 12 inch speaker
- Two memory banks (a further 6 available if you buy the VFS5 footswitch)
- Connects directly to PC/Mac/Iphone/Android
- Great engineering
- In-built tuner
- Supports electro-acoustic guitars and keyboards via the LINE amp style
VOX Cambridge 50 Cons
The cons of the Cambridge mainly come when comparing it with one of it’s rivals, the Boss Katana 50. The Cambridge lacks mid control, which is present in the Katana 50. The Boss offering also has better supporting software Tone Studio, allowing you access to tons of professionally configured effects, which can be sent directly to the amp. However the preset amp styles of the Cambridge far surpass the Katana 50.
- No Mid control Knob
- Not as much software support as competitor amps
The real plus point for the VOX Cambridge 50 is the range of preset amp styles that come built in. There’s so much tonal range available that’s easily accessible, allowing you to plug and play quickly. Of course you can add a couple of manual settings to supplement what’s already there. If you were to buy an amp for each of the styles you’d be spending thousands of dollars. Getting all those amp styles for a few hundred dollars? No brainer!
Whilst it exceeds it’s competition in terms of the preset amp styles, it does fall down a bit when it comes to on-board effects. The effects they’re using are good quality, however they’re a little limited in range. the other draw back is the lack of a mid range control in the EQ. The preset amp style compensate for this, but when you’re in manual mode it’d be nice to be able to fine tune the mid range. The styling is classic good looking VOX. The Cambridge is suitable for home practice and for live performances thanks to it’s power control feature. You can also experience cabinet sound by plugging in a set of headphones.
I like this amp. It’s simpler to use than it’s competitors and I think I’m willing to overlook the missing mid range control in light of the range of preset amp styles. The supporting software isn’t terrible, it’s just not as comprehensive as the software that comes with the Boss Katana 50. If you’re looking for an amp that’ll cope with live performances, be suitable for bedroom practice and will provide a dynamic range of tones, then this is the amp for you.
I hope you’ve found this VOX Cambridge 50 review useful. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Please share with anyone who you feel might benefit from this post. Happy modelling amp, and happy strumming!
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