Thanks to cutting-edge breakthroughs in amp technology, modeling amps can be an excellent, versatile, cost-effective piece of gear for any guitar player.
Modeling amps offer multiple amp tones in a single package, enabling you to switch from, say, a classic overdriven Marshall to a sparkling, clean Fender sound at the touch of a button. Often, they’re more affordable and smaller than old-school tube or solid-state amps.
The Vox VT20X is the latest model from the highly popular Valvetronix series, and offers a broad spectrum of tonal possibilities.
On the outside, the Vox VT20X still has that distinct Vox style, but with a slightly more modern feel. I really like the black look of the amp with its vertical front panel.
The controls seem a bit complex at first, but I quickly noticed that they are all laid out in a very convenient way - with the amp controls at the top and the effects controls at the bottom. It took me no more than a few minutes to get accustomed to the VT20X’s controls.
The biggest feature of any modeling amp is, of course, the amp models. The VT20X is no different.
While the VT20X doesn’t boast hundreds of amp models and effects like other modeling amps, I still think it has more than enough. The lower number might even make it a bit more focused than a lot of other amps I have played.
The amp features 11 amp models, an AC30 being one of them, three of which can be changed and set by the user. The amp also features 13 onboard effects.
The VT20X is a hybrid amp that uses both digital and analog methods to reproduce the sounds of other amps.
Unlike other modeling amps that recreate the sound of an amp, the VT20X simulates their circuitry. The amp also uses a tube that, I feel, adds some extra warmth and color to the sound.
This combination of digital and analog makes gives the amp a very natural sound. This is truly one of the best-sounding modeling amps I have ever played. The VT20X is able to produce a very smooth, crisp, clean tone as well as very heavy and aggressive distortion and almost everything in between.
That versatility opens up even more once you connect it to the Tone Room app. This allows you to select a wide variety of amps and pedals and even set up your signal chain.
The other amp settings sound just as fantastic. The Deluxe and Tweed, which are the two clean settings, give you the option of either bright and chimey or warm and smooth.
The overdrive or gain settings cover an even wider spectrum - from the bluesy Boutique OD, all the way to the heavy and crunchy Double Rec.
The onboard amp models and effects make this amp extremely versatile. It sounded great regardless of the genre I was playing. From jazz to blues to rock, even metal isn’t a challenge for the little amp.
Even the amps and pedals on the Tone Room app sound incredible, in my opinion. They aren’t perfect recreations, but the difference between them and the real thing is so slight that it doesn’t really matter.
Like other Vox amps, I found that the VT20X is also much louder than you would expect a 20-watt amp to be. The amp has some real kick at full volume. Even at lower volume, I didn’t notice any dip in sound quality. This is great if you still want to practice without disturbing the neighbors.
Mic’d up, I can certainly picture using this amp for most smaller venues, but the bigger VT40X might be the better option as a gigging amp. I would say the VT20X is much better suited as a practice amp.
The VT20X would struggle to keep up with a loud drummer or in a live band setting. The solitary 8-inch speaker would need to be miced up, and lamentably the amp does not come with an output jack to add an external speaker.
The Valvetronix line has long felt like the proverbial jack of all trades: a master of none.
This extends to the VT20X. Its amp-emulating tones are close enough to satisfy most audiences, and most bedroom guitar players simply looking to capture the vibe and attitude of their favorite tones.
However, to a discerning ear, none of the tones on offer are exactly right for what they aim to do. Even the AC30-esque sound is a little off, with less twang and jangle than that classic clean British amp.
However, when compared side-by-side with the real thing, the difference between the Valvetronix’s built-in tonal arsenal and the genuine article is clear.
If I played in an extremely versatile cover band that needed a wide range of tones, this amp, perhaps mic-ed up and run through the PA, might come in very handy.
For bedroom guitarists who mostly record videos for posting online, this amp would be useful, although I understand that most online players use DAWs in lieu of a real amp.
Most of the features available on the VT20X you can get from a well-curated pedalboard.
If, like me, you’d rather use as few pedals as possible, then the VT20X might just be the amp for you, as long as you don’t need it to compete with a loud drummer.
How Does It Compare to Other Modeling Amps?
The gold standard for modeling amps, in my opinion, is Boss’ excellent Katana series.
The most direct comparison would be to the KT50, a 1x12 modeling amp at a similar price point.
I preferred the tones on offer from the Katana, particularly with the range of built-in Boss effects. For a roughly similar price, the Katana also pushed far more air around than the VT20X, making it more useful for gigs and rehearsals with its 12-inch speaker and extra thirty watts of power.
I’d recommend the VT20X for bedroom use and practicing, but not much else. That said, it could provide hours of entertainment to any guitar player who loves experimenting with different sounds.
Vox’s VT20X is an excellent modeling amplifier, and represents the style of amps very well. Vox’s legendary build quality is evident here, and any guitar player will find themselves smiling ear to ear at some of the tone emulations on offer.
However, a guitarist looking for more accurate tonal replications, or more volume on tap, may want to look at the 40-watt and 100-watt elder siblings of the VT20X.