What is it?
Choosing your next guitar amplifier is never easy but those sleepless nights and careful considerations over tone and functionality, volume and price, and so on, are rarely owing to the lack of options.
Today's market is awash with quality amplifiers at all price points. The rising tide of technological innovation is augmenting our expectations of what the amplifier can do for us. Others concern themselves with the pursuit of classic guitar tones via any means necessary; old-school is best. The options are paralyzing.
But consider the new amp manufacturer? What does it say for confidence in your designs that you launch a company in an era of market saturation? Well, that's what pro guitarist and electronics engineer Ravi Rajani has done, and the north London-based Rajani Audio Electronics makes its debut here with the Rajani VOD-50 112 Combo.
The VOD-50 is a 1x12 combo with a classic, pared-down style – black and silver sparkle grille clothe, black vinyl, silver control panel with black chicken-head knobs. You'll find a hybrid circuit under the hood, with a 12AX7 and a12AU7 complementing a Class AB solid-state output stage that's designed to foreground your guitar's dynamics.
The input of the VOD-50 features a high-quality optical compressor. The power stage is tailored to stay 100 per cent clean all the way, delivering an unmolested preamp tone at high volume.
The build quality is superb. The black vinyl is well-finished, covering a solid pine cabinet that has dovetail corners to lighten the load a little. Throughout there are little concessions to our lower backs. The speaker – a Jensen Tornado Special Edition – features a lightweight neodymium magnet. The chassis is aluminium. Weighing in at a hair over 13kg, you needn't be Charles Atlas to lift the VOD-50 out of the van.
Inside the chassis you'll find PCB electronics parked on three boards – one housing the front-panel controls, one for the effects loop and reverb, and a larger board for the rest. The are metal film resistors everywhere to kill hiss, and a variety of miniature and surface mount components.
The VOD-50 is a single-channel hybrid combo, but has two modes, clean and lead, with a footswitchable boost that can be applied to either.
The speaker choice is a lightweight Jensen Tornado Special Edition with neodymium magnet.
The VOD-50 has a series effects loop, which is switchable between instrument and line level.
The mains transformer is toroidal, with a very tight hum field to reduce unwanted noise, and, on the other side of the ledger, these require a larger current when you switch them on, and the power supply circuit has to be carefully engineered to provide it. These are common place in hi-fi systems, but quite exceptional to find in a guitar amp.
The VOD-50 has one channel, with a clean level control and a footswitchable lead section where you will find separate controls for drive and level. These share the EQ section, a modified Baxandall design with controls for bass and treble, each applying approximately 13dB either way.
Elsewhere you've got a footswitchable boost that can be applied to either Clean or Lead modes. There's spring reverb and an uncomplicated series effects loop.
Performance and verdict
There's nothing complicated about the VOD-50's front panel. It eschews the typical gain, volume and passive 3-band EQ of regular guitar amplifiers, instead dividing its tone-sculpting across the two modes, Clean and Lead.
The Clean control operates as a variable wide midrange boost, and as you turn it up it adds a little more grit into the signal. For example, at zero, you can dime the master volume and the VOD-50 offers pure glassy cleans, but there's heaps of Tweed character to teased from the control which will make blues and country-rock players very happy indeed.
This logic follows us into the Lead mode, where the Lead control builds on that Tweed dirt to add a smooth, musical sustain. Tone-wise, there's a soupçon of the D-style about it, though they are very different designs. The footswitchable boost adds a mid boost in the Clean mode and a treble boost in Lead.
• Mesa/Boogie Fillmore 50
The Fillmore 50’s classic Boogie-inspired tones are full of spine-tingling nostalgia yet manage to sound fresh and contemporary, with exceptional range from a simple control panel layout that makes dialling in any guitar intuitive, rewarding and, above all, great fun.
• Supro Galaxy
No question about it, the Galaxy packs a lot of flexibility into a compact 1x12 enclosure; the footswitchable boost, channel-assignable reverb and effects loop make it a versatile tool for all kinds of players.
There's a lot of tone-sculpting potential in the VOD-50's Baxandall-esque EQ section. These active controls for treble and bass are neutral at 12 o'clock and cut or boost as you turn them counterclockwise or clockwise respectively.
While there is no middle control, by dialling back your treble and bass you give your signal a mid-boost, and vice-versa, with both treble and bass boosted presenting a more scooped tone. It makes for smooth adjustments to your tone – and predictable ones too. There's none of that nasal honk.
Played with a Strat or Les Paul, the VOD-50 is incredibly quiet; it will record beautifully. And with its abundance of headroom, it makes a smart choice for the gigging guitarist. The reverb, too, is warm, smooth and musical.
In many respects, the VOD-50's design is bold. No passive EQ. The hi-fi choice of transformer. It's an exciting amplifier for those playing funk, country or blues, and with a bit of cash to part with on a premium, pro-quality piece of gear.
MusicRadar verdict: The VOD-50's immaculate build and simple design make it a smart choice for serious players who prize Tweed grit but demand plenty headroom above all else.
- PRICE: £1,495
- ORIGIN: UK
- TYPE: Valve preamp, solid-state power amp
- OUTPUT: 50W RMS
- VALVES: 1x 12AX7, 1x 12AU7
- DIMENSIONS: 490 (h) x 525 (w) x 255mm (d)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 13.5/30
- CABINET: Pine
- LOUDSPEAKERS: 1 x12” Jensen Tornado Special Edition
- CHANNELS: 1
- CONTROLS: Clean level, lead drive, lead level, bass, treble, reverb level, master volume
- FOOTSWITCH: 2-button switch (supplied) toggles boost and clean/lead sounds
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Series effects loop with switchable levels, spring reverb
- OPTIONS: The amp can be ordered with various speaker configurations and vinyl colours; contact manufacturer for more details
- RANGE OPTIONS: There’s a head version, too, for £1,395
- CONTACT: Rajani Amps