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Vox Cambridge50 review

Has Vox found the perfect balance between digital tech and valve power with this hybrid combo?

  • £275
  • €309
  • $419.99
Vox Cambridge 50 review
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

The Vox Cambridge50 is a tidy little combo with some outrageously charming mid-drive tones courtesy of that smart NuTube tech

Pros

  • Tones to start a British invasion mkII.
  • Heaps of high-end sparkle.
  • Lightweight and oh-so-loud!

Cons

  • Footswitch sold separately (£60).

What is it?

It's small, it's portable, it's got 50-watts of power and a NuTube valve preamp, Virtual Element Technology and a solid-state power amp, and Vox says it will deliver "realistic and stage-ready" tones.

Meet the Cambridge50. The next step in the evolution of Vox's Valvetronix digital modelling series. There is a lot to like about it, not least its simplicity. The control panel has knobs for gain, volume, bass and treble, a rotary dial for accessing the 10 amp models with the 11th, "Line", for use with keyboards and acoustic guitars. There is also a control for attenuating the power, and two knobs for cycling through the Cambridge50's onboard modulation and delay/reverb effects. 

There is a button adjacent to the effects controls that doubles as a tap tempo function and a bypass/tuner, and another that sits beside the rotary amp model dial for saving presets. This is a lot of functionality, but it's incredibly intuitive.

As for the build, there has a single 12-inch speaker and certainly helps project enough volume to make itself heard in most small gig situations, while the trademark Vox logo sits on a familiar diamond-patterned grille clothe, albeit on that is black on black.

The control panel has a lot going on but it is laid out intuitively. Note the I/O sockets under the power button. The headphones line out has speaker emulation, which makes it ideal for silent practice. The input allows you to jam along with your favourite tracks.

The control panel has a lot going on but it is laid out intuitively. Note the I/O sockets under the power button. The headphones line out has speaker emulation, which makes it ideal for silent practice. The input allows you to jam along with your favourite tracks. (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Performance and verdict

It is no surprise that the Cambridge50's amp modelling tech really excels when tackling Vox classics of yore. The natural chime and response of the AC30 and AC30TB (Top Boost) models is so warm and inviting. And the Top Boost tone as it is breaking up has got to be one of the most inspiring tones to work with.

The more Marshall-inspired models are pretty darn effective, too, covering the bases for all your hard rock needs. But the Cambridge50 doesn't just stop at crunch. The SL-OD (Super Lead overdrive?) and Boogie-esque Double Rec have heaps of gain, and a searing top end that could cut through glass if you're not careful.

While you might want (need!) to dial that back when playing unaccompanied, in a band setting this could come into its own in making sure you are heard.

There are also eight onboard effects to extend your options, with four types of modulation and four delays. These can be programmed and stored as presets, which the gigging musician might find handy. Certainly, any option to quickly call up a favourite tone is always welcome. 

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For the technologically minded, Vox's Tone Room editor app for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android will help you get more out of the Cambridge50's onboard effects, though it would have been nice if the VFS-5 footswitch was included. That will set you back an extra £60.

But the Cambridge50 is modestly priced, and with the JamVOX III modelling software is also bundled we can let the optional footswitch complaint slide. What it does do is offer convincing amp models straight out of the box, and make finding inspiring tones a total cinch. That NuTube valve tech serves it well, affording it a welcome analogue feel and response, even if the brain is digital.

MusicRadar verdict: The Vox Cambridge50 is a tidy little combo with some outrageously charming mid-drive tones courtesy of that smart NuTube tech.

Hands-on demos

Vox

PMT

Gear4Music

Specifications

  • TYPE: Digital modelling guitar combo with NuTube valve
  • OUTPUT: 50 watts
  • SPEAKER: 1x12”
  • VALVES: NuTube 6P1
  • CONTROLS: Power On/Off, Preset Write, Amp Type (Deluxe Clean, Boutique Clean, Boutique Overdrive, Vox AC30, Vox AC30TB, Brit 1959, Brit 800, Brit VM, SL-OD, Double Rec, Line), Gain, Treble, Bass, Volume, Modulation Type/Level, Delay/ Reverb Type/Level, Tap Delay, power level
  • SOCKETS: Input jacks, line out, headphones out with cabinet simulator, USB (type B) port
  • WEIGHT: 8.9kg
  • DIMENSIONS: 410mm (h) x 452mm (w) x 240mm (d)
  • Vox Amplification