Vox Night Train

Vox’s Night Train series is hugely popular and rather modern-looking, with an exterior that looks like something that liquid metal Terminator guy would play through if he was into little lunchbox amps and mini combos. It’s a very distinctive look but some players feel that Vox already has a distinctive look, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a Night Train that looks like a Vox? If this point of view describes you, read on, my friend, read on.

This new 15 watt combo amp from Vox rocks the already-legendary Night Train tonal wallop but the aesthetics are much more old-school. It features the trademark Vox diamond grille cloth and gold Vox badge, and it looks like something Brian May should be standing in front of a wall of.

Internally this amp features an all-valve, class AB design. the preamp is driven by a trio of 12AX7 valves, while the power amp is built around two EL84 valves. There are two channels – Bright and Girth – which give you all sorts of tones from clean to high gain, while an optional footswitch lets you change ‘em with ease. The Bright channel has a dedicated gain control and a ‘Thick’ switch that gives you a gain boost and a fatter tone. The Girth channel has separate gain and volume controls. Each channel shares a simple EQ section of bass, middle and treble. Then there’s a master volume control and master reverb, along with a Dark switch which shifts the whole amp’s voice down a bit into smokier, warmer territory.

TheNT15C1-CL is equipped with a Celestion Greenback speaker – the classic – and there’s an effectsloop as well for throwing on your delays and whatnot.

The Bright channel is designed to encapsulate classic Vox clean and crunch sounds. The cleans are very clear and bell-like, bringing out the high end clarity of the vintage-correct Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbuckers in my Les Paul. Combined with the simple but effective reverb this amp is capable of throwing out some very three-dimensional, elegant clean tones. Flip the Thick switch and you’re in instant Jimmy Page territory as the Night Train bypasses the tone stack and boosts the gain. This is where you’ll get that heavenly classic rock overdrive, the kind that never gets too harsh or fizzy. It sings sweetly when you play leads, and it has plenty of body and depth for rhythms. Crank the gain control all the way up and you’ve found probably the Night Train’s most stand-out sound.

The Girth channel is a little less distinctive than the Bright channel, and although it does indeed give you high gain tones, they seem more useful for saturated, almost fuzz-like solos rather than for metal rhythms or anything like that. The frequencies seem to naturally be voiced to sit on top of raging rhythm section so your licks and tricks can be clearly heard, but in all honesty this mode is probably best used as a great solo channel, with the Bright channel’s Thick mode taking care of your rhythms. There’s a bit more versatility and subtlety at lower gain settings of the Girth channel but again the Bright-Thick mode is just so perfect that you’ll probably find yourself spending a lot of time there.

This is a great versatile amp, especially for those who like to play very dynamically rather than charge ahead on ten all the time. And despite its diminutive size it’s every bit as loud as you would hope. It’s especially great if you’re into blues, blues-rock or alternative styles that require a little grit and a lot of dimension, and importantly it sounds good at all volume levels; you won’t need to jeopardise your relationship with your family, spouse or neighbours to get great Vox crunch.