AC15 vs. AC30 - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-04-2015, 03:09 PM   #1
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AC15 vs. AC30

I'm looking to upgrade my amp and I'm currently debating whether to get an AC15 or AC30. It'll be primarily for dorm room playing so I won't be able to play super loud. I'm wondering what the tonal differences between the two amps are. I'm going to be primarily using it to play U2 stuff. Which one would be better?


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Old 06-04-2015, 03:13 PM   #2
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AC-30! no doubt


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Old 06-04-2015, 04:08 PM   #3
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Honestly for dorm usage neither the AC-15 nor 30 will make ANYONE happy!

If you have to choose between the two of them then yes the AC30 for sure, but there's no way you'll be able to crank up the AC15 even to a quarter without pissing off the surrounding 10 rooms

I can barely crank up my AC4 to half in my apartment.
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Old 06-04-2015, 04:28 PM   #4
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AC30 is ideal but a AC15 with a Celestion Blue and you are in perfect Edge territory.
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Old 06-04-2015, 06:56 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Edge_Orchestra View Post
AC30 is ideal but a AC15 with a Celestion Blue and you are in perfect Edge territory.

That's the model that I would get. Blue speakers or GTFO. But I'm worried that if I get an AC30, I won't be able to get a good proper Vox tone at lower volumes. Whereas with an AC15, I can start to get that breakup at a lower volume. Plus an AC15 is within my budget, while an AC30 is a bit of a stretch for me. I can't get a real job this summer due to two surgeries I have to get so I'm babysitting my neighbors kids for two hours a day. I'll make decent money, but probably not enough for an AC30. I would have to wait till my school job paychecks come in and even then I wouldn't be able to properly use it until I have my own house 8 years down the road. That's what's pushing me towards the AC15.


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Old 06-04-2015, 08:02 PM   #6
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If you're looking at Vox breakup within reasonable volume levels, an AC15 with a Celestion Blue (or Gold or the new AlNiCo Cream) won't do it unless you don't mind killing off the power amp drive (which is half the drive tone of an AC30/15). Speakers also have a lot to do with volume. The Celestion AlNiCo speakers have a sensitivity of 100db. Greenbacks and Creambacks have 97, which means with the same amp, you'd be noticeably quieter, but still not enough to get what you're looking for. I had trouble getting natural breakup from a NMV 5-watt amp at volumes that didn't piss off the neighbors when I lived in an apartment.

There are other options if you're set on Vox such as an attenuator. Some of them sound like garbage, some of them sound pretty good. The best are the ones that take your amp's signal and reduce it to a line level and then re-amplify it (BadCat's Unleash for solid state reamping, Fryette Power Station for tube). What these do is allow you to play whatever amp you want at the exact volume you want, reduce it to a line level, and then reamplify it anywhere between 0-100 watts solid state (with the Unleash) or 0-50 with tube power (with the Power Station). But quality ain't cheap.

If you're not planning on gigging and don't care about looks, I'd get a computer, a good interface, and then a Fryette Power Station and a 1x12 cab with a Celestion AlNiCo Cream in it. With my MacBook Pro, an Apogee Duet 2, a BadCat Unleash, and an Avatar 1x12 with a Celestion Gold, I got the Vox tone at both TV levels and gig levels.

Are you planning to gig it at all?
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Old 06-04-2015, 11:34 PM   #7
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I'm not planning to gig. But I do know that I'll be using this amp for a long time and that's why I want to get an AC15 or AC30. It'll be a good long term investment, plus it'll be a huge upgrade over my current amp, which is a Roland Microcube.


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Old 06-05-2015, 06:30 PM   #8
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Well, if you're dead-set on one or the other and you want the AC30 sound, get an AC30. An AC15 isn't exactly an AC30 but quieter in my experience (I've owned both and was very disappointed in the lack of headroom on the AC15). That being said, if you want the true AC30-on-the-edge-of-breakup tone, you're going to need an attenuator or your entire building is going to hate you.

Which ACs are you looking at? Custom, Custom Classic, Handwired, Heritage Handwired, or late 90s/early 00s TB6?
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Old 06-05-2015, 07:26 PM   #9
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As has been said, the AC-15 is a different thing from the AC-30, and its not exactly quieter as well, so if you want U2 tone and not face angry mobs armed with torches and pitchforks either get something even smaller, or get a Pod with a good headphone set.

Personally I would get the AC-15, as a former bandmate of mine used one and it sounded good enough to me. Plus unlike the AC-30, which will ruin your back very quickly, the AC-15 is at least portable. I'm a big fan of portability. Especially as I get older.
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Old 06-06-2015, 02:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by the tourist View Post
Which ACs are you looking at? Custom, Custom Classic, Handwired, Heritage Handwired, or late 90s/early 00s TB6?

I was just looking on Guitar Center's website for ones with the Alnico Blue speakers. Also, is an attenuator the same thing as a Variac? I know Eddie Van Halen used a Varic, I was wondering if that was the same thing.


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Old 06-06-2015, 09:49 AM   #11
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Isn't an attenuators kind of like adjusting an input that's hitting the amp circuit?


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Old 06-06-2015, 12:44 PM   #12
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Basically attenuators allow you to crank up your amp, running those tubes at full power to achieve tuby goodness, and then reduce the output to a level less likely to make your ears bleed. To do that you place the attenuator between the output of the amp and the speakers.

As opposed to trebleboosters, and boosters in general, with which you hit your amp at a much higher input volume and thus drive the amp into tuby goodness at a lower volume then it would normally have taken.

Different means to achieve the same result, glorious distortion. Although they are not quite the same, as cranking up your creates distortion in the poweramp part of your amp, whereas boosters hit your preamp more. You can even combine both methods, as was done often. Using (treble)boosters has been a staple of rock distortion since the 60's. It's the core to get the sound of Brian May or Tony Iommi. Of course back then they also ran their amps fully hot as well as nobody gave a damn about loud volume. Of course back then PA systems were not as good as today and walls upon walls of stacked amps were integral to the live sound of a band as well. Nowadays however volume is a problem as PA systems have become quite good so you no longer need huge ass amps on stage and excessive stage volumes are considered a problem to FOH engineers to achieve a good mix. Henceforth attenuators to those who still like the sound of cranked amps, but at a lower volume.
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