Marshall and Vox both make top quality British amplifiers, but which make the best ones? In this article, I’ll compare the sounds produced by Marshall and Vox, the control panels and the features and specifications of popular models across various price points.
The Quick Answer
Marshall amps have a more saturated distorted tone than Vox amps which sound more fuzzy and loose. Vox amps have a biting tone with more mid-range when played clean, compared to Marshall amps. Marshall offer a larger selection of both combo and head unit amps than Vox.
Comparing the Tones
Despite Vox and Marshall both being British amplifier brands, the tones can be quite different. Here are the key differences I’ve picked up on from listening to a lot of Vox and Marshall amps, but make sure to check out the videos below because they do a much better job at demonstrating the tone differences than just reading about it.
- Vox amps have no negative feedback. The result is a more biting tone, more midrange and higher sensitivity. This gives Vox a more jangly tone with lots of chime providing richer harmonics.
- Marshall amps use cold clipping which provides more gain and saturation.
Check out this video comparing classic Vox and Marshall amps to hear these differences in action.
- Vox clean tones can sound biting and saturated when the amp is pushed
- Marshall clean tones can sound thinner than Marshall
- Vox amps are brighter sounding whilst Marshall amp can sound more bassy
- Marshall amps provide a more clear and smoother distorted tone
- Vox distorted tones tend to sound more fuzzy
- Vox amps have more upper mid-range focus
Check out this video comparing the tone of entry-level Marshall and Vox amps. The video is time stamped so you can easily switch to the right section.
So now we know a little more about the tone differences, which is best for different genres of music?
Both Marshall and Vox amplifies are capable of playing a wide variety of music styles as well as clean, gritty and distorted tones. Marshall and Vox amps are both associated with classic rock, with Vox famously being used by Queen’s Brian May and The Beatles. Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page have all been associated with Marshall amps.
As well as talking about the classic tones that each amp produces, it’s a good idea to think about the controls available as well, to help you shape the sound. Both Marshall and Vox amps offer a variety of settings to adjust the tone, but they do offer different controls meaning that the the user-experience will vary between brands.
Vox Amp Settings
Here are the most common controls found on Vox amps:
- Switches e.g. Bright, fat, bias, hot and cool
Marshall Amp Settings
Here are the most popular controls on Marshall amps:
Most Marshall amps have a 3-band EQ (bass, mids and treble), whilst Vox amps usually just have bass and treble controls. Marshall generally offers more tone controls such as contour, presence and tilt, allowing you to adjust the balance, whilst Vox offers a variety of switches on many models instead.
The most common switches are “bright”, which adds more treble and “fat” which adds more bass. However, there are many others that can be found.
I have some in-depth guides to the controls and settings of both amplifier brands so check them out if you’re looking for some more detail:
Comparing Amp Models
I also wanted to take an in-depth look at the models produced by Marshall and Vox and compare the specifications and features at each price point. I’ve put pretty much every amp available from each brand into the tables below to outline the key differences. The prices are all based on Guitar Center’s prices at the time of writing. The tables are split into each type/ price bracket of amp, and goes from the lowest to the highest priced model in each table.
- Solid state and hybrid combo amps (entry-level): $90-$450
- Valve (tube) combo amps:
- Head units:
Solid State and Hybrid Combo Amps
|VOX Pathfinder||10W||$90||2 channels, gain, bass, treble|
|Marshall MG10G||10W||$100||2 channels, gain, contour|
|Marshall MG15||15W||$120||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ|
|Vox Valvetronix VT20X||20W||$180||11 models, gain, treb, mids, bass, compression, chorus, OD, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, reverb|
|Marshall MG15DFX||15W||$180||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger|
|Vox VX50 GTV||50W||$230||11 models, gain, treb, bass, chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, reverb, delay|
|Marshall MG30GFX||30W||$240||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave|
|Vox Valvetronix VT40X||40W||$250||11 models, gain, treb, mids, bass, compression, chorus, OD, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, reverb|
|Marshall CODE 25W||25W||$270||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Vox Cambridge50||50W||$300||11 models, gain chorus, phaser, flanger, tremolo, delay, reverb|
|Marshall CODE 50W||50W||$320||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Vox Valvetronix VT100X||100W||$380||11 models, gain, treb, mids, bass, compression, chorus, OD, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, reverb|
|Marshall MG50GFX||50W||$420||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave|
|Marshall CODE100W||100W||$450||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
- Vox offers the more complex built-in effects at a lower price
- Vox offers the cheapest 50W amp
- Marshall makes the highest wattage (100W) solid state combo
Valve (Tube) Combo Amps
|Vox AC4C1-12||4W||$400||Gain, bass, treble|
|Vox AC10C1||10W||$480||Gain, bass, treble, reverb|
|Marshall Origin20C||20W||$550||Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence|
|Marshall DSL5CR||5W||$550||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Marshall DSL20CR||20W||$650||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Vox AC15||15W||$700||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Marshall Origin50C||50W||$700||Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence|
|Marshall DSL40CR||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Vox AC4HW Hand-Wired||4W||$840||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble|
|Vox Custom AC15C2||15W||$900||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Vox AC151X||15W||$900||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Vox AC30S1||30W||$900||Gain, bass, treble, reverb|
|Vox AC30C2||30W||$1400||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Vox AC15HW1 Hand-Wired||15W||$1400||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble|
|Vox Custom AC30CX2||30W||$1550||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee||20W||$1600||Gain, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Studio Classic 20W||20W||$1700||3 band EQ, presence|
|Marshall Studio Vintage 20W||20W||$1700||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Vox AC30HW2 Hand-Wired||30W||$1900||Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble|
|Marshall JMV215C||50W||$2600||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
- Vox offers the cheapest valve amplifier
- Marshall valve amps generally have more settings available
- Marshall offers the cheapest valve amp over 40W
|Marshall CODE 100W||100W||Solid State||$400||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Marshall Origin20H||20W||Tube||$450||Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence|
|Marshall Origin50H||50W||Tube||$550||Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence|
|Marshall DSL20HR||20W||Tube||$550||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Vox AC15CH Custom||15W||Tube||$700||Normal and top boost channels, treb, bass, reverb, tremolo|
|Vox MVX150H||150W||Solid State||$800||2 channels, gain, tone, bass, mids, treb, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Marshall DSL100HR||100W||Tube||$950||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Vox AC30CH Custom||30W||Tube||$1100||Normal and top boost channels, treb, bass, reverb, tremolo|
|Vox Hand-Wired AC30||30W||Tube||$1300||Normal and top boost channels, treb, bass|
|Marshall Studio Classic||20W||Tube||$1400||Presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee||20W||Tube||$1400||Gain, presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Vintage Studio||20W||Tube||$1500||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Marshall Studio Classic||20W||Tube||$1500||Presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall JMV205H||50W||Tube||$2000||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
|Marshall JMV210H||100W||Tube||$2200||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
|Marshall JMT45||45W||Tube||$2600||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Marshall JMV410H||100W||Tube||$2850||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
- Marshall offers a much larger selection of head units than Vox
- Marshall produces the cheapest valve and solid state head units
- Vox produces the highest wattage head unit (150W)
In the market for a new amplifier? Check out my complete amplifier buyer’s guide to help narrow down your selection and find the perfect amp for you.
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