Each amplifier in the series features the same basic feature set: three knobs, a VU meter and an input jack on the front, a line/phones jack and a speaker out in the back, and an innovative Nutube vacuum tube. What the heck is Nutube, you ask? It’s similar to a conventional vacuum tube, with an anode grid filament structure, and it operates exactly as a triode vacuum tube. But by applying their vacuum fluorescent display technology, the designers have devised a structure which achieves substantial power saving, miniaturisation, and quality improvements when compared with a conventional vacuum tube. It actually looks like some kind of weird microchip rather than the vacuum tubes we’re familiar with, and requires less than two percent of the power of conventional tubes.
MV50 AC’s controls include gain, tone and volume, and as well as the Nutube it’s also packed with analogue components designed to emulate the dynamics and harmonics of a regular tube amp. Sonically, it has exactly the chimey ‘dirty/clean’ vibe you would expect of an amp with ‘AC’ in its name: it maintains the ring and jangle of single coils, and it sounds plenty beefy with humbuckers. It’s also very dynamic: dig in harder with the pick and you’ll most definitely notice more gain and volume. There’s none of the weird unusable, counter-intuitive compression that plagues many small amps, and it seems like this little beastie is very carefully voiced to emphasise the differences in your guitar’s pickup selection and tone settings, rather than sort of smear those things over a bit.
The MV50 Clean has no need for a gain control, so it instead dedicates its three knobs to treble, bass and volume. The treble knob is very carefully voiced: it gives you a great sense of detail and clarity without hitting those really strident, icepick-like frequencies, and it made my Strat with Seymour Duncan Jimi Hendrix pickups sound almost like an acoustic guitar. But when I plugged in my Les Paul I found a great jazz tone, and there were some great country tones to be found with my Tele and a tremolo pedal. It’s also a great amp for multi-effect units because it’ll clearly reproduce whatever you plug into it. A great choice for those who need exclusively clean tones or those with tonnes of pedals.
The MV50 Rock is a little scorcher. It can sound very fat-yet-fuzzy – think some of those classic Black Sabbath rhythm tones – but it’s also capable of great smooth blues-rock tones in the Gary Moore kind of vibe. It’s definitely the most high-gain of the series of course, but it also cleans up very nicely from your guitar’s volume control, making it the best all-rounder of the three. It’s a bummer that it doesn’t have an effects loop or reverb, but all the overtones and harmonics of a classic tube amp are there and they’ll take your mind off the lack of any onboard ambient control.
Each of these amps is great at its own thing, but a case could be made for buying all three (and their matching cabs) and having the cutest damn multi-amp rig ever. They’re incredibly portable, sonically flexible, very affordable and downright adorable.