From the May/June 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By James Volpe Rotondi
It seems that virtually every new acoustic amp these days touts a two-channel design, with a 1/4-inch input for guitar and an XLR/1/4-inch combo jack for a microphone—and often a stereo 1/8-inch plug for line level sources as well. The idea is that this type of amp can function as an all-in-one solo performer package for playing, singing, running backing tracks, and/or DJ’ing digital tunes during set breaks.
The new VHT True Acoustic 60 amplifier (and its little brother, the True Acoustic 30) boasts that very same feature set. But unlike the vast majority of similar amps, which tend to underperform when amplifying both guitar and voice, the True Acoustic 60 maintains its big, bold sound even when you’re screaming and strumming at the same time. While many other 60-watt guitar/mic hybrid amps can get crunchy at volumes suited only to medium rooms, the True Acoustic 60 displays relatively little harmonic distortion, even at high-volume settings.
Season to Taste
The possible trade-off here is that while the True Acoustic 60 maintains the clean integrity of both your voice and your acoustic guitar, it offers little in the way of coloration. It’s not the warmest or fuzziest of acoustic amp sounds, and there’s no handsome woodgrain on the side panels, either. Instead, the True Acoustic 60 takes care of Job No. 1: amplifying your sources efficiently and cleanly.
This makes sense. After all, if it’s character and color you’re after, there are plenty of great acoustic preamp pedals on the market—think L.R. Baggs Venue DI, BOSS AD-2 Acoustic Preamp, Orange Acoustic Pedal, and many more—which are dedicated to that very task. The True Acoustic 60 makes a perfect platform for that approach. The thing is, when running a microphone in addition to your guitar, you’re going to lose separation and clarity without a very solid power section and a speaker array competent enough to handle both sources.
In the case of True Acoustic 60, that speaker array is a three-way system, with two 6.5-inch woofers, and a one-inch soft-dome tweeter. I loved the bass response of this amp: tight and punchy, but with plenty of floor-rumbling subs depending on where you dial it in. The high-end detail is likewise on point, and while not the most coppery tone imaginable, you’ll hear every nuance of your left- and right-hand technique. (Push down the contour button for a cool midrange dip with added highs.)
The top-panel EQ controls for both instrument and mic are voiced smartly as well: a shelving-type bass control at +/- 8dB @ 100Hz, a broad-band midrange control at +/- 6dB @ 800Hz (guitar input only), and a shelving-type treble control at +/- 10dB @ 5kHz. These are key EQ zones for rolling off rumble, sculpting the balance between voice and guitar, and smoothing out your high mids and top end. And they work.
Another terrific touch is the onboard effects loop. Why doesn’t every acoustic amp have this feature? Look, while an acoustic amp’s clean power handling means that, yes, you can theoretically place your outboard delays and reverb pedals on the front end, you’re still going to get cleaner, smoother results placing them post-preamp. Running an Eventide H9 Max pedal into the True Acoustic 60’s post-EQ parallel effects loop was a revelation; a big, present fundamental tone expanded with deliciously clean cinematic time-domain effects. But even if you only use the channel-specific onboard digital reverb, you’ll find them transparent and pleasing, only becoming flinty or harsh at the highest settings.
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At 24 pounds, and with a height, width, and depth of 15 x 15 x 9.5 inches, the True Acoustic 60 is certainly portable—it’s neither as heavy and large as some acoustic amps, nor as light and compact as others in its power class. The black vinyl covering and grey grille over a medium-density fiberboard cabinet is classic VHT: austere but attractive, hearkening back to old-school British amplifiers of the 1960s. And with both a 1/4-inch line out and XLR DI out jack on the rear panel, it offers great options for sending your post-EQ tone out to front-of-house, allowing you to use the amp as a pro-grade monitor and a preamp/tone-shaper for those bigger rooms.
VHT has long had a reputation for no-nonsense electric guitar amps that place the emphasis on power and clarity over idiosyncratic coloration, and the True Acoustic 60 definitely speaks to that focused approach from an acoustic point of view. With a street price of $449.99, it compares favorably to coveted small-box acoustic amps more than twice its price. And given its ability to deliver clean, bold, and loud signals for both guitar and voice simultaneously, it even gives the current crop of premium personal PAs a run for their money. It’s an amp that does all the heavy lifting for you, leaving it to your discretion to season your tone to taste. vhtamp.com
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.