7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300

3rd Sep 2009 | 09:49

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
Matamp Minimat II
Ask MusicRadar: the results

It's not easy fitting amps into neat little groups. Valve vs solid state, power levels and sound options all matter for different reasons… but, thanks to the power of Ask MusicRadar and you, the gear-loving, music-making community, we’ve nailed one group once and for all!

Here you will find a gallery of the very best low-powered tube amp heads under £300 as chosen by you. And by scrolling through to the end (following our poll-to-end-all-polls), you’ll find our top pick. First up, though: Matamp’s Little Rock…

Why you love it:

“Matamp Little Rock. Although they don't make them any more. Is that cheating?” (Thanks, pedro_santiago, it kind of is cheating but we like fatfreddy’s reply…)

“@pedro_santiago, the Matamp Little Rock is indeed a little gem but the modern equivalent would be the Minimat II - i've got one and it kicks ass. Check it.” (Thanks, fatfreddy)

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
Epiphone Valve Junior
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“If you want a cool sounding small amp for recording with a quality clean sound at bedroom levels, then you simply have to try a Valve Junior out.” (Read the full Epiphone Valve Junior Combo review)

Why you love it:

“Small category! The Epiphone Valve Junior head can be had for £99. The combo version is let down by the speaker so the head plus decent cab is a better buy.” (Thanks, erictheweary)

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
Z.Vex Nano Head
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Capturing a world-class drive sound has never been so easy, and no studio, regardless of size, should be without one.” (Read the full Z.Vex Nano Head review)

Why you love it:

“For something a little more leftfield, check out the Nano Head by Z-vex. It's tiny! Like a stompbox, it near enough fits in the palm of your hand, but don't let that put you off! The sound is amazing.” (Thanks, alonetogether)

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
Blackheart BH5H Little Giant
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“With tonal quality that belies the price, this is a useful addition to your studio set-up.” (Read the full Blackheart BH5H Little Giant Head review)

Why you love it:

“Blackheart Little Giant deserves some love in this list – lush tone and really cheap considering how good it is.” (Thanks, spoonking)

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
Vox Night Train
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Third place looks a lot like (and is about the same size as) a retro toaster. This 15-watt head was designed with assistance from US amp legend Tony Bruno and offers great versatility from such a simple circuit.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The Night Train may look a little like a toy, but when it comes to tone it outguns many other small heads – looks cool, sounds hot!”

Why you love it:

“The Vox Night Train is over £300 but only just.” (Thanks, erictheweary, it’s close enough for us)

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
Blackstar HT-5
Ask MusicRadar: the results

While Blackstar's HT-5 received the most shortlist nominations hands down, it was pipped to the post by just a few votes when it came down to the poll. It's tiny 12BH7 valve packs a remarkable punch, however, and is more than worthy of its silver medal.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Stellar tone at a remarkably low price - quite simply the HT5 is a great amp that we think is going to fly off shelves.” (Read the full Blackstar HT5-S Mini Stack review)

Why you love it:

“HT-5 all the way.” (Thanks, BucketheadRules)

“Blackstar HT5 - I have the combo and love it.” (Thanks, Fretwired)

“HT5. No contest.” (Thanks, Jamieh)

“Looked at the HT 5 the other day and it has a feel of something proper quality, feels like a bargain for the price. It has an immediate rock tone that's easy to get on with, although maybe not the one for anyone trying to create a more individual tone.” (thanks, erictheweary)

“HT-5 without a doubt.” (Thanks, GearAddict)

“HT5 head.” (Thanks, manicguitarist2)

“HT-5 is unbeatable. I play everything from acoustic finger style stuff, through to heavy metal and its absolutely fantastic! Will have it forever :D.” (Thanks, Pooleo)

“HT5.” (Thanks, slate)

“HT5.” (Thanks, crunchman)

“Having just bought the HT5 combo, I'd have to vote for the head version.” (Thanks, ross4973)

“I'm torn to be honest. The Tiny Terror is undoubtedly the shizzle, but the Blackstar HT5 is also damn good... Can I vote for both? (Thanks, thelynxeffect, we suppose you can)

7 best low-powered tube amp heads under £300
And the top pick is...
Orange Tiny Terror

From pristine clean to filthy drive sounds of the highest quality, the Tiny Terror really is a little stunner. Congratulations Orange, a well-deserved first place!

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Orange’s first Chinese-made valve amp is a worthy addition to any backline or studio. The Tiny Terror oozes cool and sounds superb… prepare to want one!” (Read the full Orange Tiny Terror Head review)

Why you love it:

“Tiny Terror. Despite its name it does clean superbly as well as the crunch and overdriven sounds. Running it clean it really allows you to hear your guitars voice.” (Thanks, mcsdan)

“Tiny Terror without a doubt.” (Thanks, bigdawg)

“I would have thought the Tiny Terror takes it by a mile. A band supported us and he turned up with one and blew my amp away. It was a Carlos Santana/Rolling Stones moment when you looked round to see where all the noise was coming from and it was a tiny little amp and speaker set up! Going to get one.” (Thanks, juleskahuna)

“I'm torn to be honest. The Tiny Terror is undoubtedly the shizzle, but the Blackstar HT5 is also damn good... Can I vote for both? (Thanks, thelynxeffect, again)

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