Orange amplifiers have a legendary reputation: everyone from Jimmy Page of Zeppelin-fame to Mastodon, SWANS, and Ricky Tillo from Lady Gaga’s backing band use these amps. I recall the intimidation I felt staring at the stage of a Boris show, two Orange amps towering at least a head above the players. That reputation is exceeded only by their fat, dirty, tone-goodness sound.
Only one problem: you live in an apartment and lugging a 120-watt full stack up the stairs would not only ruin your back, you’d be homeless in a matter of days. This is where the new 2015 Orange Crush 12 combo amp comes to save you (and your back). Sporting 12 watts of pure analogue solid-state circuitry in a single channel, the Crush 12 delivers the tone you want at levels that don’t require the use of earplugs or roadies.
Standing just shy of a foot tall, the Crush 12 is the smallest of Orange’s new 2015 Crush line. Encased in basketweave vinyl with ‘picture frame’ edging and a woven speaker grille cloth, this amp will withstand years of use and abuse. In fact, years of use and abuse will only make the thing look more interesting! Orange offers this amp in their classic, 1968 Orange vinyl or black with the same grille cloth. The cabinet material is what you’d expect from a company like Orange: solid with no compromises. No need to worry about kicking it over when you’re rocking out in your bedroom.
The panel features a mono input, a 1/4″ headphone/line output, control knobs for volume, gain, overdrive, and a 3-band EQ, complete with their iconic hieroglyphics. The headphone/line out features CabSIM cabinet emulation, something that I will touch on below. Some may complain that there is no auxiliary input, which has become standard on bedroom practice amps, but I certainly don’t see this as a deal breaker.
The solid-state amplifier design keeps the weight down, while the internal circuitry is designed maximize tone.
A single channel is all you need here: the tone-rich circuitry mentioned before has a high gain, four stage preamp that faithfully recreates the Dirty channel of their classic Rockerverb series amplifiers in a solid-state design. The overdrive and gain controls allow one to get that perfect amount of grit for the song, while the volume keeps levels just where they need to be. Cleans shine and sparkle at high levels without unwanted distortion or clipping, while the overdrive can cut through the thickest of textures and let your leads soar on the wings of long sustain. You’ll be saying to your friends, “The sustain… listen to it…”
I was really amazed by the clean tones pumping out of this thing: if there’s one place to judge an amp, it’s by the clean channel and the Crush 12 was much more than I expected. Sharp and crisp on the bridge pickup, fat and robust on the neck.
The use of two
The 3-band EQ is a blessing on small amps such as the Crush 12. Too often, the EQ on small practice amps is relegated to simple high and low adjustments and occasionally a single adjustment for both! For those players that really like to tweak their tone, the 3-band allows one to sculpt, modify, and perfect their sound.
The Crush 12 uses a single 6″ Orange-designed Voice of the World speaker. Designed to strike a balance between modern lows and vintage highs, the speaker maintains clarity even when you have a string of distortion pedals driving the amp.
But you want that giant, 4×12 cabinet sound, you say? Orange thought that you might, which is why they use the CabSIM circuit on their headphone/line out jack. CabSIM emulates all the nuance, power, and tone of a mic’d Orange 4×12 cabinet loaded with their signature Voice of the World speakers, without all the bulk. This feature makes it easy to plug right in to your mixer and have the big sound Orange is known for right in your home studio.
My only complaint is the lack of an onboard reverb. Without this, using the built-in overdrive pre-reverb is only possible using the line out. If that is necessary, you can opt for the Orange 20RT, which comes with a host of other features including reverb, auxiliary input, two channels, and an onboard tuner. Not to mention more power!
The Orange Crush 12 is one of the best practice amps you can find for the price made by one of the best amplifier manufacturers around. Most bedroom practice amps are aimed at beginning guitarists and often have lackluster sonic characteristics and controls. The Crush 12, though, delivers legendary Orange tone and construction at bedroom levels and a price that won’t leave you eating pasta for the next six months.