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Orange launch Rocker 15, Rocker 32 combos and Kongpressor comp
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Orange launch Rocker 15, Rocker 32 combos and Kongpressor comp

by Stephen Charlton2017/01/19

Orange have a formidable line-up already, and it just got even better, with the announcement of the all-tube Rocker 15 and Rocker 32 combo amps. The company also launched the Kongpressor and Orange Acoustic Pre at NAMM 2017. The former is an octo-compressor pedal and the latter is the company’s first stereo valve acoustic preamp/active DI. Orange state all four products are now available from dealers. Audio of each product can be heard at the official product listings linked above.

Let’s look at the new amps first. Orange are building off their existing 30-watt combo the Rocker 30, but with some new tweaks and a cut-down version. The new Rocker 15 is a portable 1×10 combo that can be set to 0.5, 1, 7 or 15 watts of output. If you want an Orange microamp, this is as close as you’re going to get, as Orange amp design head Ade Emsley explains:

“I refuse to make a dedicated one-watt amp, because it can’t be used with a drum set. It can only be used in the bedroom. But this amp can venture out of the bedroom.”

Orange Rocker 15 made for the (small) stage

The two-channel Orange Rocker 15 is designed to take on small venues. Given that it’s all-tube, I’d say that’s a reasonable claim. It features a Voice of the World Gold Label speaker and “beefy transformers” to make the most of the power on tap. The power amp has 2 x EL84 tubes while the preamp has 3 x ECC83 (12AX7) and 1 x ECC81 (12AT7) tubes. It comes at a lower-back friendly weight of 13.6kg (29.98lb), which is 3.3kg lighter than the Tiny Terror combo.

orange rocker 15 namm 2017

The Orange Rocker 15 control scheme.

Unlike the 15-watt Tiny Terror, the Rocker 15 has a (valve-driven) effects loop, so it won’t chop your delay to bits. Judging from the official Orange demo it runs the gamut from tasty clean, to vibey overdrive and all the way into high gain. The high gain has a very old school metal vibe, as you would expect from Orange. There’s a limit to how much low end you’d be able to get from the 1×10 speaker but I guess they really went for a portable focus. Don’t expect to get vastly different results in this department from the Rocker 32 either, as that has a 2×10 speaker set-up.

Rocker 32 is the “perfect pedal amp”

Now, onto the Orange Rocker 32. Now just to clear up any confusion, I’ll let  Emsley fill you in again on the origin of the name:

“It’s called the Rocker 32, not because it’s 32 watts, but because it has two output stages.”

The Rocker 32 is designed to be the perfect pedal amp, with vibe as a regular amp rather than just being a bland pedal platform. It’s an all-valve 30-watt stereo guitar combo. It remains relatively portable at 23.3kg (44.75lb). The core of the design is based around a stereo effects loop, intended for “epic panning delays and massive soundscapes”. You can also send effects through one speaker and your dry tone through the other for greater clarity onstage. Orange have also wired the amp in a way that gives it a wider spread of sound than the average twin speaker combo.

orange rocker 32 namm 2017

The controls of the Orange Rocker 32.

The Natural channel has only a single control (volume) and is intended for use with pedals. Orange left it with clean headroom but you can also hit it with overdrive pedals. The Dirty channel has three-band EQ, gain and a master volume control. The amp can operate in 30-watt or 15-watt modes. As you might expec, the Rocker 32 tube configuration builds off the Rocker 15 design. The 30-watt combo has 4 x EL84 tubes in the power amp, while the preamp features 4 x ECC83/12AX7 and 2 x ECC81/12AT7 tubes.

Orange Kongpressor: Sustain for days

Moving on to the pedal side of things, the Orange Kongpressor is an analogue Class A compression pedal. Emsley said it was a long journey to releasing the pedal:

“My problem with the comps out there was that the bloom was never smooth enough. A good compressor should have a very smooth release bloom. I spent two years designing this to get the bloom really smooth… I’ll put it up against any compressor in the market and it will slay it.”

At lower levels the Kongpressor remains transparent while fattening up the signal. It brings out a lot presence and can brighten up the signal under certain settings. Orange state:

“Even at extreme settings, the tone always remains musical with great feel under the fingers.”

12dB of clean gain is available via the pedals volume control, so the Kongpressor can be used as a clean boost. When you bring up the compression control, the pedal will bring your lead lines forward with loads of sustain on tap. The control configuration is: volume (output level), squash (compression level), release, attack and chime (high end).

If you haven’t got your fill of NAMM 2017 coverage yet, we recently interviewed NAMM performer and the man behind the three-string shovel guitar, Justin Johnson.

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About The Author
Stephen Charlton
Stephen Charlton is a musician, journalist and editor.

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