Founded in the 1960s, Orange was one of the companies that helped to shape the British amp sound. Their sound is known for being warm but crunchy; many guitarists consider Orange amps to have the perfect balance of tonal depth and rocking distortion. The original Orange designs used a tube amplification system and carried a correspondingly high price tag. In recent years, they’ve developed a series of combo and solid state amplifiers that deliver the same quality of sound at a more affordable price.
Whether you’re looking for power or finesse in your new amplifier, Orange has a model that will work for you. Below we go into our recommendations for the best Orange amps on the market.
If you want to shell out the dough, the AD30TC is a versatile and powerful tube combo amp. It has a classic open-back 2X12” design with a plywood shell and two Celestion Vintage 30 speakers that combine to give it a full, warm tone that’s still got an edge with a lively top end. As a twin channel amp, it has two completely separate signal paths with independent gain and master controls that can each be set to play clean or with distortion. Play on channel one for a creamy, mellow tone, or use channel two to beef up the midrange and give you more attack and response, especially in the lower end.
The TH30C is in many ways the perfect amp for a gigging guitarist, giving you plenty of power for club and bar gigs and a similar tonal variety to the AD30TC but in a more portable 1X12” package. It delivers a remarkably big sound for a 30-watt amp, thanks in large part to the installed 12” Orange Voice of the World speaker. The clean channel offers interactive bass and treble control similar to the brand’s Rockerverb amps, while the dirty channel’s four-stage system gives you the powerful gain and the tone shaping capabilities of the Thunderverb, making it in essence two superb amps in one.
The Crush Pro series is Orange’s first line of solid state performance amplifiers, giving guitarists the quality of sound and construction Orange is known for without the high tube amp price tag. Like the TH30C, it comes with a 12” Voice of the World speaker that gives this amp the clarity and definition Orange is known for. The clean channel uses a two band EQ that gives the sound impressive warmth, while the dirty channel offers four stage gain and a three band EQ for a variety of overdrive coloration. The included digital reverb has settings for spring, hall, or plate, and the amp’s transparent effects loop lets you add your favorite pedals and know they’ll sound great. Hands down, they’re among the best Orange amps.
Crush Pix CR12L
Orange is known for their combo and tube amplifiers, but if you’re looking for an Orange amp that costs you less than a hundred dollars, their solid state models are equally well constructed. The Crush Pix is a small amp but gives you the same sound quality as its bigger brothers, making it a perfect practice amp or a great choice for jamming with friends and small venue performances. The Crush Pix lets you customize your sound with dual gain controls and a three band EQ. The exterior is made with the same care and attention as the brand’s larger offerings, both attractive and durable. It’s likely the best Orange amp for the money.
Tube vs. Solid-State Amps
The original Orange models of the late 1960s used vacuum tubes to amplify the signal. Tubes add a distinctive warmth and musicality to the sound that can’t be replicated by digital amplification, but they’re more finicky, more prone to breaking, and more expensive, both to make and to maintain.
Solid state amps, on the other hand, use electronics like diodes and transistors to provide the signal amplification. With solid state technology, it’s easier to get a consistent tone across individual units within the product line. Solid state amplifiers can also offer a variety of different tonal options at the flip of a switch and are less susceptible to damage, both damage from drops and other impacts with the amp and from the wear and tear of regular use.
With the AD30TC (see full specs) and the TH30C (see full specs), Orange uses a hybrid system of both tube and solid state amplification. This gives you the best of both designs, using tubes in the pre-amp stage to shape the tone and circuitry to provide the power. Combo amps have the tone characteristics of tube amps and the durability and control of a solid-state model, though they tend to fall on the higher end of the price scale because of the care and attention required in assembling the tube components.
On the other hand, Orange’s solid state amplifiers, like the Crush CR60C, are a great option for players who want the distinctive Orange sound but don’t have a grand to drop on a tube amp.
Speaker Size and Configuration
Another factor that will have a big impact on both the price and the sound of your amplifier is the size and number of the speakers installed in the cabinet. The more speakers you have, the more volume and power your amp can put out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that more is better for every player.
If you want that crunchy sound Orange amps are known for you’ll want to play your amp on the higher end of its volume range, meaning an amp with too many speakers can be overpowering in smaller venues and especially problematic when you’re practicing at home. If you want the power of a 2X12” cabinet like the AD30TC, you may want to also invest in a smaller amp, like the Crush Pix, to use during your practice sessions.
The size of your speakers will have an impact on both the dynamic power and the responsiveness of your amp. Smaller speakers will give you more attack definition and better articulation, especially in the low end; larger speakers generate more power but may be too bass-heavy and some players find the end result a bit muddled. For most guitarist, a 10” or 12” speaker will give you the ideal balance of volume and clarity for the best overall sound. Bottom line: finding the so-called the best Orange amp is highly dependent on your own personal needs and space. Good luck!