Price paid: $ 79
Purchased from: eBay Dealer
Features: The Orange CR6S is 6 solid state watts, with two 4 speakers and runs off of either two 9 volt batteries or an AC adaptor (sold separately). The CR6S has a built in chromatic tuner that works really well, an aux-in, and an earphone plug. There are controls for Gain, Tone, Volume and a separate volume for the Aux-In. A button engages and disengages the tuner. The Stereo Micro Crush has 4 black rubber knob feet, and solid design and construction. This amp has a guitar strap button on each side so theoretically you could wear the CR6S on a guitar strap. There is a red LED light to indicate when the amp is turned on and the amp came new with 2 very cheap made in China' 9 volt batteries installed. These batteries are still going strong after about a 2 hour playing binge when the amp was being pushed the entire time. I'm curious to see how long this can go before you hear the sound quality degrade or lose volume, etc.
I would have liked to have had a built in reverb, and I think the AC adaptor should be included with this amp. Three band EQ isn't a realistic expectation on an amp this size and price, and I don't have any problems dialing in some solid tones, but I still miss the absence of a 3 band EQ. I would have given this a rating of an 8 if the adaptor had been included or if there was built in reverb, and I would go so far as to give it a 9 if there was a 3 band EQ. // 7
Sound: Immediately I have to say this amp gets a lot louder than it has any right to get judging by its size. These two little 4 speakers can really scream. Also, as has been my experience with most battery powered amplifiers, you don't normally get full range of the potential volume because the little speakers start to sound like they are rattling around and about to shake loose before you get to full volume. This is not the case with the Stereo Micro Crush cranked all the way up I wasn't getting any undesirable noise from the speakers, even with the gain turned to 10. You can, however, get some very controllable feedback at high volume and gain.
What this amp does well is clean chording, overdriven blues and classic rock and riffing metal (NWOBHM, etc.). You can play AC/DC covers all day long. Seems to do a fairly good job of grunge, grunge metal and garage rock as well. Not exceptional (but passable) for thrash metal aka Megadeth and early Metallica, but I don't know an amp this size that is battery powered that does a great job in that genre. You just can't get the chug you want from two 4 speakers. I played a G&L Tribute Series S-500 (think strat), an Xaviere XV-599 (think LP with high output passive humbuckers), and an Ibanez Artcore AXD83P (low to mid level output humbuckers) and I was able to get some good tones from all of them, but I get better cleans with the G&L, and I got better distorted tones from the Xaviere. Really good classic crunch from the Ibanez ArtCore.
The cleans on the Stereo Micro Crush were truly amazing at this price and size with the gain between 2 and 4 (between 8 and 10 o'clock) the cleans sparkle and shimmer. Just playing through a few open chord songs I really got caught up and spent close to an hour and really enjoyed the tone from this amp. Once you get the gain up to about 5 (or 12 o'clock) you seem to get some distortion with a more aggressive pick attack. The gain turned up higher and it takes you from Joe Bonamassa up to around Megadeth territory. The distortion sounds nice until you get the volume and gain at 10, and then it doesn't sound bad, but it sounds like the distortion loses a little tightness and gets just a tad sloppy. Of course, there are some utility uses for that sound, too, I guess, but just not my cup of tea. // 8
Reliability & Durability: What I look for in a battery powered amp is a solid battery life of a couple of hours you should not intend to play a battery powered amp full time without an adaptor because that gets expensive fast. The way I look at it, if I'm traveling, camping, busking, etc., I will need up to about 2 hours of battery life and this gives at least that. The Stereo Micro Crush feels solid for its size and is heavy and seems well built. Even so, I wouldn't trust it falling more than about 4 feet or so
I had read about someone who received their Micro Crush Stereo and the joints had to be glued back together, but mine is fine and I am not writing a review of the specific one that individual received, but I did think it warranted mention. I think this amp would easily survive and inadvertent kick, which is a realistic hazard if busking, camping, etc.
The guitar strap knobs look full-sized and safe, especially as this amp is nowhere near as heavy as a guitar, and this is a good feature if you are busking. You have the option to wear this amp and avoid a lot of potential damage. The rubber feet are good, as they protect the amp from moisture, dirt, etc. on the ground. On the other hand, this amp could have been made a lot tougher and being a battery powered amp the manufacturer should consider their target consumer plans to play the amp somewhere away from a wall socket, also known as the outdoors where all kinds of nefarious accidents can befall your equipment. The manufacturer should build battery power amps very tough, possibly even consider some rudimentary water proofing (not talking about playing in the rain, but avoiding damage if you get some sudden humidity) and the corners should be capped to keep the seams secure. I am giving this a rating of a 4, but I also know and want to point out that I haven't seen a single battery powered amp made tough the way they should be. // 4
Overall Impression: My biggest gripe is the adaptor is sold separately and costs right under 20 bucks. The adaptor should come with the amp, and they could maybe bump up the price of the amp by about 10 bucks or so, and that would be the ideal situation. I understand the marketing concepts behind what they are doing and I loathe those concepts. Spending the money for the adaptor still puts you in at under 100 bucks, but I can't feel good about spending 20 bucks for an adaptor.
The Stereo Micro Crush sounds better than I expected and the battery life seems to be respectable. I bought this amp as part of a convoluted plan on my part to get over my anxiety of playing in front of people by going and busking, and this amp will meet my needs in that respect. Now that I know what I have to work with, I'm working on an hour or so of good instrumental material (I can't sing.) The good thing is that with my mp3 player plugged in I've got instant backing tracks, and changing tunings or just getting back in tune will be quick and easy with the built in tuner. Despite my rant about the adaptor, I am very pleased with the amp itself. // 7
- Brandon East (c) 2011