Features: I got my hands on the head and cab at the same time, so I'll include information on both in this review. First off, the head is a one channel 15 watt amp with master volume, bass, mid, treble and gain. The amp has an on/off switch as well as a standby/pentode/triode 3 way switch. The pentode mode is the full 15 watts and the triode mode is 7 watts. There is a tube driven (12AT7) effects loop. There are speaker outputs for 4, 8 and (2) 16 ohms. There is a very sturdy stainless steel handle coming out of the top of the head and it also came with a nifty little gig bag (with the Orange name displayed proudly on the outside, of course) with a pocket for the AC cable and an instrument cable. The gig bag also comes with a padded shoulder strap. There is also a small switch for international voltages. The power amp is ran by 2 EL84 tubes, the Preamp by 3 12AX7 tubes, and the effects loop has a 12AT7 in there. The amp was designed/modeled after the dirt channel on the Rockerverb 100, as this is what Jim Root plays both in the studio and on tour. The amp is actually pretty heavy for its size with the casing being made of steel, it weighs in at approximately 12 pounds. It looks similar to the Orange Dark Terror with some slight differences.
The speaker cabinet is officially named Signature #4 Jim Root PPC212 Closed Back Speaker Cab on the Orange website. The matching cab is a 2x12 with the speakers being offset, so a little more narrow and taller than your regular 2x12. The cabinet is made of birch ply, and is black with a black basket weave grill cloth. There are little skid feet on the bottom, and sturdy recessed handles on each side. It has two 16 ohm inputs with a closed back. The speakers are Orange branded and get the job done. The Orange logo is on the front middle of the grill cloth, and Jim Root's signature and #4 are embroidered in Orange on the upper left of the grill cloth. On their website it states the cab weighs 52 pounds, but in all honesty it feels a lot more like 35 pounds to me, but I haven't tried to put it down on any scales to check. My point being that I haven't really had any trouble moving the cab around, especially with the handles on the side.
I've tried the amp and cab jamming by myself in my den, jamming with a few friends, and recently on a recording project I've been working on. I've found the 15 watts to be ideal for my purposes as far as getting to the sweet spot without having to wear ear plugs, but easily loud enough for jamming with friends I imagine it would be fine for smaller shows without having to be miked, as well. I find the EQ to be really responsive and have experimented a lot between scooping mids and playing more mid heavy classic rock and blues. The gain structure on this amp definitely provides an awesome range between classic rock and high gain modern metal. In regards to metal, whatever obscure metal subgenre you play, this should get you there. I was also really enjoying the tube driven effects loop as it really seems to help with getting a more refined and professional tone. For those curious, the only effects in my loop where a chorus, delay/echo and a phaser. // 9
Sound: My main ax is a Carvin DC145 with C22's and a stock single coil in the middle position. That being said, I also play on a fairly regular basis a G&L Tribute Series S500 and an Ibanez ArtCore AXD83P. I've played all 3 through the amp, as all three have distinctly different pickups, different configurations, etc. I play everything from outlaw country to thrash metal, and the one thing this amp doesn't do is it doesn't clean up enough for country music. On the other hand, I don't know many people who would be buying a Jim Root signature amp for their country/bluegrass band. With that being said, by tweaking amp and guitar I could get a much cleaner sound than I thought I would be able to get, especially with the neck pickup on the G&L Tribute Series S500 and the coil-tapped neck pickup and the middle pickup on the Carvin DC145. It was a matter of rolling down the volume on the guitar, rolling down the gain on the amp and playing with the EQ for a minute. It is definitely clean enough for clean rock and metal guitar.
The Orange Signature #4 Jim Root Terror shines playing everything from classic rock to metal in this range of dirt and grit the amp performs like an absolute champ. Good chugging, good articulation, picks up pick hand dynamics very well and pinch harmonics are really easy to squeeze out of it, even through lower output pickups. I found myself going back and back again to some of the mid-scooped high gain sounds. I've found that when you turn the gain up, and especially when you also scoop the mids, that the signal seems to compress in most amps but I'm getting a really great full-bodied tone out of this 15 watt beast. The 7 watt mode is also pretty awesome, very musical and usable, with a slightly darker and slicker sound than I get at the 15 watt setting. Both the pentode and triode modes have their uses and each is just another flavor in the range of tones you can pull out of the Jim Root Terror. I found the 7 watt mode works a little better for me when I am playing blues solos, especially. The amp is pretty quiet regardless of what pickup configuration I had running to it. Also, the feedback is some of the most controllable feedback I've ever played with if I hadn't mentioned it before I've got a nice streak of old school 90's grunge in me, so of course I have to get any amp I mess with to feedback and see what I can do with it.
I played the amp through a Blackheart 12 cab as well, and a no-name homemade 2x10, and without going into reviewing those cabs they reassured me that the amp does what it does through either of these cabs, though I strongly prefer the Orange Jim Root PPC212. The Orange PPC212 sounded good out of the box, but probably the 3rd or 4th day I felt like I was beginning to really get the cab broken in and it felt like the tone really opened up and it sounds better to me each time I play it now. I've got good results miking the amp (using a generic rip off of a Shure SM57, hopefully to be replaced with an actual decent mic soon), and also tried miking it was an MXL condenser which worked out pretty good, also. While it sounds great I noticed it even more when miked I always feel self conscious about my guitar tone when recording and this is the first time I've recorded a track and listened back without tweaking anything, no messing with EQ, etc., and felt like my tone was right where I wanted it. Part of this I will attribute to how easy it is to dial in the tone you want, and part I would have to attribute to the 212 close-backed cab. These are individually and collectively great pieces of equipment. // 10
Reliability & Durability: It is made of steel. The construction is super sturdy, and the head is very solid. With the added security of the included gig bag with the padded shoulder strap there shouldn't be any problems. This amp hasn't even been on the market long enough to say how this stands up over years, but you do have Orange's track record to look at which is remarkable in regards to durability and the longevity of their equipment. The PPC212 cab is also built tough as I stated earlier it is constructed from birch ply, with solid recessed handles on the side. It has steel corner caps (painted black to stick with the motif) and feet on the bottom. I expect this amp to live a long and healthy life. I would gig with this amp with no back up without any worries. The head is supremely portable and the cab is designed to transport. With proper care, re-tubing when needed and no actual abuse to the amp I don't see there being any problems with gigging and jamming with it into the foreseeable future. // 10
Overall Impression: I play a fairly wide range of music, from outlaw country to thrash metal. Probably most often I play overdriven blues, grunge, thrash metal and lately I've been messing around with noise pop. For my purposes this amp does everything except outlaw country. On the other hand, I've never encountered an amp that does a good job of country that does a good job of much anything else. This amp is great tone-wise for 95% of what I play and due to its range and portability it is a great fit for my needs. Especially with the heavier tones - the hard rock, grunge and thrash metal, I've never been able to get a tone this good. I've been playing for five years or so, and in that time I've played a pretty wide range of amplifiers. I currently own besides this amp a Peavey Transtube EFX 212, a small solid state Orange Crush practice amp, and a Blackheart Little Giant with the matching 12 cab. Previously I have owned or played extensively a Vox AC15C1, a Jet City PicoValve, a Peavey Vypyr, a Peavey Classic 50 and numerous other solid state and low wattage tube amps. The Orange Jim Root Terror absolutely gives me the best rock and metal tone that I've gotten from any amp I've played enough to give an informed opinion about.
There isn't really anything I can complain about. Being super picky I could ask for a clean channel, but at this price and quality it just isn't available. I have a lot of respect for Orange as a brand and I feel like they've done a lot to maintain the integrity of the brand name, which is more than can be said for most of their competitors. The Orange Signature #4 Jim Root Terror is continuing this legacy. If this were lost or stolen I would seriously grieve as I'm a poor man and it would take me a while to save up and replace it. I would definitely buy it again, and would strongly suggest it if you are considering especially if you play classic rock, grunge or one of the many metal subgenres. What is my favorite feature of this amp? That's hard to choose, so pick one from the list: it's portable, it's sturdy, tube driven effects loop, awesome gain structure, and it just straight up looks mean. // 9
- Brandon East (c) 2012