Purchased from: Dawsons Music
Features — 7
The Orange CR120H is a very simple, two channel amp based entirely on the popular Rockerverb tube amp. It comes with three inbuilt reverb settings and the capacity for a footswitch. It's simple as hell and a far cry from the multitude of digital, modelling amps/heads that now abound in the market. Its simplicity could be a negative to some but to myself it's exactly what I was looking for. Two channels, lots of watts and a reverb. Simple but effective!
Sadly it didn't come with any footswitches, cases or speaker cables but what you gonna do. Your spending c. £300 for a budget head, you can't really expect loads of freebies for that price.
Sound — 8
As with the minimal features, the amps sound is fairly simplistic. The clean channel is more limited than the dirty channel, with literally just a bass, treble and volume knob. While not particular changeable it sounds fantastic and you can achieve a multitude of different clean tones by simply playing around with your guitar itself. Utilizing volume and tone knobs in tandem with a pick-up selector is a wonderfully old-school and effective activity that seems to be falling down by the wayside due to immense amount of options available to guitarists at the other end of the signal chain. Myself, I've very much enjoyed taking a bit of a history lesson here and putting myself in the frame of mind of those great 60's and 70's guitar players who were often armed with 1 guitar, one simple amp with no inbuilt distortion and maybe a fuzz face and wah. It worked for them in ways that we are still trying to unfold and by hell, I wouldn't mind making it work for me either.
The dirty channel is an equally simple affair with a separate volume knob, a bass, mid and treble nob and a gain knob. The distortion is fairly clean and clear until you turn the nob to the mid point between 1 o' clock and 2 o' clock which is when it turns from an AC/DC style crunch to a heavy metal style bark. My band plays proggy doom rock and setting the mid to full and the bass/treble to around 1 o' clock at that gain setting is perfect. Any higher and it's starts to fuzz out a little too much and loses clarity. This may well be due to my cab, which is a Marshall 1960B 412. This amp is stocked with GT-75 Celestion speakers which all Orange enthusiasts seem to decry as spawn of the anti-christ due to their inbuilt mid-scoop. Myself I have noticed this but I've found this EQ setting largely overrides it and fits my style perfectly.
The separate volume knobs for the dirty and clean channels are also controlled by a master volume knob.
The three inbuilt reverbs (spring, hall and plate) add a great amount of variability to both the clean sounds and the distorted sounds. Spring and hall seem perfect for atmospheric clean parts or soaring guitar leads. At the minute i tend to keep the dial on around 9 o' clock to just add a little depth to my sound.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Contextually, this is the main reason I bought the amp. It's simple, solid state and analogue. Thus by nature it is ultra-reliable and a great back-up for my main amp. The finish and build quality are outstanding (perhaps a little better than my main amp) and I have no hesitation in saying i could comfortably rely on this amp as both a back-up and main amp if I needed to.
I've only ever had one solid state amp leave me hanging and that was actually a hybrid anyway so I'm fairly confident this amp is gonna have my back for years to come!
Overall Impression — 8
I've had a bit of infatuation with Orange amps for years, due in part to the number of bands that I follow which endorse them and also in part to their very distinctive British aesthetic. I bought this amp as a back-up to my Marshall DSL100H tube amp, which recently popped a tube and gave me a stark reminder of my guitar rigs mortality. I bought this on a whim based entirely off the brand, price and number of reviews and I couldn't be happier with the purchase. It's a perfect back-up amp and who knows, over time it may end up stealing precedence from my Marshall Head. It certainly has a great sound and I'm a sucker for simplicity.