Price paid: £ 547
Purchased from: DV247
Sound — 10
I use a Fender Strat plus and Gibson Les Paul Standard, and play a variety of stuff as I am in a covers band - from funk, to rock and pop. This amp put a serious smile on my face the instant I plugged it in. The clean channel chimes nicely and has a lot of headroom, even at low wattage. Used as a home practice amp, you will find it difficult to dial in overdriven crunch from the channel without being loud, but that is overcome by using the dirty channels versatitlity. I did find it lacked some brightness on the Les Paul and without a bright Switch does need a lot of treble dialled in but nothing much to worry about there. If you play around with the output, you will get clean sounds at very loud volumes, so great for gigging. The dirty channel is where this amp is at and I LOVE it. Do not be put off by the lack of dedicated EQ - the mid shape allows everything from classic 70'2 rock with loads of mids to serious metal mid scooped sounds. When used with the gain setting, there is so much tonal range to be found its mad. As this is a Class A amp, it reacts very well to using your guitar volume to dial in tone/gain changes. With the gain at 10 o'clock and teh volume on either guitar at 3-5, you can get that rhythm crunch sound you are looking for without any serious loss of tone or listening volume. Crank your guitar up and you dial in a lovely overdrivven distortion sound even at this low gain setting. Start pushing the gain upwards and you get more gain than you'll ever need in my opionion. Even metal nuts will not be dissapointed. I had this thing doing Gary Moore - "Parisean Walkways" so beautifully with gain at around 4 oclock and mid shape at 2oclock. It made everything good again. Playing around with the output does make a lot of difference tonally too - for example, the clean channel in 2v4 output gives a very different galssiness to the sound. As you would expect, less compression with the more tubes - so you can get a sound to suit your style. The half/full output was less noticeable in terms of overall sound change but clearly gives that bit more oopmh.
Overall Impression — 10
It is a brilliant versatile amp that I can't wait to get out on the road and in to the studio with. With the variable output, it can adapt to any situation you have. The sounds are lovely and I have fallen in love with my guitars again, as I find a whole new tonal quality to them I never realised were possible. The thing about this amp is there is no room for mistakes - it will make you a better player. Because the gain channel still allows you to hear the individual notes, you simply have to be on your game. It just rings out. I looked at loads of amps before settling on this - and quite simply it was the sound it made that made me buy it. Forget what you think is right on paper - you MUST listen to the amp. When I did, it was so far ahead of the others (Blackstar, Fender, Engl - OK, Mesa Boogie was ona par but it is almost 3 times the price!) in terms of quality of sound. Lack of reverb may be a issue for some, but then buy a pedal and throw it on the FX loop. I have never written a review on my amp before and I had to to let others know about this one - I think that speaks volumes.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Built like a brick sh*t house - not had it long enough to comment on reliability but I doubt that will be an issue given Orange's reputation. Tubes look easy to service and are very well shielded - got no background noise (unlike my Marshall Haze which buzzed like mad as you cranked it up).
Features — 9
Class A two channel combo amp, FX loop (valve driven), switchable output (30,15,7 watts), no reverb. 12 inch celestian speaker. The clean channel has volume, bass and treble controls. The bass also controls the mids in that as you increases the bass it reduces the mids. I found that the treble needs to be quite high in order to get a nice twang. The dirty channel has gain, mid shape and volume. Don't be mislead by lack of tonal function though - see below. There is a half/full output swtich at front and a 2/4 tube Switch at the back - therefore you can have: 2 tubes, half output - 7 watts 2 tubes, full output - 15 watts 4 tubes, half output - 15 watts 4 tubes, full output - 30 watts Various speaker outputs at the back, send and reutn for FX loop and a footswitch input (not supplied). While you may think there is a lack of features - the high rating is because it is the ease of use and dialling in of sounds that makes this worthy!