Orange OR15 Review
With a Strong Fruit Flavor
Every day that goes by it is more obvious that the famous Orange Tiny Terror turned the guitar amplification market upside down. It started a trend (a very positive one, if you ask me) for affordable, high-quality and low-power amps. In spite of the huge number of products in this segment, Orange is still the leading player when it comes to low-power tube amps.
Forget clean sound, even with very low gain settings the attack of your playing always sounds slightly crunchy (I love this, but fans of absolute pureness won't!), even with low-level guitars. Here are two examples: a Les Paul and a Mustang (the cabinet is an Orange 2x12", amp head in 15-watt mode):
As you surely heard, this is not a crystal-clear world in spite of the glittering high frequencies. You get a typical British character consistent with the personality of this head, which is definitely dedicated to hot sounds. To really grasp this just try the amp with a very simple setting in 15-watt mode: drive at about 10 o'clock, flat EQ and the master control 3/4 of the way up.
The OR15 will immediately put things in place with a fat, dynamic and rich sound. The gain control is one of the best I ever had under my fingers: above 12 o'clock, every signal sounds like hell on earth, desolation and nuclear war. You can get really crazy distortions and very convincing metal sounds with the right EQing. Pinch harmonics scream easily while palm-mute playing shakes the walls!
But, even if the amp gives excellent results for "hairy metal," the real beauty of this amp head comes through with more classic settings that have more mids and less gain.
It's a real pleasure to explore the dynamic range and control the saturation amount with the attacks of your pick, to play with the nuances or, on the contrary, always have more power
with full chords. Don't deprive yourself from the simple pleasures of life... Of course, such settings depend a lot on your guitar pickups. With a humbucker guitar (I have a Les Paul), you'll get lots of saturation, while single-coil guitars allow more nuances (which is normal). In both situations, the sound is very dynamic. Each attack of the pick is reproduced with a very appealing bite to it. You'll recognize the round tone of older Orange heads like the OR80 and OR120, which is very surprising coming from such a compact amp. If you boost the low and mid frequencies slightly with the EQ you get a fat but punchy sound that will take you to another world...
To me, this is where one can best appreciate the qualities of this amp head. The tone can be creamy or aggressive, but never annoying, always expressive. A real delight! And if you are a wild musician, just try to crank up all settings and you'll discover that... the result is pretty interesting!
In spite of its compact dimensions and apparent simplicity, the OR15 is a bomb. It stays faithful to the Orange sound in every aspect, which means it delivers a perfect distortion sound with an appealing, slight British touch due to its sexy mid-boost in the frequency response, a superb dynamic response that magnifies your playing, and an inimitable look... All within a mini amp head with a lot glamour. This head is the missing link between the "Tiny" series and the more expensive models. It gives you the possibility to get a "real" Orange head with a lower price tag but with great versatility for live applications. This OR15 is far from a toy to be played at home. It can easily satisfy demanding rock musicians who like a biting British sound. Honestly, with such sound quality and price, plus enough power to play in a band, only a fool would hesitate...