Review of Orange OR15 H Amp -
There's a definite buzz about Orange amps these days -
and we don't mean an earth loop! The veteran UK brand is hotter
than it's ever been and now there's a brand new model, the 'pics
only' OR 15. So what does our equally veteran tone purist
Michael Casswell think of it?
There's no mistaking the look of an Orange amp - and there's
definitely no mistaking the looks of this one! Innovative, right
from when the brand sprang to life in the 1970s, one of Orange's
little design 'quirks' was the series of amps with no words on them
- just pictures describing what the controls do. Orange revived the
style back in 2008 when it reissued the OR 50 but as we all know,
50 Watts of valve power can be awfully loud. Hence the OR 15
version we have here, launched at last year's NAMM show and just
becoming available now.
The OR 15 is a single channel, all valve, 15 Watt, class A micro
amp. The 'micro amp' trend is sweeping through the industry and
every company is putting out their own version of a low wattage
small portable practice-studio amp, but Orange was in there right
at the very start of the trend and clearly has a lead over some of
If the layout is simple enough to rely on pictures for guidance,
so is actually driving the OR 15. If you want it clean, you turn
down the gain and turn up the master volume. If you want filth, you
turn up the gain volume and maybe even the master volume yet again,
depending how loud you want it. 15 Watts is more than loud enough
for home and studio use, but it will struggle next to a drummer. I
have found 30 or 40 Watts is the point in a band where you have a
bit of headroom to hold your own. If 15 Watts is too scary for you,
then there is a switch on the front to half power it to 7 Watts -
something you are probably going to want to do for practice at home
unless you own your own barn!
The OR 15 has three ECC83 pre amp valves and two EL84 output
valves - a classic arrangement for the 'British' sound, although in
some ways that's a misnomer in this case as what this Orange is
really good at is allowing you to get the sound you make with your
guitar and playing style. There is also a valve driven series
effects loop which is always good, because sometimes practice at
home can involve your pedals and getting familiar with what you
need on and off and how you want them set, so that when you play
with your bigger and louder stage rig, you are already rehearsed
with those reverbs and delays.
The amp weighs 7kg and is small enough to be very portable.
Obviously, you are going to need a cab to use, which is the point
where it becomes less portable because this little 15 Watter can
sound very grown up indeed through a big fat 4x12 cab. Orange cabs
do sound big fat and huge. I think they are deeper in depth size
than most brands out there which makes them sound great. I was
spoilt with the sound, because we put it through the 4x12 cab it
came with, and if you are going to use it to practice or record at
home , the chances are you will be using a basic 1x12 cab, which
means it will still sound good, just not as good. Try it with a
4x12, though and you might change your mind about what to use with
this great little amp.
The OR 15 takes boost and overdrive pedals well, which is the
sign of a nicely voiced amp. Because it has just one channel, it
will teach you how to control the volume on your guitar to get
clean, crunch, gain and then more gain if you kick in your
favourite pedal. These is a technique that often gets missed and if
it is, will lead to your touch, note production and tone being
average rather than fantastic.
An amp that teaches you how to get a good sound? In a way. It
certainly nudges you in the right direction!
I like Orange amps. Every time I've plugged into one it has been
a good experience and while the OR 15 may not have the sweetest
tone in the world, it certainly has some sizzle and grind and it's
not hard to see why Orange is so popular with so many younger, cool
Another winner? Undoubtedly and at a good price, too!
Check out the full review inc. video of the Orange OR15 H by
Michael Casswell in Issue 13 of Guitar Interactive Magazine (