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Having to choose the best metal amp is surely one of the toughest things that an electric guitarist can live.
I mean, have you tried searching? You find a nightmare full of tons and tons of different models that claims to be “the best for (x)”, and you find yourself wondering what does all that actually mean.
If you’re here, though, you have found about the brand Orange and want to know which ones of their products can actually help you in your constant research of the perfect (for you at least) metal tone.
ARE ORANGE AMPS GOOD FOR METAL?
One of the thing that make these pieces of gear recognisable is the huge and distinctive amount of mid frequencies, that can sound “huge” in a great range of genres.
Anyway, there are a good amount of metal musicians that use this brand, going from Jim Root (Slipknot), to Brent Hints (Mastodon), Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) and Matt Pike (Sleep and his other band, “High On Fire”).
If you’re looking for more validation you can check their featured artists page and see whick metal musicians regularly use this manifacturer.
Enough talking though, now we’ll see the best thing: a list of the 5 best amp for metal!
1. ORANGE SUPER CRUSH HEAD 100W
This solid state head can give you a output power of 100W (as the name states) and also has 2 different channels, one for clean (with dedicated command knobs that let you adjust Volume, Bass and Treble) and the other called “Dirty Channel” for high gain setting (you have dedicated controls as well, but with more knobs and control because you have “Volume”, “Bass”, “Middle”, “Gain” and “Treble”).
You also have master controls for volume and for the built-in effect, a digital Reverb, and a serial FX loop that let you manage your signal chain in a more precise way.
- Solid State Transistor Head (you will need a separated speaker cabinet);
- Output Wattage of 100W;
- 2 channels: Clean and Dirty;
- Controls with the signature Image labels typical of Orange (you have Volume-Bass-Treble for Clean channel, Volume-bass-mid-treble-gain for dirty channel and 2 master knobs for Volume and Reverb);
- Digital Reverb built-in effect;
- Serial FX Loop;
- CabSim for emulating a better sound while playing with headphones;
- Available connection for footswitch (that is not included though)
- 2 channels makes this very versatile even if you want to use it for something else than metal, and you have a good control about the EQ as well;
- Despite being generally versatile you can notice that the main focus is metal and high gain music as you have more controls for the dirty channel, that let you control way more the overall sound;
- FX loop available
- CabSim for playing with headphones is very useful if you can’t play loud
- As a head-only amp you have to add the cost of a separated speaker (as for all the amp head, actually)
2. ORANGE OR15H 15W (TUBE AMP HEAD)
The OR15H is a tube amplifier head with 15W of power, that can be also splitted into a less loud 7W for when you need less power during your practice or guitar playing.
This full-tube model is definitely made for metal: even with the gain set to 9 PM position (1/4 of the gain knob) you will start to seen the distortion setting in and start to colour your guitar tone with a good crunch and kinda light distortion, but as soon as you get near the middle to 12 O’clock (half of the gain knob) you’ll start to hear an aggressive sound and going beyond a more and more brutal and tight distortion for the most heavy tunes.
The only downside is that the cleans, when the gain is very low and near to 0, aren’t very clear and with a good dynamic, but well, this is made to be a metal amp, and for this purpose is definitely great, just turn up the gain and it will sound heavenly.
- 15W that can be switched to a less loud 7W;
- 1 channel;
- 5 Control knobs: Master volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Gain;
- Full tube model: 3X ECC83s tubes for Preamp section, 2X EL84 for Power amp section and 1 12AT7 tube for the effects loop section;
- FX loop
- Great Tube sound;
- Definitely made for high gain music, you will hear a huge distortion full of body and lots of mids even with half of the gain knob;
- FX loop available;
- You can turn to a less loud mode with the 15W/7W switch
PS: it needs a separated speaker
- Not very definite and nice sounding cleans, but after all clean playing isn’t the reason why this specific model was made
3. ORANGE MICRO DARK AMPLIFIER
The Micro Dark is an hybrid model (solid state but with high-gain tubes in the preamp), and therefore you can have a good tube sound but with a cheaper price, with a very high amount of gain that makes this great also for the most extreme genres, like Death metal or Black metal.
A distinctive feature of this model is the Shape control, that can give you a lot of control on the Equalisation of this: turning the Shape knob to the left will give you more mids and less treble, while turning it to the right will add more to the treble and reduce the mid frequencies. This is basically this model’s take on the EQ, as there aren’t dedicated controls for Bass, Mids and Treble on the Micro Dark.
As with most of the Orange amplifiers you can also get the Headphones output with CabSim technology, that will make more enjoyable to play with headphones, improving how it will sound and emulating a “Voice of the World” Orange Cabinet Speaker.
Another good thing is the Buffered Effects Loop, that will help keeping a good tone even with more pedals connected in there that can deteriorate your tone (usually making worse trebles) if not plugged into a transparent effects loop like this Micro Dark buffered FX loop.
- 20W of power;
- Hybrid model with solid state design except for preamp, that uses ECC83 / 12AX7 Tubes;
- Controls: Gain, Volume and Shape
- Cabsim emulator for headphone playing;
- Buffered FX loop
- Hybrid model and nice amp for metal for a cheaper price;
- Good tube sound
- Buffered fx loop that won’t suck your tone and trebles;
- Cabsim for headphones
- The shape control can be harder to manage compared to traditional EQ settings
PS: it needs a separated speaker
4. ORANGE MICRO-TERROR 20 WATTS + CABINET
Between all those good amps for metal there is a well deserved spot for the Micro Terror as well: this is another hybrid amp, way cheaper than other models and kinda similar to the previous model, the Micro Dark.
The difference between those 2 is that the Micro Terror is more versatile: you can use this for 70’s tunes like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin as well as other “lighter” metal subgenres like progressive and not extreme ones, and also for ligher songs that requires more clean and a good sounding clean sound.
As we said in the 3rd section of this list (the one right before this) the Micro Dark instead doesn’t have a great clean channel and can result a bit muddy with low gain setup, as it was designed for heavier settings.
In short, it’s better to choose this Micro Terror if you need a more versatile amp and if you are fine with (a bit) less distortion, while if you’re looking to play very heavy metal genres and need a very brutal sound without the need for superb clean sounds then it’s better to go with the previous Micro Dark.
This piece of gear, anyway, can be bought in two bundles: only head of the amp and head+speaker (the one listed at the end of this section).
- 20 W of power;
- hybrid amp with a Precision Tube model ECC83;
- 3 controls: Volume, Tone and Gain;
- Dedicated Power Supply included
- Very versatile, good both for metal and ligher rock songs;
- Great amount of distortion and gain
- Even bigger presence of mids and a lot of sound’s body;
- The kit with the speaker is very affordable
- Can be too light for more extreme subgenres;
- EQ control is kinda basic as you don’t have knobs for managing bass, mids or trebles but only a generic “Tone” knob
5. ORANGE ROCKERVERB 50H MKIII
The Rockerverb 50H MKIII is one of the best model in the Orange catalogue (and well, given the high price it really should have something – or better, a lot of better things compared to other models).
This 100% valve amplifier comes as the 3rd reissue (MKIII means that it is an improved version of the previous MKII and MK1) and for this reason it had a lot of time for improvements and constant sonic evolutions: the main changes for this third edition are a clean channel that responds as a vintage model, with a very dinamic clean sound and huge body, and an improved Reverb built-in inside (that you can also control with a footswitch).
You can also switch the 50W power to a 25W power mode, and you can control this also by adding a footswitch, and you also have a very clean FX loop that is very transparent even with a lot of plugged in pedals.
Another good thing is the very crowded control section, that is separated for clean channel and dirty channel and can let you customize and fine tune your sound on the amp itself.
- 50W switchable to 25 (model’s switch or external footswitch);
- 2 channels;
- Tube design: you have 4 X ECC83 tubes for preamp section, 2 X EL34 for the power amp section and 2 X ECC81 tubes for the Reverb/FX loop section;
- Controls for Clean channel are Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, while controls for Dirty Channel are Gain, Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble;
- Built-in improved Reverb;
- FX loop available
- Clean channel very rich and buttery as well as one of the best vintage sound you can imagine;
- dirty channel great for a wide range of metal sounds, even more extreme ones;
- you can reduce power from 50 to 25W;
- great sounding Reverb that doesn’t make you want to run to the store (or online store, it’s the same) and buy a better one only for resetting your own ears;
- A majestic tube sound;
- Transparent FX loop that doesn’t make your modulation/delay pedals muddy-sounding
- Only downside is the high price, that definitely isn’t for every budget
CONCLUSION: HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD ORANGE AMPLIFIER FOR METAL
Choosing a nice model will greatly dipend on your own taste and needs, but some good points to consider are:
- Do you plan to only play metal with the model you want to buy or you need one that is versatile and that can fits in more genres?;
- Do you want a full valve beast or you’re fine with an hybrid (and if you don’t know the difference it’s better to check before being disappointed with the purchase);
- Also consider how loud they will be before being hated by the whole neighborhood, and consider if it’s better a model with an improved heaphone output or simply a switchable power mode;
- And obviously (but I guess it’s useless to point out as it’s the most obvious) the price: can you spend all the budget on a single item or you need to spare for other pedals? A good budget pianification is definitely great when it comes to electric guitar gear that can easily end up being extra expensive.
After a bit of thought about those side things it’s (hopefully) time to buy a new piece of gear to add to your small or insanely huge guitar setup.
So well, good luck with your choice and more importantly have a good playing session after!