Orange Amps has a couple new amps on the market – the Rocker 32 and Rocker 15. Both are small, tube combo amps with 10″ speakers and a classic Orange sound, courtesy of a preamp that is identical to the original, legendary Rocker 30 amp. The chief difference is the addition of stereo functioning of the 32, which allows for a stereo effects loop, which is something unheard of in combo amps. It splits the amp into 2-15 watt amps, each one powering one of the 10″ speakers, so when you plug in a stereo reverb or delay pedal, you’re getting true stereo sound in a single combo amp. It’s a pretty wild thing to have stereo tube amp sound in a combo like this, pedal junkies are going to be all over it for sure.
The amp sports two channels – the Dirty channel and the Natural channel. The Dirty channel is an exact clone of the preamp from the Rocker 30, so if you’re familiar with that, then you won’t be surprised by the way it sounds. The most noticeable difference for me from other Orange amps I’ve played was how it sounded out of the 10 inch speakers. I think this was the amp’s main hurdle to producing good metal tones (for which it’s not really intended anyway), but were great for just about anything else. It has a lot of gain for your sustaining pleasure, however, and with it dialed all the way up I discovered a singing, clear as sunshine lead tone that you hear in the video’s opening track. The Natural channel is an interesting take on the idea of a clean channel – it’s meant to be the most transparent possible sound, with as little circuitry and components in the signal path as possible, so you can really hear your guitar and pedals exactly as they are. So if clean was the cleanest you’ve heard, get ready for cleaner than clean.
The Natural channel is an interesting take on the idea of a clean channel – it’s meant to be the most transparent possible sound, with as little circuitry and components in the signal path as possible, so you can really hear your guitar and pedals exactly as they are. So if clean was the cleanest you’ve heard, get ready for cleaner than clean. This is where pedal maniacs will let loose – you’re going to hear your effects like you’ve never heard them through an amp before. The speakers are of course a bit too close together to really get the full stereo effect just standing in front of it, but onstage mic’d with 2 microphones and then panned will give you a massive sound without having to drag two amps around.
This is also where the Kongpressor compressor pedal comes in – clean tones can get out of control a great deal faster than dirty ones, for the simple reason that distortion is compression – any signal going into a distortion channel will have its dynamics compressed. A clean channel, especially one as transparent as the Natural channel, simply reproduces the dynamic range of any signal coming in. If you want to keep the dynamic range from getting out of hand, a compressor pedal is a must. Most compressor pedals on the market will get the job done, but it’s rare to see one that offers this level of control. I had a pretty easy time dialing in tones for some clean funk guitar (courtesy of my good friend Robert Baker) and I think it would be a serious contender for the compressor slot on your pedal board.
Overall I think the Orange Rocker 32 and Kongpressor are both clear choices and great solutions for some of the challenges of the gigging guitarist. If you are in need of the most compact stereo tube rig out there and a killer compressor to go with it, Orange has you covered.