Orange Crush12: Big Tone in a Small Box
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From Led Zeppelin to Rush to Fleetwood Mac, Orange has been the first choice of music icons from every generation and genre. Drawing on decades of British amplifier wizardry, the Orange Crush 12 harnesses legendary Orange tone in a small, bedroom friendly package. The Crush series has been the go-to for thousands of guitarists since it was first introduced almost 20 years ago. It's straightforward and no-nonsense with 12-watts of power, a punchy 6" speaker, and built-in overdrive. You won't find modeling options or crazy effects here - just pure British tone that won't get you evicted - even if you crank it up to 11.
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The Crush12 is a no-frills combo amp perfect for beginners who don't need a lot of volume. With only 12 watts of power and a compact 6" speaker, it's not exactly going to shake the walls apart. There's no speaker output to plug in an external speaker cabinet either, so you're stuck with the built-in speaker.
If you ever plan on joining a band, realize that this amp isn't powerful enough to project at a venue or keep up with a drummer. Unless you have it mic'd up and projected through the PA system, you'll need an amp with more oomph. If you think you'll need more volume, we recommend the Vox VT20X or its 40-watt big brother.
The Crush12 is finished in iconic traffic cone orange that harks back to the heyday of rock and roll. The orange basketweave vinyl can be divisive, so if you're not a fan of the classic look, some retailers offer a much less vivid version outfitted in black.
A woven grille protects the speaker and contrasting black trim adds visual interest. A black carrying handle lets you haul it anywhere with ease and black corner protectors reinforce an already sturdy cabinet. Even if it manages to somehow spill out of your hands and down a flight of stairs, you can be sure the Crush12 will still scream once you plug back it in. Just don't make this a habit: it may be orange, but its similarities with a basketball end there.
At just over 12 inches tall, the Crush12 is extremely compact. You may want to place it on a table or stand so you don't have to keep reaching down to get to the controls. On the panel at the top of the amp, you'll find a headphone jack, a guitar input, and 6 knobs. The volume and gain knobs are super-sized to make them easy to find. On either side of each knob and input, you'll find the classic Orange 'hieroglyph' label as well as a plain English label. Plug the amp in and flip the power switch found on the back of the amp and an orange light illuminates to let you know you're ready to rock.
This solid-state amp is as barebones as they come, but that's not a bad thing. Its simplicity makes dialing a tone quick and intuitive. Without any crazy effects or models to get in the way, you can focus first on your tone and your music. Once you advance in your guitar journey, you always have the option to buy effects pedals and create your own pedalboard.
You won't find any digital trickery on the Crush12. Orange uses only analog components for every section of the Crush 12, giving you the most authentic tone possible without any digital manipulation.
A total of 6 knobs are found on the Crush12. 3 knobs control the EQ (bass, mids, and treble), which lets you sculpt the tone to your liking. A headphone output allows you to practice silently. It features cabinet simulation, which means the sound that comes out of the jack emulates a large 4x12" speaker cabinet, so it's punchy and dynamic. If you ever decide to record yourself playing, it's as simple as plugging the headphone output on the amp into an audio interface or recording console! Note that the headphone output is not a standard 1/16" like you find on your iPod earbuds, but a larger 1/4" jack, so you might need to buy a 1/4" adapter.
Oversized Volume and Gain knobs bookend the amp controls, making them quick and easy to find. It's not very common to see a 3-band EQ on an amp as small as this, so kudos to Orange for adding this option. Finally, you'll find an Overdrive control to the left of the Gain knob, allowing you to kick the amp even further into distortion and even squeeze out some metal tones in the process. The Crush 12 can span the range from clean jazz to metal simply by playing with the Gain and Overdrive knobs!
Finally, you'll find a standard 1/4" guitar input at the top of the amp where you plug in your guitar.
We really wish the Crush 12 came with an auxiliary input so you could plug in some music and jam along. The aux input has become something of a standard on practice amps, so it's a shame that the Crush 12 doesn't have one. However, you can live without it, so it's not the end of the world.
On the back, you'll find the power cable input and power switch.
6 inches might seem larger than you think, but in the world of speakers, it's fairly. Orange's flagship Voice of the World speaker is very well-renowned. Just don't expect it to cause any earthquakes. We'll talk more about it sounds in the 'Sound' section of the review.
The Crush12 weighs 10.4 pounds (3.7 kg), which makes for a fairly light amplifier. Coupled with the carrying handle, you can take this thing anywhere without straining your back.
So how does the Crush12 sound? Pretty fantastic, actually. Although it's only 6", the Voice of the World flagship speaker packs a punch. Designed to be clear and balanced, we think Orange hit the nail on the head. Even with high distortion, this speaker maintains good note definition and punch. The clean tones are fantastic - bright and shimmery with great sustain and definition. The overdrive is punchy but can tend to get a bit fuzzy depending on how you've set the gain and overdrive. Take a listen to some sound clips of the Orange Crush12
Well-reviewed across Amazon, Guitar Center, and Musician's Friend, the Crush12 is the perfect beginner's amp. Its tone and versatility are highly-praised. A lot of reviewers mention the practicality of not having to tame a super powerful amp for practicing at home. We saw a couple of reports of a buzzing/rattling speaker and loose headphone jacks, but these are defects that definitely warrant a replacement.
The Crush12 is an amazing amplifier for beginners or guitarists who just a practice amp. It gets plenty loud enough for the bedroom, but for gigs, you'll need to mic it up or use an amp with more power. The only thing keeping this from being the perfect bedroom practice amp is the lack of an auxiliary input.