Orange Amplifiers is best known for their distinctive tone, bright orange tube amps. Most of their amps are fairly expensive, although not on the same level as most boutique brands. Far lesser known is the handful of solid state practice amps they produce. The same level of design and quality that Orange puts into their professional amps is readily apparent on the beginner models. Without tubes, these practice amps do lack the distinct tone Orange is known for, but they still sound quite good and are available at a very reasonable price.
The Orange Crush PiX Series CR12L makes a good showing as a beginner amp. There are cheaper beginner amps on the market that boast relatively similar features. The Orange Crush PiX CR12L is a good choice for a beginner that wants the traditional style beginner practice amp, but wants a slightly higher quality option. The build quality and very well organized control panel are more than enough to justify the slightly higher price tag. Even then, it is still one of the cheaper beginner amps out there. It just isn’t one of the rock bottom priced ones.
The Orange Crush PiX CR12L has all the standard features that are expected in the average beginner amp. It is a twelve watt amp with a six inch speaker. Despite the small size, it is more than adequate for the purposes of most beginners. It might struggle for practicing with a loud band, but it holds itself well for regular practice, which is the majority of what most beginners do. The control panel is particularly impressive, with one of the easiest to use, yet robust, sets of controls available. The features are rounded out with a headphone jack, which allows users to practice without the amp making any noises audible to those around you.
The tone of the Orange Crush PiX CR12L is overall quite good for a beginner amp. The clean signal is nice and clear, making it easy to hear and practice with. The overdrive and distortion signals are better than what most beginner amps are capable of producing. The Orange Crush PiX CR12L does not sound good if these are turned all the way up, but at lower levels, they add a nice amount of fuzz or distortion to make it a surprisingly pleasant sounding amp given its solid state construction. The Crush PiX CR12L isn’t in the same league as the standard, tube-based Orange amps, so guitarists looking for that in it might be disappointed. However, the Crush PiX CR12L produces a good sound when compared against its peers.
Ease of Use
The control panel of the Orange Crush PiX CR12L is one of the best laid out ones out there. It is extremely easy to use, while giving a lot of control over the signal. There are professional amps out there with worse designed control setups than this little practice amp. Volume is controlled by a single control. The tone controls are divided up into the standard bass, mid, and treble controls, which is frequently omitted in the Crush PiX CR12L’s price range. The standout feature, however, is the fact overdrive and gain have separate controls. This gives a lot of control for people trying to get a decent distorted or overdriven signal out of a solid state amp. The control panel is clearly labeled, straight forward, and easy to use, yet gives far more control over the tone than most of its competitors.
The build quality of the Orange Crush PiX CR12L is very high and not simply for its price range. The actual construction looks remarkably like the higher end Orange amps. The same parts and construction method used on those amps is also used on the Crush PiX CR12L. This amp feels solidly constructed and should have little trouble dealing with normal wear and tear. Unlike many beginner amps, the Crush PiX CR12L has a closed back design. This design offers more protection to the internal components than the more common open back design. In addition, the amp casing is actually more secure, so it can potentially survive hits that might cause noticeable damage to an open back design. Realistically, most guitarists should not encounter any situation where it is relevant, but it doesn’t hurt in the even an accident does occur.
The Orange Crush PiX CR12L offers a very solid value. There are beginner amps that, on paper, have about the same features that cost less. However, the price increase of the Crush PiX CR12L really isn’t that huge, but for that price increase you are generally going to get better build quality, a better sounding amp, and a more controllable tone. It is possible to get a fully satisfying amp for less money without losing any actual features, but the improvements the Crush PiX CR12L offer is a very good deal and well worth considering.
Glancing at the specifications, the Orange Crush PiX Series CR12L appears to be a standard beginner amp. It is twelve watts, has a built in speaker, a headphone jack, and the ability to add overdrive and distortion to the signal. All of these are fairly common features in beginner amps. However, in exchange for a modest price increase, the Orange Crush PiX CR12L offers a better built, better designed amp. The extra cost is more than justified, even though the Crush PiX CR12L isn’t actually adding any new features. It might not be as flashy as some of its competitors, but Orange chose to make a high quality beginner practice amp rather than a more impressive sounding one. Beginners opting for this amp are definitely doing it for much better reasons than the distinct orange tolex. In addition, the highly controllable tone allows it to be useful in almost any style of music. The independent volume, overdrive, and distortion control allows the Crush PiX CR12L to dial almost any tone in at whatever volume needed. Between the low price and overall high quality, the Orange Crush PiX CR12L has a lot to recommend it.