From the July/August 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Matt Blackett
Kind of like an onomatopoeia sounds like what it means, Orange amps have always looked like what they’re called, and how cool is that? And whereas many Orange designs have been associated with super heavy music of late, the fact is you can play just about any style of music through them and they sound great. Orange is reiterating that point in a big—and little—way with the Orange Crush Acoustic 30, only its second foray into the acoustic amp world, which can run on ten AA batteries, so you can crank it up literally anywhere.
Sticking to the cosmetics for a moment, this amp looks great and is totally in keeping with the company’s history: orange Tolex, a tweed grille cloth, and that awesome coat-of-arms insignia. (If the orange is too loud for you, the amp is also available with a black Tolex covering.)
The Crush Acoustic 30 is a tiny little amp that weighs almost nothing. The specs claim it’s 13.5 pounds, but I don’t believe that. It comes right out of the box with a tilt-back design, so all the sound is projecting upward, where you want it. A look at the control panel shows the hieroglyphics-in-lieu-of-knob-names that Orange is famous for. It’s a little confusing at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly. There are two channels: one for guitar and one for a mic or an additional instrument. Both channels have gain and EQ, and Channel 1 also provides a semi-parametric midrange control.
I plugged my trusty Larrivée into Channel 1 and set the EQ to noon, with no cut or boost to the mids. Given the diminutive dimensions of the Crush, you can’t really expect it to sound huge, and it doesn’t. The sound is focused, and because of the ingenious tilt-back design, it really hits you. Nudging the bass and treble knobs up provided a powerful tonal shift—both controls have a lot of range.
The Colour switch also boosts lows and highs, while dipping mids slightly, and it can get you in trouble if you’ve already cranked the EQ knobs. It is voiced nicely though, and sounds great at lower bass and treble settings, with a brilliant top-end sheen. The semi-parametric midrange section gives you control over frequency and cut/boost level and is capable of subtle or drastic modifications to your tone. You can also use it to notch out problematic feedback-inducing frequencies, and I was able to employ it pretty effectively for that purpose.
Subtle and Musical
You can put reverb or chorus—but only one at a time—on either channel or both. I was disappointed that I had to choose between the two effects, but they both sound sweet. The reverb does what you want, providing depth and space; the slow chorus is subtle and musical, and the faster settings do a cool faux-Leslie thing. In fact, slathering that effect on the mic channel let me add a cool, Beatles-esque vocal to an unaffected acoustic guitar—a neat trick to have up your sleeve.
The obvious question with a small, lightweight amp such as this is, “Can I gig with it?” I will give that a qualified yes, but it depends on the situation. Orange amps are known for being loud, but 30 watts can only do so much when it comes to amplifying an acoustic guitar and a voice, not to mention low-end-hogging backing tracks that you can play through the 3.5mm aux in. I could see this amp handling a quiet coffeehouse or living room gig, but it strikes me as underpowered for busking on a noisy street corner, although the battery operation makes it a great candidate for doing exactly that. The Crush Acoustic 30 could be a great personal monitor on a large gig, utilizing the XLR DI out to feed the house PA. It’s a smart-looking little sound system with effects. It can’t do everything, but it’s a useful tool that a savvy acoustic guitarist will be able to use in a variety of ways.
AMP Two-channel, 30 watts; one combo XLR/1/4″ input; one 1/4″ input; 3.5mm stereo in; 1/4″ l/r stereo in; XLR DI out; 1/4″ line out; effects send and return; Channel 1: Pad and Colour switches; bass, midrange, treble, and gain controls; Channel 2: phantom power and mic/line switches; bass, treble, and gain controls
SPEAKERS One 8″ Voice of the World
OTHER Reverb and chorus select knob with channel blend control; semiparametric Mid control; 12.75″ W x 9″ D x 1″ H; 13.5 lbs.
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MADE IN UK
PRICE $399 street
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.
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