Over the years, Orange has had plenty of time to improve and refine its solid-state Crush practice amp range, culminating in a new series of combos announced at this year's NAMM Show. There's a range of sizes to suit all bedrooms and pockets, topping out with this one, the Crush 35RT...
There was a time when the humble practice amp was a cheap-as-chips second fiddle to its bigger brothers. How things have changed. With digital electronics and effects costing next to nothing and offshore manufacturing keeping costs down, the modern equivalent is often the only amp many players need.
The new Crush is unmistakably Orange, with the classic cabinet design combined with a white wrap-over control and rear panel that doubles as the chassis. Internally, the electronics are neat and tidy, contained on several high-quality printed circuit boards.
The Crush 35RT is a proper two-channel design, with separate volume controls, an overdrive gain control and a shared EQ, plus a 3.5mm aux input jack, and a handy headphone socket that doubles as a speaker-emulated recording/line out, using Orange's CabSim circuit.
The RT part of the model name refers to digital reverb, governed by a simple level control, and a built-in chromatic tuner. On the back, you'll find a series effects loop and a jack socket for a footswitch (sold separately). The Crush 35RT looks solid because it is solid - tough enough and loud enough for small gigs, as well as rehearsal and home use.
If you weren't already convinced by the looks, the Crush 35RT's sounds will leave you in no doubt about this brand's heritage. Both the clean and dirty channel sounds are warm, fat and punchy, fooling you into thinking you're hearing a much bigger valve amp, rather than a compact solid-state combo.
The overdrive is pure British classic rock, with the first half of the gain knob's travel covering the less distorted tones from Orange's late 60s and 70s first-generation amps. Turn the gain control past one o'clock and jump forward two decades to Britpop and Oasis, then max it out with Orange's modern wall of distortion, favoured by bands like Slipknot and Nightrage.
The built-in digital reverb sounds warm, too, adding a nice touch of ambience, while the built-in tuner operates swiftly and accurately. We were also impressed with the quality of tone from the CabSim circuit, which proved equally useful into a PA and home recording setup.
There's no excuse for not getting a great sound with this new Crush combo, whatever your age or taste. The 35RT has plenty of classic and modern Orange tone on tap, sounding equally great at bedroom levels or cranked up with a band.
And while it can't quite match the touch responsiveness of the company's valve amps, the lack of valves makes it totally consistent from one night to the next, and light enough to be very portable. Most importantly, the price is right, too.