STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ wideband playback
+ precise, for the cabinet dimensions rich bass with kick
+ clear voice reproduction, fresh, differentiated highs
+ appealing processing
+ analog input
- analog volume control cannot be synchronized with the cell phone
Sound: tonal balance / transparency7.8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics7.8
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.2
Price / Performance9.2
Behind the Orange Box is the history of distorted guitar sound. It ultimately led to all varieties of harder rock. And it produced some famous names on the guitar amplifier side. With Marshall, probably the best-known manufacturer already ventured the step to headphones and Bluetooth speakers very successfully. Now Orange Amp is following suit.
Orange Amp? If you don’t know this name, you seem to have given the most famous guitarists in heavy metal history a wide berth. With Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, however, the greatest of the greats are on the artist list of the English manufacture. Guitarists swear by the distinctive orange all-tube amps with biting riffs.
The eternal insider tip
Yes, and even with the Orange Box, the smallest Bluetooth speaker of the house, certain parallels to the better-known competitor can not be denied: according to size, appearance and range of use, the Orange Box is not dissimilar to the Marshall Kilburn II, which was reviewed by STEREO GUIDE a long time ago. Subjectively, the Orange Box turns out quite heavy, but this is compensated by the high quality of the leather strap. Really convincing are the retro details of the cabinet, such as the woven baffle cover, the rear nameplates and the buttons for the belt pickup. Not to mention the metal toggle switch and the standby light under glass instead of a plain LED. This makes the Orange Box a piece of jewelry, but it is also neither water- nor dust-repellent and should be handled with appropriate care.
In addition to classic black, the orange leatherette trim that gave its name to Clifford Cooper’s famous guitar amps in the late 1960s is also offered. Incidentally, the founder still runs the company today instead of subletting the trademark rights to others.
Two stereo channels with integrated mono subwoofer
The baffle is always covered with retro beige braided covering. Behind this is a classic 2.1 configuration. The bass is reproduced by a 10 cm cone in mono, which alone is driven with a proud 30 watts RMS.
To the left and right are the mid-range tweeters, which are supposed to provide a clear sound and at least a hint of stereo imaging with 10 watts each. A special feature here: The manufacturer refers to the particularly sound-strong output stages in A/B circuit, as known from high-quality stationary hi-fi amplifiers and high-end active speakers such as the KEF LS 50 Wireless II. They now consume significantly more power than the high-efficiency switching end stages, which is why the 15 hours of battery life from a 3 kilogram light box seem all the more astonishing.
Operation and possibilities
Any amateur guitarist or bassist can indulge in nostalgia while operating the Orange Box’s knobs and switches. They are in no way inferior in quality and feel to the much more expensive instrumentation amplifiers. Besides the classic toggle switch for on/off, we find three knobs for bass, treble and volume that obviously all work analog. In practice, this also means that the volume cannot be controlled remotely from the smartphone. It is therefore best to set the Bluetooth transmitter – i.e. the cell phone or tablet – to full level and adjust the playback level directly on the speaker. This is impractical, but the best option sonically because of the maximum resolution of the transmitted audio data.
Bluetooth version 5.0 comes in the Orange Box, and there is also an analog line input via jack. In the spirit of high sound quality, both aptX and AAC are built in as codecs.
There is no USB port at all, not even for charging or as a powerbank for the smartphone. The included power supply has a proprietary plug and requires a power outlet. Recharging on the go is thus much more difficult than with competitors with a USB-C input or similar.
The operating options are limited to a minimum. Neither is there a playback control, nor an app connection or the possibility of stereo pairing. Not to mention telephony functions. After all, one of the lamps on the control panel is reserved for the battery status indicator.
This is how the Orange Box with Bluetooth sounds
Even if the Orange Box’s reminds us of the old Marshall Kilburn II (except it’s signal color), the new competitor clearly sets itself apart in terms of sound. The Bluetooth speaker is much more impulsive and powerful. Very quickly, the clearly fresher highs with a better detail resolution stand out. The orange wireless box also produces a punchier bass. The difference at both ends of the audible frequency spectrum is so great that it cannot be compensated with the Kilburn II’s tone controls. While the nostalgically styled Marshall underlines its visual appearance with rather soft, warm retro sound, the Orange Box has acoustically arrived in the 21st century.
With the fresh, lively sound, not only electric guitar music with expressive vocals sounds like the live recordings for this weight class very dynamic, broadband and differentiated. The rich, precise and yet quite powerful bass reproduction and the clear, lively highs also bring hip hop, house and other electronic music to life. The levels that can be achieved effortlessly, without signs of strain or even distortion, do the rest to make the Orange Box the king of party speakers in its size class.
Such clear, natural voices and high-frequency impulses combined with such a dry, deep kick in the bass can otherwise only be obtained in connection with considerably bulkier dimensions. This is especially true in conjunction with the remarkable level stability. And even the size of the image makes the Orange Box look pretty grown up. With this mid-sized mobile Bluetooth speaker, the brand lays the foundation for gaining recognition beyond concert stages in the future.
Conclusion of the review and alternatives to the Orange Box
The Teufel Boomster used for comparison can keep up with the high-frequency reproduction and seems even richer in the bass. But in terms of kick and clarity, as well as level, the much smaller orange Bluetooth speaker can keep up amazingly well. This also applies to naturalness and transparency. The JBL Charge 5 doesn’t offer quite the sonic sovereignty, but it’s cheaper and lighter. However, all of the aforementioned are not as stylish and well-made as the Orange Box.
Technical specifications Orange Box
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 315 euros
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 28 x 17.5 x 17 cm
- Weight: 3 kg
- Battery life up to 15 hours
- Special features: Analog input, analog tone controls, A/B power amplifiers (mid/high).
- More at: orangeamps.com
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