Whilst I still enjoy playing a bit of guitar now and then I’m nowhere near as competent as my friend Paul who offered to take a look at IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube Orange app and compare it against other apps and hardware to see which he thought came out best. Here’s what he decided …

How to get the sound of an Orange guitar amplifier without actually owning one….

With the release of AmpliTube’s Orange apps, I thought it would be interesting to compare the sounds with those produced by some other Orange emulators. Sadly I don’t own a real Orange amp but have always enjoyed the distinctive edgy crunch that characterises this established British manufacturer.

The following comments are of course totally subjective and reflect my personal opinion and taste.

The contenders are:

  1. AmpliTube Orange as endorsed by the real Orange company.
  2. JamUp Pro‘s OR30
  3. Bias “British Rock 50”
  4. Tech 21 Oxford (Sansamp). This is a hardware guitar pedal with analog electronics

Audio was sent through the iPad via a Roland Duo Ex interface.

Clean sounds:

My personal favourite was the AmpliTube AD30 with a full bodied “rounded” sound, whereas the the OR50 seemed a little too “thin” despite attempts to manipulate the eq section. The Tiny Terror is an excellent value amp head in real life, but has just a single tone control which is duplicated here. It didn’t hit the spot for me (but see my comments on the over-driven sounds below). The Jam-up and Bias emulations sounded fine, but perhaps lacked the character of a real amp.

The Oxford pedal stood up well against the digital emulations with a warm, less brittle (digital?) sound. It has a very flexible (and sensitive) tone stack and a little tweaking leads to a huge range of sounds.

Over-driven sounds:

This is more up my street. Crank up the gain and immediately the AmpliTube models start spitting out that British crunch complete with authentic hiss and noise. All the models demonstrated a distinctive harmonic distortion mostly noticeable on the high strings and I believe this is a characteristic of the real hardware.

I did an A/B comparison between the Rockerverb 50 and the Oxford and managed to get the tone suprisingly close… picture the opening riff for T.Rex’s 20th Century Boy. Fantastic! Again I found the AD30 had a rounder tone and I was able to dial in more bottom end (which is the sort of sound I go for). This time the Tiny Terror’s tone control did actually produce a useful range of sounds and I found myself thinking that maybe I should invest in the real thing! The Thunderverb channel A produced an interesting “raspy” drive which could cut through in the right sort of mix but was not entirely to my taste and the OR50 was my least favourite. Prior to the AmpliTube offering, I had always enjoyed JamUp’s “Orange” amp but was suprised to find it rather thin and lacking in character when compared to the others. There was also a lack of tone variation and quite a
strong compression component to the sound.

But still, I have had it sounding great in a mix so it can’t be all bad! I only played with the basic Bias model and didn’t dig in and fiddle with the internal components; it was similar to the JamUp model but with less compression and more background hiss. It might be that something as simple as changing the position of the simulated microphone would bring the two models closer sonically. The Tech 21 sounds fantastic when cranked up and has a character control the allows radical re-modelling of the sound. And there is that harmonic distorion that I mentioned earlier…

Some conclusions:

AmpliTube offers a fantastic suite of Orange models and in my opinion outguns the Jamup version. Although interestingly this exercise has proved to me the quality of the Tech 21 Oxford and what can be done in the old fashioned analog domain. But you have to remember the Oxford will set you back £159 whereas the AmpliTube Orange is just £10.49. And of course a real Tiny Terror costs a whole load more….

Amplitube Orange on the app store ($14.99 / £10.49)

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