Orange became a leading force in the mini amp phenomenon when they introduced the world’s first “lunchbox” amp, the Tiny Terror head, about nine years ago.
Since then Orange has introduced a wide range of similar-sized “Terror” amps as well as the even smaller Micro Terror head, which made its debut about three years ago.
Now Orange has expanded its Micro series as well with the intro of the Micro Dark, which has the same diminutive “snackbox” dimensions of the Micro Terror but is voiced with a different EQ circuit and even higher amounts of gain for richly saturated distortion that’s perfect for modern metal tones.
The Micro Dark quite possibly is the world’s only bona fide metal amp that can fit inside a guitar case. But although it’s outrageously tiny, it’s packed with features that include volume, gain, and shape controls, a 1/4-inch headphone output, speaker output (minimum 8-ohm load), and, most surprising of all, an effect loop.
Like its predecessor, the Micro Dark has a preamp driven by a single 12AX7 tube and a 20-watt solid-state power amplifier that pumps out impressively loud volume levels. The amp is very light (perhaps two pounds max) but it is very solidly built, housed in a metal enclosure that can probably take more abuse than your dad during an IRS audit conducted by Whitey Bulger.
When you plug into the Micro Dark and behold its absolutely mammoth bass thump and harmonically rich grind, it’s nearly impossible to believe your eyes and ears. Many amps much bigger than the Micro Dark only wish they could sound as heavy and menacing. The shape control produces a variety of tones by sweeping across a wide midrange sweet spot that can also enhance treble and bass as desired.
While the amp is capable of producing clean tones that are quite sweet, its real strength lies in generating hot-rodded classic rock distortion and face-melting modern metal grind. It may only be able to produce one tone at a time, but a surprisingly wide variety of awesome tones can be summoned with a few tweaks of the gain and shape controls. The effect loop enables guitarists to patch a studio multi-effects unit, reverb, delay, or modulation pedal in between the preamp and power amp sections to produce truly professional-quality tones with low noise and impressive definition and articulation that sound particularly huge when recorded.
LIST PRICE $199
MANUFACTURER Orange Amplification, orangeamps.com
• A 20-watt solid-state power amp and 12AX7-driven preamp delivers massive amounts of gain at surprisingly loud volume levels.
• An effect loop allows guitarists to patch a studio multi-effects rack, reverb unit, or delay or modulation pedals between the amp’s preamp and power amp sections.
THE BOTTOM LINE The Orange Micro Dark is a surprisingly versatile and powerful “secret” weapon for metal guitarists who love highly saturated grind but are tired of grinding their spinal discs lifting heavy equipment.