Sunday, September 9, 2012

Orange Crush PiX CR50BXT Bass Combo Amplifier Review

Howdy!

There is a huge market for cheap bass combo amplifiers – ones that are mostly used for practice or very small gigs. There is also a lot of competition and it seems like every manufacturer has a player in this game. Today we are going to look at Orange’s offering, the Orange Crush PiX CR50BXT.

Orange amplifiers have been around since the late 1960s, when the company was started in England. They made powerful tube amplifiers with a tone that was to die for, and a lot of high-profile acts were using their equipment. There has been a resurgence of popularity for the brand in the past decade, and this has led to their production of cheaper solid state amplifiers for us mortal folks.

The Orange Crush PiX CR50BXT is a solid-state 50-watt (RMS) bass combo amplifier. It is equipped with a single 12-inch 4 ohm Orange Crush speaker. There is an auxiliary speaker ¼-inch output so another 4 ohm (or greater) speaker can be added. The whole thing weighs 41 pounds, and it measures 10.5 by 16.5 by 18 inches. Oh, and you can have your choice or orange or black tolex. There is no point in getting an Orange amp with black tolex on it, if you ask me.

All of the controls are nicely laid out on top of the unit, and there are only five knobs: gain, 3-band EQ and master volume. There is also a single input jack, a headphone out, a 1/4-inch direct out and an 1/8-inch input so you can plug in an iPod to play along with. As an added bonus, an onboard tuner is included with lots of red and green LEDs. The power cord plugs into the back, and that is also where they hid the ON/OFF switch (boo).

It is best to not set your expectations too high when you are looking at an amplifier in this price range and with these features. It is not going to be terribly loud and it is not going to provide a thunderous bottom end. If you keep this in mind, you will not be quite as disappointed.

I ran a few different basses through this Orange combo amp and had mixed results. First, I tied is with a passive precision bass and the amplifier had no added noise (hiss and static), and it sounded pretty nice at lower volume levels, with an actual Orange amplifier sound. When really pushed it farted out at volume levels that would not keep up with even a medium-loud jam session or rehearsal. But, this amplifier was never intended to provide designed for high volumes, so I should not really be complaining.

With an active bass (Musicman Bongo with a 18-volt preamplifier), the CR50BXT really could not cut the mustard. The input was too hot, and there is no pad switch or input, so I really had to cut back on the gain. Even through the headphones the tone was sadly weakened. With either instrument, the bass knob of the 3-band EQ seemed to make almost no difference in the tone from the amplifier.

On the plus side, the tuner worked nicely, and the input for an mp3 player makes this into a great practice amp when coupled with the headphone jack. Plus the amp can work as a boom box if you just want to play your iPod though it. But, when price is considered this amplifier is not my choice.

The Orange Crush PiX CR50BXT has a list price of $329 and a street price of $269. In this price range you can get the 50 watt Ampeg BA112 for $279, a 75 watt Fender Rumble 75 for $249 or a 100 watt Ashdown Five Fifteen for $249. These amplifiers are at guitar shops everywhere and I highly recommend trying and comparing them before buying.

1 comment:

  1. I am thinking of getting one of these for my apartment. I want the Orange tone with enough volume to feel it on occasion and I obviously cannot have a Rumble 500 in here yet.

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