Saturday, May 11, 2013

Orange Terror Bass 500 Amplifier Review


I am a fan of the Orange Tiny Terror guitar amplifier, so it was only a matter of time until I made time to review their equivalent bass head, the Terror Bass 500. Though it is not a full tube head, this hybrid unit is still a pretty neat piece of work.

In case you have been living under a rock, the Orange Music Electronic Company is a British amplifier manufacturer that has been around since 1968, and they have maintained a loyal following. In recent years they have shown a resurgence in popularity, as they have introduced some compelling new products.

As I said, the Terror Bass 500 is a hybrid amplifier, meaning that it has a tube pre-amplifier stage and a solid-state power amplifier. The preamplifier is based on a pair of 12AX7 tubes and the power stage is a class D amplifier that is rated at 500 watts at either 4 or 8 ohms.

This head unit fits in with the whole “Tiny” theme. It measures a scant 12 x 7 x 6 inches, and it comes in around 11 pounds. That class D technology really is quite miraculous, insn’t it? It carries over the visual theme too, with a white-finished steel chassis and nice looking silkscreened graphics.

Like its bothers in the Orange line-up the Terror 500 is not terribly complicated to use, so setting it up the first time should only take a few minutes. On the back are two Speakon speaker outputs with a 4 ohm / 8 ohm switch, and a socket for the IEC power cord. Why doesn’t everything use an IEC power cord? That’s it for the back.

On the side (yes, the side) there is a balanced XLR out, a ground lift switch and the effects loop ¼-inch jacks. And on the front there is the power switch (yay!) a single instrument input, and active/passive switch, and knobs for volume, gain, treble, mid and bass.

That is it – this is really quite simple. It is a single channel amp, so there is no switching, and there are no effects built in. Plug it into you speaker cabinet, set the impedance and start experimenting with the knobs. Unlike some other new amps, the flat setting appears to be all of the EQ knobs at 12 o’clock.

And right out of the box, this thing sounds killer. I plugged it into an 4x10” Orange OBC410C 8 ohm cabinet and the tone is satisfyingly warm and round, and is definitely tube-driven. Dialing in gain results in plenty of dirt (in a good way), and the distortion is glorious. It cannot do a perfectly clean and sterile tone, but someone that is buying the Terror 500 is probably not looking for the GK sound.

Volume-wise, the Terror 500 is about on par with the Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0 that I currently use and the Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 that I have tested before. It is pretty loud, but it is no SVT. If you are looking for the same tone but with ridiculous power, Orange has the same-size hybrid Terror 1000, which might be enough to get the job done for you.

I think that the Orange Terror 500 is a nice amplifier, and it certainly sounds good. is a tad spendy for what it is, with a list price of $1139 and a street price of $899 (which includes a nice padded travel case). In this price range they have to compete with the Tone Hammer ($699) and the Shuttle 6.2 ($755), and if you are not totally hung-up on having the Orange tone these other amps will certainly get the job done for less cash. I suggest trying and comparing before buying…



  1. That sounds like an ideal small room or rawk/blues recording rig...until I saw the price. Still, Pretty attractive.

  2. It is adorable, but not practical for me. Hope all is well, Ko-ray...

  3. I own the Bass Terror 500W and run it with an Orange 1x15-OBC115...This setup is massive...It's loud enough to crush a reasonable pub gig without going DI...You can easily dial in clean tones...I use it for all my shows, all genres, with a Rickenbacker 4003 and NO fact, I haven't gone DI with this setup in a long time-Volume 6, Gain varies from 2 to 6 depending on genre and that's enough to cut right through a full band and energetic drummer...Cheers Can't say enough good about it...