Orange amps are synonymous with vintage style both in design and tone. Their commitment to all analogue circuitry might seem like a noble cause, but what does that mean in a market flooded with teched up digital amps? In this Orange Crush 20RT review we’ll take a look at Orange’s 20 watt offering, which retains it’s all analogue circuitry whilst giving a nod to some of the features that are considered basic to the savvy beginner. Ready to find out more? Let’s go.
Overview of Orange Crush 20RT
The Crush 20RT is essentially the same as the Crush 20, but with a chromatic tuner and reverb effect included (R for reverb and T for tuner). The inclusion of these features means the price is slightly inflated in comparison to the standard 20 model.
As the name suggests, the Crush 20 outputs 20 watts of power via an 8 inch speaker, which Orange calls the “voice of the world” speaker. Although bigger than other amps in it’s class, the Crush 20RT is still pretty small and only weighs 7.2kg.
Although it’ll pump out some power, more than enough to attract multiple noise complaints, it’s still a practice amp. You may get away with using it in a small venue if playing live, but you might found the sound gets a little lost in larger spaces.
The Crush 20RT uses all analogue circuitry in keeping with Orange’s philosophy on building amps. They attempt to get as close to the sound of a valve amp without the price tag. The amp has two channels, clean and dirty. You toggle between the two using a vintage looking switch. Each channel has it’s own volume control, which stops unnecessary fiddling around when switching between channels.
The amp has a 3 band EQ consisting of bass, middle and treble control. A big thumbs up to Orange for including mid control, something that’s all too frequently missing from amps. The crush 20RT also includes a built-in reverb effect with it’s own dedicated control. Dial the reverb control clockwise for more reverb. At higher levels you get a “spacey” effect, but you can use it at lower levels to add some dynamism to your tone.
One of the best things about Orange amps is their styling. The Crush 20RT doesn’t let the side down here. Featuring the orange or black vinyl finish with the basket weave grill it oozes vintage. Even the symbols above the control knobs hark back to a bygone age.
The in-built chromatic tuner is a little bonus feature, but I’m not sure how practical it is. Sure it’s nice to have, but most guitarists have a clip on tuner on their head-stock when playing. I’m not sure it’s worth inflating the price for the inclusion of a tuner in the amp. I guess it’s handy when your clip-on tuner goes missing!
Now to talk about the sound. The Crush 20RT is capable of producing a very wide range of tones. From classic and crunchy to high gain metal scream. Funky, bluesy tones to clean and mellow. The amp is pretty simple to operate, the mastery comes from experimentation to find your perfect tone.
That means this amp isn’t for those who just want to select a tone and play. If you’re willing to spend some time with the amp you can craft a wide variety of tones. If you want to plug, select and play then you’ll probably be more at home with a modelling amp. You can find out more about types of amp here.
The Crush 20RT also features a 1/4 inch phones port to enable you to plugin a set of headphones for silent practice. The phones port can also be used to connect to a mixer or recording console. When you connect a set of headphones the cabinet simulator comes into play. That’ll transform the output to sound like it’s coming out of an Orange 4 x 12 inch cabinet.
You can also plug in an MP3 player, or anything that works with a 3.5mm jack, to play backing tracks or music through the amp. There’s no internal control over volume of connected devices, so you’ll need to adjust the volume to ensure that you can jam along properly.
On the back of the amp there’s support for a foot-switch to enable you to switch between the clean and dirty channels without having to stop playing. The foot-switch is sold separately and Orange recommend the FS-1, which includes an LED to let you know when your using the dirty channel.
A detachable power lead is included with the amp, which is handy. It can’t be operated by batteries, so if you’re planning on using it for busking you’ll need a power source. To be fair, most practice amps at this output aren’t battery operated. You’d be looking at mini amps if you want the mobility that battery powered amps provide.
Here’s a short introduction video to give you an idea of what’s possible with the Crush 20RT.
If you go for the Crush 20RT you won’t find many instructions. That’s because it’s a very intuitive amp to use. However, as we discussed above the real benefit comes from experimentation. There are no memory banks included with the amp, so you’ll need to jot down the settings when you find your perfect tone.
Another draw back of the Crush 20RT is that is has no Bluetooth connectivity. There’s also no USB port, so you can’t connect directly to a computer. Perhaps this is by design. Orange seems to want to avoid modelling amps and therefore doesn’t want to start loading it’s amps with features.
I have to say that, although the Crush 20RT is a very stylish amp that can produce a wide variety of tones, it’s pretty expensive. You can get a Fender Champion 20 for around $50 less than you’d pay for the Crush RT20. The Fender has more built in effects and built-in voices without straying too far into the realm of modelling amps.
If you’re a traditionalist and want an all analogue amp, then the Crush 20RT is worth exploring. However if you’re open to modelling amps you’d do better to consider the Marshall Code 25, which comes in at around the same price. The Code 25 gives you 5 more watts of output through a slightly larger 10 inch speaker.
It also has Bluetooth Connectivity and software to enable you to manipulate and save settings via your phone or tablet. The Code 25 can connect directly to a computer and works with recording software. It also features a stack of pre-amp and power-amp models, whilst enabling you to save your custom tones to memory banks.
If you’re looking for features, I’d strongly suggest taking a look at the Marshall Code 25. You can find out more about it here.
There are some fantastic upsides to the Crush 20RT. I think it depends on how dead set you are against modelling amps. If that’s the case, this is the ultimate anti-dote. Here are the best bits:
- Wide Variety of Tones
- Stylish Vintage Design
- Simple to Use
The cons lie mainly in the price when compared to the features and variety you can get from modelling amps with a similar power output. Here are the main drawbacks:
- Expensive Versus Competitors
- No Memory Banks
- In-built Tuner Isn’t Necessary
The Crush 20RT is a great, if a little expensive, option for those who are faithful to the ideals of analogue amps. It’s not an amp that’ll fill a room with noise when playing live, unless it’s a very small room. It’s therefore aimed a the beginner, or the guitarist who just wants a small amp to noodle around with at home.
The 20 watt output is plenty loud enough, potentially too much for home practice, but it still sits in the realms of practice amps. You’ll be able to produce a wide variety of tones using the Crush 20RT. The tuner is handy, if a little unnecessary. You have to think that the inclusion of the tuner is partly responsible for the premium price.
The inclusion of reverb adds a different dynamic and will be handy along with the 3 band EQ for sculpting custom tones. Unfortunately you’ll need to write down your settings because there are no memory banks included.
If you’re not a committed to the ideals of analogue amps, it’s worth checking out the Marshall Code 25, which provides many more features for around the same price. If you like analogue amps, along with the simplicity they provide, then the Crush 20RT is well worth considering.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave and questions or comments below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Whichever direction you go, modelling or analogue, enjoy your playing with your amp’s settings. You never know what sort of tone you might discover. Happy strumming!
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