Orange’s Dual Dark DD50 and Micro Terror amps are both well loved and well respected, but there’s a grey area in between that isn’t quite being covered. Oh wait, never mind, Orange has heard our pleas and given us the Micro Dark.
ORANGE YOU CUTE
The Micro Dark is an utterl tiny one-channel amp, about the size of the box an iPhone comes in. It provides 20 watts of power thanks to a solid state power section, and it utilises a 12AX7 valve in the preamp for more complex harmonic overtones. There are only three knobs, for Volume, Shape and Gain. The Shape control is for dialling in your tone, and the Gain gives you a huge range anything from fat-sounding clean to all-out distorto-mayhem. There’s also a headphone jack on the front panel which doubles as a line out, and it employs Orange’s CabSim circuitry to give you the feel of a mic’d up cab through headphones or into a mixing desk. The Micro Dark has an 8/16 Ohm speaker output, and you can use the small matching cabinet available with an 8” speaker or you can plug it into any cabinet with compatible impedance.
INTO THE DARK
Set the Gain control low and you’ll get a clear but characterful clean sound that recalls Vox and THD textures depending on where you set the Shape control, so this is no tinny-sounding little thing: it sounds huge even when played clean. Turn up the gain for a classic rock crunch that will keep you blasting Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi riffs for hours. But turn the Gain control anywhere past about 2 o’clock and you’re in for a glorious hellride of fat, aggressive distortion which can handle all sorts of extreme genres including stoner metal and modern thrash. Wanna play Slipknot riffs through an amp you could hide in the pocket of your cargo pants? This will do it. Got some Mastodon-style songs to blast out? Those sounds are in here, no problem.
The only real downside is that there’s no channel switching. The cleans are so useful that it’s almost a shame to have to choose one or the other and not be able to toggle between the two. But they’re pretty inexpensive amps so you could probably justify getting two and an A/B switch, right?
IT’S THE LITTLE ONES YOU’VE GOT TO WATCH OUT FOR
The Micro Dark hits way above its weight with authentically complex distortion tones as well as with clean tones that sound rich, full and useful instead of just being a mere afterthought like on most gain-oriented amps. It’s so versatile and useful that a lot of players are going to want to have these things around for jamming, recording and general ‘aww, isn’t it cute’-ing.
Hits and Misses
Huge gain range
No channel switching