Orange amplifiers are rarely even compared to other brands on the market. They have achieved that type of status where you know exactly what you get from a box that bears their logo. With that said, this brand is also full of surprises. One of the more recent ones came in form of Orange Micro Dark Hybrid heads. These things are just incredible, both in terms of their nature and the performance they offer. If you are working with a $200 budget and you are looking for something different, Orange has you covered.
The minimalist approach is often times the goal, but rarely something that is achieved in the end. That is unless we are talking about the Orange Micro Dark. To call the available knobs a control cluster almost feels like an overkill. Orange definitely reduced everything to the bare minimum without sacrificing any versatility or performance. The only controls available are the following. You get one volume knob, one gain knob, and one shape knob. That is all. There's no buttons, complex EQ sections, none of that. All you get are these three knobs and a challenge. However, it turns out that you don't really need much more than that. Micro Dark allows you to dial in a wide range of tones, which is pretty amazing in itself.
As its name indicates, this is an amp head but more importantly, it is a hybrid. What they have done is install a single 12AX7 in the preamp stage, and compensate the rest with a rather ingenious solid state power stage. That single tube is there to deliver that organic overdrive that many are struggling to find in this price range. This thing is rated for 20 Watts of power, making it a pretty decent choice overall. Micro Dark comes with a full-fledged FX loop as well as an emulated headphones line out. Once you plug in your headphones, it will send an emulated 4×12 cab tone to straight to your ears. This way, you don't need a cab if you got this thing for home use purposes.
Describing the performance of the Micro Dark is not as easy as it seems. Orange cleans are not something this brand is known for. However, the ones you get with this model are pretty convincing for a solid state hybrid. With that said, when you turn that gain knob up and that tube kicks in, you are presented with a piece of legendary tone. There is enough headroom to dial in anything from a slight, bluesy overdrive to a
full-fledged distortion. Hook this baby up to a decent 4×12 and you are ready to go from your bedroom directly onto a stage. It is simply an incredibly versatile amplifier that bends the rules at every single corner.
Orange Amplifiers Micro Dark is by far one of the strangest models in its price range. Finding something similar to it outside of what Orange has to offer, is going to be a tall order. Its unique nature is exactly what makes it so awesome. Whether you are looking for a great practice/gigging amp or just a killer setup for home recording, Micro Dark has you covered all the way.