Get ready for bone-crunching bass power in a tiny package. From Orange Amplification comes the Little Bass Thing, a fearless, featherweight bass amp head designed for modern bassists. Dan Veall tells us more about this fearsome 500-watt.
It's little! And its a thing for bass! - I can't be the first person to make this truly outstanding and witty (cough) remark regarding the bundle of joy I pulled out of the box ready to review here.
Happily sitting on the palm of my (rather large) hand, this chap with it's contrasting and easy to read graphics might not seem like it's going to go head to head against its big-rack brethren, but you'd be mistaken.
Layout is simple but also very effective as we shall find out. The instrument input is located on the right-hand side, and there's a pad to pull back the level should you have an instrument with a high output - like my bass have I used for the review, but it could have easily been a passive four stringer with super hot, over-wound pickups.
So, moving in a left direction, the Little Bass Thing has a three-band equaliser with a semi-parametric mid-range control. This is great for dialling in (or out) those mids that us bassists find most useful. The bass control is interesting actually; Orange advertise that the 'centre' for the bass is across the whole 40-400hz region - so, I guess this is a wide band control as it is impacting what I would say were all of the most important frequencies for bass guitar, even five string. Certainly, in the review, I felt there were more low mids being added as I dialled up the bass.
The treble I would say is more in the "pick bite" region rather than that of the airy 10khz region. I think if you are using a cabinet without a tweeter, you'll get your impact from this dial via 10" speakers.
Orange has included a really interesting compressor: The company describe it as a "painstakingly developed Class A Optical Compression circuit. With its unique sidechain and a response optimised for bass guitar, this single-dial provides excellent dynamic control and a warm, classic feel, at subtle or extreme settings" It seems lazy just pasting from their own marketing blurb, but, indeed, there's something rather cool about the effect as you start to advance the single dial. The make-up gain does seem to wind up faster than the compression threshold with my own bass, but then so does "something" else. It's a bit like adding more life and energy into your bass sound. Not just louder, but more full - and, on higher settings, it will start to drive. The sweet spot I aimed for was almost tube-like. My notes became more touched sensitive, making legato playing even easier.
The compressor, should you wish, can be engaged by footswitch, though there isn't one included - the usual standard push-button type will work.
'LBT' has a studio-quality DI output and buffered effects loop for external processing.
I guess you will want to know how loud this thing is? I get the feeling that the preamplifier has been tailored to make the best use of the power amplifier's capabilities and thus, super-sub frequencies aren't going to be wasting energy. This to my ear translates to a unit that, focussing its energies on the useful four string frequencies means that it goes loud and then louder and ... well, you get the idea, in the studio, it did appear to have lots of low-mid frequency balls, basically.
Also round the back, along with the standard power input we have a power switch and a voltage selector for 'round the world' usage. Orange offer two locking Speakon connectors for your speaker cabinets to complete the compliment of connectors to get you heard.
My usual wrap up then? It's a little chap with lots of 'poke', like a little pocket rocket ha!
There's a leaning towards Orange's rock heritage in my mind as the compressor is dialled in offering vintage flavours in a modern D Class amplifier design. I think it sits right in the middle of being specialised vs versatile, because I feel it does bring a certain flavour to the table, yet it's affordable price means that you're going to have no problem taking it to stage, gig or even recording session without too many worries.
Another great amp from Orange, you won't go wrong if you want a plug and play rock vibe.