Marshall did this back in 2012. Five years later, Fender followed suit. Now, another rock legend finally showed up at the Bluetooth speaker party. Was the belated Fashion Orange Box worth the wait? We found out.
“Since 1968, Orange Amplification has been a pioneering force in guitar and bass amplification, known for innovation and relentless attention to detail and quality,” boasted a press release earlier this month. “The Orange Bluetooth Box is the only Bluetooth speaker on the market that uses both Class D and A/B analog amplifiers, giving them controlled, tight, punchy bass and smooth, natural mids and highs.”
at first glance
- Excellent sound delivery in a portable package
- Pitch adjustment at your fingertips
- Iconic orange styling may not be to everyone’s liking
- Lack of app controls can be disappointing
Orange Music (now Orange Amplification) was founded by CEO Cliff Cooper in 1968 and the Orange Shop opened in London in September of that year.Finding that equipment makers weren’t keen on selling new gear to stores, Cooper decided to make his own, but the seed for a novelty product was planted a few years ago with the creation of a battery-operated miniature guitar amp called the CTI Pixy Mk V – “There aren’t any early ones, but I think the Mk V is a good place to start,” Cooper said in Book of Orange.
The signature Orange signature sound was developed over the next few years with the help of professional guitarists such as Peter Green and Paul Kossoff, as well as Harley Street hearing specialists.
After establishing the tube circuit brand, Orange began to diversify in the mid 70’s introducing the world’s first digitally programmable amplifier, solid state amplifiers and the hugely successful Jimmy Bean Voice Box under the new OMEC line.
After a production hiatus in the 1980s and a brief license with Gibson in the 1990s, the company bounced back in 1997 with its ultra-fast OTR and AD series, while the Crush combo catered to the budget end of the market.
Notable releases in the years since have included the performance-pack-friendly Tiny Terror, the Thunderverb 200 (which can be used as a guitar or bass head, or both), the minimalist TH30, the Dual Dark series, and possibly even an OPC amp/ computer.
The list of artists who have used Orange speakers over the years reads like a who’s who of rock’s best, including Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Jeremy Spencer, Johnny Winter, Andy Powell and Ted Turner, Martin Barre, Geddy Lee, Stevie Wonder, Ann Gus Young, Billy Gibbons, Brian Welch, Robert Smith, Noel Gallagher, James Dean Bradford, Jim Root, Tim Sur Te, Thiago de la Vega, Miraculous Negrito, Orianti and many more.
Marshall partnered with Zound Industries for its range of headphones and BT speakers, while the Box and Box L were developed and produced entirely in-house, and manufactured in the same Orange factory in Korea that makes guitar amps and cabinets.
The blueprints for the company’s first Bluetooth speaker were originally drawn up in 2017, when it was called the Juicebox, but the design team’s desire to get the sound just right led to multiple redesigns over the years since.
“When we brought the first prototype back for testing, it wasn’t any better than anything else,” Cooper explained. “It was good – even good – but it just didn’t stand out, and one of the things Orange has always prided itself on is that anything we do has to be better than what’s already there. So that’s why it needs to be long.”
The Box we reviewed is a battery-powered portable speaker, while the larger Box L (with a slightly larger woofer) is aimed more at living room listeners—because it needs to be installed near a wall outlet.
Each employs an active electronic crossover to split the audio signal in two, routing the low frequencies to a Class D amplifier and the mids and treble to a Class A/B amplifier – longtime technical director Adrian Emsley and Cambridge scholar Frank Cooke are responsible The job of determining exactly where the split point should fall for best results.
The entire Shebang was housed in a resonant wooden cabinet, and many iterations were rejected for resonating at the wrong frequency until Emsley had an epiphany. “I punched a hole in the active crossover at the frequency of the enclosure,” he said. “This ‘unboxes’ the box, if you will, and gives the whole thing a more balanced frequency response.”
Circuitry between the crossover and the amplifier monitors the output volume, and if the Voice of the World speaker is being driven too hard, it lights up an LED to the right of the volume knob to prevent damage and damage. Ensure listeners enjoy playback without suffering from distortion. If the audio limiter warning light illuminates, users can simply turn the volume down a bit to avoid any potential instrument sounds, hiss, or muffled edges.
Visually, the Box and Box L will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used or seen an Orange guitar amp. Our portable model measures 11.02 x 6.89 x 6.69 inches (28 x 17.5 x 17 cm), 6.61 lbs (3 kg) and is bright orange in color, but works if you don’t want to put on a pair of sunglasses every time you turn it on Version with black Torex packaging.
The woven grille on the front has the company logo in the middle, and the rear top has a control panel with a satisfying clicky metal toggle switch for power on/off, next to a crystal-topped orange status light. On the right are three top hat knobs for treble, bass and volume adjustments (with iconic symbols on them), and on the far right is a 3.5mm line input for connecting a music source directly to speakers via the included guitar – like a curl Same cable, plus a signal status light (blue for Bluetooth, green for line-in) and a pairing button.
I’m embracing the fact that I’m no longer a young person, and people may prefer to adjust EQ and other parameters through an app, but doing something so old-school with a treble/bass knob is much more satisfying. All is not lost for Zoomers, however, and as Orange tells us, we’ll be looking at the companion mobile app.
There’s a guitar-like strap button on either side of the bass reflex cabinet for attaching the included strap, and the Box rests on four rubber feet. The design lacks the amp’s corner bumpers, and the speakers aren’t weatherproof, though an optional carrying bag offers some protection from the elements.
Internally, a 30W Class-D amplifier drives a 4-inch, 4-ohm subwoofer (or a 5-inch, 4-ohm woofer in the Box L), and there are two 10W Class-AB amplifiers, each driving a 2-inch, 8-ohm Full range speakers. There’s also a 24-bit stereo DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and a Bluetooth 5.0 module that supports aptX, AAC, and SBC decoding. The frequency response range is 35 Hz to 20 kHz.
The onboard 2,600 mAh lithium-ion battery lasts for more than 15 hours per 3-hour charge, depending on how hard you use the battery—and in our review tests, this was mostly true.
So does it rock? These things can be fairly subjective, but from the first time I returned it back in the box, I was blown away by how well it performed indoors and out. Orange is definitely a very, very late entrant to the wireless speaker game, but I’d say it was worth the wait.
Despite the quality limitations of Bluetooth streaming, I enjoyed many hours of clear, snappy, and responsive music streaming. The sweep provided by the treble and bass controls – the former at 10KHz +7 dB to -10 dB, the latter at 50Hz ±10 dB – allows for plenty of adjustment to taste, with analog warmth adding to the rich sound. And tasty audio cake, while having enough bottom end to satisfy most modern tastes.
With the volume set at around 9 o’clock, there was enough volume and depth to fill my open-plan living room, and the soundstage didn’t feel like band members fighting for space. At midnight there’s enough atmosphere for a cozy beach party, and by three o’clock the six o’clock clock is clearly audible in the distance. It’s nowhere near as loud and bulky as members of the dreaded Soundboks tribe, but it’s much smaller and a fraction of the price.
In this review, I’ve heard a wide variety of genres and styles – from classical to metal, techno to blues, recent chart toppers (er) to master legends. Wireless playback may seem louder than when plugged into a source, but a wired connection does offer the opportunity to listen to high-resolution music, and the Box doesn’t disappoint.
Unlike Positive Grid’s Spark Go, the Orange Box doesn’t feature an instrument input jack for jamming to favorite tunes or plugging into a limitless library of analog amps, guitars, and effects. Given the vibe of guitar amps, this might seem like a missed opportunity, but members of the Box family specialize in doing one thing well, and they do it extremely well.
The battery-powered Box model is available now for $299, while the mains-powered Box L is $345. The video below has more.
Orange BOX & BOX L Bluetooth Speaker