Orange Brent Hinds Terror Review
The Mastodon mayhem lord’s signature amp dishes killer clean tones as readily as filthy ones.
Clip 2: Dirty channel in bedroom mode, half power, gain at 12:30, bass at 2:00, mid at 11:00, treble at 12:30, and volume at 9:30.
With the introduction of the Tiny Terror at the 2008 NAMM show, Orange helped start a “lunchbox” amp craze. Since then the Terror line has become a cornerstone of the company’s product roster, with models like the Dual Terror, Dark Terror, and Jim Root Terror. The recently released, EL84-driven Brent Hinds Terror is the company’s second signature Terror model. And though it’s similar in spirit and layout to the simultaneously released Rocker 15 Terror head, it’s designed with more available gain, as well as with input and tweaks from the Mastodon riffmeister.
Like all Orange Terror amps, the Hinds is super portable. It comes with a padded carry bag that has a big pouch for the power supply, and plenty of room for accessories and spare tubes. As with all Terrors, the vibrant colors and diminutive dimensions seem almost cute, even if the metal enclosure does add a touch of industrial, utilitarian chic. Despite appearances, though, Hinds’ new head is a potent, all-tube amplifier that puts a wide array of clean to filthy sounds at your disposal. The two-channel setup is fired by two EL84 power tubes, and three 12AX7s and one 12AT7 in the preamp. Power-switching options include 0.5, 1, 7, and 15 watts.
The amp’s control panel is, functionally speaking, pretty simple. If you’re not familiar with the rune-like icons Orange has long used in place of text labels on the front panel, however, things might be slightly confusing at first. The treble- and bass-clef symbols will be obvious enough for players with a little standard-notation familiarity, but others might be harder to decipher. Regardless, the knobs’ functions are easy to grasp with some experimentation. The dirty channel has volume, treble, middle, bass, and gain knobs. The “natural” (clean) channel simply has a volume control.
Tiny Can Be Terrifying
I tested the Brent Hinds Terror using several guitars, including an Ernie Ball/Music Man Axis Sport and a Gibson Les Paul Standard through a Celestion-equipped cabinet. The multiple output-wattage options are accessed using a combination of the front-panel full-/half-power toggle and the rear-panel headroom/bedroom slider. In headroom mode, the possible power configurations are 15 watts (with the front-panel toggle set at full) or 7 watts (front toggle at half), while bedroom mode avails 1 watt and 0.5 watt at full- and half-power settings, respectively.
I started with the dirty channel at the 0.5-watt setting, with all tone knobs at noon and gain on the low side. Even at this modest setting, the amp felt open and screaming. There’s a ton of gain available. For home recording use, the bedroom setting sounds andfeelslike a cranked amp.
With the gain at noon and beyond, bedroom mode sounds monstrous. When I played Mastodon-type figures that juxtaposed dissonant chords with hammer-ons and pull-offs, the amp sounded razor sharp, precise, and responsive. There’s also a lot of cutting upper-mid and treble content when you need it.
Boomy and Headroomy
It’s astonishing how massive this Terror sounds at full power. It’s downright loud. The bottom end is huge—even with the volume knob set relatively low, objects in my home studio were rattling off the shelves. While 15 watts might not sound like a lot, this amp is powerful enough to perform in almost any conventional performing situation—particularly with good sound reinforcement. And, of course, it’s easier to get a 15-watt amp up to the tonal sweet spot than it is to get there with a 100-watt beast.
The dirty channel is very open in full-power headroom mode, which makes single-note lines sound quite strong. The tradeoff is that it demands picking discipline, because there’s less amp compression to flatter messy edges. This openness worked wonders for low-tuned doom riffs that would crap out on lesser amps. Meanwhile, rolling down my guitar’s volume knob cleaned things up noticeably. Regulating distortion this way yields great rhythm sounds at lower settings and screaming lead tones when you floor it.
Chimes at Midnight
The natural channel’s single volume knob means you get as direct a signal as possible straight from the input. This channel’s basic character is full and dark, yet it generates beautiful clean sounds that stay very detailed—even when playing full, harmonically rich chords. In bedroom mode, it’s grittier at high volume and you’ll need a light touch to get keeps things sparkly clean. In headroom mode, though, it stays pretty clean even under heavy pick attack. Even so, it still feels very dynamic and touch sensitive.
Like all Terrors, the Hinds doesn’t have onboard reverb, though it does have an effects loop, which I took advantage of by patching a Line 6 M9 in for delay and reverb. It worked beautifully. The loop is tube buffered to preserve the amp’s sonic integrity, and there were no extraneous noises or humming.
An amp named for Brent Hinds might set up expectations that it’s strictly for heavy, Mastodon-style music. Surprisingly, this little Orange is very versatile. The cleans are gorgeous in headroom mode, and the high-gain sounds cover classic and modern heavy rock textures with ease and real character. Factor in the amp’s portability (14 pounds) and wallet-friendly price, and you’re looking at a real value that can cover miles of musical ground.