Are you ready to come on over to the dark side? In this Orange Micro Dark Review, I’ll tell you why you should check out Orange’s amplifier head that’s 20 Watts of pure evil!
The Orange Micro Dark amp can power anything that is 8 Ohms and over, including your 4×12 speaker cabinet! How awesome is that? You won’t believe the sound of this little beast and at a price that’s too good to be true!
Keep on reading to see how this amazing little amp can take you to the dark side and back with the twist of a knob!
What Is The Orange Micro Dark?
The Orange Micro Dark is a “hybrid” low-powered amplifier head. Its hybrid design consists of a tube (valve) preamp coupled to a solid-state amp.
The term “micro amp,” also called a “lunch amp,” refers to its size, weight, and power output. They are becoming a popular choice among amplifiers because they are compact and easy to transport. Their lower power range also makes it possible to crank both the volume and gain to get the best sound without blowing the roof off the house.
Amplifier “heads,” like the Micro Dark, need to be connected to an external speaker source or a set of headphones.
At just 20 Watts of power output, the Micro Dark is louder than you can imagine. Moreover, it can deliver “scooped mids” to satisfy even the most discerning dropped-D or 7-string players.
Who Is The Micro Dark For?
The Orange Micro Dark is for anyone that wants a low-cost, low-power amplifier that thrives in a modern rock environment. The amp can easily take you to the more aggressive side of music by delivering awesome high-gain sounds.
If you need more gain than Orange’s Micro Terror head can deliver, then this is the amp for you. It is a great choice for those players just starting to get you into the “metal zone” at a minimal cost; just add a speaker cabinet and pedals!
This 20 Watt head is ideal for band practice or playing in small venues. But, of course, you can always mic the amp and mix it into the PA system to play larger size gigs or outdoors.
If you play in your bedroom or have a grumpy neighbor, you can use the cabinet-simulated headphone jack to keep the peace while you rock your world.
How The Orange Micro Dark Amp Works
The Orange Micro Terror amp has a hybrid design that uses a 12AX7 (ECC83) tube (valve) preamp to drive a solid-state amp. This gives the amp an organic tone that can become “edgy” when put in a higher gain setting, with notes that sustain and distort musically when picked aggressively.
To use the amp, plug an 8 – 16 Ohm speaker cabinet into the “speaker out” jack on the back, or you can tap in with a set of headphones from the front of the unit.
Orange makes the PPC108Blk, which is a black cabinet with an 8-inch speaker that looks absolutely wicked with the amp sitting on top of it!
Although the Micro Dark is missing the auxiliary input jack that you get on the Micro Terror amp, it has something even better. The Micro Dark gives you a buffered effects loop to put your reverb, delay, and modulation pedals!
Does The Orange Micro Dark Need A Cabinet?
With an all-tube amp, it is critical always to have it connected to a speaker load of the proper impedance, but hybrid amps are not as susceptible to tube failure.
The Orange Micro Dark instruction manual says:
“Terminals labeled as “Speaker Outputs” must be connected to a speaker cabinet of the designated load rating using an un-shielded two-conductor cable for speaker use at all times during operation.”
Therefore, don’t power up the amp without a speaker cabinet unless you have a set of headphones plugged into the headphone jack. According to the manual, “When the headphone jack is used, the Micro Dark amp’s speaker output is bypassed.”
However, If you really want to hear what this amp can do, run it through a speaker cabinet. A good 4×12 cabinet can turn the Micro Dark into a fire-breathing monster! It will be hard to go back to using headphones once you get a taste of the sound the amp can put at your command.
Hearing Is Believing
Here is a video from Orange that demonstrates the versatility of the Micro Dark amp and how it sounds when played through a 1×8 and 4×12 cabinet. You won’t believe the sound this unit has! Check it out!
Features And Benefits
Orange designed the Dark Terror to have the same quality as their higher-end products. It adds some additional features that the Micro Terror amp does not have, but the auxiliary jack got lost in the upgrade process, so you can’t jam along with MP3s.
The “Shape” control functions by primarily varying the amount of midrange. Turning it clockwise attenuates the mids and emphasizes the highs while turning it counter-clockwise boosts the mids and emphasizes the lows.
To keep the amp’s casing size as small as possible, Orange put the step-down transformer and DC rectifier in an external power adaptor.
Using the PPC108 8-inch speaker cabinet allows you to stick with the “smaller is better” concept. Orange makes a black version of this cabinet that looks wicked when paired with the Micro Dark head (see the photo above).
To get a much bigger sound, connect the amp to your favorite 4×12 cabinet and then stand back!
Other features and benefits include:
- A buffered effects loop
- A CABSIM headphone output
- High Tensile Steel Casing, which makes it tough and gig-worthy
- Can drive any size speaker cabinet, 8 – 16 Ohms. You’ll be amazed at how much air it moves!
- Easy to transport. Pair the Micro Terror with the PPC108 cabinet and give your back a break.
What Is The Orange Amplifiers Micro Series Amp Bag?
The Orange Amplifiers Micro Series Amp Bag is designed to hold and protect the Micro Dark amp and make it easy to carry with you to your next gig. It also has room to hold the power adaptor and a few guitar cables.
The amp bag is an optional accessory that will cost you about $30 but I think it’s an excellent investment because it is well-made and will help keep your amp in good and running condition.
What I like About The Orange Micro Dark Amp
There’s so much to like about this amp but, first and foremost is the buffered effects loop! Unfortunately, the effects loop is noticeably missing on the Micro Terror amp.
The amp also takes pedals well on the front-end, like your overdrive and distortion box. Fire up your favorite pedalboard, and you’ll be in “effects heaven!”
For more info about stomp boxes and effects loops, see What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing.
Next is the CABSIM headphone output. It emulates the sound of a mic’ed Orange 4×12″ cabinet loaded with Orange’s flagship Voice of the World speakers. This really adds an element of realism to your headphone experience.
If you want to take a walk on the dark side, let’s not forget the black, orange, and white front panel. It’s sorta like “Orange amps meets Halloween” in a “dark” sort of way. The black and orange control icons complete the look. Absolutely spectacular!
The sound oozes “Orange growl and bite,” and It catches every subtle fingering and picking dynamic. Harmonics explode off the strings, especially in high-gain mode.
When you turn down the guitar’s volume the sound cleans up nicely. The amp controls can be set to give you a bit of a “snarly” rhythm tone or a totally clean sound.
Don’t let the amp’s size fool you. This micro-amp takes “loud” to the next level! Crank the volume and the gain and stand back. Like its brother, the Micro Terror, it’s 20 of the loudest Watts you’ll ever hear!
Its compact and rugged construction design makes it a “gig-worthy” machine. It’s hard not to like everything about this amp, and the price is right for all that you get!
What I Don’t Like About The Orange Micro Dark Amp
There’s very little to mention in the “cons” department, especially at a street price of $150.
Unlike the Micro Terror amp, the Micro Dark does not have an Auxillary Input. This means that you can’t jam along with MP3 songs directly through the amp. It would have been nice to keep this feature, even if Orange had to charge a little more for the unit.
A frequent complaint is that the amp is noisy when you crank the gain and volume. This is par for the course with high-gain amps, especially since the Micro Dark has about twice the gain as the Micro Terror. Using a guitar with humbucking pickups or noiseless single-coil pickups definitely helps. It’s just something to be aware of, especially if you plan on recording with the amp.
There is only 1 EQ for adjusting the amp’s tone. A 2-band EQ could have provided better control over the guitar’s clean sound, but the “shape” knob does a good job scooping out the mids and accentuating the low-end when used in high-gain mode. Most players will purchase this amp to play aggressive rock or metal, so I think they will be well-satisfied.
The amp may not be adequate for playing in large or outdoor spaces. If you’re planning to play an arena, then you’ll need bigger equipment, but that’s what roadies are for. Then, of course, you always have the option of micing the amp through the PA system.
Orange Micro Dark Vs Micro Terror
Here is a comparison of the Orange Micro Dark and its counterpart, the Orange Micro Terror amp.
|Specification||Micro Terror Amp||Micro Dark Amp|
|Control Knobs||Volume, Tone, Gain||Volume, Shape, Gain|
|Preamp||Tube (Valve) Preamp|
Uses One 12AX7 (ECC83)
Has Two Gain Stages
|High Gain Tube (Valve) Preamp |
Uses One 12AX7 (ECC83)
Has Four Gain Stages
|Amp||Solid State||Solid State|
|Power Output||20 Watts RMS||20 Watts RMS|
|Speaker Output||One (8 Ohm Minimum)||One (8 Ohm Minimum)|
|Headphone Jack||Yes, but not cabinet-simulated||Yes, with cabinet-simulation|
|15 Volt DC, 2 Amp|
(2.1mm Center Positive)
|15 Volt DC, 2 Amp|
(2.1mm Center Positive)
W X H X D
|6.5″ × 5.31″ × 3.7″|
(16.5cm × 13.5cm × 9.5cm)
|6.5″ × 5.31″ × 3.7″|
(16.5cm × 13.5cm × 9.5cm)
|Amp Price||$149 (Street)||$189 (Street)|
|Orange Amp Bag|
|$29.99 (Street)||$29.99 (Street)|
Is Micro Dark Better Than Micro Terror?
When you compare the Orange Micro Dark against the Micro Terror, there is no clear winner. It really depends on the individual guitar player, the kind of music each guitarist plays, and which guitar is plugged into the amp.
Each amplifier has its strengths and weaknesses, but in the end, it all comes down to individual preferences and tastes.
For those of you who play more aggressive rock or metal, the Micro Dark could be your best bet. It is a higher gain amp than the Micro Terror, and it can give your more of a scooped midrange sound with more accentuated bass. The Micro Dark also has a buffered effects loop and a CABSIM headphone output that sounds more like a real Orange amp.
If you want an amp that can cover the most types of music, then you may be better off with the Micro Terror, which is a lower gain amp than the Micro Dark but has somewhat of a more diverse tonal range. You can always add an overdrive or distortion pedal if you need more gain. It might also be a better practice amp if you play along with MP3 songs because it has an auxiliary-in jack.
If I had to choose between the two amps, I would go with the Micro Dark because I am a pedal guy and couldn’t live without the effects loop. To me, this amp is more of a “Micro Terror version 2.0,” although they are each awesome in their own right.
Final Thoughts On The Orange Micro Dark Review
The Orange Micro Dark guitar amp is a 20 Watt RMS “lunchbox” amp that will deliver you the “Orange sound” with power to spare. It is a rather striking-looking amp, packaged in a sturdy housing that is easy to take to all your practice sessions and gigs.
Plug the amp into the Orange PPC108 cabinet to have the ultimate in a rig that is small enough to take anywhere without breaking your back or your piggy bank. I love the look of it with the black (PPC108Blk) cabinet paired with this amp!
It will happily handle any speaker cabinet rated at 8 to 16 Ohms and sounds breathtaking with a 4×12 half-stack.
Don’t be fooled by the size of this little monster. The Orange Micro Dark 20 watt head can fill a large-size room with tight power chords and high-gain lead, easily cutting through the mix or overpowering an aggressive drummer.
The simplicity of the front panel controls makes it quick and easy to dial in your sound. It works great with humbucking and single-coil pickups. It’s a hard amp to power down and just the thing to keep you motivated to play!
For more info, see How To Stay Motivated To Learn Guitar – Top Tips For Success.
Tell Me What You Think About The Orange Micro Dark Amp
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Orange Micro Dark Amp review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your own personal review. I will be happy to help you.
- Do you own an Orange Micro Dark or a different Orange amp? How do you like it?
- What do you think about the look and the control layout of the amp?
- Is this Orange Micro Dark 20 watt hybrid head adequate for your needs? What kind of speaker cabinet would you connect it to?
- Would you buy this amp after reading this review?
8 thoughts on “Orange Micro Dark Review – Is It Micro Terror’s Evil Twin?”
Wow bad ass write-up Frank. These small heads can fool you with their power and tone. I love the ‘practice amp on steroids’ feel these give you lol — plus it sure beats carrying a combo around. I usually leave a cab at the rehearsal room and carry my little micro dark with me. Have never gigged with one but might try it in a small venue. Have you played out live with one of these?
I really appreciate your comments!
Yeah, you should definitely be able to play a small venue with the Orange Micro Dark. I’ve never gigged live with the amp, but I’ve used a 16 Watt Soldano (Atomic 16) head plugged into a Peavy 4×12 cabinet with more than enough volume for small to medium-sized venues.
The Soldano is an all-tube amp, which I find even louder than the hybrid and solid-state units of the same wattage. Let me know how you make out gigging with the Orange Dark live.
Have fun and keep on playing!
You know Frank, I don’t have a guitar but I want one of these dark amplifiers. Seriously though, this is a fantastic article. Clearly written and well laid out that even a laywoman like me understands what you’re talking about.
You know what would be cool: If you had a sound bite example from this amplifier as an MP3.
Thanks for your comments!
I’m thrilled that you liked my article! Maybe it will entice you to get started on the guitar. The Orange Micro Dark is a great amp to get you going, and it’s very reasonably priced.
If you want to hear what the amp sounds like, check out the video in the article. I think you will really be impressed!
Thanks for this review of the Orange Micro Dark, I have been playing the guitar for most of my life and I have recently decided I want to jump into the electric guitar realm. I have only used an acoustic guitar previously but would love to go electric. Is an amplifier something that I would really need making the switch?
Thank you for your comments!
I think getting an electric guitar is a great idea! It will change your entire approach to music. As an excellent example, listen to Eric Clapton’s classic electric version of the song “Layla,” then listen to the acoustic version he did for MTV.
You don’t absolutely need an amplifier, but I would highly suggest you get one. An electric guitar sounds and plays totally different when you plug it into a decent amp. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Get something like the Orange Micro Dark, which can be adjusted to cover any type of music.
Best of luck with your playing, and don’t be afraid to take it in a new musical direction!
Great article! I have been searching for a “hack” to get an mp3 or other music through the Micro Dark. I wonder if a splitter for the headset might work or just using the return part of the effects loop. To me its the only drawback to the amp. I love jamming along to my favorite tunes!
Thank You for your comments!
I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the article!
You can’t spit the headphone jack because that is a line-out signal. However, you might be able to run a line-level audio signal into the effects return, which bypasses the preamp section and feeds into the amp section of the unit. I would check with Orange technical support before you try it. The mp3 signal will need to be appropriately attenuated. If you get this to work, then please let me know.
I love the sound and performance of Orange amps!
Thanks for visiting my site; please come back often. There will be lots of new stuff coming soon that you will like.
Keep on playing,