Orange and Blackstar both produce a range of solid-state and valve amplifiers, but which are the best? In this article, I’ll compare the tones of Blackstar and Orange, the controls, and look at the specifications of pretty much every model by each brand compared against each other.
The Quick Answer
Orange and Blackstar both produce valve and solid-state amplifiers. Generally, Orange amps have a more iconic and recognisable British-crunch tone, whereas Blackstar amps are more versatile due to the ISF control which allows you to adjust the EQ more freely.
Comparing the Tones
I first wanted to take a look at the classic tones of each amp brand and how they differ from one another. Of course, it’s much easier to demonstrate if you can actually hear it, so I’ve added some videos to help make things a bit clearer, as well as summarised some key differences!
Keep in mind that these brands both produce solid-state and valve amps, and it’s not really comparing like-for-like if a solid state Orange is compared with a valve Blackstar amp, so I’ll point out those differences in the summary.
- Blackstar have a more “scooped” mid-range compared to Orange.
- Orange amps sound more gritty and crunchy.
Here is a video comparing two valve amps from each brand. It’s time stamped so you can skip to the different tones you are looking for.
- Orange valve amps sound fuller and have a more pronounced mid-range than Blackstar valve amps. Blackstar amps sound a bit brighter but also thinner. However, the ISF control does allow you to adjust the voicing to achieve more versatile tones. Orange amps sound crunchier at lower volumes than Blackstar amps.
- Orange solid-state amps sound fuller and have more mid-range than Blackstar solid-state amps which have more treble and bass.
- Blackstar valve amps sound a bit thinner but have more low-end than Orange valve amps which sound more crunch tone that offers more sustain and depth. The ISF control seen on most Blackstar amp does give you more versatility though to adjust the EQ compared to Orange amps.
- Blackstar solid-state amps sound more heavier and darker than Orange solid-state amps which sound more saturated.
Blackstar and Orange amps are both suitable for a wide range of music styles. Orange has a more pronounced mid-range and crunchy tone which is popular in rock music, whereas Blackstar amps sound darker and have more low-end which can make them a good option for metal. Blackstar amps are arguably more versatile due to the ISF control.
Check out this video comparing solid-state Orange and Blackstar amps to hear the differences.
Before we jump into specific models in the range, I wanted to take a look at the basic controls you will find on Blackstar amps so we can gauge whether they have more simplistic panels, or give you lots of flexibility.
Blackstar Amp Settings
Here are the most common Blackstar amp controls:
Orange Amp Settings
Here are the most commonly featured controls on Orange amps:
Both Blackstar and Orange have similar controls on their mid-high end models, which usually feature a gain control, reverb and a 3-band EQ panel (bass, middle and treble). Some Blackstar amps will just have a single tone control on lower-end models to keep things more simplistic, as will Orange amps which have a shape control with a similar function.
The ISF control on Blackstar amps stands for “infinite shape feature”. It adjusts the EQ balance of the amplifier by setting it within a certain range, the position in the range can adjusted using bass, middle and treble controls on certain amps.
Turning the ISF control counter-clockwise is the American setting which is tighter sounding than the clockwise British settings which is warmer and crunchier.
Here is my in-depth guide to Orange Amp Settings if you want to find out more.
Comparing Popular Amp Models
I also wanted to take a look at the different models in the range, to see what you get for your money at each price point. I have created three tables which include most amplifiers from the Orange and Blackstar ranges and their features and price (based on Guitar Center at the time of writing). All the tables are in price order (from low-high) so you can see what specifications you can get based on your budget.
Guitar Center are always the first place I look at when I’m interested in a new amp because have a huge range of amplifiers for sale and always have some excellent deals on. Here’s a link to take you directly to Guitar Center’s amp range so you can see all the offers available at the moment.
- Solid state combo amps: $100-$680
- Valve amps: $500-$2350
- Head units: $200-$2150
Solid State Combo Amps (Entry Level)
|Orange Crush12||12W||$100||1 channel, 3 band EQ, overdrive, gain|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 10||10W||$130||6 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Orange Crush20||20W||$140||2 channels, dirty, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Orange Crush 20RT||20W||$190||2 channels (dual-voice), dirty, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tuner|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 20||20W||$180||6 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 40||40W||$200||6 channels, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Orange Crush 35RT||35W||$260||2 channels, dirty, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tuner|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 100||100W||$380||6 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, looper, octaver, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar Silverline Standard||20W||$430||6 voices, gain, 2 band EQ, ISF reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Orange Crush Pro CR60C||60W||$500||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Blackstar Silverline Deluxe||100W||$680||6 voices, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, resonance, presence, 4 modulation effects|
- Orange Crush entry-level amps offer higher wattage for a lower price than Blackstar ID: Core amps.
- Blackstar offer the highest wattage solid state combo amps compared to Orange.
Valve (Tube) Combo Amps
|Blackstar HT-5RH||5W||$500||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb|
|Blackstar Studio 10 6L6||10W||$600||Gain, tone, reverb|
|Blackstar Studio 10 EL34||10W||$600||Gain, tone, reverb|
|Blackstar HT-20R||20W||$680||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Orange Rocker15||15W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ|
|Blackstar HT Club 40||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 40||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage||60W||$1000||2 channels, 2 voice switches, Gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb, presence|
|Blackstar CV30||30W||$1000||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar Artist 30||30W||$1150||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb|
|Orange TremLord-30||30W||$1300||Bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Blackstar Artisan 30||30W||$1670||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, voice|
|Orange AD30TC||30W||$2300||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Orange Rockerverb 50||50W||$2350||2 channels, 3 band EQ, reverb|
- Blackstar produce lower priced tube amps at similar wattages.
- Lower priced tube amps from Blackstar have more EQ controls.
|Orange Terror Stamp||20W||Hybrid||$200||Shape, gain|
|Orange Crush Pro CR120H||120W||Solid State||$450||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Blackstar HT-5RH||5W||Tube||$480||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Blackstar Silverline Deluxe||100W||Solid State||$530||6 voices, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, resonance, presence, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar HT20RH||20W||Tube||$600||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Orange Dark Terror 15||15W||Tube||$650||2 channels, shape, gain|
|Orange Rocker 15 Terror||15W||Tube||$650||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Orange OR15H||15W||Tube||$700||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 50||50W||Tube||$780||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb|
|Orange Dual Terror||30W||Tube||$900||2 channels, tone|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage 100||100W||Tube||$1000||2 channels, 2 voice switches, Gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Orange TH30H||30W||Tube||$1200||2 channels, gain, shape|
|Orange Rockerverb 50||50W||Tube||$1200||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
|Orange Rockerverb 100||100W||Tube||£2150||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
- Orange produce a larger range of head unit amps than Blackstar.
- Blackstar produce the cheapest tube head unit compared to Blackstar.
In the market for a new amplifier? Check out my complete amplifier buyer’s guide to help narrow down your selection and find the perfect amp for you.
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