A Beastly Match: the Orange Terror Bass amp and SP410 Cab

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  • July 15, 2016

Bass amp and cabinet evolution has taken somewhat circular path throughout its lifespan. The first models tended to be on the smaller side. The legendary Ampeg B-15 – favoured by the likes of James Jamerson and Carol Kaye – was an all valve affair, with low-wattage compared with modern beasts and fitted with a single 15-inch driver. Then, as with everything in rock and roll at the time, bass amps became huge.

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The Orange Terror bass amp and SP410 cab is a beastly combination, cramming in huge vintage tones and gobs of volume into a compact package, which is pretty perfect for studio use.

Anyone that’s been in a recording studio may have seen a multitude of rundown “fridges”, waiting to roar and completely overpower the rest of the band. These enclosures often housed eight ten inch drivers, or sometimes even two eighteen inch drivers. You can still sometimes see these monsters in action, but usually in the backline of a band that has have enough money to employ someone to lug it around.

Nowadays, things have become a little more sensible, and less back-breaking. “Quads” – so named for the amount of drivers are relatively commonplace. Many designs also feature separate tweeters for the extra high frequency range that exemplifies the modern rock bass tone. The Orange Terror Bass amp, paired up with its SP410 cabinet represents a return to simpler times, with a few clever twists that help it to punch well above its weight.

Lunchbox Worthy Size

People familiar with famous Tiny Terror guitar amp model will instantly recognise the “lunchbox” look of the Terror Bass. There are not many bass amps that can lay claim to being able to be carried around comfortably with one hand, but this one definitely does: a massive plus for portability.

It has acres of power, featuring a valve preamp stage with a 500 or 1000 power amp for bone-crushing volume that can fill almost any space. It has some additional connectivity to make it an equally versatile asset in the studio as well – a switchable configuration for active and passive basses, FX loop send and return and a balanced XLR out so it can be used as a DI.

Squeezing Tone

Tonewise, the Terror Bass is definitely faithful to the Orange brand. Many modern bass amps come with an array of tone shaping options on the front panel, including graphic and parametric equalisation, switchable EQ shelves and even compression.

The controls on the Terror Bass are refreshingly simple: one knob each for volume, treble, middle, bass and gain. The tone on this amp is something that has to be committed to, with the overall flavour being unmistakably vintage rock.

The Orange SP410 cabinet is surprising package. It’s the same size as a two-by-ten cabinet, but its isobaric design means that four ten inch drivers a squeezed into the same amount of space. Isobaric speaker principles does take some explaining, but without getting too technical, the advantage of this setup means that the cabinet size of a regular four-by-ten (which can be inconveniently large in some situations) can be cut in half, without any compromise in frequency response.

This combination of factors makes this amp and cabinet setup very desirable for the studio. The Terror Bass head has a round, thumping tone, that’s also capable of producing colourful distortion. The SP410 cabinet can be squeezed into tight studio spaces, but still roar when called upon.

Simply put, the virtues of this rig can be summed up in four words: small footprint, big sound.

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Dan Shaw is recording and mixing engineer at Enmore Audio. He also plays bass in Wells and Circle.

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