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The Orange Box and Box-L will be available June 1st 12PM (UK time) direct from

“One of the biggest things that you learn from 50-odd years of experience,” begins Cliff Cooper, founder and CEO of Orange Amps, “is the ability to listen to something and just say no to a sound—and to keep saying no until you can truthfully say yes.” Although that seems, on the face of it, like a fairly simple requirement, Cooper, who started Orange Amps in 1968 with modest means and an exacting personality, is only too aware of the pratfalls of such pickiness: “But the problem with saying no to a sound or a product is that it costs time and money”, he explains. “Each time, you’ve got to work out why you’re saying no, and go back to the drawing board to fix it—and that’s the difficult part.”

That iterative loop—of listening and tweaking, pouring over schematics and components, then listening again, each time getting slightly closer to that resounding “yes”—has been a pattern played out throughout Orange’s history, and is perhaps the cornerstone of its success, with musicians returning again and again for the past five decades, knowing they’re going to get a piece of equipment that sounds perfect and is built to last.

Today, however, for the first time in the company’s history, Cooper is explaining that development process not in the context of a new guitar amp or effects pedal, but of a product built for both musicians and non-musicians alike: a premium Bluetooth wireless speaker called the Orange Box, which is also an Orange first—specifically, the first consumer-facing product designed entirely in house by Orange’s engineering wizards, from the ground up.

Since the initial blueprints were drawn up back in 2017, Cooper and the team have said “no” to a lot of Orange Box sounds. Now, however, they’ve given it a yes, and the Orange Box is available from tomorrow, starting a new chapter in the history of Orange Amps. Accordingly, this is a story of how over half a century of guitar-amp expertise can be adapted to something more universal; a story of trial, error, patience and success; and a story of what Cooper describes as one of the most important products Orange has ever made.

The new Orange Box: the premium Bluetooth speaker was designed 100% in-house, and is manufactured in the same factory as its guitar-amp cousins

“When we had the first prototype back for testing,” recalls Cooper of the early days of Orange Box development, “it just wasn’t better than anything else. It was fine—good, even—but it just didn’t stand out, and one of the things Orange has always been proud of is that anything we do has to be better than what’s already out there.

“So that’s why it took so long,” he continues, with a wry smile, knowing not only how six years stretches out in the world of research and development, but also knowing now that the Orange Box really does stand out. And it was clearly time well spent: listening to that initial prototype—then nicknamed the Juicebox—at Orange’s development laboratory is simultaneously a revelatory and lacklustre experience, with test songs of various genres selected for this article to put the unit through its paces sounding tepid and distant. Only Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ has the faintest flicker of life (Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ and Led Zep’s ‘Black Dog’ are pale imitations of their true selves), but the reality is that this particular Juicebox contained a far-too-diluted, watery recipe.

The second and third versions fared slightly better. For these, the R&D team experimented with weight-saving neodymium speakers and a more lozenge-shaped form-factor, and as a result, all three songs started to resemble their imperious selves. There was still something off, though—a sort of drab fizziness, like day-old soda water, with strangely scooped mids and muffled bass.

Thankfully, the fix was at hand: “After several prototypes,” explains Cooper, “we decided that the only way to improve the sound was to use active electronic crossovers, which our previous prototypes didn’t have.”

The active crossover in a unit like the Orange Box splits the incoming audio signal in two based on frequency range, with the different signals being sent to different amplifiers specific to those ranges, and then on to appropriate speakers custom-tuned to those frequencies. An active crossover has the advantage of perfectly matching the respective specialist amplifiers and speakers, making sure all parts of the path work together holistically, and each part of the sound is dealt with by the most appropriate equipment. An active crossover also prevents loss of information in the splitting process, meaning that all the audio in your favourite records is retained, all the way to the speakers’ cones.

Getting that split-point right, however, is always the key, and this is where the expertise that Orange technical director Adrian Emsley, amp-design genius and brains behind virtually every Orange product for the past 25 years, shone through: “Frank and I changed the crossover so that just the amp dealing with the bottom end was Class D,” explains Emsley of his work on the Orange Box, alongside colleague and Cambridge academic Frank Cooke. “Then, the two amps dealing with the midrange and treble, on the left and right, were Class AB, which ends up much more musical in the area it needs to be.”

And musicality is exactly the watchword here. Listening again to those same songs on the first Orange Box prototype to implement such a crossover is a lightbulb moment, like a jump from black and white to colour: suddenly, Bowie’s vocals carry genuine anguish and Jimmy Page’s guitar a tangible bite. The arpeggiating synths on ‘Hung Up’, too, sound almost three-dimensional.

“Unlike a different guitar amp company’s wireless speaker, which is only stereo above around 3 or 4 kHz,” continues Emsley, referring to a frequency range in the very highest octave of a concert piano, “our version is stereo above 300 Hz [the middle of the piano], which works especially well with AC/DC-style guitar music, where Angus is on the left and Malcolm is on the right.

“Those other wireless speakers all sound pretty bad with AC/DC,” adds Emsley, ever the rock purist, “which I think is a very poor result.”

Rogue’s gallery: an assortment of Orange Box prototypes, each of which made progress towards the sound that got the “yes”

“The other thing, of course,” continues Cooper, “is that we use a wooden box. We could have used a plastic cabinet, to make it a bit more cost-effective, but it would have sounded dreadful. Putting the speakers inside a wooden cabinet would sound much better, and we spent a lot of time making sure that the actual wood resonates correctly given the internal volume. If the cabinet resonates at the wrong frequencies, it just doesn’t sound right, you know.”

This level of perfectionism is evident upon examining the works-in-progress: each rejected test model had a different shape and heft, some including holes covered with rubber plugs, others with curved sides. Myriad porting options were clearly investigated, auditioned and tweaked. Every possibility was covered, it appears, before landing on the finished design. Then, finally, Emsley hit on the idea of making the crossover itself interact with its surroundings: “I put a hole in the active crossover at the frequency of the enclosure,” he reveals. “This ‘de-boxed’ the box, if you like, and gave the whole thing a more balanced frequency response.”

In short, it made you want to play these songs again and again, and this repeat playability—that potential for long-term listening—has become an obsession of Cooper’s over the years: “One thing we kept an ear out for when testing was controlling for ‘listening fatigue’, which is when you listen through a product for a long time, and after a while it just doesn’t sound nice,” he explains. Any music lover will recognise the condition, and although exact causes of listener fatigue are still being explored, the latest research suggests that imperceptible sonic artefacts arising from non-musical aspects of a song’s reproduction, such as compression or artificial spatialisation, can cause listeners to lose interest.

“It’s difficult to design an amplifier or a speaker to control for listening fatigue specifically, because there are so many factors to take into account,” confesses Cooper, “but with the Orange Box you really can play it for ages—I have done!—and it doesn’t grate on your ears to the point where you think, I need to turn that thing off.”

A level of product testing this meticulous and drawn out, coupled with a love of making something that’s built to last, feels familiar to Orange’s approach to amplifier and cabinet design. But Cooper wouldn’t have it any other way: “It’s important that any amplifier we bring out is fully researched by us and at the top of its range, and I think everybody in the company accepts that—Adrian in particular is fussy about everything!” he laughs of his colleague for nearly half of Orange’s entire existence. “It not only has to be really good, but it has to be bulletproof, and everything has to be built to last in terms of the components.”

The Orange Box’s control panel features and all-analogue EQ and an innovative warning light to show when the speakers are being driven too hard

Indeed, product longevity is another characteristic that Cooper and the team have carried from guitar-amp manufacturing over to the Orange Box: in a Bluetooth speaker marketplace saturated with disposable gadgets destined for landfill before the end of the summer festival season, Cooper was insistent that the Orange Box had to have premium staying power. That means the rechargeable battery had to be replaceable years from now when it naturally degrades (like all lithium-ion batteries), and all components be made available for replacement well into the next decade, therefore also ensuring that the box was as green as it was Orange.

On top of that, the Orange Box comes with an audio-safety feature from designed to lengthen the lifespan of the product: a tiny circuit between the crossover and the amps continuously monitors the volume of the signal going in, prompting a small LED to light up whenever the speakers are being driven too hard and potentially harming them. “It’s there to tell you when you should back off the volume so you don’t damage it, sure,” acknowledges Cooper, “but it’s also there to improve sound quality, to help you listen without any distortion, which in turn lessens listener fatigue.”

This audio-limiter light is a simple innovation from yesteryear that will keep the Orange Box in its prime for years, but it’s also a dead giveaway of a product designed not with the bottom line in mind, but with a genuine and enduring love for music, and for building tools for spreading that love. After all, no one would ask for such an attentive add-on, but plenty will be grateful once it’s there.

It’s a feeling that sums up Cooper’s attitude, too: “Within the company,” he explains, “there’s an old-fashioned need to do things properly that’s run for 50 years, and if we can put it over to consumers that when they buy something with the Orange brand on it, it’s going to sound good, then that’s an achievement, and I think the Orange Box can do exactly that.

“After all, we don’t have any shareholders or venture capitalists to answer to,” he continues, proudly. “I’m the only shareholder! so any money that we earn goes straight back into developing new products—and I love doing that.”

It’s an approach that’s stood Cooper, and Orange Amps, in excellent stead since the 1960s, with countless iconic guitar amps—and world-famous fans—to show for it. As the company branches out into the middle of the 21st century, and to music connoisseurs, players and non-players alike, it’s also an approach, you sense, that will future-proof it too.

We caught up with Graveyard bassist Truls Mörck outside a church in Norway (because why not?) at last year’s Høstsabbat festival, and here is the result. We’re currently getting ready for this year’s Desertfest London where they’ll be headlining Electric Ballroom on the Friday. Will we see you there? Tickets here.

Name: Trine Grimm

Profession and place of work: Tattoo artist at Lucky 7 in Oslo, and artist 

How old were you when you started tattooing?
I had just turned 19 when I moved to Oslo to start tattooing, but the interest for the art came way earlier than that.

Being a successful female in a very male dominated industry, have you ever faced any challenges, experienced harassment or had any other issues based on gender?
This is a hard topic to get into, but as every other male dominant occupation, there will be a struggle being a woman. I was very young when I came in to the scene, and you often had to prove yourself just because of that. I was called names all the time by coworkers, my bosses and even customers. I think the hardest part was trusting people you looked up to. I was always afraid of speaking up, because it was a very small scene back then. It has  definitely changed for the past 15 years, and it is nice to see all the talented women coming into the scene and absolutely killing it in the game now. That being said, even to this day there are customers asking me if the boss is around or how long I have been tattooing. I am pretty sure they would never ask a 33 year old man the same question. I was never really a girly girl either, don’t take me wrong, I love dressing up and all that, but my main interests were metal music, snowboarding and skateboarding. I hung out with the guys and were a part of the scene, but I guess they had a hard time treating me as an equal. I don’t know how many times I’ve been called a groupie, something that still happens today just because I am around the music scene.  

Besides tattooing you’ve also done gig posters, artwork, DJing etc – what kind of music are you into?
Tattooing takes up most of my time, simply because I love it. Except for snowboarding, it has been the only constant thing in my life for so long, and even if I have tried to tattoo less to do other projects, I keep coming back to it full time. I also take on small projects for bands, mostly gig posters, shirt designs and festival posters, it is time consuming, but absolutely something I wanna do more of because music is so close to my heart. Nothing beats seeing your artwork on a band you really love listening to. I grew up with classical music from my grandmother who was a pianist. My mother got me into rock like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, but as a kid from the west coast of Norway, it didn’t take long before me and my best friend got into the black metal scene. My music taste is all over the place now, ranging from jazz to extreme metal, but heavy riffs are a main topic in my play list. DJing is fun, but it has to be for a special event. Playing music in a bar is just to get people to buy a beer is really not my thing anymore. Would rather listen to my vinyls at home. Haha…  But it’s fun, and I will probably change my mind one day and do it all over again. 

Would you say your taste in music inspires your art?
Music is my main inspiration to my art, I think art and music goes hand in hand. I love listening to music and just draw for hours. I also listen to music all day while tattooing. My head is way too busy without it. It is some form of meditation I guess. Most of my astronaut paintings was made when Sleep came out with The Sciences in 2018, I guess the theme fits. Haha…

When we asked Trine about this interview, she asked if she could create some fan art to go with it and sent us the incredible design below – which completely blew our minds:

What’s the inspiration behind the incredible Orange drawing you did?
If you have been into heavy music for a while, nothing beats the classic sight of an orange amp. I had this joke with my friends that if we were seeing new bands, we knew they would be good if there was an Orange on stage. I took some inspiration from the classic logo because I really liked the story behind it. The orange tree as a branch, the Pan inspired horns. The rig of doom in the back is kinda how it looks to me when I think about it. Sometimes I just draw whatever comes to mind, it usually never makes sense, but most of the music and the art I like is inspired by the psychedelic area of the 60s and 70s. I guess that is what inspired this one. 

What’s been a career highlight so far?
That is a hard question. I meet so many amazing people because of my job. Meeting Lemmy and hanging out with him and talking tattoos is definitely one of the most fun memories, but if I have to mention one thing directly affecting me I guess selling one of my astronaut paintings to an engineer in NASA was a big highlight. I’ve always been a nerd when it comes to science, and wanted to become an astrophysicist when I was a kid. I guess at least I have some kind of connection to NASA now. 

What would 2023 Trine say to 2013 Trine?
I had my first solo art show in 2013, I was so scared and had no idea what I was doing. I guess I would have told her that it will be easier, and in 10 years you will still love what you are doing. Because some days are hard and you wake up and have no idea why you chose a job you can never take a break from.

Which artist / song are you currently playing on repeat?
I’ve been really nostalgic lately so Pentagram (U.S.) is on repeat. But my playlist of only 60s and 70s are on loop at the studio everyday. Can never go wrong with the classics.

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s Month, we’ve spoken to a couple of female industry professionals to get their story on building a career in a predominantly male-dominated industry. First one up is music journalist and writer Liz Scarlett.

Name: Liz Scarlett.
Profession and place of work: Staff writer (music journalist) at Future Publishing with Louder, home of Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog Magazine.
How long have you been in your current role? Just over two years.

What can you tell us about the journey that got you where you are today?
So I studied music journalism at university, the degree of which wasn’t actually my first choice. I didn’t know such courses existed – I was going to do English, simply because I found I was good at it and wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, but then during my university interview, I ended up speaking to the professor about my favourite bands the whole time and my love of journalism. They then told me there was such a course and hey presto, a couple years of education, and I graduated into a marketing assistant role at a music college, where I got to review student work, help out with a bunch of creative projects, all whilst running my own music blog.
Then, during the pandemic, Future Publishing were looking for trainee roles. I completely forgot that the company was home to Louder and the magazines I grew up on, so I applied to it on a whim, as I was made redundant from my previous job. After going through the interview process I realised that I accidentally applied for my dream role, working for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock, which is kinda spooky…and seriously crazy. Manifestation and all that! After studying for an NCTJ diploma with Future to help out with my role as Trainee News Writer, (and slogging through many hours of media law study), I got to stay on working for Louder as a full time staff writer. Although I’m still mostly on news duties, I also do features and interviews, for online and print.

Being a female in a very male dominated industry, have you ever faced any challenges / experienced harassment / felt the need to work harder to prove yourself / etc, basically any issues based on being female? How did you experience the industry when you first started?
At my current job, not at all. My team is really mindful of these issues and are mega supportive. At previous places of work however (naming no names), very
much so. I found that male colleagues really were intimidated by you if you shared similar skills. I was patronised and insulted ALOT, and felt like I was in a
competition I simply did not want to be in, all for being a woman. Things got pretty bad at times, and I found myself not wanting to come into work. It was all
the more irritating seeing how overwhelmingly respectful they were to other colleagues, only if they were male. This has happened on multiple occasions.
As for where I am now, I feel incredibly supported, although I find that I’m perhaps not as confident in my work as males in the industry. Plus, imposter
syndrome is always looming. I’m also not always confident in my ideas, which is something I need to change. I think it’s part of growing up as a woman though,
when other ideas (proposed by men) have usually always been taken more seriously than yours. Did your love for music and writing always go hand in hand?
It didn’t, actually. I grew up playing the bass guitar, so for me, music was always about the instrumental side. Even when listening to songs my brain would
naturally focus on the riff, rather than the lyrics or any other component. I think the writing side came when I realised how much I loved talking about music and
analysing it, and then discovering how much I loved reading autobiographies, and learning about the lives of the musicians who have inspired me. In recent
years, my love of music has encompassed more parts than just writing too, such as my obsession with art and design. Music finds its way in about every part of my

When it comes to music journalism, was there anyone in particular that inspired
your writing? (Feel free to recommend books, authors, journalists etc)

When it comes to things like this my mind always goes blank, however music documentaries were always a big inspiration. Some of my favourites are Super
Duper Alice Cooper (the whole visual design of it is also to die for), as well as Such Hawks, Such Hounds, which explores the underground American hard rock scene
from the 70s until the late 2000s. It also looks at psychedelic artwork and album covers. Recently, Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream blew my mind. It was very much
like the ultimate union of art and visual music journalism, with a soundtrack that felt almost overwhelming. There’s probably plenty more, but those are definitely a
few of my favourites. As for books, Zoë Howe, the author of Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours, was a great inspiration. On top of being a totally cool lady,
and self-professed rock’n’roll witch, Howe has a wonderful writing style that’s really descriptive, powerful, and just a pleasure to read. In any of her books, you
can instantly hear that it’s her voice, and that’s the sort of writer I admire. The type where you can recognise it’s their work straight away.

What’s been a career highlight so far?
Really, just getting to spend each day doing what I love and being creative. Although…meeting Tony Iommi was pretty cool too haahaha.

What would 2023 Liz say to 2013 Liz?

Keep going, things do get better, don’t be afraid to aim high and if boys seem weird, it’s because we live in a patriarchy and everything is fucked – they’re not
better than you. Also see Fleetwood Mac in concert because one day some of the members won’t be here and it’ll be too late. (It is now too late).

Which artist / song are you currently playing on repeat?
I currently can’t get enough of Sleep Token. If you’re not totally sure of the frontman’s vocals (they do sound a bit James Arthur-ey), see them in concert, it’ll
convert you. They’re totally ripping up the rule-book of modern metalcore, and the riffs will knock you to the floor. Plus, they look creepy, which is always good.

Follow Lizzie on Instagram, or visit her website here.