When I was deciding on an amp I looked at both the Orange OR15 and Rocker 15 (as well as many more!). I ended up choosing the Rocker 15, and I love it. But the OR15 is a different beast and in some ways a better amp.
They may be 15 watts and made by Orange but they’re still quite different. Having tried them both and eventually picked one I’m in a good position to compare how they sound, their features and what they’re best suited for.
So if you’re unsure of which to get or what their main differences are I’ll take you through them. And if you want a full in-depth look at the Rocker 15 you can read my review.
- The Rocker 15 comes in a combo version and a head version (the Rocker 15 Terror), the OR15 only comes as a head.
- The Orange Rocker 15 has 2 channels – natural and dirty – whereas the OR15 only has a single channel.
- The Rocker 15 has power scaling with the ability to switch the wattage down from 15 to 7, 1 and 0.5 watts. The OR15 can only be switched between the full 15 watts and 7 watts.
- The OR15 has a bit more gain available as it has an extra gain stage, 4 stages, compared to the Rocker 15 which has 3 stages.
- Both amps are quite “vintaged voiced” although the OR15 is considered to be a little more modern sounding.
- The OR15 only comes in Orange but the Rocker 15 is available in Orange and Black basketweave vinyl.
One of the few things that annoyed me about the Rocker 15 was the use of symbols or hieroglyphics as labels for the controls. You get used to it fairly quickly but it seems unnecessary and awkward when Orange could have simply used words – “gain”, “volume”, “treble” etc.
The OR15 is, sadly, the same. As it’s only a single channel there’s less to get to grips with – simply gain, volume, bass, middle, treble. But I maintain the symbols are a bit silly.
I like the simplicity of both controls though. When you look at some types of amps, Mesa Boogies for example, they can be almost overwhelming with the options and settings.
These two Oranges are almost as straightforward as you can get. Minimum controls to mess around with, just the basics which lets you get on with playing rather than fiddling with ‘finding your tone’.
The OR15 is about as prefect plug-and-play amp as you can get. But the Rocker is close behind it – they’re both just really simple and great sounding amps!
If you’re not a fan of the Orange colored tolex that Orange are known for then both the Rocker 15 and OR15 come in black too.
Both amps don’t have any issues when it comes to how they’re built. They feel tough, well built and like they could withstand some punishment!
My Rocker lives in my bedroom so doesn’t get subjected to much hauling about or general wear and tear. But if it did I’d feel confident it could handle it. The same applies to the OR15 too.
They’re sturdy and strong amps that don’t feel in any way flimsy or easily broken.
One of the main differences between the two is that the OR15 is only a single channel amp and the Rocker 15 has two channels.
The Rockers clean channel is slightly different from most though in that it is entirely “neutral”. You don’t get any EQ for it, solely a volume control.
This can be both good and bad, depending on what you want. It works fantastically well as a pedal platform but because it’s entirely ‘flat’ and has no EQ it can be an acquired taste. An EQ pedal solves this issue though and it’s what I use.
If you turn it up it starts to breakup a little, although never gets into proper high gain territory. You can get a nice crunch out of it though. And it’s all power tube distortion, no pre-amp involved.
It’s got a decent amount of headroom too but it’s far from being a Fender type of clean. Definitely not that sparkly clean you’d get from most Fender amps.
The OR15, being only single channel and a higher gain amp, does struggle a bit with cleans. If you keep the gain low and roll the guitar volume back you can get it fairly clean.
Alternatively you could put a decent overdrive or distortion pedal in front of the OR15 and it would get close to being like a 2 channel amp. But then you’re sacrificing the OR15’s natural drive, which is it’s biggest selling point.
Both amps have identical tube buffered effects loops so there’s nothing to separate them there. The loop works really well on each amp and I have zero complaints or issues.
The biggest feature, and difference, is the OR15 can be switched down from 15 to 7 watts and the Rocker 15 down from 15 to 7, 1 and 0.5 watts. These are both power scaling although the Rocker 15 calls it a “headroom/bedroom” switch.
Being able to bring the Rocker 15 down to 1 or 0.5 watts makes playing at low volumes so much easier. So if you don’t want to disturb neighbours or if you’ve got people in your house or apartment then the Rocker 15’s power scaling is perfect.
The OR15 is harder to play at lower volume. Being able to switch it down to 7 watts is handy and does definitively make it quieter but not enough to comfortably get a decent tone at.
If you’re looking to play at home or need your amp to go down to low volume (and still sound good) then the Rocker 15 is going to be much better out of the two. You could use an attenuator with the OR15 but you’d need to get a decent one, and by that I mean expensive.
In the end it would cost you considerably more than you’d probably budgeted for and the Rocker 15’s built in power scaling is, to me at at least, good enough. Basically the Rocker with its power scaling will sound a lot better than the OR15 when it’s turned down.
So the Rocker absolutely wins when it comes to playing at low volume.
Whilst there isn’t a huge difference in tone and sound between the OR15 and Rocker 15 it is noticeable.
For starters the Rocker is much easier to get a proper clean tone out of because it has a dedicated clean channel. You can get cleans from the OR15 but you’re going to have to back off your guitar volume, which can be tricky. It doesn’t have much headroom though.
Both have a good amount of gain available but the OR15, with extra gain stage, definitely goes further. I wouldn’t classify the Rocker as a high gain amp but the OR15 is closer to that territory.
The OR15 can get a bit muddy and saturated when you really crank the gain though. The Rocker is less compressed I would say.
Both amps are more vintage sounding than modern. I think the OR15 is the more modern sounding of the two but there’s not a lot in it.
They both do classic rock really well. Think 70’s and 80’s rock and hard rock. The gain is thick and full and sounds awesome. I wouldn’t have any problems with either amps when it comes to playing higher gain stuff, it’s where they excel.
If you wanted to play metal with the Rocker 15 you would definitely need a boost. The OR15 probably doesn’t need one but as mentioned before when you really turn up the gain it can get muddy.
The 10″ speaker of the Rocker 15 combo can be a little bit boxy. That’s always going to be a bit of an issue for any 1×10 but I personally don’t find it too bad. And if that’s a worry then the Rocker 15 Terror head can be paired with a bigger cab of your choice.
15 watts may not sound like a lot but both amps get really loud. I’m convinced you could comfortably do small to medium gigs with either of them.
You can hook the Rocker 15 combo up to an external cab as well. So you should be able to happily gig with any of the 3 – OR15, Rocker 15 or Rocker 15 Terror.
I am biased here because I own the Rocker 15 but I genuinely think it’s the better option of the two. However, I’m basing some of that on what I need and want.
For example, as far I’m concerned the Rocker 15 is much better for using in the home and at low volume. And that’s a big reason I bought mine.
But if you’re looking for a really straightforward, no nonsense, high gain amp for playing live then the OR15 is hard to beat. It feels like that’s what it was designed for, although don’t get me wrong, the Rocker 15 would do a great job too.
And in fact that’s one of the reasons I still recommend the Rocker over the OR15. It feels like the Rocker can do everything the OR15 does but has a few more options too.
The difference in tone is there – you get the extra bit of gain with the OR15 and it’s slightly more modern voiced – but it’s not a huge deal. Apart from that there’s not much else between them except the Rocker 15 has the greater versatility – better power scaling, clean channel etc.
As always though you should try them both yourself to see which you prefer.
I hope this has been helpful and got you closer to deciding which amp is best for you. I’m a bit of an Orange fanboy so I don’t think you can go wrong with either!
But I hope this little rundown has shed some light on what the two amps are like and whether they are what you’re looking for.