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Orange OPC – A Computer In An Amp?

30 April 2010 Leave a comment

Orange OPC FrontThis is the OPC (which I’m relatively sure stands for nothing more complicated than ‘Orange PC’).

A computer in an amp?

Orange announced it recently and the associated news article on their web site carries the headline “Orange launches its new PC division”.

I don’t normally just paste in press release text but, in this case I think I will.  I’ll come back to my own views after the release – hope that’s ok.

Orange Amplifiers, the British based pioneering force in guitar amplifiers, are proud to announce the launch of the revolutionary all-in-one computer amplifier speaker – The OPC.

The project has been several years in the making and as a pioneering force in guitar amplifiers, they have used their expertise in sound technology, engineering and electronics to build a new generation of computers that incorporate the best of both worlds: latest computer technology with integrated tools for the modern musician and music lovers.

The revolutionary all-in-one computer amplifier speaker – The OPC is 100% designed and built in the UK. It is a fully integrated computer with internal speaker which delivers playing, recording, editing and computing capabilities to musicians and music aficionados. This is the first computer of its kind that you can connect yourself and your music to the digital world simply by plugging in your instrument.

The OPC will be leading the way with a number of ‘Firsts’:

  • The first computer of its kind to have a built-in high powered speaker which delivers superb full range hi-fi quality sounds as well as vintage guitar sounds.
  • The first computer to have a universal input jack enabling users to plug in a multitude of musical instruments (guitar, keyboard etc ) and peripherals such as the iPod, MP3 players, microphone’s.
  • A unique cooling system to ensure air goes in and exits only after cooling the internal computer

As a fully fledged computer it has 4GB DDR2 RAM, 500GB Hard Drive, Intel chips, Windows 7 x64 home premium, 8 x USB2.0 ports, is Wi-Fi enabled and has a graphics card with optional ATI 5670 512MB card for those who may want to play a few games while they put their guitars down. The first models will include modelling software incorporating computer samples of vintage and current Orange amps and cabinets as well as free branded recording software package. Once plugged in, you can then use the software included to create music or choose your guitar sound and then play, record and hear your guitar through the computer!

The OPC is compact, very portable, sexy and beautifully Orange! It takes many of its design cues from Orange’s, instantly recognisable, brightly coloured Orange Amplifiers and picture-frame cabinets and once again makes Orange stand out from the crowd.

The OPC is due to be released in June 2010 and the price will be announced shortly. For further information news please see the website www.orangeamps.com

I have to admit, I have my doubts about this one.  On the face of it, it’s an interesting idea.  Build a computer right into your amp cabinet and connect it so that recording your magnum opus is easy and requires no faffing about with interface cables and whatnot.

The thing is, this isn’t really a computer in an amp.  It’s more like an amp in a computer.  If that.

Orange OPC Back

It’s not completely clear from the release (and I’ll be happy to retract if someone points out I’m wrong) but it seems this is basically a PC in an orange wooden box with a slightly bigger speaker than you have in/beside the computer on which you’re reading this.  It doesn’t seem that it functions as a standalone amp and sounds as if you need to boot the PC and run an amp modelling application before you can make any guitar noise.

I’ve seen worried comments around the net about the concern over big magnetic speakers next to hard disks and components being shaken loose from serious rocking.  My understanding, from what I’ve read about the OPC, is that those things aren’t going to be an issue. They’re not an issue in your current PC and, as this seems not to be all that different, if you buy one, you probably don’t need to worry about them.

While it’s certainly much prettier than the beige, plastic box you’re currently using to rest your monitor on, I’m slightly at a loss as to the point of this.  Based on what I know so far, it seems like the answer to a question nobody asked.  So it saves you connecting a recording interface up with a firewire or USB cable – how much of a hassle is that really?

There’s currently no word on pricing but one thing to bear in mind if you’re considering it:  Its a PC and, as such, will be well on the way to being obsolete in something between 18 months and three years. Orange may have considered this eventuality in their new PC division and have upgrade/replacement plans laid out. If not though, and if you’re paying a premium for an (admittedly very nice) Orange wooden box around your PC, remember it could end up being a pretty doorstop in a few years.

Personally, I’d buy a recording interface for my current computer and one of Orange’s rather lovely sounding real amps instead.

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Written by: Gerry Hayes
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