Computers have become the de facto platform for recording music, but the average PC is far from specialized for the task. PCs and Macs are designed for general computer functions and have a multitude of features and software programs that are unrelated to the endeavor of making music. Furthermore, you can spend a bundle of cash adding audio interfaces, monitors and recording programs to your computer, not to mention plug-ins for effects, amp emulations, instrument libraries and so on.
Orange Amplification simplifies the process of recording tracks with the long-awaited OPC, a personal computer optimized and designed to make recording fun, affordable and simple, especially for guitarists. The OPC comes preloaded with an impressive software suite, including full versions of IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3 and AmpliTube Orange, Toontrack EZdrummer Lite, Acoustica Mixcraft, PreSonus Studio One Orange Edition and the Lick Library Guitar Lesson Center, all running on the Home Premium edition of Windows 7.
But as the familiar orange tolex and basket-weave grille suggest, the OPC is also a handy practice amp, one with studio-quality JBL speakers, making it the most complete home studio package you can buy.
First and foremost, the OPC is an exceptionally well-conceived, fully upgradeable personal computer, designed to be fast and efficient, without the “bloatware” and under-specified components that slow down and encumber most off-the-shelf PCs. As such, and considering the extensive onboard software, it’s a premium tool for creating and recording sound.
The OPC can easily cope with power-hungry applications running at the same time, thanks to an Intel i3-2100 3.1GHz Dual Core processor and 4GB of 1,333MHz RAM, upgradable to 8GB of 1,600MHz RAM. (The OPC can also be purchased with the i5-2500 or i7-2600 processors, and Orange have included support for the forthcoming “Ivy Bridge” Intel CPUs.) The 500GB Seagate Barracuda hard drive provides plenty of storage space, and a 30-watt amplifier drives the pair of 6 1/2–inch JBL speakers.
Perhaps most important to guitarists is the extremely low-latency analog-to-digital instrument interface, which renders audio latency negligible. It has dual inputs with switchable instrument and mic levels, and a boost switch, all mounted on top, just where you’d expect to find them on an amp. Here too are volume, treble, middle and bass knobs for controlling the amp’s computer-generated sounds, as well as the top-loading CD/DVD drive slot, illuminated power button, USB 2.0 port and WiFi antenna.
As for connectivity, Orange thoughtfully included practically every in/out option that a musician might want or need. There are four USB 2.0 ports (including the top-mounted 2.0 port), two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, an Ethernet LAN port, a 15-pin analog monitor output, dual HDMI outputs, optical S/PDIF outputs, 1/4-inch left/right jacks for line in and line out, and 1/8-inch jacks for stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 high-definition musical output.
The Orange OPC works straight out of the box, with no special setup required aside from connecting a monitor and the included keyboard and mouse. It’s entirely possible to plug in, record and, using the built-in WiFi, upload a completed track to the web site of your choice. The Orange Edition PreSonus Studio One software lets you handle everything from tracking, mixing and mastering to distributing your music, while offering loads of advanced control for complex productions. Alternately, you can use the Mixcraft 5 software, which includes virtual instruments, effects, loops and more.
Of course, the IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3 and AmpliTube Orange Edition emulations sound great, but the real treat here is the JBL speakers, which sound fantastic, with full range and neutral response, and also push a lot of power. With the OPC, Orange made smart choices for hardware and software, and the result is a dedicated computer that makes it possible for newbies to record and manipulate their tracks with considerable ease, and for experienced software users to tweak every aspect of their creation.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The portable and affordable Orange OPC is a guitarist’s dream, one of the best-executed consumer PCs ever conceived, and among the most useful recording tools ever produced.
LIST PRICE $1,125
MANUFACTURER Orange Music Electronic Company, Ltd., orangeopc.com