What's in a pedal name? In the case of the Orange Bax Bangeetar Pre-EQ, a lot. I mean, it is a long name, but it is a great descriptor, really. Of course, Orange is a name we all associate with well-built, utilitarian products with a distinctive look. “Bax” is, presumably, short for Baxandall EQ. “Bangeetar,” uh, isn't that what we all do?
Remove the pedal from its box and its heft is immediately noticeable; the build quality is tremendous. There are thick rubber feet on the bottom of the unit to absorb the shock of being stomped, and there’s a metal bar that keeps the knobs from being stomped. The knobs are larger than those of a typical pedal, and each control is stepped (each move of the knob has an appreciable click). This helps prevent knobs from moving out of position during transport, and also makes it easy to recall precise positions of the various parameters that you set.
Build quality, though, does not solely make the pedal, and this pedal is loaded with functionality—the Bax portion of the pedal lays within the style of the EQ. This EQ goes beyond the sort you expect to find on your amp, containing a Top control (high frequency shelf EQ) and a Bottom control (low frequency shelf EQ) to get your shimmer and shake, respectively.
The Mid EQ, which is more of a parametric design, gives the most bang—there is a boost or cut knob labeled as Mid. In the center position, the mid frequencies are flat and unaffected. Counterclockwise movement attenuates the midrange, while clockwise movement boosts it. Next to that is the Q control. This controls the bandwidth, or the width of frequency affected with the boost or attenuation of the Mid knob. Finally, there is the Freq control, which allows you to select your center midrange frequency. By turning the Mid knob to one extreme or the other, then turning the Freq knob, you can select your desired center frequency, then, move over to the Q control and select which surrounding frequencies you want to affect. Once you have selected your Freq and Q, dial back the Mid knob to taste. This is a very powerful EQ feature, allowing you to get everything from American cleans and barking British style midrange to scooped metal tones.
Make no mistake, this pedal is not just a powerful EQ; it also contains Gain and Volume knobs. Gain stays fairly clean early, and it can break up and get angry when you hit the strings hard. Moving further clockwise, there is classic British distortion. By 3 o'clock, we are soaring into compressed sounding, high-gain territory. The distortion is not just harmonic distortion or fuzz—even with the higher Gain settings there is a clarity to the signal that allows the detail to come through, though you may need to dial back some on the Bottom control to keep clarity as gain is increased.
This pedal can really provide a great front end to a power amp or guitar amp. It is a fantastic preamp in its own right, and the EQ feature is so flexible that you can nearly get any tone out of it. But this pony has more than one or two tricks. It was designed with the modern musician in mind, no question, as Orange has considered the fact that so many of us are recording ourselves at home. The left side contains a line output and a cabinet-voiced output, and either can be used for going direct into a mixing console!
I tested this pedal by running it in the classic front-of-the-amp setup. I was also able to get my sounds by going directly into my effects loop return. There is no question that this pedal can deliver the goods in any live rig. The available tones are certainly wonderful for miked recording as well.
Running the two outputs directly into my recording interface, I was pleasantly surprised. More often than not, running a pedal, or a cabinet-voiced output direct in still leaves something to be desired. Pedals without the voicing tend to not sound like a miked amplifier. I found that the line input of the Bax Bangeetar was very useable as a recording placeholder, or as a layer track with multiple guitars. The cabinet-voiced output, though, was extremely convincing as a substitute for a mic-and-amp combo. The sound has the percussive nature of an amplifier moving air, particularly in the low and low-mid frequencies.
What We Like
In short, the pedal’s versatility. The construction is solid, sure, but the fact that this thing really serves as a great guitar rig front end for a wide array of styles is impressive. Also, the cabinet-voiced output provides a viable alternative to having to put a microphone in front of an amplifier in order to get a good tone for recording. It’s also worth trying through a PA.
The pedal needs to be turned upside down and a number of screws need to be unscrewed to opened it up for a battery change. It might have been nice to have an easy-access battery cavity. That said, this is really a nit-picky downside, because an adapter ultimately saves money, is better for the environment, and makes this one concern moot.