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2006 – Advanced Transformer Designs

It was while we were designing the Retro 50 that we started taking transformers apart to see what made the good ones so effective. We wanted something that sounded like the original Pics Only Woden transformer..

Ade Emsley – Technical Director

Transformers for testing, research and development

The original Pics Only Woden transformer was stick-wound – it didn’t have a bobbin, and every layer of winding was done on waxed paper. The Woden was a very robust design. We eventually managed to source the only company in the UK that had a stick-winder which could help with our development.

After exhaustive prototyping and testing, we eventually decided on transformers where the windings were split into five sections, or even eight. Usually transformers in this application only have three, although the Wodens had four. We designed and made five-section and eight-section output transformers – these were very expensive, almost twice the price. We then fitted them to the Retro 50 and the AD 50.

The difference this has made to our amplifiers’ sound is quite incredible, and gives us the edge over our competitors.

We kept on testing and trying out different kinds of transformers to see what worked and what didn’t. Using different permeability laminations made of different kinds of metal made an enormous difference to the sound.

It took two years to finally come up with a combination of copper wire, metal, laminations and eight sections with optimum insulation materials – which now are incorporated as standard into our transformers. The difference this has made to our amplifiers’ sound is quite incredible, and gives us the edge over all of our competitors. The cost is high, but after hearing them and having followed their development, Cliff had no hesitation in approving the additional cost.

Our intensive testing and research produced the ‘Dual Snake Eight’ transformer design. All Orange amplifiers rated at 50 watts and above incorporate this. The Tiny Terror, AD30 and Rocker 30 have five-section transformers. All these new designs are exclusive to Orange Amplification.

Transformer in situ

Custom wound

  1. John Buxton
    John Buxton says:

    It`s a fact that transformer design and build quality makes a remarkable difference to the sound of an amplifier and it’s durability/reliability. It`s an area that some manufacturers have largely ignored – to their cost. These transformers must have contributed to the current success and popularity of Orange amplifiers. To be individual is good. To back that individuality with exceptional audio and manufacturing quality is exceptional.

    • Jim Curry
      Jim Curry says:

      Great blog! As a music lover as well as owner of Galaxy Transformer and Magnetics, I would be honored to supply transformers to Orange. As the original manufacturer of Acoutstat Amp transformers in mid-70’s, we still support those audiophiles who love quality sound. So we know a bit about quality in transformers. Seeing Blackberry Smoke and ZZ Top numerous times in concert, only makes me want to have our product successfully support Orange Amps! Heck I’d sell them at cost just to be involved! Truly a great product which I hope we can become a part of one day soon! Hope to meet Cliff on my next trip across the pond! Continued success! Jim