Those of you who read last week’s ‘Voice of Heritage‘ article (A little bit of shameless self promotion’s never killed anyone, has it…?) might recall Wishbone Ash and Andy Powell’s significance to Orange as they were one of the first major British bands to take Orange to the States (alongside Fleetwood Mac), with Wishbone Ash’s relationship to Orange dating all the way back to our humble days in Soho. So, needless to say, I was over the moon with excitement and filled to the brim with joy when I was asked to interview guitarist Andy Powell, an inspiration to so many musicians to follow, with the likes of Thin Lizzy and iron Maiden both citing Andy and the band’s twin guitar sound as a major influence to their own music.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but if your hero’s Andy I beg to differ, as he’s humble, kind, extremely charismatic and of course, incredibly talented. The interview turned into an hour long or so chat (for which I must apologise for to my fellow viking Marthe who had the tough job of editing it all together), and I reckon I could sit and listen to Andy’s stories for another three days without getting sick of them. However, I’m sure Andy’s got better things to do than self-indulging for my listening pleasure for days on end. In our hour or so of chatting, Andy shared some amazing stories from his life on the road, and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Last year we celebrated our 50 year anniversary, that’s half a century of Orange Amps! What’s even more impressive, is the fact that the company is still family run, with the CEO and top-cat being none other than founder Cliff Cooper himself, running the show decades down the line. Working closely with him, is son and Marketing Director Charlie Cooper – gotta love a family business, eyh?

When founded in 1968 as ‘Orange Music’, Orange was originally a retail store selling secondhand music equipment, doubling as a recording studio in the basement. However, it didn’t take long before Orange took on the task of making their own amps. Cliff had studied electronics at college and was ready for another challenge, and amplification named after his favourite colour seemed like the logical next step. Once Orange Amps became a reality, Cliff started searching for a company to help manufacture the amps, and eventually went with Mat Mathias of Radio Craft. At this point, Mat was working on his own 30w Matamp Series 2000 at the back of his tobacconist shop in Huddersfield.

When developing the Orange sound, Cliff worked closely with guitarists to find out what they wanted, and with artists such as Eric Clapton, Marc Bolan and Paul Kossoff all being frequent faces at the Orange shop he had pretty must the best customer feedback any man could hope for in those days. The original Orange amps had a very clean sound, so clean that despite blasting them at full blow they didn’t have the same effect as some distorted lower watt amps. The reason for this, is because the harmonics created by distortion works the ear’s conducting bones harder than a cleaner, less distorted sound, which is then perceived by our audio nerves as an increased sound level, and it wasn’t until the circuits were modified and a whole lotta gain was added that the Orange tone we all love and adore was born.

In October 1968, Fleetwood Mac’s former tour manager Dinky Dawson and guitarist Peter Green stopped by the Orange store and placed an order for the first ever Orange PA, which a mere four weeks later was a reality when the band got six 100w amps and sixteen cabs which they took for a spin around the UK, before flying them over to the states for a three month tour.

Creating these amps, Cliff and Mat Mathias worked together with Cliff supervising the 2000 Series being upgraded from 30w to 100w on Fleetwood Mac’s request, while the picture-frame amp sleeves and speaker enclosures were built on site in the Orange shop. Being on such a tight schedule, the brand new and iconic psychedelic Orange logo was sent up to Huddersfield to get engraved using a company Mat had used in the past – out of courtesy, Cliff also agreed to add the Matamp logo beneath it, which is when the whole ‘Orange Matamp’ confusion started. To set things straight, ‘Orange Matamp’ was never actually a company, however, it was a product, a very successful one, I might add, with some artists even using theirs this day to day (Wishbone Ash’s Andy Powell being one of them.) It didn’t take long before Orange was the talk of the town, and the company pretty much jet launching into oblivion with even the likes of BB King giving Orange a thumbs up!

Eric Clapton

Business was booming, and Cliff was keen to move production to larger premises to get on top of back-orders, as well as having this idea of ‘Cooper Mathias’ becoming a sub-contractor for other amplification manufacturers. Unfortunately, Mat Mathias had a different vision, and the two went their separate ways, while remaining friends until the passing of Mathias in 1989. As for Orange, the rest is, as they say, history. Filling you in on 50 years worth of history is quite the challenge, but if you wan’t to dig a little deeper we’ve got a whole series of ‘Building the Brand‘ on our blog – who said history couldn’t be fun?

Orange have since the start in 1968 played an important part in British music history, from the likes of Cream’s Eric Clapton stopping by the original Orange store to pick up a left handed Fender Stratocaster for Jimi Hendrix (more on that here), to providing Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with a full Orange backline during one of their early US tours. Here we take a look at a few artists who have played a vital role in Orange’s success over the years.

Fleetwood Mac, John McVie

Terror Bass
4 Stroke Bass
OB1-300
AD200 MK3
Fleetwood Mac’s story with Orange began in October 1968, when their road manager Dinky Dawson brought guitarist Peter Green to the Orange Shop where they placed an order for the first ever Orange PA, and just a few weeks later, the band got six 100-watt amps and sixteen cabs. The band took the backline for a spin around the UK, before taking them on a three month tour to the states.

Fleetwood Mac’s former guitarist Peter Green

Over the past five decades the band has had several line up changes as well as musical changes, going from classic British blues to melodic pop rock and soft rock. The only constant thing in the band since the early days if the solid rhythm section consisting of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. With this sort of history with the band, Orange was proud to welcome John McVie as an official endorsed artist in 2015.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder, one of the biggest names in funk and soul and another one of the earliest artists to use Orange. Stevie Wonders history with the company dates all the way back to 1969 when he used the then existing Orange Studios. He first used Orange Amps while recording Superstition for his 1972 album “Talking Book”, and can be seen using them in a seven minute version of the song on Sesame Street in 1973.

The single hit number one on the Billboards and the album was certified Gold in Canada and the United states. Decades after the 70’s funk and soul heyday, Stevie Wonder is still going strong and is an avid Orange user and ambassador to this day. He’s also stopped by the Orange stall at the NAMM convention a couple of times to reminisce about the good old days with founder and CEO Cliff Cooper.

Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell

Rockerverb 100
PPC412
Orange Matamp

Another band that brought Orange to the states and opened American’s eyes to it were Wishbone Ash, and who’s history started with Orange in 1970 when guitarist Andy Powell stopped by the old Orange shop in Soho. He was then served by founder and CEO Cliff Cooper who sold him a Gibson Flying V which later became his trademark guitar, and one of the original Orange Matamp heads, which incredibly enough is still going strong this day today. Wishbone Ash are known for their two lead guitars and guitar harmonies which got Andy Powell and former bandmate Ted Turner voted two of the “Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History”, and in 1972 described by Melody Maker as “the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds”.

They have also been hugely influential on other guitarists, and inspired later bands such as Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy.

Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

Custom Shop 50
AD30HTC
This one is pretty self explanatory, don’t you think? We feel pretty confident when we say that Led Zeppelin was, and probably forever will be, the biggest rock band the world has ever seen. From “Whole Lotta Love” to “Black Dog”, “Kashmir”, and “Immigrant Song” to, well, “Rock ’n’ Roll”, Led Zeppelin produced jaw dropping, foot stomping mind blowing powerhouse rock ’n’ roll songs with elements of blues, folk, fairytales and – hmm, lemon juice.. Fronted by Greek God-like Robert Plant and mysterious Jimmy Page in his silky dragon suits with the drummer of all drummers John Bonham behind the kit and multi-instrumentalist and bassist extraordinaire John Paul Jones on bass, well, other bands stood no chance. Led Zeppelin was a force to be reckoned with, heavier than their name itself, and we could not be prouder or more excited to have Jimmy Page as one of our artists. He first started using Orange in the 70s along with a few other amps and have been an avid user ever since. Some of you may have noticed he also used Orange for Led Zeppelin’s 2007 Celebration Day? Yeah, pretty cool huh?

Oasis

The 90s saw a few bands fight for the throne of the Britpop empire, but as far as commercial success goes, none exceeded Oasis, fronted by the Gallagher brothers who were featured as much in the media for their, uhm, ‘disagreements’ and wild lifestyle as for their music. Disputes and partying put aside, their second album, 1995’s “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” became one of the best selling albums of all time, with 22 million copies sold worldwide. These were pretty quiet times for Orange, but towards the late nineties the company was making it’s way back to the top, and Noel Gallagher’s decision to use Orange on their 1997 record ‘Be Here Now’ as well as on their accompanying world tour certainly fuelled the fire.

It’s #VoiceOfMetal month and we’re focusing attention on our hard rocking, dope-smoking dooming, metal shredding artist Ambassadors. Here are a few of the metal albums we know for a fact were dripping in Orange tone, some with quotes from the artists themselves about how they used their amps.

Monolord – “No Comfort” (2019)

“For bass, Mika used an AD200B into an Orange OBC810. And just listen to the new record, the bass tones are thick yet clear with lots of string. Mainly he used the Dunable R2 model bass.

Rhythm guitars were put down with one OR100 into an 8ohm PPC412HP cab. The Dual Dark went in to a 90’s Orange cab at 16ohm.

For lead guitar we recorded the whole thing with the Black Country Customs Tony Iommi Boost (and sometimes a few other boosts/overdrives) through the Micro Dark and the PPC112. The tone is really angry in the low-mids and I love it.”- Thomas Jager

Slipknot – “All Hope Is Gone” (2018)

Jim Root had been using a Rockerverb 100 MKI for live touring before Slipknot recorded 2008’s All Hope Is Gone. However, that record would be the first time Root used an Orange for the majority of his guitar parts in the studio. He used the Rockerverb 100 MKI, along with a Diezel Herbert, for rhythm and lead. For the more subtle clean parts he used a Rockerverb 50 MKI 2×12” Combo.

SLEEP – “Holy Mountain” (1992)

Many people think the resurgence of Orange in the 90’s was due to Noel Gallagher using the amp in Oasis. That might have some truth to it, but before that came the liner notes of SLEEP’s Holy Mountain and the Orange OR120 guitar amp featured therein. Matt Pike famously used both the OR120 and a Matamp on Holy Mountain. For a whole new generation of stoner rockers vintage Orange amps became a must-have.

Beartooth – “Aggressive” (2016)

“The Micro Dark has honestly been an amazing tool for me in the studio. It is crazy how much air I can get moving between the speaker and the microphone with this head. It takes pedals great and can be as transparent or violent as you want. The reason I used it was for that pushed crunchy sound in the power section. The sheer amount of volume needed in something like a 50 or 100 watt head for that sound without an attenuator is unrealistic for a basement studio like mine. I’d be tearing the walls down. The Micro Dark has all that beef, low end, and air that I needed without being so loud it’s offensive to the entire neighborhood.

Tube screamer, eq pedal, micro dark through a 4×12… If you want the Beartooth guitar sound, that’s all you need.”- Caleb Shomo

Khemmis – “Desolation” (2018)

“We used a pair of Rockerverb 100 MKIII heads—one into an Orange 4×12, one into an Atlas 2×12 + 1×15—for all of the guitars on Desolation. On our previous records, Phil and I both ran dirt pedals into vintage clean amps for a big, raw wall of guitars. We began using the RK100 as we incorporated more complex chord shapes and single note lines in our new material, as they allowed those nuances to shine through without compromising our ability to be heavy. Not only did the Rockerverbs yield gnarly rhythm and lead sounds, the clean tones we dialed in were glassy and articulate.” – Ben Hutcherson

Chron Goblin – “Here Before” (2019)

“I think an overall goal for the production of ‘Here Before’ was to have it real and organic sounding, avoiding the use of digital enhancements as much as possible. There was a strong focus on capturing the organic input as opposed to editing the output with after effects, which you can hear in the guitar tone. I only used two of Orange’s finest guitar heads, Orange Rockerverb MKIII and OR15, and no other guitar pedals and very minimal after effects. We also made a conscious effort to only have a very moderate amount of gain and treble (opposed to all of the previous Chron Goblin albums in which they were cranked) to ensure the individual notes are very clearly defined, while still maintaining a vicious bite in the tone. For all clean guitar sections we used the Jimi Hendrix approach of rather than use a clean channel, we just turned down the volume and tone knobs of the guitar, which creates that warm, toned-down clean sound while keeping the gain channel settings intact. I think the result is a very organic and honest guitar tone throughout the album that we are super pumped about!” – Darty

“I went into recording the new album knowing the tone I wanted to hear. I tried out a couple basses, and decided to go with my stock 1972 Gibson Grabber (complete with a sliding pickup). After talking with our engineer and general studio jack-of-all-trades, I went with the AD200B with a relatively standard EQ – extra mid and treble, gain around 10 o’clock and master at noon). We re-amped it through the head and OBC810 … and VOILA!” – Richard

Hi everyone, and welcome to the OMEC Teleport files,

My name is Danny Gomez and I designed and developed the OMEC Teleport with the Orange Amplification team. Let me tell you a little about myself and the circumstances that “teleported” me to here and now…

As a touring musician, I needed something simple that allowed me to bring my studio software & apps with me on tour. Teleport_ing the studio to the road and the road to the studio with the first interface ready for your pedalboard. Record, play, practise or discover new virtual instruments. No boundaries, no limits, anywhere, anytime.

This compact and extremely powerful Teleport is a high-quality audio interface, a universal connection device (Mac, PC, iOS, Android) without any specific drivers or software requirements, with high-quality ADC/DAC converters, a USB B connector and housed in a small effect pedal enclosure. The plug and play stompbox design of the OMEC Teleport makes it easier than ever to combine digital software/app models with pedals and amps in your performance rig, as well as to record digital audio with no fuss.

With this versatility the Teleport can be used for a wide range of applications: musicians that want to play, record, mix or process their sound, with the autonomy provided by mobile devices…

… Teleport your tone !!

Learn more about the OMEC Teleport by clicking here.

I have been asked to write a article about an album that has been a part of Orange’s history and ever since then I have been wracking my brains about the band to choose. Then I had an idea! Why don’t I write about one of the bands that propelled Orange into the 21st century with a bang! The band that came straight to mind was Oasis.

Oasis were formed in Manchester in 1991,consisting of two brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher. The band broke into the mainstream in the mid 90’s, with at the time the fastest-selling debut album ‘Definitely Maybe.’

The band followed this success by choosing Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales to record their second album in March of 1995. Critics struggled with the bands change to more ballads and huge chorus based songs, this quote from Melody Maker shows some of the issues reviewers had:

“Laboured and lazy. On this evidence, Oasis are a limited band. They sound knackered.”

Melody Maker

Time would show these reviews to be unfair, with first week sales of 347,000 copies and the album selling over 22 million copies at most recent count. The album cemented the band as one of the biggest British bands ever.

Recording the album

To say the recording of the album was a bed of roses would be a lie, but sessions did start off at breakneck pace, with the band averaging recording a song a day. Infighting between Noel and Liam eventually ground the recording to a standstill, but more about that later.

Control room in Rockfield Studios

The band enlisted Owen Morris to produce and engineer the album, Noel Gallagher the bands songwriter was also on production duties. Morris had previously recorded and produced The Stranglers and Johnny Marr before working with Oasis on their debut. He was largely credited with giving the first two albums the “huge” sound that shaped the bands early records.

Rockfield Studios

‘Some Might Say’ was the first song recorded for the album, it was tracked in March 1995, the reason Rockfield was chosen, was the size of the studios and its accommodation suited the band better.

The studios were split into two, with the Quadrangle and the Coach house which was a smaller room. When Oasis recorded the album they were using a Neve VR console with flying faders. The live room was on the left of the control room, with drum area directly in front and the main studio on the other side. Two vocal and guitar booths were located at the far end.

The guitar amps were all mic’d the same way with an SM57 and a Neumann U87, Bonehead was using a Marshall amplifier while Noel had a Vox AC30, Marshall Combo, a WEM combo and his trusty Orange Vintage Overdrive OR120 Head (see below).

1990’s Orange OR120 Head and matching PPC412 Cabinet from Noel’s collection.

Noel was using Les Pauls and his Epiphone Casinos, while Bonehead just used an Epiphone Casino. The bass amp was recorded using a mixture of an RE20 and DI to the desk.

Into the recording

After the “Some Might Say” recording session came ‘Roll With It,’ this track was recorded live together as the band were familiar with the song. The band played half a dozen takes of the track but in the end the first take was used for the record.

After this the band reverted to using a vocal and acoustic guitar guide to click before the band then overdubbed their parts, this was a method used by Marc Bolan and T-Rex and helped the band to record the songs they were unfamiliar with.

A Visit to the Pub…

Things were going smoothly with the recording session until a visit to the pub stopped recording in its tracks. The band were starting to track ‘Champagne Supernova’ and Liam was bored as he had recorded his guide vocal. So he decided to go down the pub. After a few hours he came back with about 20 locals from the pub and brought them back to the accomodation at the studio. This lead to an argument between Noel and Liam, which led to Liam battering down Noels door to his bedroom. The response from Noel was to hit Liam with a nearby cricket bat. After 10 days of cool down, the band met back up to finish the record and the whole incident was water under the bridge.

The Final Push

All that was left to do was to record the overdubs for ‘Champagne Supernova’, Noel spent most of the time systematically recording his parts without listening back to them in the control room. This lead to them being recorded very quickly. Then the band enlisted Paul Weller to come in and play the lead part on the song. Paul turned up to the Orinoco Studios in South London with his White Gibson SG and an old Vox AC30 amp and laid down the guitar.

He recorded 4 versions of the guitar and then Noel picked his favourite, the Vox was mic’s up with a 57 and there were no pedals used.

What Next

The album became a classic for the band and British music and still is widely regarded as one of the best albums recorded. The band went on to play two huge gigs at Knebworth to a crowd of 250,000 people in total, 2.5 million people applied for tickets.

Noel and Orange

Noel used Orange amps throughout the late 90’s and until the early 2000’s. As well as the OR120 Head and PPC412 cabinet, Noel suggested changes to the Overdrive. He was using the amp with everything up to 10, Orange’s Technical Director Ade Emsley spoke to him about ways to approve his sound. Oasis were on tour in 1997 with U2 and Noel had been using an Orange combo and he wanted more crunch from them. Ade made some changes to the overdrive circuit, which includded modifications to the phase inverter and preamp. These changes gave the amp more sparkle and also formed the basis for the new OTR amplifier.

Noel continued to use Orange amps until the early 2000’s, Orange even built him a Custom Shop Combo 140 amplifier, with 3 12” Celestion speakers. This amp was sold recently on auction site Reverb and fetched £6,800.

Orange Custom Shop NG140 built for Noel Gallagher


Cliff Cooper – Founder & CEO

I’ve always considered eye-catching cars to be a very good and engaging way to promote and advertise your brand. The Orange Beach Buggy soon became a well known sight around London.

Beach buggies were very much the ‘in thing” in London around 1970. The idea originated in America, where they’re known as ‘Dune Buggies’. They were invented in the 1960s by a Californian boat builder named Bruce Meyers, who had pioneered the use of fibreglass for vessels. Meyers then had the idea of using the material to build a lightweight off-road car based on a Volkswagen chasis, and the Dune Buggy was born. I read about this at the time, and I was intrigued. It was a nice coincidence that the colour of the first dune buggy Bruce designed and began marketing in the mid-1960s – the ‘Meyers Manx’ – was a deep orange colour.

Orange Shop staff, 1970 From left: Robin, Cliff, Rocky, Ed, Veronica

I found a company in East London that produced buggies in kit form and powered by a Volkswagen Beetle engine. I bought four and sold three. All three buyers kept the Orange logo on the bonnet. The one I had was loaned out to people such as rock stars and the English eccentric, Screaming Lord Sutch.

Screaming Lord Sutch

Peter Green and Danny Kirwan

I was a good friend of Screaming Lord Sutch and was more than happy to let him drive my buggy about town when he was campaigning to become a Member of Parliament. I also loaned the buggy to music papers such as NME and Record Mirror, who used them on their sales promotions. The Orange beach buggy did a lot to boost our brand awareness.

 

Martin Celmins – Author of The Book of Orange

50th Anniversary Crest

Looking back through the pages of The Book of Orange and Building the Brand, and recalling the many hours of interviews with Cliff Cooper that have provided that book’s structure as well as the detail, there is one main theme running through the company’s journey which is now in its sixth decade. Namely, that Orange have prospered when their products – and the inspiration that created them – took risks and broke new ground, but success was more limited when, on occasion, the company seemingly followed trends.

One fact about Orange’s fifty years in business that is not generally known is that they have produced amplifiers throughout all of that time. After the company closed in 1979, Orange amps continued to be made hand-built in very small numbers – throughout the 1980s. Cliff refers to this as the company’s “simmering” period.

It says a lot about the strength and staying power of the Orange brand worldwide, that in the mid-1990s the Gibson Corporation took up the opportunity to manufacture Orange’s classic mid-1970s product range under license. And yet, the Gibson/Orange “retro” years were only moderately successful. Why? Because Orange has never been a retro brand: its image and styling still clearly resonate with the psychedelic 1960s, but beginning with the “Pics Only” amplifier in 1971 the company’s perspective has always been about looking to technology of the future.

The launch in 1975 of the world’s first digitally programmable amplifier – the OMEC Digital – is another case in point. But, conversely, the introduction of the Series Two range of amplifiers in 1979 saw Orange uncharacteristically following amp styling trends of the late 1970s, and the range was not a great success.

Orange’s pioneering achievements in the first decade of this millennium started to happen very soon after Cliff returned to run the company in 1998. At the time he asked himself and his colleagues two vital questions – “what’s new, and what’s next?” The answer came in the shape of the AD Series, and with these award-winning amplifiers and combos Orange was firmly back to the future.

Since then, the company’s massive investment in transformer R&D, the styling and features of the Tiny Terror range and, most recently, the design of the Isobaric bass loudspeaker cabinets, are three very different products that resulted from one and the same approach: namely, that the brand Orange will always be about the future – and about the future viewed in a global context of manufacturing. The Voice of the World.

To underline this way of thinking, the final product featured in Building the Brand is the OPC – the world’s first computer/guitar amplifier designed specifically for the musician. Reading all about the OPC’s development from its initial concept to the production stage …here you have an idea and a product that is Orange to the core.

Here’s to the next 50 years!

 

 

Orange wins The Queen’s Award For Enterprise and International Trade 2006 and 2009 and once again in 2012

www.queensawards.org.uk, Nov 09

“The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK’s most prestigious awards for business performance. They recognise and reward outstanding achievement by UK companies. The Awards are made each year by the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who is assisted by an Advisory Committee that includes representatives from government, industry and commerce, and the trade unions.”

Queen’s Award Logo

Cliff Cooper – Founder & CEO on the 2006 Award

I felt very proud and honoured to have such an award conferred upon us. It is the highest accolade the country can award a business. On the day itself, the grandeur of Buckingham Palace made me reminisce forty years earlier when I was living in the office at the back of the Orange Shop where it all started.

Damon Waller – Former MD on the 2009 Award

Receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade for the second time is a great achievement. We are the only company in the music industry in recent years to have won this award more than once. Sustained growth in international sales will remain a crucial part of our marketing strategy.

Cliff Cooper on the 2012 Award

In 2012 we received the Queen’s Award For Enterprise and International Trade for the third time in six years which is an unprecedented achievement. This is the UK’s most important business award and I am so proud of everyone at Orange for this amazing honour but equally important, I would like to thank all of our dealers, distributors and the millions of users around the world  for making it possible.

2006, Cliff Cooper is presented to HM The Queen

2009 – Cliff Cooper, CEO, with Damon Waller, MD, are presented to HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip

From left: Sam, Mark, Adrian, Cliff, Sir Simon Bowes-Lyon, Damon, Jane, Chloe and Lisa receive the award

The OPC was a computer designed and built for a specific purpose: just as you have PC’s for gamers – the OPC was a computer made for musicians by musicians.

OPC 2011

Charlie Cooper – Marketing Director

I’ve always been interested in building computers and media centres. A few years ago my dad, (Charlie is Cliff’s youngest son) brought back some old 1970s Orange cabinets and we didn’t really know what to do with them. Then I came up with this idea of building an entire computer to be housed in an Orange cab, and putting a TV on top. When it was built everybody thought that it was a really nice looking media centre.

In 2007, I read that VIA Technologies had announced a new form factor called ‘Pico-ITX’ which enabled system builders to make much smaller computers. However, Pico-ITX was limiting in performance and expandability, so after lots of research, I decided on an ‘ITX form-factor motherboard’ which featured one of the first Intel Atom processors because, for me, they were the fastest processors you could easily get in a small motherboard at the time.

I made a proof-of-concept OPC whilst I was at university using a hammer, glue and a broken Orange Crush 10 amplifier. This OPC was simply a basic Intel Atom-based computer fitted inside a small Orange Crush cabinet. I then used it at my student house as a portable media centre hooked up to my TV . After that I showed people at Orange headquarters what I had done and what I now wanted to do.

The reaction of some staff at the time was hesitant because they felt that, as a product, the OPC was too different from what Orange do. And yet, others embraced the idea enthusiastically. But in general people wanted to see how this concept could be developed and so the OPC went though various revisions and improvements until we finally had an almost release-worthy prototype. We were excited about what we had created but we weren’t sure if we were getting excited about a product that the public just wouldn’t ‘get’- after all, why had no other company done this before?

We took the OPC along to the Musikmesse 2010 exhibition in Frankfurt where, in confidence, we showed it to people from the audio industry saying “we’ve made something different, what do you think?” The response was amazingly positive after showing various demos. Premier Guitar magazine managed to twist my arm into recording the OPC for YouTube and for their magazine. Previously, other magazines also wanted to film the OPC but we had said ‘no’ because we weren’t yet confident enough about the product to show it to the public. But by the end of the show we were amazed that people understood the product for what it was and loved it.

A few weeks later, the OPC video went out on the internet and became one of the most talked about gadgets from the Frankfurt show. So much so, that various companies including Intel got in touch wanting to help me put faster and better hardware inside the OPC.

From time to time, you might well hear about the various ‘music computers’ out there. But the interesting thing is that they don’t seem that much different from your average computer, well… compared to what we’ve done. The exciting thing about the OPC is that it actually looks like it’s geared for music – which it is – and you really do have more fun making music with it, because there’s no worry or hassle over desktop space, interface configuration, speakers, software, plug-ins and so on… for the first time ever this was all sorted out and available in the same box.

Doug Doppler demos the OPC at NAMM 2011

 

Cliff Cooper – Founder & CEO

Intel approached us to use our OPC to demonstrate their latest generation of processors – code-named ‘Sandy Bridge’ – at their booth at the CES 2011 show in Las Vegas. We decided it would be a great opportunity to demonstrate the low latencies and high performance of the OPC by inviting Orange endorsee, Tiago Della Vega, to break his own world record in the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest guitarist in the world. He did this at the Intel booth by playing ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ by Rimsky-Korsakov at 340 BPM [Beats Per Minute] using the OPC. It was amazing to watch and so successful.

Tiago Della Vega sets a new world record at CES 2011

Designer, Charlie Cooper, demonstrates the Orange OPC to Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas at the Intel Booth: CES 2011, Las Vegas, USA