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1969 was a big year for Orange Amplifiers. It was when we found our mojo, what we call the Voice of the World.

50 years on we take a look at the world of Orange and how together we’ve shaped the Voice of the World.

Fleetwood Mac Sweden November 1968 with the very first Orange backline & PA.

Having started by making super clean lead amplifiers Orange soon began to look for ways to increase the ‘perceived’ volume at the request of our customers. Our equipment gave out a true 120 watts RMS but lower-powered models from other manufacturers sounded louder.

The solution came to Orange Amplifiers CEO Cliff Cooper after a meeting with a leading ear specialist in London’s Harley Street.

The brain can register distortion as pain in order to protect the mechanism of the ears. The jagged harmonics produced by the distortion work the ear’s conducting bones harder, and this is perceived by the audio nerves as an increase in sound level. The original Orange amps were especially clean sounding with very little distortion. In order to correct the situation, we gave the amp a lot more gain and modified our circuitry. These changes gave birth to the ‘Orange sound’ – best described as ‘fat’ and ‘warm’ – more musical and richer in harmonics, with a unique saturation in the mids.

Cliff Cooper

Success soon followed with a boom throughout the 1970s, but changes in circumstances meant that by the end of the decade production had almost stopped. Yet Orange Amplifiers remained at large and were gathering an unseen legion of fans.

The Voice of the World was resuscitated in 1997 when Britpop pioneer Noel Galligher visited Cliff Cooper and now Technical Director Adrian Emsley in Denmark Street where Cliff ran a shop. Noel wanted to add more crunch to his vintage OR120, eventually leading to the development of a new amplifier, the OTR. This heralded the second coming of Orange. This was closely followed by the AD series in 1998.

Noel Gallagher’s Orange Custom Shop 140

In a world far, far away from Britpop, stoner rockers were also adopting vintage Orange within their wall of sound. The embers of Orange Amplifiers, smouldering in the limelight of yesteryear, went from a flicker to a roaring flame when an Orange OR120 was featured on the album insert of Sleep’s 1998 release ‘Dopesmoker’.

“I’ve been using Orange for kinda a long time actually. I was watching Black Sabbath on MTV when I was a kid and I was like Orange, Orange, Orange. After that, we started buying Oranges up when we first, kind of, started the band. That’s kind of I was going for – you know, in the beginner like a classic, rock, overdrive. Now I’m just using massive mountains of Orange” – Matt Pike of Sleep

Since the 90s, Orange Amplifiers and the Voice of the World has become synonymous with music from every genre: Country to Metal, World to Jazz. Even from our humble beginnings, Orange has always been a David and Goliath-like story, we’re not just a business full of execs in suits, with Orange it’s personal. We’ve done all the jobs possible: roadie, performer, rigger, producer, repair engineer; in other words, we understand your voice, it sounds a lot like ours.

Shaping the Voice of the World

1.     Built to last, our speaker cabinet design went beyond the designs at the time. 18mm birch-faced marine ply, a central baffle post and tough Orange vinyl was the standard we set. It still remains to this day.

2.     Wooden skids replaced plastic casters. No more broken wheels and the skids act as a coupler, enhancing the bass response.

3.     Orange Amplifiers own our factories, unlike other OEMs who use contractors we’re able to manage every step of the production process in house, irrespective of the country of manufacture.

4.     By over-specifying on the transformers, we reduce the amount of heat building up inside your amplifier, meaning longer operational life. 

5.     Those very transformers prevent the amplifier from throttling the output signal, which means passing the whole frequency spectrum without losses to the top and bottom of the range. 

6.     Almost all our amplifiers (bar the Terror Bass) feature a tube buffered FX loop ensuring the signal chain isn’t compromised at any stage. 

7.     Analogue is the standard, that means no digital modelling. Only the highest quality components and that all-analogue design is what brings Orange Amplifiers tone to life

8.     We created the first-ever digital amplifier with the OMEC Digital back in 1974.

9.     While we launched don’t mess with what’s inside the amp we’ve brought the same commonsense Orange thinking to the digital era with the OMEC Teleport, a latency-free AD/DA converter, marrying up old and new technology and super simple to use.

10.  We justify our all analogue circuitry through what makes Orange ‘Orange’. Just switch the amp on and you’ll get what we mean, no tone hunting required. Simply plug and play.

11.  Built for international touring artists as well as home use, wattage switching options are designed into many of our amplifiers. Also this feature is ideal for pushing your amp to the edge.

12.  Experimentation is our bag, take for instance the Rocker 32 which features a two 10” Voice of the World speakers which can run in mono, stereo or even patched one side wet and the other side dry.

13.  Speaking of those Voice of the World speakers. What makes them unique is a very fast and tight bottom end that speeds up with more overdrive, alongside a vintage sounding top end.

14.  Our flagship Rockerverb MkIII is built on three generations of development based on user feedback, featuring a four-stage ‘dirty’ channel that gives mid-range crunch the more you crank it.

15.  We’ve also led the revolution of lunchbox proportions with our now discontinued Tiny Terror heralded as “the most important guitar product in the last 30 years” – Guitarist Magazine. Although you can’t buy the original anymore, we now do a 30-watt version, doubling the power!

16.  Innovation is something we’re proud of, and we’re keen to support innovators too such as Kelby Ray of The Cadillac Three. His lap steel rig brings out both the highs and the lows taking the grit of the AD200-MK3, and the crunch and full-bodied mid-range of the AD30HTC and OR15H.

17.  It’s not just Kelby who’s at it with innovation. Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick’s monster rig features both Orange bass and guitar amps pushed to their limit, Petersson’s sound comes from when the amp is “about ready to blow up”, but they don’t blow up…

18.  See number 5.

19.  Orange Amplifiers, valve or solid-state, are made to bring out the expression in your playing, offering a dynamic low-end with a focused mid-range and harmonics that are present across the full frequency spectrum.

20.  Most amps are black. We can do black, we prefer Orange though.

21.  Our solid-state amplifiers are based on achieving that classic British Orange valve tone, only much lighter.

22.  We might over-engineer our equipment, but that’s why we’re on the rig list for most major equipment hire companies.

23.  One example of why is that we lay extra-thick PCB traces (Rock and Roll, I know!) to prevent impedance from building up unwanted heat.

24.  Alongside the lunchbox design, we also recognised that people are using pedals more and more. So we created the Pedal Baby 100 which gives you all that Orange clean tone in a portable unit, leaving you to add whatever you need on top. 

25.  It’s as much the genius that creates our technology as it is people we learn from that makes Orange Amplifiers the Voice of the World.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Sleep in London, or to be more specific, staring down a shirtless Matt Pike at the Kentish Town Forum. Of course, there’s plenty of shit-hot guitarists out there, but Pike’s something else, he’s like some larger than life icon, like the Godzilla of metal and doom – guys, have you got any idea how many amps we’ve sold because of this guy? I mean, I don’t actually have any legit numbers on hand as numbers ain’t my forte, but it’ll be tons, guaranteed – Matt Pike, and Black Sabbath using Orange in the ‘Paranoid’ video pretty much opened the doors for Orange to the world of stoner and doom – so thanks guys, for paying my bills. Anyway, back to topic.

Let’s rewind back a bit to the early 90s, 1992, to be specific. While Brit-pop was very much a reality in the UK, something way heavier was going down across the Atlantic as a baby Matt Pike at the tender age of 21 released Sleep’s iconic ‘Holy Mountain’ alongside bassist and singer Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius. One can only imagine the Earache rep’s reaction receiving the demos and ‘Dragonaut’ blasting out the speakers, Tony Iommi’s legacy embodied by the next generation!

With the release of ‘Holy Mountain’, Sleep became one of the earliest stoner rock connoisseurs, and pretty much created the genre alongside Kyuss. Following the successful release of ‘Holy Mountain’, the band ventured further underground and away from the mainstream, as they followed it up with the hour long track titled ‘Dopesmoker’ or ‘Jerusalem’. Unfortunately, Sleep didn’t last for long after that, and went their separate ways. However, if music’s what you do, a hiatus is gonna kill ya, so Matt Pike returned not long after, this time with High on Fire, where he, after a few hits and misses with various band members ended up on vocal duties as well as guitar.

In recent years, Pike’s been busy with both bands as Sleep returned with the spectacular The Sciences, which was conveniently released, in secret, I might add, on the 20th of April 2018 via Third Man Records – of course it had to be a 420 release! Now, this is one of those albums I remember exactly where I was when I heard about it, sat at some far too swanky (but amazing…) hotel in Tilburg getting ready for Roadburn Festival when all of a sudden my Instagram feed was filled with the surprise record, and I knew there and then that my instinct to haul my Bose speaker from grimy London to sweet, sweet Holland wasn’t for granted; I found the album and shut my girlfriends up and made them listen, and lo and behold – Sleep was back, as if they never left. Opening and title track ‘The Sciences’ builds up for a solid three minutes, before all hell breaks loose with ‘Marijuanaut’s Theme’, which I must just say is Sleep at it’s finest.

The following month I had my first ever on camera interview lined up with no one else than Matt Pike at London’s Desertfest, and this fantastic new release peaked my fear and excitement even more – I struggle at times to transcribe interviews I’ve conducted due to the sound of my own voice recorded, so adding my face into the mix with a camera monitoring my every movement caused for some sleepless nights, and I had about five of them before I eventually dragged my wreck of an anxious self to Electric Ballroom to conduct my biggest interview to date, and you know, without the exception of looking slightly out of place (who wouldn’t? It’s the ‘Matt Pike Effect’!), I didn’t fuck up! Plus, the positive comments I received after were just so enocoura… Ahhh, in a perfect world, eh? People love talking shit online, and here’s one of my personal favourites from the Youtube comments:

Classic comment section BANTER. It took every inch of self-restraint in my six foot tall Viking-self not to fire back at cool guy numero uno ‘MasterBait’ for questioning my Motörhead knowledge, but as I’m not a certified keyboard warrior myself I let it pass. For the record, it’s ‘Stay Clean’ – why? Cause of Lemmy’s sexy solo, duh, although the entire ‘Overkill’ record is a masterpiece on it’s own.

More than a year has passed since the interview, and in that time Pike’s released ‘Electric Messiah’ with ‘High on Fire’ who also won a Grammy award for ‘Best Metal Performance’ earlier this year, and he’s chopped off half his toe of due to diabetes, which is pretty god damn rock ’n’ roll on it’s own. While he’s been busy touring excessively with both bands after their latest releases, I do wonder what he’ll bring us next. Living in a time where the original rock stars are fading, I am thrilled about Matt Pike’s existence and continued contribution to music.

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

The Dual Dark, as Lead Designer Ade Emsley describes it, is an Orange amp “for guitarists who don’t usually play Orange amps.” The Dual Dark is a completely different beast, both in terms of gain and voicing, from every other amp Orange has ever produced. It’s tighter on the bottom-end and has an almost percussive nature to its attack. And while all Orange amps tend to have massive amounts of distortion, it’s the searing brutality of the dirty channel (Channel B) on the Dual Dark really sets it apart from amps like the Rockerverb MKIII.

There are a lot of similarities between the Dual Dark and our now discontinued Thunderverb series. The Thunderverb 50 and 100 were the first Orange amps to feature attenuators and shape knobs. The attenuator is great for the studio and bedroom practice, since it allows the volume to be decreased without affecting the tone. The shape knob is actually a mid-scoop that takes the player from classic rock all the way through to mind-melting metal. These features, when introduced originally, were received well by Orange enthusiasts so it only made sense to keep them on future models (the Rockerverb MKIII also has an attenuator).

The similarities end when it comes to the voicing of the amps. If the Thunderverb was a true modern Orange amp, and the Rockerverb MKIII a melding of classic and modern tones, then the Dual Dark is the amp that bridges them all together. Channel A on the Dual Dark is extremely versatility, boasting a wide range of tones from Brit-rock to R&B. On this channel it can even be made to sound similar to our flagship AD30 head. But switch over to Channel B, the assumed “dirty channel” for most players, and let the shape knob rocket you into Thunderverb 200 high-gain metal territory (this, for example, is the channel Matt Pike from Sleep prefers).

It’s the Dual Dark’s voicing is what allows for such versatility. By backing off on the “fuzziness” that is inherent in most Orange amps (a desirable trait to most of our fans), Lead Designer Ade Emsley has made the Dual Dark capable of mimicking a wider variety of amp voicings. If other amp companies make “fizzy” sounding amps, and Orange is normally known for “fuzz,” then the Dual Dark occupies that in-between “fizz-fuzz” that makes it so unique.

There’s something for everybody in the Dual Dark series. Here are some examples of Orange Ambassadors from a wide variety of genres that have made the Dual Dark their go-to amps.

Matt Pike – Sleep, High on Fire

The Dual Dark 100 is always the first amp Matt requests on his backline riders. He prefers it above all other current production Orange amps. For him, it’s the gain and the gain alone that he desires. If we could supply him with 50 Dual Dark 100’s per show he’d take it.

Al Cisneros – Sleep

After Matt Pike started using the Dual Dark 100 regularly, Al got in touch and said he was interested in giving it a shot. Al uses a huge stack of bass amps, yes, but he also runs his signal through a guitar half stack to achieve a more grindy, trebly top-end to his tone. The Dual Dark 50 has become his go-to guitar amp since 2017.

Graham WhitfordTyler Bryant and the Shakedown

“It’s one of those amps you can plug straight into without a single pedal and get everything you need. I love it.”

Dave Catching – Eagles of Death Metal

We’ve had EODM’s lead guitarist, the absolutely most awesome dude on earth, Dave Catching, playing the Dual Darks on stage for several years. Coming from a Marshall/Fender background, he like a lot of our Dual Dark Ambassadors was turned on by the fact it doesn’t sound “classically Orange.” Dave also found that the Dual Dark can works wonders in his studio, Rancho De La Luna, with bands ranging from CKY to Kurt Vile.

Pop Evil

Both guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling of Pop Evil are playing identical set-ups consisting of Dual Dark and Rockerverb 100 MKIII 100 watt heads. For their stage volume needs it’s the perfect combo. It’s a loud, LOUD rig and between both the Dual Dark and Rockerverb MKIII they’re able to recreate the full spectrum of Orange tones.

“If sounds were a person, the sound Orange produces would be the Dos Equis guy.” – Davey Grahs