Orange To Release New OB1 Bass Amp

Technical Director: “It’s gonna flap your trouser legs!”

By Jon Liebman
March 25, 2015

You know one as soon as you see it. You can spot one a mile away. It’s an Orange.

Ever since Londoner Clifford Cooper launched Orange Music Electronic Company in 1968, the company’s guitar and bass amps, cabs, combos and accessories – with that unmistakable “Orange” look – have become favorites to everyone from Jimmy Page and Geddy Lee to Primus, Fall Out Boy and the Jacksons.

Brand new from Orange this year is the OB1 line of bass amps, which the company announced at the 2015 winter NAMM show.  The new model is generating no shortage of enthusiasm among the Orange team, which, inevitably will spill over to the Orange faithful.

FBPO had a one-on-one conversation with Orange’s Technical Director, Adrian “Ade” Emsley, who had a hard time containing his effusiveness for the yet-to-be-released Orange amp and why it stands out from the others.  “It’s gonna flap your trouser legs,” says Emsley, referring to the user’s newfound ability to take “harmonics and other desired filth to the desired onslaught.”

With the 300-watt OB1-300 and 500-watt OB1-500 bass amps, Orange has simplified the bi-amping process, allowing bass players to layer harmonics and overdrive effects over a classic bass sound, yielding a virtually limitless number of tone combinations.

To achieve the desired effect, the OB1 splits the input signal into two distinct paths, with one side amplifying the clean signal and the other supplying harmonics and distortion.  When the two signals are blended, the amp can yield anything from a simple boost “to all-out filthy grind,” depending on how the gain and blend controls are configured.  An optional footswitch makes the blending process even easier.

“It costs more to do, it’s not as easy to do, but it sounds nicer, so that’s why we’ve gone down that road,” says Emsley.  “It sounds a lot more musical than the previous stuff we’ve had.”

In very “Orange-like” fashion, the blend section on the front of the amp is marked with images of a coffee percolator and a snake with an arrow through it.  “The snake with an arrow shot through it is the gain on that blend section,” explains Ade.  “So that’s distortions, overdrive, harmonics, you know.  And the percolator is the amount of actual blend.  So that would be the coffee, and the snake with an arrow shot through it would be how fine you grind it in the grinder.  So if it sounded like a Forumla 1 car, you know it’s gonna be a strong enough cup of coffee!”

Emsley emphasizes that the configuration is all solid state, all analog Class A/B circuitry.  “No ‘digitalia’ or ‘Class D-ness’ happening,” says Ade.  “We’ve come away from Class D on these things completely because we like the musicality and the sound of the Class A/B amp.”

Ade describes the OB1’s 3-band EQ on as “really pokey,” with bass, mid and treble boosts and cuts.  “That EQ section is the last thing the signal sees before the power amp,” says Emsley, “to keep things tight and punchy.”

The instrument input features an active/passive switch, while the output, in the rear, provides both balanced DI and line-level outs.  The whole thing fits nicely in a two-unit 19” rack mountable head, weighing in at about 22 pounds.

Since the amps are brand new, Orange can’t “officially” cite any endorsements, though Emsley is optimistic about garnering additional “seals of approval” from the bass elite.  “We’ve got a lot of interest from high profile artists, but I can’t mention any names yet,” says Emsley.  The long list of bassists who have endorsed Orange amps already includes Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah), Djordje Stijepovic (Drake Bell) and the aforementioned Geddy Lee (Rush).

If you’re looking for a cab to drive your new OB1 amp, Ade recommends the new OBC-212 “isobaric” cabinet.  The OBC-212 houses two 12-inch Eminence neodymium speakers, one behind the other, in an airtight chamber capable of handling up to 600 watts of power.  “That’s the cab we launched with it, but it can go with any of our amps.”

The OB1 amps will be available May 1.  Visit Orange’s website for more info.

OB1-300 (300 watts)
List price: $799

OB1-500 (500 watts)
List price: $899

OBC-212 cab
List price: $749

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