Price paid: £ 800
Purchased from: private purchase
Features: This is a discontinued amp from the early 2000's I believe. It's a total monster and absolutely nothing like what I've bought before or since, or even really suited to my style. I just saw it and decided I wanted a crazy watt Orange amp. This is a 140W dual channel amp. Unlike some amps which claim insane power and don't provide this is a no BS claim, with over 200W at distorted level. It doesn't sing, it barks. It's not really like a high gain modern amp, it's more of a Vintage sound on bags full of steroids.
There are multiple speaker outs for 16ohm or 8ohm cab set ups. No loop, no headphone jack, no DI output or speaker emulation. It's just pretty much a no-nonsense beast. Oh there is a footswitch input for a basic latch switch to swap channels - and a 'slave' out for adding in another amp (not sure anyone is that crazy) that's about it on the back. The two channels are totally independent and have their own master volume, gain, treble, mids and bass. There is no reverb or fx.
There are 4 x EL34's on the power stage and 4 x 12ax7 in the preamp. There are also two independent fuses and the biggest transformer I've ever seen in a guitar amp - which possibly explains why it weighs over 50lbs for an amp head. There's more than enough power for just about anyone - though a lot of it is clean headroom rather than insane high gain. So it's basic - very simple to use, but nothing like my Engl E670SE or Marshall JVM410H - it's always a bit of a shock going back to playing this. // 8
Sound: I don't know if this is the "traditional" Orange sound or not since I don't have any real Vintage Orange for comparison but it's pretty much what I was hoping for when I saw it. It's a massive, dry, mid-focused bark. Some of my friends have said it's Vox like, I'd say the channel 1 is definitely similar to a hot-rodded AC30 with insane power, but channel 2 is just it's own thing.
This does hum, but in a good way. When you flip those '50s style metal switches down it starts to thrum like a cartoon nuclear reactor. It's not dead silent but there's no crackles, fizz or anything nasty. It's just that massive transformer sounding like the earth's core bubbling away.
The Twin channel thing is not so much "clean" and "dirty" channels - they're both just different voicings. Channel 1 can be very dry and pristine with a lot of chime. As it's got such high headroom you can get up to insane volumes and it won't break up, just shouts louder. Turn up the gain though and this gets deafening and grunts very quickly. I'd say up to classic rock but with a very clean headroom if you roll back your guitar volume. Channel 2 is tighter but starts about mid-way on the gain of Channel 1, at full gain it's pretty much an immense saturated roar. It's nothing like my modern hi-gain sounds. It's hard to explain as I don't know the technical descriptions - but it just fills all available air in the room. At full it would literally drown out the world's loudest drummer but it's not really a metal distortion, there's no pristine hi-fi edge. It's still Vintage just with modern power levels.
The gain structure is very clever though as you could theoretically play at bedroom levels on the master volume and still push it to bloom into roaring overdrive. I don't think you'd want to as the higher volume end is where the real textures come out - but it's slightly more versatile than a "true" Vintage amp. But yeah, don't go looking for modern, even with the independent EQ's for each channel, even with the mids rolled down and the bass punched up, it won't do a modern sound - the mids still punch you in the face. I'm rated this on the quality of the sounds it does do - like I say though if you wanted versatile modern sounds - this rating would clearly be lower. // 10
Reliability & Durability: The basic advantage to being a hand-built amp with pretty basic features means there's a lot less to go wrong. Compared to my modern MIDI-featured amps with loads of channels and options and switches, it hasn't had any freakouts or unexpected sound niggles. It's like a totally pure muscle car. It shows up, barks loud and goes home. There's not much technology to rely on.
That said it is running an insane power level and the transformer runs HOT very quickly. Although it has two independent fuses to protect it from major blow-ups, the tubes will go and you do need to treat it like a boutique all-valve amp should be treated. I have had it pop during a recording session, just overheating and nuked some tubes without warning but that's probably down to me not servicing it quite as often as I should.
But when you manage to pick that 50+lb head up you get a solid and well made amp that will outlive you pretty easily. Like all the England made Orange amps it is very lovingly crafted. The wood, covering, handles, switches, jewelled lights, even the Orange painted panels are really well finished - there's not a single switch out of line, no socket ever comes loose, the screws are even painted Orange and the vinyl covering is cut neatly so it fits without any overlap - even on the inside where you'd never really see it. That sort of shows attention to detail to me. I love my Engl and Marshall amps but even as wonderful as they are, there's nothing like the quality control compared to this Orange. // 10
Overall Impression: It's pretty odd that I even own this AD140 - it's nothing like my musical style and I'm not the type who gets all nostalgic about Vintage kit. This was bought for probably the totally shallow reasons that a) it looked awesome and b) it said it was 140W - yeah, I know, not the best reasons to choose an amp. I didn't need it and I've tended not to play it live as it doesn't suit my band's sound. But at our space and on some recordings (and some work I've done with guest spots on other band's stuff) - it's come out and blown people away.
I struggle because I like gadgets and so part of me would love to say, "oh it needs an fx loop and maybe some extra EQ options and etc etc" but really, that's not what this amp is about. It's about getting that dry but brutal Orange overdrive tone into a well built amp without the flaws of genuinely old gear. It's about having loads of headroom to play loud without distorting if you want, or having a very dynamic interplay between your guitar volume and the roar coming out of the amp.
This amp is discontinued now and Orange don't seem to supply specific spares for it anymore, but I Imagine it has a lot of similarities to the AD30HTC and so you could refurbish one if you had to. It's not a truly Vintage amp as it's got 21st century finishing in it, but it is just a beautifully put together and comically loud amp that some players will love. If you do come across one it's definitely worth giving it a try - although hopefully somewhere where you are allowed to turn it up a few notches as the sound doesn't come fully alive until it's cranked a bit.
This is probably my first and last foray into "simple" amps, like I say, I love my Engl and Marshall with all their gadgets and modes and channels - and they do what I need most of the time in my band. But yeah sometimes you just want to plug right into a pure amp and make the walls shake - and that's where this comes in. // 10