Orange AD200B Bass Amplifier - U - PDF

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					Ad200 manual                                                                                                                  09-09-12 16:28

                                       written by Grzegorz Sawa-Boryslawski (

                                                  INTR O D UC TIO N
  I’ve written this manual for AD200 users, beacue Orange do not provide one with their amplifiers (e.g. mine came with manual from
  Rockerverb!:). Also, there’s no manual on their website... and there are billion questions. Informations on this site are not authorised
    by Orange Amplification, these are my thoughts and my point of view at this amplifier – from musician – to musicians all over the
  world! There are billion questions worldwide about his amp, basically – the same over and over again, so maybe this one will answer
    most of them (I hope so!:). This user’s manual was written for MK3 model, but there’s a lot sommon things here with MK1 & MK2
                                                        models... so sit and enjoy!

                                         BASIC S: PLE ASE R E AD !
 Orange AD200B is a tube amplifier. There are hunderds of volts inside that may hurt you or kill you! Mind this! Don’t unscrew the amp
 if you’re not sure about what you’re doing or you’re doing it for the first time. Don’t touch anything inside EVEN WHEN THE AMPLIFIER
 IS OFF! Capacitors are charged for some time after dsiconnecting from AC. To discharge them, disconnect power cable and turn power
     and standby switch on/off few times. We’re talking about HIGH VOLTAGE inside that goes up to 700V! Mind that again! Next, don’t
 touch the tubes, THEY’RE SUPER HOT, even after disconnecting the amp! You can burn your skin easily. Wait ½ hour and let the tubes
   cold a bit. Always remove tubes with clear cotton cloth - if tube breaks you’ll not cut your hands - also – you’ll not leave your salty
    fingerprints on them which damages the glass when the tubes are working. Do not power AD200B without speaker load. You should
    always have your head connected to the speaker. Even if you just record to your computer with the slave out – you must connect
                                                          AD200B to the speaker.

                                       I will not take any responsibility of damaging your amplifier -
                         you can read it and all that you do with your AD200B, you do it on your own risk. Right?

                                                           H ISTO R Y
    Orange AD200B MK3 is all-tube British bass amplifier designed in the late 90’s when the “AD” series began. Advertised as 200W
   power, 4x6550 (or KT88) tubes, 2xECC83, 1xECC81 (driver) preamp tubes. There were 3 versions of this head, AD200 MK1,
   AD200 MK2 – these two models ran a total of 100 pieces and were handcrafted, point-to-point wired amplifiers. They also differ in
    cosmetics from current production MK3 model (which is a PCB-constructed). As users tell – there is probably no difference in the
 sound of both, PC-Board MK3 and previous limited series, MK1 & MK2 (also, MK1 and MK2 had only two preamp tubes – 1xECC81 and
   1xECC83). Point-To-Point is a method of construction when every electronic piece is soldered to the wire (and to another piece),
  sometimes using “turret boards” which are plates with holes to put there resistors, capacitors, etc. PC-Board are like mainboards in
  computers – huge board, printed conductive pathways, everything soldered to it (faster and easier to make it in automatic processes,
                                                             like factories)                                                                                                    Page 1 of 8
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                                     differences: inside AD200B MK1 (left) vs AD200B MK3 (right)

                   F R O NT PANE L: TWO INSTR UM E NT INPUTS

                                        PASSIVE is considered as NORMAL input for most basses,
    ACTIVE – for these which uses active EQ/Pickups (e.g. Fender Jazz Bass Deluxe) or have very high output from the pickups (e.g.
  Fender Telecaster Bass). If you put active instrument in passive input you’ll probably hear overdriven tone, even when the GAIN knob
 is set low. If you put passive instrument into active input, you will have less headroom (amplifier will be quieter) but you can crank up
       GAIN and MASTER and make your amp sound better on lower volumes (e.g. when you play in practice room with the band).

           * Personally, I hear that ACTIVE input is somewhat less dynamic than PASSIVE. Still don't know why, but I hear it.

                  F R O NT PANE L: PO WE R ING TH E AM PLIF IE R
    As most tube amps, AD200 have two switches. At first – hit this one on the left, labeled POWER - this will start the amplifier and
   power up the tubes. Hit STANDBY after min. 30 seconds (better few minutes, I tell ya) and start playing :) The orange LED should
  light up when you hit power. If it’s not – call Orange and get a replacement. Also when you hit power, you can hear (and feel) some
    minor buzzing and shaking for a second – this is all normal and tube amps does things like that when the voltage is applied to the
                                                            huge transformers.

                            2-switch patent is made for the tubes to last longer (c’mon, we all want that!) –
                     when you hit standby, very high voltage is applied to the power tubes and you can play the amp.

    When you switch power and standby at one time (e.g. you want to start playing immediately) is like applying high voltage to the
 tubes that aren’t warm enough and of course that shortens their life a bit (This is nothing wrong, older Oranges had only one switch!).
   If you’re doing a break or you’re after soundcheck at your gig – hit standby to the off position, but keep the power on! Tubes will
  stay warm and when the gig starts just put standby on and you have that sweet tone again, without warming the amplifier from the
                                                          beginning. Get it? :)

                                      F R O NT PANE L: C O NTR O LS
                                  MASTER – this knob controls overall, master volume of the amplifier,
                                                TREBLE – controls amount of treble,
                                              MIDDLE - Controls amount of mid tones
                                                BASS - Controls amount of bass freq
                                              GAIN – Control amount of gain/overdrive                                                                                                   Page 2 of 8
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   If you want some dirty tones crank GAIN up and set MASTER to control your overall volume. If you want some cleaner tones – set
  GAIN on lower setting (below 1/3) and crank MASTER up. This is probably the best and more versatile setting for this amplifier. With
    MASTER set high you’ll also hear amplifier distorted but that are the sweetest overdrive tones coming from power tubes. Also, EQ
  controls on the AD200B are passive, which means that they are subtractive - when treble, middle and bass are turned full-up that
   means they’re set factory flat (no EQ, no correction). So when we turn knobs down from “all the way up” we cut these frequencies.
     AD200B is advertised as the simplest and purest bass amplifier probably according to short signal path – less electronics inside –
     which means less loss of signal & more transparency, giving the best of your bass guitar own character rather than coloring the

                         * Personally, I don't turn master below three (actually, 9 o'clock). Sound is thin and dry.

                       BAC K PANE L: SPE AK E R C O NNE C TIO NS

                                                 There are 3 speaker outs: 2x 4ohm, 1x 8ohm


                                                   WHEN YOU HAVE: ONE 2ohm CABINET:
                                            There is no way to connect a 2ohm cabinet to AD200B.

                                                  WHEN YOU HAVE: TWO 2ohm CABINETS:
                          This can be done if your cabinets are wired in serial (remember that most of them are
                                 wired in pararell) and you will have probably rewire them to work in serial.
               If you do this, connect 1 st cabinet to 2 nd cabinet and then to 4ohm output in AD200B (no matter which one).

                                                   WHEN YOU HAVE: ONE 4ohm CABINET:
                                       Connect the cabinet to the 4ohm output (doesn’t matter which one)

                                                  WHEN YOU HAVE: TWO 4ohm CABINETS:
                          This can be done if your cabinets are wired in serial (remember that most of them are
                                 wired in pararell) and you will have probably rewire them to work in serial.
               If you do this, connect 1 st cabinet to 2 nd cabinet and then to 8ohm output in AD200B (no matter which one).

                                                   WHEN YOU HAVE: ONE 8ohm CABINET:
                                                      Connect cabinet to 8ohm output.

                                                   WHEN YOU HAVE: TWO 8ohm CABINETS:
                                                       Connect 1 st cabinet to 4ohm output,
                                                connect 2 nd cabinet to the second 4ohm output
                                                  when your cabinets support parallel chaining:
                                  Connect 1st cabinet to 4ohm output, then connect 2nd cabinet to 1st cabinet.

                                                   WHEN YOU HAVE: ONE 16ohm CABINET:                                                                                                    Page 3 of 8
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      This can be done only by pulling out a pair power tubes (1 and 3 or 2 and 4), so the output transformer will send 2x higher
  impedance to the speaker jacks. Of course, if you pull out these tubes, you’ll loose some power (headroom), but you will not damage
                                                          your speaker cabinet.
                                       So if you do this – connect your cabinet to 8ohm output.

                                              WHEN YOU HAVE: TWO 16ohm CABINETS:
      This can be done only by pulling out a pair power tubes (1 and 3 or 2 and 4), so the output transformer will send 2x higher
  impedance to the speaker jacks. Of course, if you pull out these tubes, you’ll loose some power (headroom), but you will not damage
                                                           your speaker cabinet.
                So if you do this – connect 1 st cabinet to 4ohm output, connect 2 nd cabinet to the second 4ohm output
                                              when your cabinets support parallel chaining:
                             connect 1st cabinet to 8ohm output, then connect 2nd cabinet to 1st cabinet.

                        "PULLING TUBES" thing is for experienced users only. This is not recommended by Orange!
                                   Do it at your own risk or better buy suitable 4 or 8ohm cabinet :)

                                             BAC K PANE L: F USE S

 AD200B MK3 has 4 fuses which controls voltage being applied to the electronics. Two of them are main and HT fuse which will blow if
   there’s wrong voltage around the inpute/IEC cable, and the other two are power tube fuses, deafinitely not frequently seen in the
 amplifiers. This is part of the Orange’s Tube Failure Protection System. AD200 has four power tubes. Before something bad will happen
 – e.g. when the tube breaks down - the amp will blow a fuse - which means that it disconnects a 1 pair of tubes (one of them is that
  tube that went wrong) and continue working on the other pair, giving less power, but man, you can finish the gig! Pairs are written
    below the fuses: 1) first and third tube, 2) second and fourth tube. The red light above the fuse will tell you that something was
  wrong and the fuse blew. Go to the nearest Radio Shack or electronics shop and buy at least few of each fuse – always keep it with
 the amplifier – voltage around the world is tricky and can do bad things :) Don’t worry, they will cost you together less than a can of

  Fuses are: 2x Fast-Blow 500mA, 1x Time-Blow 1A, 1x Time-Blow 250mA and 1x Time-Blow 3,15A (220-250V countries) or 1x
                                           Time-Blow 6,3A (100-120V countries).

   * please note that MK1 and MK2 models have slightly different fuses (always check your amps back plate) and do not provide Tube
                                                          Failure Protection.

                                       BAC K PANE L: SLAVE O UT
  This is a mono out to link a external power amplifier (e.g. Orange SLAVE unit produced in the 70’s). Basically, it’s direct out from the
   preamp section, with no speaker emulation. It beaves like “PREAMP OUT” or “EFFECTS LOOP IN” when we speak about other amps.                                                                                                   Page 4 of 8
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      Dry signal. I’ve used it once in a gig, connected to the mixing console and then to PA. Results was quite nice but we put a DI
                                          between slave out and a console and it was a way better.

                                                             TUBE S
  AD200B MK3 operates 4 power tubes and 3 preamp tubes. When you buy the amp new, it will be probalby equipped with 4 Svetlana
                6550 power tubes (although not labeled) and some chinese preamp tubes (1xECC81, 2xECC83)

                            * note that MK1 and MK2 models have only one ECC83 and one ECC81 on preamp!

   Power tubes give the amplifier power/wattage, preamp tubes shape the sound (gain, overdrive, tonality). MK3 model can handle also
  KT88 tubes (you can change instead of 6550) – they differ in construction & size and have slightly more power than 6550. Some may
   prefer KT88 due to later break-up and less “driven” tone. They also tend to last longer than 6550’s and have more "mild" overdrive.
  MK1 and MK2 can’t handle KT88 tubes because of tighter spacing between them (KT88’s are wider than 6550’s). Orange is advertised
    as 200W output power, but speaking seriously, it cannot produced more than 184 watts RMS due to lower plate dissipation of the
                power tubes (184w RMS is calculated for KT88 tubes. 6550’s has slightly lower wattage, about 168 watts).

                                                       R E TUBING ?
  Your amp needs retubing when: something’s wrong with the sound, microphonics, strange noises, hum, cracking, low dynamics, very
 early distortion, little headroom, no sound... and many more reasons. These things are mostly one thing: BAD or HEAVY USED tubes.
 As any lightbulb (which tubes are too), these ones also break and stop working in some time. It’s very hard to detremine life of your
  tubes. This depends on a brand, construction, usage, voltage, heat inside amplifier, etc. I can tell that if you put there a set of good
   current production tubes into AD200B, and if you play two times a week for 3-4 hours and ocassionally do some gigs, your power
  tubes will last about 2 years, pre-amp tubes about 4 years (this is my personal calculation, using brand new tubes from current
 production). If you play really loud and really hard, or if you set bias too high (more on that later), they may last less... I recommend
        using vintage NOS (New Old Stock) tubes like Mullard, Telefunken, Amperex "Bugle Boy" - they will last few times longer!

                                    C H ANG ING PR E AM P TUBE S
      You can change preamp tubes by yourself, those are three (MK3 model) small tubes, usually covered by a metal shields (these
   prevent from getting microphonics and other noises from electronic components inside). V1 and V2 are ECC83 (12AX7) tubes, V3 is
      ECC81 (12AT7). These tube sockets are the same and you can experimtent putting other tubes in all places to get “your tone”.
    (ECC81/12AT7, ECC82/12AU7, ECC83/12AX7, E83CC, ECC803s... if you want to try other tubes, better ask a tech if that tube you
     want is compatible with these). You’ll probably notice major change in sound when changing V1 (first gain stage) and V3 (phase
    inverter, giving big meal to power tubes:). For more informations about phase inverter, gain stages and specification (gain) of the
                                      tubes above, please search the net – tons of useful stuff there.                                                                                                   Page 5 of 8
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                         C H ANG ING PO WE R TUBE S & BIASING
 And this is more complicated... You CAN’T change your power tubes in AD200B if you don’t bias it right. e.g. have special hardware to
     set voltage which flows into your power tubes (like Weber Bias Rite, Amptone BIASCOM + a multimeter in some cases). Let me
    explain ths a little bit... This is 200W tube amp. This is a lot watts for a tube amp! Lower-powered tube amps (like combo guitar
    amps, etc.) are cathode biased, which means that you can change power tubes to a new set without changing BIAS (bias is set
    automatically). So you ask then – why AD200B isn’t a cathode-biased amp, that would be simple! – tech’s say that cathode-bias
   system installed in a 200W amp will eat a lot of watts (headroom) and probalby you’ll have about 100W or less in the same amp.

       First thing you must do - buy a MATCHED SET of good tubes, four pieces. 6550’s or KT88’s – depends on what you prefer.

   So you ask, why I must set bias if I just bought the same type of power tubes that was on the amp when I bought it? (let's say a
     matched Svetlana 6550's set)? It's simple - every tube (or a set of matched tubes) differs in parameters from other the same
  brand/type/series. It's because of tools in the factories just can't produce exact the same tubes! They're similar but no the same! For
   example: you measure bias on current tubes in your amp and it says "22mA". OK. You change your set of tubes to a new one, the
  same brand and model... measure and... "30ma" - way too high! They'll melt when you play hard and might damage your amplifier...
                             So now you know that is necessary to set the right bias in every fixed bias amp.

 * If you put new tubes without biasing some things like this can occur: your sound will be dry; your sound will be great but tubes will
                     die in few horus; you can damage your output transformer, you'll hear unpleasant distortion.

  There are lot of ways to set/check the bias (e.g. using the oscilloscope, multimeters, soldering resistors, etc. - more on that you can
   find on the web) but this one is "for dummies" (no offence, I'm "dummy" too) and the best thing is that you can do it yourself at
    home and don't need any technician. Of course if you have a qualified tech around you - give him the amplifier and don't stress
                                                                 yourself!                                                                                                   Page 6 of 8
Ad200 manual                                                                                                                  09-09-12 16:28

   You must measure current voltage flowing into your tubes – (I bought Amptone BIASCOM, but you can buy similiar thing from e.g.
    Weber), carefuly unscrew chassis, placed amptone between V4 socket and the tube, connected to the speaker, then powered the
   amplifier (I let AD200B warm up for 15 minutes), then I hit standby, set all controls to zero. On the stock (old) tubes it measured
  27,5mA. It was a little on the high side, because according to Orange technicians, best results are between 18-22mA. Look at the
   picture below. Take a small screwdriver and adjust bias pot (when the amplifier is on). Adjust it carefuly! You’ll see that very minor
  change in adjusting the pot result in huge change of the voltage. If you want your tubes to last longer, you may bias it on a colder
  side (~18mA), but you the sound may be a little less open, less driven and less dynamic. If you want full sound with great, creamy
     overdrive, rock, dynamic tone, bias it on the hot side (~22mA). Tubes will be running hot & they will last shorter. If you dig the
                                            natural, “stock” tone of this amp, bias it near 20mA.                                                                                                   Page 7 of 8
Ad200 manual                                                                                                                09-09-12 16:28

  * One more thing - because power tubes in AD200B work in pairs, placing Biascom on the first tube socket, we’ve measured just the
   first pair (1st and 3rd tube). Now we must check that the other pair (2+4) is good – it should be the same or very close to to first
    pair (should be no more than ~2mA difference). If the difference is greater than 2mA, you bought wrong matched quartet (no the
   same parameter on each tube) or some of them was damaged during the shipment (or something like that). I bought new TungSol
   6550’s quartet – and one tube was probably damaged. I cannot adjust the trim pot for correct 18-22mA range, because the lowest
  setting I can do was about 30mA... Then I bought JJ KT88’s (no major difference in sound comparing to 6550’s) and had a range of
   7-35mA to adjust so it stuck on about 21mA. That works for me. Bias will drift on sides when playing amp for a long time or it can
                                           drift just because of shaking during the transport.

                                  * it's good to check bias every half a year if you use it frequently.

                                                          TH E E ND
           If you have any questions you can e-mail me at or catch me on the Orange forum (“boroman”)
                     Thanks for Sooner, doombass and other members of Orange Forum for correcting my mistakes.                                                                                                 Page 8 of 8

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