OR15 - Watford Valves upgrade kits

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OR15 - Watford Valves upgrade kits

Post by WDeranged » Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:56 pm

I've been using my OR15 for seven years and I think I've got a good feel for what I'd like to change in it's sound. It's way too gain focused and only really comes alive past 12 noon. The clean/crunch sounds feel a bit uninspiring and could do with more sparkle and chime. I also find myself dialling back the mids.

Watford Valves offer two kits and I'm guessing the 'STR BT' kit is the way I should go as it's apparently geared towards a better clean sound. The other 'Retro' kit is is geared more towards overdrive and is described as a 'Mullard' sound.

I'm fairly clueless about the word of valves and I'd really appreciate some opinions on these two kits.

https://www.watfordvalves.com/product_d ... sp?id=5342

https://www.watfordvalves.com/product_d ... sp?id=5396

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Re: OR15 - Watford Valves upgrade kits

Post by bclaire » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:08 am

The second link mentions more headroom which sounds like what you're after....

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Re: OR15 - Watford Valves upgrade kits

Post by Les Paul Lover » Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:47 pm

I bet those EL84 in the retro kit are rebranded Russian NOS 6P14P EV valves.

They are really power valves too. I've had a few harma valves in the past, they are pretty good to be honest, they do a good job with screening and testing them.

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Re: OR15 - Watford Valves upgrade kits

Post by Pepino » Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:14 pm

Okay. This might help you. I really like my Orange Rocker 15 so much more with the changes and more to come.

First off, this is how my Orange Rocker 15 is at the moment.

Orange Rocker 15 Combo
Stock: 10 inch Voice of the World speaker - blah
Stock JJs: 2x 12AX7 preamp, 1x 12AT7 FX loop, 1x 12AX7 Phase Inverter, 2x EL84 Power amp
I hate JJs.

Celestion G10 Greenback - much better!
V1 & V2 - Tung-Sol 12AX7 - sound great. Not sure if I'll change them.
V3 FX loop - Mesa/Boogie 12AT7 - only 12AT7 I had on hand. Will eventually change it to an RCA 12AT7 NOS.
V4 Phase Inverter - Ruby 12AT7C - this has less gain but more headroom then 12AX7. I like the change.
2x Power tubes - Tung-Sol EL84

* Maybe eventually get two RCA 7189 greyplate smoked glass NOS tubes to replace the EL84s in the power amp section. $130 matched pairs at http://www.audiotubes.com/6bq5.htm
* Maybe a Brimar 12AT7 NOS for the Phase Inverter or use an RCA 12AT7 for Phase Inverter and FX Loop.
* For the preamp probably two RCA 12AX7 NOS or Raytheon 12AX7 Black Plate D Getters NOS as I can’t afford Sylvania Long Black Plate D Getters NOS. http://www.audiotubes.com/12ax7.htm

This is from a forum discussing tubes for an Orange OR15/Rocker 15. I got a lot of my ideas (many above) from this as well as other postings around the web:

"I have owned that amp for about 3 years now and I have done extensive tube rolling with it. It’s a great amp and I have never heard an amp that has that much gain that is so responsive to different tubes. Another thing so surprising is different power tubes also make a tremendous difference. I can give you a few tips that I did that smoothed it, gave it boutique level note separation, extreme touch sensitivity and dynamics, while making it roar.

First of all I put new mercury magnetic iron and added a choke. I found this made the amp dead quiet, added touch sensitivity and dynamics, and just made it feel much more open and less congested. It’s the holy terror mod you’ll see at the mercury mag site. I think I paid about $350 for the iron and I think a tech charged me about $85 to put it in. I can completely understand someone not wanting to put that kind of money in a $600 head that was made in China. But if you have the cash and really like the fundamental tone of the amp I recommend it.

Now for tubes. I figured that because of it being a British voiced amp that Mullard’s or some other Phillips type tube would be the way to go. But surprisingly this amp loves the American stuff. The mullards are buzzy in this amp and even Mullard el84’s sound buzzy in this amp. As far as the power section my absolute favorite are sylvania black plate 7189’s. These are 2nd to none in this amp but are difficult to find. If you can’t find 7189’s get the regular BLACKPLATE el84’s (Timber Wolf actually put me on to the these a long time ago). Also rca greyplate smoked glass 7189’s are killer. The 7189’s handle higher plate currents than el84’s and therefore last longer. In the PI, Telefunken smooth plate 12ax7’s are awesome. The tele’s sound terrible in v1 or v2 but are killer in the PI.

In v1 the absolute winner in this position is sylvania long shiny black plates with the D getter. I’ve tried the sylvania long black plate halo getter and it is inferior to the D getter version. I will warn you that if you buy this tube, make sure that the dealer has a return policy cause probably 30% of the ones I bought either make high a pitched noise or hiss, or are microphonic. In v2 I have a Raytheon long shiny black plate D getter. Legendary killer tube. And unlike the sylvania I found that there is a much less difference in tone between the D getter and halo getter version. Also most of the Raytheon’s I tried seemed to be less noisy and microphonic than the sylvania’s. And in v4 (tube buffered fx loop) I have a short black plate brimar 12at7.

If I were you I’d try putting that rca in v2, get a sylvania long black plate d getter for v1 and get some blackplate sylvania el84’s (preferably 7189’s if you can find them) and I guarantee you will thank me. I spent a lot of time and money to learn that info I’m giving you. That is a killer little amp."

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