1977 - OMEC Amplifiers and Cabinets

Born out of the advanced technology and design of the OMEC Digital Programmable Amplifier, OMEC introduced an entire range of 150 watt transistor instrument and public address amplifiers.


John James – Designer

“In the mid-1970s solid state power amplifiers were beginning to overcome their reputation for unreliability and distortion which had been created by early examples. By then Orange had a proven and reliable 150 watt power stage and it was fitted to a revolutionary new programmable digital amplifier – the OMEC Digital.

In those pre-computer days the concept of programming a sound with buttons and having the sounds hidden away in mysterious internal electronic memories seemingly was a step too far for the equipment buying public, and the OMEC Digital was probably unleashed a decade too soon. However, although the concept of digitally controlling the analogue sound was ahead of its time, the new low-cost, high-quality integrated circuit chips used in the OMEC opened up a wealth of innovative signal processing technology for us. So, in possession of a proven power amplifier design and these new integrated circuits we set out to design a high spec high tech series of solid state amplifiers both for instruments and public address, but one that still featured the familiar “front panel with knobs” operation. A high-tech black and silver design and compact size was conceived and I proceeded to design the electronics, all based on the new “chips” from the original OMEC Digital.

There were two basic models designed, one for instruments and one for public address. These were each supplemented by the addition of a 5-band graphic equalisation section, which was becoming popular as PA systems advanced and greater control of equalisation was required to compensate for room acoustics. At this time there were very few separate effects pedals around, and those that were available were expensively priced. We thought that buyers’ interest in our instrument amplifier would be greatly enhanced by incorporating the sort of effects that were being heard on record and consequently demanded by musicians. So we fitted reverb, phasing and overdrive facilities to the basic instrument amplifier. This added yet another model to the top of the OMEC Solid State range.”

OMEC 150 watt 4-channel PA Amp with 5-band graphic EQ

OMEC 150 watt Guitar Amp with Reverb, Phaser, Boost & graphic EQ

OMEC 150 watt Instrument Amp with 5-band graphic EQ

We were looking to design matching speaker cabinets for each model. The brief was…. light weight, compact and affordable.

Mick Dines – Production Manager

“To complement this new range of budget amplifiers we were looking to design matching speaker cabinets for each model. The brief was…. light weight, compact and affordable. The amp sleeve would be mounted on a base plinth which bolted into a three-sided housing. Rather than metal or plastic corner protectors, we chose an aluminium moulding with a black PVC inlay to wrap around the ends of the cabinets. For the guitar amp, a simple sloped front design 2 x 12 cabinet, for the PA Amps straight 2 x 12’s and for the bass amp a 1 x 15 ported cabinet. Each of the speaker cabinets were sealed enclosures with front loaded speakers. An open-weave black nylon grille cloth was sourced from Germany.

OMEC now had a competitive range of low cost 150 watt solid state effects amps. The products and price structure was well received by our dealers and bridged the gap with our high-end Orange valve amps.”

2×12” Stage Cabinet with 150 watt Guitar Amp

1×15” Bass Reflex Horn Cabinet with 150 watt Instrument Amp

Pair of 2×12” PA Cabinets with 150 watt PA Amp

OMEC stand at the Russell Hotel, Holborn, 1978 From left: Peter Dowsett (UK Sales Manager) John James, Mick Dines, Virginia Sundin, Cliff Cooper