NAMM2013: What’s So Cool About Orange’s New Valve Tester?

Orange Divo vt1000 valve tester

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Testing Tubes Just Became A Lot Easier And More Reliable

Orange Divo vt1000 valve tester
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The legendary British amplifier manufacturer has used its debut NAMM keynote presentation to launch the DIVO VT1000 Valve Tester.
Orange managing director Damon Waller said the VT1000 “is an easy, safe and low cost way to match, test and grade valves. Every guitar store in the world will need one of these.” The DIVO VT1000 Valve Tester will be available in eight to twelve weeks, with a retail price of $499.

Until now testing tubes with little or no knowledge of tube theory was difficult, expensive and often unreliable. Mu ,Gm and Rp look as strange as Chinese and mean even less to the average guitar player, but these are the electrical characteristics of vacuum tubes. A knowledge of what they mean and, more importantly, what their values tell you about the condition of your tubes is important knowledge you need to properly maintain your tube amp. It really isn’t all that complicated but vacuum tubes, being 1930’s technology, are a subject most guitarists have no knowledge of. Maybe we should.

Everyone has heard the term ‘matched’ tubes. There are 3 main parameters to consider when matching tubes, and a power tube’s important parameters are different than the preamp tube’s parameters. Which ones are matched when you buy tubes? Is it the important one for guitar amps or the parameter that matches tubes for grandpa’s antique radio? Would you know? The commonly available tube testers don’t necessarily measure the right parameter.

Vacuum tube theory is really beyond the scope of this article but, in a nutshell, tubes consist of 3 or 5 main components inside the glass ‘tube’ and those are the ‘triode’ preamp tubes and the ‘pentode’ power amp tubes. Wired into an amplifier circuit, their purpose is to ‘amplify’ the input signal up to around 30 times. The input signal is applied and, as the signal changes, the control over the electron flow within the tube changes, causing amplification of the applied signal. Transistors work exactly the same way, even though they all look like computer chips now. This is really simplified so, please, don’t take me to task in the comments section.

The VT1000 will remove your need to know anything about tubes by doing all the required measurements automatically and providing you with a simple to interpret LED indication of tube health. The VT1000 will test all popular power and pre-amp tubes. The unit has one eight pin and two nine pin tube sockets for different tube types. Simply insert the tube into the correct socket, select the tube type from the list and press ‘START’. The results are displayed clearly using LEDs and the unit will test for a wide range of fault conditions, which could easily cause damage to other components. The easy operation hides the complex CPU testing system ‘inside the box’, where full control over all inter-electrode switching and measurement operations takes place.

The VT1000 is fully automatic, performing a wide range of tests quickly and accurately. Users can quickly and simply match and test tubes, plus receive a reliable health check as to whether their tubes are good, bad or worn.

The VT1000 allows everyone to have an extremely simple, inexpensive, safe, portable, and reliable, way to test tubes. Remember not to pull your tubes with the amp plugged in or just turned off – hot, Hot, HOT!

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Doug Knight

Our “Man on the Street” reporter, with his “What’s New in Music Stores?” series, resides in Coos Bay, OR. You can find him on Friday nights at The Small Events Center at OrCoast Music in Coos Bay.

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10 years ago

okay, guys… I just found out some new info about the VT1000, and, in fact, the real reason they made it… tube manipulation. In the old days (!), like 1968 (!!), you simulated tube breakup by using pedals because the amps remained clean forever… no gain or presence controls.

Now, with the VT1000, you can test tubes to find the right one to put into your amp to get that Hendrix or blues or heavy metal tone because, every tube will sound different according to its individual specs as determined by the VT1000!! So, you can tune your amp’s tone by manipulating the tubes. Different brands sound different, different attenuation, different impedance, whatever, thay all sound different.

Bottom line, for $500, you might be able to eliminate that ‘tube screamer’ you paid so much for by changing a tube in your amp. The price seem a little more reasonable now? Pretty cool!

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