The Orion brand of car audio has long been a synonymous with high performance products that are designed for the real world and are built to go the distance. This time we’re going to take a look at the most powerful amplifier in the Orion XTR series, the XTR15001 monoblock which has a suggested retail price of around $949.00 (US).
As I was unpacking the Orion XTR15001, I noticed a “birth certificate” indicating the amp in the box developed 1575 watts at 1 ohm. With power ratings of 400, 750, and 1500 watts respectively into 4, 2 and 1 ohm loads, I was a bit surprised at the overall dimensions of the amplifier. Measuring 14.25” long, 9.3” wide, and 2.5” high, the XTR15001 is certainly on the small side for a 1500 watt amp.
Looking at it from the top, the finned black, anodized aluminum heatsink looks beefy, and I especially liked the CNC machined-in badging and logo. The cosmetics of this amp give you the impression it means business. On each end of the heatsink, a molded plastic cap covers the controls and connections for a clean finished appearance. Power connections are made on one end and the speaker connections and signal control functions are found on the opposite end. The terminals Orion uses on this amplifier are unusual, in that they mount flush with the end panel, and the set screw is mounted about 45° from the orientation of the cable. This pulls the cable into the terminal as the screw is tightened, and results in a very clean look and eliminates the chance of accidental shorts on exposed terminals. The only minor issue is the length of wire that must be bared to fully seat in the terminals is about double that of most other connection types, but it’s certainly not a problem. The power connections are designed to accept 4 gauge cables, but on an amplifier with this much power, I would have liked to see a bigger gauge terminal. At the very least, I’d use a power distribution block with a heavier input gauge, and then keep the 4 gauge output run as short as possible. Speaker wires can be up to 12 gauge and the XTR15001 has dual speaker outputs for convenience in wiring.
RCA connections are of the panel mount variety, and are solidly mounted. Variable control pots for gain, crossover frequency, and bass boost are found along with switches for phase, a 24Hz subsonic filter, -12 or -24dB crossover slope, and a remote gain control connection. The remote gain control itself is also a bit unusual, in that it can be mounted under the dash in the supplied housing box, or removed from the housing and mounted with a small bracket or through an existing panel for a custom look. The remote level control also has an illuminated blue trim ring which requires it’s own power and ground connection.
Inside the XTR15001, the build quality is very good, as I would expect from an amplifier manufactured in Korea. There are three power supply toroids, a whopping 132000µF of power supply capacitance, and 72000µF of output capacitance. All switching devices are large, heavy duty TO-247 case MOSFETS, and the output devices are also TO-247 MOSFETS. The PCB is double-sided and uses heavy gauge, high current traces and buss bars. Because of the amplifiers compact size, several “daughter boards” are used to maximize the use of available real estate.
Read on for Results
My setup was simple. I set the crossover for about 80Hz, and used the -24dB slope. I left the bass boost flat and left the subsonic filter off, as I planned to use a sealed subwoofer system. I never get tired of having a lot of power in my listening system. When you have enough power to get all the volume you want without ever getting near the amplifiers (or speakers) limits, listening to music can be a completely different experience. And with the Orion XTR amp driving a pair of 12’s in a sealed enclosure wired to for a 2 ohm impedance, I can tell you this amplifier has power to spare. Even at really loud levels I never came close to overdriving the XRT15001, although I think my 750 watt woofers had all they could handle. Bass was tight, well defined and generally sounded great, with any music, at any volume. Kick drum beats had the sort of impact you expect at a concert, and with what seemed like an unlimited supply of clean power available, the listening experience was almost intoxicating. Unless you are a serious SPL competitor, I can’t imagine anyone needing more power than the XTR15001 provides.
After being fairly blown away with the sonic performance, I was really curious to see what kind of numbers the Orion amp would turn out on the test bench. Twenty years ago, it was pretty common for a good quality amplifier to produce 30% more power than it was rated for. Then in the late 90’s things became ultra-competitive, and prices dropped by as much as 50%. And when that happened, much of the power headroom in many amplifiers went away. Well, not with this Orion amp. Not surprisingly, as the tech specs section shows, the XTR15001 blew away its rated power numbers with ease. Over 1900 watts into 1 ohm! In fact the amp measured very good in every aspect. Efficiency was very good, although at full chat into 1 ohm, you should realize that this amp can draw almost 200A of current. Signal to noise was good, all the protection circuits (over and under voltage, thermal, and short circuit) worked perfectly. The crossovers performed as expected and everything just flat works – and works well.
Wow. The Orion XTR15001 far exceeded even my expectations of it, and I’ve been measuring and testing Orion amplifiers for almost 20 years. If you are thinking about a new subwoofer amplifier, and you’re willing to step up to a high quality product, this could be the perfect choice. The power is addicting, it’s cool looking, it’s priced appropriately for the performance delivered, and it sounds great. Just be prepared to match the big power to appropriate woofers, or you’ll be in trouble. This amplifier has great performance and good value. And for the majority of people, it may be the last subwoofer amplifier you’d need for a long time.