1. Where is Oxygen Audio located?
Oxygen is located in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada.
2. Why would I buy an Oxygen amp? What makes your amp unique? Better?
Like other boutique amps, Oxygen amps are all hand-wired, point-to-point custom creations that offer exceptional tone characteristics. Unlike other products, we have introduced a number of features and benefits that no other custom amp has including a proprietary ground plane circuit design, 3rd Generation London Power Scaling (licensed) as well as optimized tube selection.
3. What is London Power Scaling and why is it better than other methods to deliver great tone at reduced volumes?
Many other amps have master volume controls, or attenuators or even a version of power scaling. Oxygen is set apart from the others because of our third generation London Power Scaling. This feature allows the power (and thus volume) levels to be reduced to allow the amp to be played at a comfortable volume in smaller venues without losing the saturation, gain and even order harmonics that characterize the amp at higher outputs. On some amps when you turn the volume down to satisfy your sound person you lose that full, rich tone that you work so hard to achieve. Not so with the Oxygen power scaling. Our circuit is completely transparent! By adjusting the volume and gain accordingly you are able to achieve the same tone and gain characteristics at power levels around 1 Watt which is ideal for even the smallest venues. Our builders in conjunction with Kevin O’Connor, the originator of power scaling, have developed the latest iteration of this proven system to reduce power output. Since the Oxygen power scaling reduces power (and thus volume) by reducing voltage to the output stage, the result is clean tone without sacrificing tube life. By contrast, master volume controls just limit the signal to the output stage, not the output stage power. This is fine for preamp distortion but output stage saturation is lost at reduced drive. Attenuators, on the other hand, reduce power output by creating an artificial load after the output stage. This requires the output stage to run at maximum power which negatively impacts transformer and tube life. We are so confident that this is the best way to achieve power scaling that we have licensed the technology from Kevin O’Connor.
4. What is a ground plane and why does it produce less feedback and noise?
No other amp uses this proprietary technology. Instead of using eyelet or turret boards which introduce unwanted impedances into the grounding design, we utilize a copper ground plane to effectively eliminate feedback and ghost notes. This style of building is a little more labour intensive but the end result speaks for itself. It’s not that other manufacturers couldn’t utilize this same technology its just that our designers have learned the tricks to perfect it over the last 40 plus years. The end result is an amp that delivers nothing but pure tone completely free of unwanted “noise”!
5. What tubes did you use and why?
The choice of tubes, for the most part, was fairly easy. We went with the tried and trusted 12AX7’s for the Clean/Boost channel as well as the phase inverter, EL84’s for the power section and a 5AR4 for the rectifier. When it came to the Cream channel, the easy choice would have been an EF86 but that would have been the wrong choice. Many other players and manufacturers tout the benefits and characteristics of EF86 tubes to deliver warm, full tone with solid mid-range and bass. We wouldn’t argue that point. But we would point out that the major downside to using EF86 tubes is microphonics. That feedback and ringing that you can’t seem to get rid of or maybe even locate are inherent in EF86 tubes. Its something you have to put up with if you are using EF86′s. Its also probably worth mentioning that you will have to replace that EF86 tube one day. Yes it will fail, eventually. And trying to find a good replacement EF86 will be a challenge. If you’re lucky, it will take 10 tubes to find ONE that performs satisfactorily. We, at Oxygen, feel that the downsides to using EF86′s outweigh the benefits particularly when there are other great tubes that deliver exceptional “cream” tone. We have chosen to use the 5879 tube in the cream channel. It produces warm, full tone with solid mids and bass without any of the microphonics that the EF86′s are prone to. Not only that but the consistency from one tube to the next is extremely good. Almost every 5879 can be counted on to provide exceptional sound. You’ll be relieved when you replace the tube one day and the new one delivers tone that is just as good as you’ve come to expect.
6. Where can I buy an Oxygen amp? Do you have dealers or distributors?
At this time we are only selling direct which benefits, you the customer, because there is no middleman. We have had significant interest from retailers so we are considering the possibility of working with dealers and distributors.
7. What types (genres) of music are the amps designed for?
Although this is not a Metal amp, due to its circuit design and its aesthetic, it does deliver exceptional tone for almost every other genre from country to rock, folk to funk and pop to classical. With its two channel design including “boost” it is especially versatile.