Over the last 30 years, the Orion brand of car audio has garnered a high level of respect from folks who insist on high quality, high performance products.
The marque has a proven track record for performance and reliability that only a handful of brands can match. Over the years, their flagship product series has been the HCCA series, and in this review we are going to take a look at a very powerful example: the new HCCA5000.1DSPL.
One look at the outside of the box tells you this is a serious piece of kit. A large warning sticker lets you know this is a high power amplifier that demands proper care and feeding when it comes to current and voltage supplies. The HCCA5000.1DSPL is a large, heavy amplifier, which makes perfect sense when you understand that this amplifier actually delivers the advertised power, unlike many others in today’s marketplace.
The amp measures about two feet long, a foot wide, three-and-a-quarter inches tall, and tips the scales at almost 26 pounds. Like all its famous ancestors, the heatsink is a rich red anodized finish with laser-etched graphics that mimic the old CNC-machined style. The ends are finished with molded black caps that add to the all-business look.
All of the controls and connections are made on the ends of the amplifier. On one side of the amp are the power and speaker connections, and to make sure there is no doubt about the current requirements, another warning sticker is placed over the connections, forcing the installer to pay attention. The power terminals are unlike any other amp, with three negative connections and three positive connections. These are large, heavy-duty terminals, and each will accept 1/0-gauge wire. Yeah, I think six 1/0 terminals ought to do it!
The speaker terminals are similarly heavy duty, accepting huge four-gauge speaker cables. On the other end of the amplifier are all the signal input and control functions. Panel-mount-style RCAs are provided for signal input and output. The HCCA5000.1DSPL is designed to be able to run in Master/Slave configurations - when 5,000 watts just isn’t enough!
Controls are provided for gain, low-pass crossover (40 Hz to 300 Hz) variable phase control, and a bass boost adjustment for up to 18 dB of boost at 45 Hz. For vented subwoofer applications, a switchable subsonic filter can (and should) be engaged. Also included is a wired remote level control, so you can adjust the relative volume of the bass right from the driver’s seat.
A look inside the amplifier explains why it weighs 26 pounds. The amp is clearly designed for high-current operation and will easily drive one-ohm loads all day long. This amp has four high-current toroids in the power supply! There are 12 high-current MOSFETs in the output stage and 16 more in the power supply. Power supply energy storage is handled by sixteen 2,200-µF capacitors, and the rails use 12 1500-µF 200-volt caps. That folks, is a lot of capacitance.
The PCB is military spec “FR4,” which means a glass epoxy substrate that is double sided, and the vias are plated through for maximum current flow, less internal heating, and greater reliability. Speaking of cooling, the heatsink is built with a special tunnel venting system under the top, and a three-inch, nine-bladed fan forces the hot air out each end of the amp. Protection circuitry is built in for over and under voltage, thermal over temp, and short circuits.
Even though I seldom listen at really high volume, 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 amplifier’s (or speakers’) limits, listening to music can be a completely different experience. This amplifier delivers the sort of power that really needs to be experienced to be understood.
I connected the HCCA5000.1DSPL to a pair of high-power-handling 15-inch woofers in a sealed enclosure. The resulting bottom end was ridiculous. I have been in movie theatres that didn’t have this kind of authority. Listening to this amp on a pair of high quality woofers proves once again the old adage that there’s no such thing as too much power. The bass is tight, well-defined and generally sounds great with any music, at any volume. Kick drum beats have the sort of impact you expect at a concert, and with what seems like an unlimited supply of clean power available, the listening experience is simply a lot of fun.
After my listening session was over, I moved the big Orion amp to the test bench to have a look at the numbers it could turn out. Not surprisingly, it made gobs of power, but it also managed to have impressively low distortion and respectable specifications in general for such a powerhouse. As long as the vehicle is capable of supplying the required current, this amplifier could definitely be the cornerstone of a really good sound quality system, so it’s not just for the SPL crowd. If you run it into four ohms, you could likely get away with just a very good battery and a high-output alternator, but if you are going for every watt possible and insist on a one-ohm load, you are going to need at least two dedicated batteries to power the beast.
Once again, the Orion amp 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 making the required current available, this amp could be the perfect choice. Just be prepared to match the big power to appropriate woofers, or you’ll be in trouble. The power is addicting, it’s rich with history and heritage, and it sounds great. For the majority of people, it may be the last subwoofer amplifier you’d need for a long time.