« Good Cleans and an Unmistakable Orange Drive »Published on 03/05/20 at 03:08
If looking for a small floor/pedalboard style amplifier, measuring only 6.1 (D) x 13.4 (W) x 9.9 (H) cm (2.4 x 5.4 x 3.9 inches) and weighing .38 kg (.84 pounds), the Orange Terror Stamp is a viable option. Able to pump out 20 watts of power, it consists of a hybrid platform, combining a valve (ECC83) preamp with a solid state power amp. Tones vary from very clean to biting and edgy – that classic Orange sound, together with a Shape control that helps you to achieve Micro Terror and Dark Terror characteristics. The footswitch controls two channels (both share the same Shape and Gain settings), allowing you, for example, to increase or boost the volume higher on the second channel for lead solos. The rear panel on the Terror Stamp includes the input and two types of output. There is a speaker output to a cabinet (1 x 8 ohm, 1 x 16 ohm or 2x 16 ohm), whereas the other is a headphone/PA-mixer/computer interface output. The latter includes a cab sim that emulates a mic’d Orange 4x12. There also is a buffered FX Loop to add effects pedals, such as delays, modulations, etc. For those who do not want the built-in cab sim, thereby using a different device for different IRs or speaker emulations, whether through software or something like the Line 6 Powercab (FRFR), you would run your cable from the Effects Out and into the appropriate device. Of course, you can go from the Terror Stamp’s speaker out and into an IR, etc., thus necessitating a load box as an interface between the amp and other device.
Compared to those big 100-watt heads (which few people require unless playing arenas) the Orange Terror Stamp may not ‘seem’ loud, but this thing is powerful and more than enough for small to medium sized venues. The sound, no matter the settings is exceptionally clear with a good punch. The ECC83 tube and internal circuits produce a tight low end and rich mids with highs that are clear, but not overly pronounced (definitely not shrill). The Shape control allows you to add in more mids while reducing highs when turned counter-clockwise, whereas turning the Shape clockwise scoops the mids. How well the Shape works seems to be affected by how clean or driven the tone is, via the Gain knob. For example, with the Gain down to about 9-o’clock the sound is very clean, yet full. I find that no matter the guitar pickup (neck, middle or bridge) you can use the entire scope of the Shape and find some great tones. As the Gain increases to a solid crunch (close to 12-noon) the Shape knob sounds best when dialed in around 10-o’clock and 2-o’clock, although a bit more in either direction still sounds good. When pushing the Gain beyond 12-o’clock, and particularly when Gain approaches full throttle, the tone sounds best with the Shape dialed in between 11-o’clock and 1-o’clock. Certainly your speaker cab and guitar pickups will determine an ideal range that may differ. The built-in Cab Sim (ideal for private practice or going direct to a mixer/PA or computer interface for recording) is very decent – not all effects units or amplifiers can claim this – and the overall tone remains clear, punchy and cuts through the mix rather easily. The buffered FX Loop certainly helps in maintaining a quality tone.
There is a lot of Orange aggression in this tiny amp, although with Gain dialed back it offers very thick and rich cleans (very full in response when compared to a classic Fender clean that is thinner and sparkly); this makes for an exceptional pedal platform, whether using overdrives/distortions, modulations or some other effect. The Gain produces very well-defined dirt that cuts through the mix exceptionally well and once dialed around 10-o’clock or higher, and power chords are very punchy to say the least once at 12-noon. Tonal shaping is both quite extensive and provides a host of options that literally make this tiny amp sound very different as you rotate the knob in either direct from the middle 12-noon position. And not only is the FX Loop buffered to maintain clear tones, you can use the FX Loop for modelers while driving the signal through the Terror Stamp’s power amp. Its compact size cannot be over-stated – the Orange Terror Stamp is the size of a typical pedal, small enough to pack in your guitar gig bag. Overall, its size, sound and price ($199 USD) make it winner and likely one of the best NAMM 2020 releases. The Terror Stamp also comes with its own 3.3+ meter (11+ foot) 15VDC/2A cable adapter.
There is one limitation, although for what you get for the price (great sound quality in a tiny and super portable package) addressing this would increase production costs and certainly size. Now, although the second Volume allows you to boost your signal for solos, you are limited to the same tone (Shape and Gain settings); if you wanted a different tone and drive for rhythm vs. lead, you would need to set those manually each time. Another option would be to have an overdrive or distortion pedal for additional gain/boost, although this would eliminate the need for Volume 2.