Orange Amplification Terror Stamp by Arthur Stone
Introducing... the Orange Terror Stamp: a 20-watt class AB amplifier in pedal format. In addition to running a 8/16 Ohm speaker cab the Terror Stamp can function as a regular guitar fx pedal for a range of distorted tones and includes a CabSim output that emulates a 4x12" cab.
Overview: The Terror Stamp has all the features of the popular Orange Micro Terror Amp plus some extra and very useful features that open up the Terror sonic format to a wider audience.
These extra features: effects loop/line out, a CabSim on headphone out, and foot-switchable dual VOLUME settings, come at more cost but less size/weight. Sound aside, I think the real value in the Stamp is the ability to physically connect with a variety of studio/live roles, and versatility, in terms of positioning in the signal path.
Price: £150 UK - $250 US - Euro 189. Approximate prices. Includes power supply.
The build quality is up to Orange's usual, excellent standard. Although the dials are unprotected (from footswitch proximity) they are securely attached to the main body, so I felt less concerned about the occasional light knock. In general the Stamp is robust enough for a pedalboard or floor use. Not as solid as a Radial unit but good balance between strength and lightness/portability.
Orange is the Colour: The Terror Stamp immediately sounds Orange: it has the sweet, bell-like low-mids, and vibrant, full distortion when gain is cranked. In between extremes there's a range of tones available: clean-ish or subtle distortion that thickens a clean-ish sound (which is great for lead/solo).
Valve Input: The amount of distortion is mainly affected by the GAIN dial which pushes the input via the valve/tube (ECC83) - based preamp; in addition the GAIN interacts with the solid-state output amplifier.
This design allows the GAIN dial to be used for fine-adjustment over a range of distortion relative to the output and guitar/inst. settings.
Shape: Put simply, the SHAPE dial offers a continuous mid cut/boost, and it's a well-judged, linear range. As with the output amplifier, the SHAPE dial interacts with the GAIN in terms of tone-shaping and quite complex filter shapes can be achieved by tweaking all 3 of the continuous control dials: GAIN, SHAPE, VOLUME.
Twice the volume: The Terror Stamp offers two VOLUME dials 1/2 and the ability to switch between them via the footswitch. This enables different levels on the solid-state output amplifier; useful for rhythm/solo or verse/chorus, etc. None of the other controls are affected by the footswitch although the output level setting does interact with the preceding components.
If the Terror Stamp is used as a pre-amplifier fx unit (a guitar distortion pedal) then the VOLUME switching can be used to drive the main amp: so there is an external control/ouput utility in addition to the Stamp's own internal gain-structure.
Tin of Wasps? I'd not tried the Orange Micro-Terror (the Dark version) on which the Stamp is based; I had tried the Amplitube emulations of all the Orange amps (in addition to several hardware amps and fx units for Gearslutz reviews) - so the sound was familiar. Some of the warm buttery lows, smooth classy mids, and high highs with a sharp cutting edge, were immediately evident - the Orange 'house sound' - the result of similar aims, designs, and circuitry across the range. A shared heritage. The Stamp had the Orange base sound (roughly Vox to Marshall via Fender) but with an emphasis towards dirty distortion rather than a wide window of clear undistorted tones like the TremLord or more powerful amps with greater headroom.
Besides guitarists, anyone familiar with creative distortion plug-ins will recognise the character of the distortion e.g. Reason's Scream (SHAPE dial clockwise) or Pulverizer (SHAPE anti-clockwise); the Stamp/Micro tone is unique and quite tweakable. In this sense, the Stamp is very capable as a re-amp/loopback unit for adding density or mojo to ITB tracks.
At higher settings the distortion levels out and becomes less attached to the dynamics of the guitar - on a shelf; also the sound thins out and has that 'sit-in-the-mix' readiness.
As a technical expert and audio scientist I'd describe the Stamp sound as 'like a large tin of bees, wasps and hornets...buzzing away...chilled out or as angry as you and the GAIN dial want.'
The clean sound has a narrow window: but not too narrow and with the ability to hit the output louder using the VOLUME 2 plus guitar controls I was able to get clean, jangly, or subtly distorted sounds with a variety of instruments: low input gain (tickling the tube) produced a nice thickening and resolution without sounding obviously distorted.
In Use: the foot-switchable VOLUME 1 and VOLUME 2 proves to be a useful utility, in obvious roles as a level-switcher but also more creative uses in concert with the guitars own level and tone controls, plus finger or pick style.
I jammed my way through some Zep and Stones whilst auditioning the controls but the Terror Stamp has a much wider range of application across genres than my playbook (as wide-ranging as it is).
With the SHAPE dial anticlockwise the mids are scooped (low Q filter), leaving the low end and smooth treble. What I liked about this filter curve(s) is that the treble doesn't crap out - it still feels connected to the thump in the low-end. Dark sound without an over-hyped treble. Smooth and pleasing, without a loss of connection between low and high.
With SHAPE clockwise the low-mids are cut (higher Q filter shape), which accentuates the treble and brightness without harshness. In fact, at no time did the Orange Stamp sound bad or emphasize the wrong frequencies; the distortion can be at the wrong setting but the SHAPE EQ filter is very well-judged and offers a wide linear range at all settings. Very Orange-sounding. With higher GAIN reminiscent of the Tube Screamer but with fuller low end.
I tested using a variety of instruments: electric guitars (Tele/Goldstar semi-acoustic); bass guitar (Ibanez SR500); electro-acoustic (Taylor 414ce); monosynth (Moog SubPhatty); and, lapsteel (Harley-Benton 8-string).
The CabSim output: An emulation of an Orange 4 x 12" cab loaded with their finest Voice of the World speakers. The Cabsim output is available on many of Orange's amps and pedals; as a standard across the range it needs to represent well. I heard a lot of bass and thump from a heavy cabinet.
Although it's designated as a headphone out (accompanied by the speaker out and line out) I found it suited a variety of roles: into the line-in of combo amp set flat, small PA, wedge monitor, line-in or DI-in to a preamp/interface for direct recording of the emulated audio. The CabSim worked better in these roles than as a headphone signal due to inability to mix in a reverb for monitoring (unless added through SEND/RTN to an external fx).
To my ears, and my body, the emulation sounded full with plenty of thump. A useful addition.
The audio examples (below) cover the sounds of the SEND OUT as a DI, the CabSim out as a DI, and the Terror Stamp as an fx pedal into a Blackstar HT1R amp recorded with a WeissKlang V13 mic into a Focusrite saffie pramp/interface.
The characteristic Orange Terror sound is always evident but in a variety of 'frames.'
I wasn't able to test the amp out into a cab; I don't have one of the right impedance - currently designing/building my own cab for the future. There are many reviews available where the amp out is demo'ed but here we're mainly focussed on home-studio use from a Gearslutz perspective.
Summing Up: Yet again Orange proves to be a healthy (high-quality audio with plenty of headroom) and tasty (pleasing range of tone/timbre/colour) fruit. A variety of instruments will benefit from the subtle clean-ish boost to full-on Banzai Viking distortion. The Stamp is less suitable if you're looking for a wide window between clean and break-up.
Sound Quality 5/5 Obviously distortion is about personal taste but the Stamp does cover a wide-range of it: cleanish, an overdriven sound, distortion and heavy distortion. There's a little self-noise from the circuitry at extreme settings (as one would expect). Powerful, characterful distortion with searing lead tones.
Features 5/5 The Stamp can fit into a variety of roles and is equipped to do so. The power-supply allows the components to function at an optimal level and offers extra headroom over battery-power or lower voltage. The I/O connectors, controls knobs, and footswitch are good quality, as is the case.
Ease of Use 4/5 Very straightforward but with the wide range of tone/distortion available I found myself tweaking a lot to find the pocket, especially around the break-up point between clean and distorted. The connectivity allows use for a variety of guitarist and studio roles. No bypass.
Bang-for-Buck 5/5 It's the unmistakable Orange sound in a pedal format. It can power a cab. Flexible: from traditional guitar fx duty to studio fx for a variety of instruments/sources. Quality build and finish; power supply included.