Price paid: $ 399.99
Features: The Blackstar ID:30TVP is a 30 watt solid state guitar amplifier with tube emulation pushing a 12" Blackstar speaker. The model I'm reviewing was provided on loan for this review. Their patent-applied-for tube emulation is called "True Valve Power" and has some unique options, allowing you to dial in six distinct voices based on the different responses of different tubes: EL84, 6V6, EL34, KT66, 6L6 and KT88. The "True Valve Power" can be engaged/disengaged using a control button on the console. There is also a Voice control for six separate "voice" channels that run from "Clean Warm" to "OD 2". There is a USB output that allows for quick editing and storing of patches using the Blackstar Insider software, as well as recording directly from your amp to your computer and re-amping. There is a 3 Band EQ (Bass, Treble and ISF) shared between all the voicings; with Blackstar's patented ISF control you can get your sound from USA to UK and any area in-between (The 60 and 100 watt versions of the I'd Series include controls for Mids, Presence and Resonance). There are also on-board effects including 4 types of modulation (phaser, flanger, chorus, tremolo), 4 types of delay and 4 types of reverb and you can have one of each of these effects going simultaneously if you wish. There is a "Tap" control that you can use with the on-board delay effects, as well as a shared "Level" control for each of the on-board effects. There is a shared Gain, Volume, and Master Volume control for the amp. The amplifier also includes an auxiliary line in and an emulated output (which can also be used for headphones). There is a "Bank" button that lets you switch between the three banks (green, Orange and red) and then next to the "Bank" button are buttons for "Ch 1" through "Ch 4", which allows you to store 12 user patches for instant recall on the amp at a time. It is very easy to save new patches or call up existing patches, and using the Blackstar Insider software you can save patches and access your other saved patches in addition to the 12 accessible from the amp. There is a button to switch over to "Manual" mode from there if you want to twist knobs and push buttons. There is an input for the optional footswitch for additional control "on the fly".
The Blackstar Insider software, which can be downloaded for free from the Blackstar site can be used for deep editing of patches, as well as a few other tools that are definitely worthwhile. Using the Blackstar Insider software, with your Blackstar I'd Series amp connected via USB, you are able to load existing audio tracks on your computer and play along (slowing down the tracks without changing pitch if needed), as well as re-amping via the amp for home recording. You can also complete precise patch editing and change which presets are set as the 12 accessible via the front panel of your amp. The optional footswitch, the FS-10 I'd Series Footswitch, can be found for about $89.99 USD and opens up some serious options for the I'd Series amps. The FS-10 is a four button footswitch with a digital display and some LED lights to help with navigation. The footswitch connects to the amplifier via a standard 1/4" guitar/instrument cable. The footswitch has 3 modes as well as a tuner function you can access in order to tune up on the fly. The first mode is the patch mode, which allows you to cycle between the 12 patches accessible from the front console of the amp. The second mode is the pedalboard mode which allows you to switch between effects on any given patch and operates similar to traditional effects pedals. This mode also allows for you to set up the rate of your delay or modulation via a tap function. The third mode is the navigation mode which allows you access to the complete bank of 128 patches that can be stored on the amplifier. From this mode you can also save new patches. You can access the tuning functionality from any of the three modes. This is a lot of features and to get the most out of this amplifier, the Blackstar Insider software and the optional FS-10 I'd Series footswitch you will want to spend a little bit of time experimenting and tweaking to get everything like you want it. // 9
Sound: I play a wide variety of music, with the genres I've been playing the most lately being outlaw country, blues, thrash metal, alt metal, grunge, hard rock and noise pop. I play mostly with a Carvin DC145M (HSH) with coil-splitting. I put this amp through its paces, trying to really see how far it could take me into different tones. Immediately I discovered it was really easy to get some really great tones. It was a little more work to find the exact tones I wanted to hear, but they were accessible with a little bit of work, then saved as patches once I got them dialed in to my liking. I was pleasantly surprised that their tube emulation makes the amp break up in a really good imitation of tube break up. It was easy to get a clean tone, and use the volume control on my guitar and my playing dynamics to push the amp a little bit to get some crunch. My favorite thing about this amp, as a matter of fact, is that it responds to pick attack and the guitar volume more than any solid state amp I've ever played. Once I had learned the amp a little bit, then it wasn't anything to get to the tone I wanted from a country western twang-y clean to a high gain chugging distorted tone. The effects took a little more effort on my part to get them sounding like I wanted, but it was worth it once I got them dialed in and saved to my presets using the Blackstar Insider software. My favorite tones from the amp were absolutely the lead tones, whether clean or high gain. Just to be clear, this is the LOUDEST 30 watt solid state amp I've ever played through (so you have to give some credence to their "Loud As Valve" claims). This is loud enough to play at practice, or even possibly for small gigs. You can always mic it and run it to the PA for larger gigs, or even better - get the 60 or 100 watt models. // 8
Reliability & Durability: This is a Blackstar product, so you can expect a certain level of quality and craftsmanship. You have the standard features here that you would expect, tough wooden construction with black vinyl covering, corner caps and rubber feet on the bottom. Closed-back. Heavy duty handle on the top for transport. Immediately, you will notice while this thing is tough as nails it is much lighter than you would expect after hearing how loud it can get. After spending a few weeks really pushing this amp and seeing what it can do, I don't have any doubts that it will hold up and I would trust it absolutely for gigging and practice. I've personally carried this along to Jam with friends a few times and had no problems. They were impressed with how loud this 30 watt could get and didn't believe it was solid state. // 9
Overall Impression: The Blackstar ID Series amps are the first non-valve amplifiers produced by Blackstar, and they did a pretty damn good job of it. You might be tempted to compare this series of amps to some other "modeling" type amplifiers on the market, but that wouldn't be fair to the ID Series. The type of tube emulation you get from this amplifier at this price is what is really impressive and puts it in a league of its own. I would recommend the 60 and 100 watt versions due to the added control of the Mids, Presence and Resonance. The 60 watt comes available as a head or combo, and the 100 watt is available as a head. Where this series of amps shines is when you put the time in to learn the functions and controls available. // 9
- Brandon East (c) 2013