#1
Gentlemen, I purchased a blackstar HT-5R combo, my first ever tube amplifier. It will be here in about 2-3 days

About my electric playing I would say I'm a little more than a beginner.

I'm more concerned about emulated output because most of the time I use my headphones. I downloaded the HT-5R user manual but it is not at all informative with regards to certain operations.

Those of you who use this amplifier already please tell me as to how I should operate this.

Can I just hook my headphones and play?

Should I use it when the amp is on standby mode?

I've seen a lot talk about that you should always attach a load or something or otherwise it will screw the amp up? So in general are there any risks associated with playing with headphones? (If that is the case I'd never use the headphones)

Please try to help out. I'm from Sri Lanka and there are no technicians around here who could fix amps if I screw something up due to lack of knowledge. Please mention the right order of doing things when playing with HPs.

Many thanks in advance

/Bindo
#2
Pretty sure with the HT-5 the emulated output overrides the speaker output so you should just be able to plug the headcans in and play. I would wait for someone to clarify this but I think you should be fine.

#3
Quote by bindo

I've seen a lot talk about that you should always attach a load or something or otherwise it will screw the amp up?


This essentially just means you need to have it hooked up to a speaker cab.
Since yours is a combo, this wont be an issue for you, unless you unplug the speaker yourself for some obscure reason.

Just plug your headphones in and play, you wont damage anything. Have fun!
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#4
Quote by bindo
I've seen a lot talk about that you should always attach a load or something or otherwise it will screw the amp up? So in general are there any risks associated with playing with headphones? (If that is the case I'd never use the headphones)
The manual clearly states you can use headphones and the speaker output is switchable. If it was going to harm the amp they wouldn't tell you that you can do it.

In a tube amp the output can be switch off by muting the preamp output to the power amp. SO basically the power amp is driving the speakers with silence. Putting the amp in standby will disable the tubes in the preamp and you probably wouldn't hear anything through the headphones.
#5
Quote by fly135
In a tube amp the output can be switch off by muting the preamp output to the power amp. SO basically the power amp is driving the speakers with silence. Putting the amp in standby will disable the tubes in the preamp and you probably wouldn't hear anything through the headphones.


Thank you very much fly. As I've previously mentioned I don't know a thing about operating tube amps. Would you mind telling me as to how I should go about switching off the preamp of this HT-5R combo? Is there a switch to do that? Or when the headphone is hooked in it get turned off by itself? Also should I always keep the stanby set to on when playing either with the headphones or the built in speaker?

Those of you who have the same amp would you walk me through the basic operation? As in.

1. turn on the stanby and give it about 30sec-1min.

2.Turn off the stanby

3. Turn on the power

4. Play.

Was that the right sequence good people?

Many thanks in advance

/Bindo
#6
The switch is wired to the headphone jack. When you plug headphones in it diverts the preamp to the headphones.


Your standby sequence doesn't make sense. You don't cycle the standby switch on and off with the power switch off, that doesn't do anything. The power switch is the first gate (AC), the standby switch is the second (DC). If the first gate is closed, opening the second does nothing.
I'm going to use "up" and "down" because it can get confusing when "power off" and "standby on" represent the same switch position. I don't like that companies label standby as "on" in the playing position, because from any technical standpoint that's incorrect. That's what they did, though, so I'll use switch directions.

1. The power switch starts as "off". On most amps this is "up" but on blackstar it's "down."
2. Start with both switches up.
3. Turn the power switch down. The pilot light should come on.
4. Wait 30 seconds or so.
5. Turn the standby switch down. The amp should make noise now.

After typing all of that out, it occurs to me that Blackstar probably just has the standby switch wired to mute the input since there's not actually a lot to warm up in this amp. So you don't really have to wait 30 seconds. You can if it makes you feel better, though.

Edit: Looked up the schematic. The standby switch is just a mute switch so you can actually just ignore it and leave it in the "down" or "play" position all the time, unless you want to mute the amp for a couple minutes while taking a break instead of turning it off. There's no warmup going on in this amp, at least not from the power/standby switch operation.
As an interesting side note, the headphones actually bypass the preamp before any of the tubes, so you're getting that sweet sweet solid state clipping and nothing else into your headphones. That's kind of a bummer.

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/153/b8v.gif/ for those who are interested.
#7
OK, I went back and read the manual again. You put the amp in standby to silence the power amp and keep the headphone output active.

This reveals one of two things... Either the preamp has no tube in the audio path because a standby would disable the tube, Or... The standby isn't a standby like on every other tube amp where it normally shuts off the tube except for the heaters.

Off to see if I can find a schematic...

No luck... The original HT5 schematic clears shows a 12ax7 in the preamp. But I don't remember if the emulated output on the original worked in standby. And Blackstar has no manuals for discontinued products that I could find.
Last edited by fly135 at Aug 13, 2013,
#8
Thank you again fly for all the trouble went through to help me out. Please take a look at the following which has been extracted from the official HT-5R user manual.

14. Standby
This switch enables the operation of the power amp stage and speaker output.
Always turn this on at least 30 seconds after the Power switch (15). For silent
recording or practise this switch should be put in the standby position. This will
disable the power stage, but the emulated output will continue to work.

15. Power
This switch is used to turn the amplifier on and off. You should always turn this
switch on before turning on the Standby switch (14).

Does this mean that both switches have to be set to on when playing without the headphones?

What I have read about tube amps so far is that you first should turn the Stand by switch on for 30 secs so that the tubes get warmed up, turn them off (Not sure if I got that part right? should I leave it on or off after 30 secs?) and then turn the power on n play. With regards to blackstar it seems like other way around.? I'm really confused.
#9
Hey fly I need one moe more favor from you. I see that you are from US. Could you please check the back of your amp and let me know of the voltage details? In my country the main electricity we use is 230V. Since this amp coming from a US seller I need a steps own transformer to use it here. Please if you can get me those details. i.e: 50HZ/120V/60W. I can't find thi in the manual.
#10
I haven't had an HT5 for a couple years. But if yours says 100V 50/60HZ like the picture in the manual then yes, you are going to need a 2:1 step down transformer.
#11
Don't get too hung up on following the instructions for standby. When standby is ON, then the high voltage to the tubes is turned OFF. So ON is OFF so to speak .

The rule is have standby ON when you turn power ON, then turn standby OFF after 30 sec. Of course if you only want to use headphones then leave standby ON.

The purpose of standby was to allow the heaters to warm up the tube while the main power (high voltage) to the tube is OFF (standby ON), so that something called "cathode stripping" doesn't occur. However, it is also commonly believed that this isn't a real problem. And conversely leaving an amp in standby for long periods causes "cathode poisoning".

I pay little attention to standby. Most times I just turn them both on (power ON/standby OFF) at the same time and usually fiddle around with my pedal board and guitar for 15 seconds to let the tubes warm. When I take a break for a short period I leave standby OFF and just turn down the guitar volume or volume pedal so the amp doesn't make any racket if I bump the guitar.

What is a mystery is that the headphone out works in standby. This suggests that there is no tube audio path in the preamp. But if you like the amp then "who cares". But a lot of people have criticized Blackstar for suggesting the amp is more tube than it really is.
Last edited by fly135 at Aug 13, 2013,
#12
Oh Now it makes perfect sense Thank you very much Fly. I have no words to appreciate the way you've helped out.

Last but not least a silly question. As I have first mentioned buying an all-tube amp was one of my biggest dreams. Have been saving money for a very long time because in my case I was up against the heavy shipping charges as well(300$). But the hybrid nature of this amp have turned me down a bit. In my country there are no stores that sell all valve amps. In other words I have never even seen a tube amp in my life, so there was no way I could have gone to a store and played myself before buying, like that famous saying goes

My question is what is your honest opinion about the tone of this amp? Do you think it sounds like one of those all-valve amps? Im not talking about very expensive stuff like MESAs, high end Marshalls. Perhaps like mid range Orange/VOX/Egnator? Or at least will it be sound better than my crappy solid state Marshall MG30CFX? Either way I'm gonna have to live with HT-5 cos Im not the kind of guy who could trade/sell like an american. So please share your honest thoughts. I'd promise that there will be no more questions

Thanks again.

/Bindo
#13
I think the amp is ok. The OD channel is basically a distortion pedal in front of a 5 watt tube power amp. The FX loop is nice because it allows you to put delays/reverb/freeze/looper/etc after the OD. Even though loud, with any 5 watt amp you lose the low end punch that a 15 watt amp would deliver.

When people ask me about the HT-5 I tell them they can accomplish the same thing with a Valve Jr and pedals for less money. The bottom line is that you have no reason to regret your purchase. That amp delivers decent tone and is fun to play.
#14
Thank you very much again. Guess I'm not hat unlucky after all. Either way I should start saving for a super cool mesa boogie express or something too in the run.