Price paid: £ 139.99
Sound — 8
Coupled with the Blackheart 12" closed back cab, the usefulness of the lower power output is much evident where at low volumes the sound does emulate a satisfying valve tone without the need of deafening decibels. The sound does breakup relatively early on however, and warranting a good clean sound out of the Killer Ant is a near impossibility - this is strictly a Drive only head. That being said, its difficult to fully push the gain because the corresponding volume level gets beyond 'acceptable' level for quiet operation, defying the key purpose of the amp. Slight inconvenience, but this situation can be quickly rectified using a Drive pedal in front. When the occasion is available to crank the amp to full blast, the Killer Ant produces a lush smooth Drive with plenty of bottom end and grit. Think classic Marshall with darker sensibility. It has a nice healthy bark that punches the air with depth and good clarity of individual notes played. The Killer Ant shows no noticeable loss in tonal quality in return for the sacrifice of power and has its own voicing that should impress even the most fussy enthusiasts. It can get a little bass heavy, most likely due to the closed back speakers, and while the 'dark' characteristic can be dominating the proceeding at times, in the end it boils down to preference to the individual.
Overall Impression — 8
The Blackheart Killer Ant has specific aims and demands that when approached correctly, produces terrific results. In a practising or studio environment, there's very little in the market that can achieve what the Blackheart can. It's a great compromise of economic power and tone that is unmatched value for money. Highly recommended.
Reliability & Durability — 8
While gigging of any sought is totally inappropriate unless the provision of a competent PA system, longevity of the product has been well considered. Sturdy plywood construction with metal front and back panels ensures solid protection while little touches such as the grill cloth and white piping is equally well installed. There's very little to go wrong here simplicity corresponds with reliability.
Features — 7
A valve Drive sound at a budget volume and price, the Blackheart Killer Ant is specifically designed to accommodate big valve sounds in a compact package without the annoyance to the neighbours. The unique interior circuitry design enables an underclocked power of 0.25W, which means an early breakup (overdrive) at lower volumes. With simplicity at it's heart, the only knob present is a master volume control, which doubles as a gain control. It is a purist's amp and versatility is not its key, but what it sets out to do it accomplishes it well. Design-wise, however, it's definitely a hit or miss will black tolex exterior with a questionable logo. The overall ethos of Blackheart, judging by their humor-filled website, enjoyment and fun is paramount to the employees, and the logo seems to reflect that to full effect. While Blackheart recommends their own in-house brand cab, the Killer Ant can accommodate a range of different cab outputs, from 4ohms to 16ohms. The Killer Ant comes equipped with dual 12AX7 tubes can be easily accessed through the back metal grill panel, so its assuring to know that options are available if you are open to experimentation.