Price paid: $ 250
Purchased from: Musicians Friend
Sound — 10
I am using it with a MIM strat with handwound custom pickups, all single coils. By playing it, it handles clean to blues to rock. So, yeah, it covers my musical style. It's slightly noisy when cranked, but that's inherent EL84 white noise. The tone makes up for it. With the amp, you can get nice warm cleans, brighter, grittier cleans, gritty crunch, and even grittier overdrive which is close to if not distortion. So in general, this amp is british voiced, much like a good Marshall. My only gripe with it, is that it can't get smooth like I want. This is why a preamp gain control would be so nice, there's really no way to get a smooth screaming overdrive like with my Peavey classic 50. So, sorry EJ fans, this may not work for you. But, AC/DC and old Clapton fans rejoice, this will give you whatever you want. The 3/5 watt Switch is kind of the opposite that I expected. I expected a higher amount of Drive at a lower volume. It's lower volume, but it has a cleaner tone, but it's also darker and smoother. It's a very nice touch. If the Drive on the 5w mode is too gritty for you, the 3 watt mode will smooth it out. Yet, it won't be smooth enough (or driven enough) for Eric Johnson like tones. It also cuts a decent amount of volume. Overall a 9.5. It gives you a very good tone, and you can get that natural overdrive at non-earshattering volumes. and at 150 bucks! This is one of the best tone to price ratios on an amp that I've ever seen. With a tube swap (stock tubes are some chinese brand), it'll easily become a 10.
Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression of this amp is overly good. You can get great tones at low volumes. I compared this side by side with my Peavey classic. My Peavey has slightly brighter cleans, and a smoother cranked (clean channel) tone than the blackheart. On the lead channel on my Peavey, the overdrive is much much smoother than the blackheart. But, the blackheart has a gritty crunch, like many people like. But, I'm not a huge fan of gritty crunch tones. I like my Peavey's lead tone better. But, I like the blackheart's dirty cleans (you can get them at low volumes) better. So, for 150 bucks for the head, this is the deal of a lifetime. I am definetely getting the killer ant (1 watt blackheart) when it comes out. I should mention the cabinet also. Well... It didn't come with a speaker cable, so we couldn't use the blackheart cab. We had to plug it into my Peavey's cabinet section (which are already wired together to be plugged into a head, without an extra cable. But, the construction is sturdy, and I don't see how it can be much worse than my Peavey classic non-labled speakers. Overall, a 9. Mainly because nothing is a 10 overall, except for very very expensive custom amps.
Reliability & Durability — 10
My friend just got it in a few days ago. It looks and feels sturdy. The preamp tube is protected, and the power tube looks like it has a harness securing it. all the internals are well protected. Everything seems sturdy. Well, this really isn't a "Gig" amp. It's more of an awesome recording and practice amp. It can get over drums too, so it'd probably alright to use in a band settings. Just not a gig (unless you mic it). If you were to gig with it, you could probably Live without a backup. This earns a 10 because it's quite tank like, and it came with a warranty and such.
Features — 9
It's a quite new amp, made either this year or late 2007. The amp is versatile in a sense. It can't get metal on it's own. It'll need either a distortion or a overdrive pushing it. Well, this isn't MY amp, it's my friends. But, I played it for several hours to get a nice indepth review of it. It has a 3w/5w wattage selector Switch, a full EQ, and a volume control. It also has several speaker outputs. It's a 1 channel 5 watt class A tube amp. 5 watts is enough to get over a drummer, just if you don't want cleans. I really wish it had a preamp gain control, if you wanted to play dirty at low volumes, but it's great without one. This deserves a 9, because at 150 bucks (the price of the head), it has a ton of features compared to similar amps in it's price range (Epi Valve Junior and the other 5w tube amps really don't have as many features as the blackheart). And it's not quite a 10, because you can really never have too many features.