1046L6 Series One review by Blackstar

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (61 votes)
Blackstar: 1046L6 Series One

Sound — 10
This is a monster of an amp. It is advertised as a metal amp, and it delivers that in spades. The OD1 and OD2 seem to be nearly identical in tone, so the typical application would be to use OD1 for metal rhythm work, and OD2 for solos, set to a slightly higher volume. The tones have a thickness and a thump to them, that is evocative of the popular high-gain amp maker from California, but with a sound all its own. The ISF dial adds to this, allowing the player to select their own voicing. Every string articulated nicely even on the highest gain settings, and these are meant for the rock and metal player who knows what they're doing. The rock / hard-rock / blues player would probably live in the Crunch channel on this amp. Its capable of much more gain than typical on a crunch channel on other 3-channel and 4-channel amps, and there is a huge variety of tones here. Setting this up for rhythm work, and then using OD1 for screaming leads, was a blast to play. Even just setting this channel to 12:00 on all of the dials yielded amazing tones, with no real adjustments needed. The Clean was also fantastic, and very fun to play. While we always miss reverb on a clean channel the most, this was a powerful, room-filling tone, and applying a little delay and reverb via the FX loop put this tone into perfection. The Warm setting was a more familiar tone, but the Bright was also capable of some chime, and evoked memories of tons of classic songs.

Overall Impression — 9
This is clearly a well-built, full-featured amp for the touring artist, studio recording player or serious home player. All four channels are very touch sensitive, where the slightest subtleties of your fingertips on the strings came through, and when you hit a note, it was there immediately. The controls are all easy to use and have dramatic effects on the tone, and there are lots of options to be played here. Further, the DPR dial allowed big stadium tones at basement volumes, which made it even more of a joy to play. Blackstar has proven once again that while they are a newer entry in the world of tube amps, they are serious about great tone, and the Series One 1046L6 proves that in spades.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Much like other higher-end 100-watt amp heads, this head weighs a ton and is built like a tank. The covering and the corners all look high-grade, and the sleek metal control panel surface is solid, while the dials and pots all have a smooth, linear turn to them, and everything feels well made. One pet peeve is that the footswitch uses and RS232-style serial connection, which is a physically weaker-feeling connection, and is a difficult cable to replace on the fly should something go wrong. Still, the footswitch itself is also solid, and the amp feels like it could survive years on the road.

Features — 8
The Blackstar Amplification Series One 1046L6 is the newest full-power offering from these British tone wizards, and for people already familiar with the great amps and pedals from Blackstar, or for those coming upon them for the first time, there is something here for every guitar player to enjoy. The 1046L6 is a 4-channel powerhouse head (non-reverb), coming in an all-black, heavy, full-sized headshell with a cool look to it for the stage player or the home hobbyist. The amp is powered by 4 6L6 power tubes (also available in an EL34 variation), which gives it a conservative rating of 100 watts, appropriate for any arena stage in the world, but also with a very innovative "DPR" dial that allows you to bring the wattage all the way down to 10 watts, or anywhere in between. This allows you to achieve full power tube saturation at tolerable studio or home volumes, without the need for a separate power attenuator of any sort. The four channels are similar to other 4-channel, high-gain amp offerings, with a Clean, Crunch, Overdrive (OD) 1 and OD2 channels. The Clean can be toggled between Plexi tones ("Warm") or Class A tones ("Bright"). The Crunch channel can be toggled between standard Crunch, which is very classic rock-oriented, and a Super Crunch mode. The OD1 and OD2 are the very high gain channels, for thick metal tones or screaming leads. Each channel has its own volume and gain knobs, but the Clean and Crunch share a 3-Band EQ circuit, while OD1 and OD2 has another of its own. In addition, each pair of channel shares one of Blackstar's signature features, the patented Infinite Shape Feature (ISF), which changes the overall EQ curve and allows for many different tonal options. The controls are rounded out by a Master section which provides overall Volume, Presence and Resonance controls, which is useful for tailoring the sound to a specific room or gig. A series FX loop is accessible on the back, as well as 2 selectable 4, 8 or 16 ohm speaker outputs, a MIDI port for switching channels from any standard MIDI control system, a footswitch jack, and a speaker emulated output. This last feature is a cool innovation seen more and more lately on modern amps, because it allows silent recording out to capture loud, tube tone without scaring the neighbors. It's important to note that while the footswitch is included, it is only used to select the four channels, and cannot toggle between the Clean or Crunch modes. This would be a nice addition, to match the somewhat similar 4-channel offering from Marshall.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Blackstar is one of the top Amps being built at this time. I think it shows how some on this site are just too lame to understand why the reviews are on here. If you look at the top it shows the user ratings as being 6.3 but then in the comment section there is no explaination of why or even a response from whoever gives it such a low rating. I think this site should restrict rating anything unless you leave a comment about the item. So I am asking the person hidden, why the low rating? What is it about THE ONE YOU TRIED that makes it almost worthless as your rating shows. I would almost believe the person giving low ratings on items have NEVER tried one thermself being it this item or any other item. You want to rate something then show who you are and why the rating no matter if its high or low.
    I tried it yesterday: imho the clean is good but not that awesome,usable i'd say. the other channels are just fun,imho this part of the amp kicks the ass of most of engl production 'til engl morse,blackmore and savage,(which are really different sounding amps though),and of course the invader and SE which are just supreme amps .I'm still waiting to try the EL34 version,but when i asked if there were any in the shop they told me it was really disappointing,acid and flat sounding,without any sign of the tridimensional distortion a tube amp should have.I was really depressed,counted too much on that amp...still hoping the seller was wrong
    Beffyyy wrote: Cool review. I'm probably gonna get the EL34 version. played it the other day and it sounded awesome.
    Tell me more about that.Just read what i wrote before this message and persuade me to buy that beast
    I SO do not have the money for one of these plus a cab, but I sure as f*ck wish I did!! I think I'll have to settle for the 45W Series One combo, that's a little closer to my price range.
    Cool review. I'm probably gonna get the EL34 version. played it the other day and it sounded awesome.
    **ATTENTION ANYONE THINKING ABOUT BUYING THIS AMP** I have a Blackstar Series one 1006L6. I bought this amp about two years ago. One day while playing it, I heard a huge pop and my tubes became extremely hot (one of them popped) and I smelled a burning smell. The warranty was up, and so this cost me 400$ to fix. Trust me, these amps are unreliable. They are made with cheap parts. And on top of this all, Blackstar refuses to send out schematics to music shops. That meant that the place I bought it from (Steves music store in Toronto) was unable to fix it. I also brought it to Long and McQuade and they were unable to fix it. I then learned that there were only 3 PLACES IN ALL OF CANADA THAT WERE CAPABLE OF FIXING THIS AMP. So not only are these amps unreliable, but it is impossible to find anyone to find anyone to fix it. I tried contacting Blackstar and Korg (who owns Blackstar), but they never responded to me. Needless to say I was extremely upset and disappointed with this companys customer service. If you want a reliable amp that will not break down on you or set on fire, and if you want an amp that is easy to get fixed, then DONT BUY A BLACKSTAR HEAD. YOU WILL REGRET IT. TRUST ME.
    Cold Reader
    Got these at music collage and I've never heard anything better. The tone out of these is just amazing, you can get a real raw sound from the super crunch channel, but it's not fuzzy or unclear like the valve marshalls i've played on. Great clarity, option of bright or warm clean channels also with the ability to add gain to give it some extra bite. Hell, it even makes my crappy 120 B.C. Rich Warlock sound amazing. So yeah, a definate 10 from me.
    Unfortunately we pay through the nose for amps in Australia so I have the HT Stage 100 Blackstar amp. I have to say it man, I've never played such a great sounding amp! The tone is just incredible! I tend to go for a lower gain, more crunchy-treble laden tone (basically emulating the tone from Veil of Maya's latest offering I.D) and it absolutely nails the sound. What's even more impressive is that I run it through a Line 6 amp and it sounds amazing. The only problem I have is the same as the reviwer, the footswitch cable is a slight inconvenience to replace (It's basically an old VGA computer cable). I'm saving now to buy this top end version, but until I play one, I really can't see it possibly being better than my HT-100.
    jhart08 wrote: another 10 review...
    Did you even read the review? Only sound got a 10 and whats more you would expect something youre paying 1000 pounds+ to be pretty good no? -.- jeebus some people..
    Only played a couple of Blackstars, but the sounds I've heard people get from them are immense. Dream amp right there!