Price paid: £ 139
Purchased from: PMT southend
Sound — 10
I play a Epiphone les paul Gibson 1990, with stock pickups. The sound using this amp tends to be a full warm sound, a characteristic of epiphones anyhow, but the sound through the amp is very toneful, the clean channel is one of the best i heard even compared to the modelled cube. The tubes when warmed up just sound better, even for a 1watt amp its so clear and defined its hard to explain, but if you have listened or played tube amps you will know what I'm talking about. I've mentioned my style and I find the amp when tweaked can fulfill many guitarists needs, maybe the more sound disciplined guitarists out there may need pedals to reach their whole desired effect, but for me an aspiring musician trying to find his own sound and progression in a band, it more than copes. The clean channel at extreme loud vols can distort at over halfway on dial, but at low levels theres no probems, allbeit the distortion at loud and low volumes sounds amazing... especially with a touch of reverb...
Overall Impression — 10
As mentioned for what I play, the amp can do what I ask of it, for a more experienced sound, you may need pedals, for instance heavy heavy metal, may need an extreme gain pedal, but for me no.... it drives enough! I'm very happy with this amp, god knows I did enough research, and what they have achieved with a home playing level tube amp, its perfect for people who want that lovely tube sound at low volumes. Its a sure winner and I'm sure you will see other manufacturers following suit with this. If the 1w too quite the 5w HT-5 may be suitable for studio or even small gigs. I'm sure my amp will be suitable for recording (and other situations) when mic'd up. But thats not for me to say as I haven't tried these. If someone stole this I would be P***ed! I love this amp, its a hidden jem the sound the look the practicality of it and versatility of it, its superb, trust me try it. Blackstar are on the up, compared to other smaller amps this the cream of the crop, theres no comparison for sound at such a low wattage and price, just look around for a good deal, and sell your amp privately you'll get more! I'm luvin it! Just can't wait to cab it up!
Reliability & Durability — 9
I'm very anxious to try this through a cab, for when we go rehearse. But as I haven't tried this yet I can't comment. The amp is well made, and much nicer looking than the cube it has that touch of class you get in a Marshall amp, in design wise and sound terms, its really up there with them, having tried in the shop both a 100W Mg Marshall SS, and a Blackstar 40w tube amp. I would say Blackstar are a make to reckon with, many artists are using their gear already, Gus G of firewind and ozzy Fame is one of them!!! But having the amp no longer than a weekend I can't say for reliability, but maintain it well I can't see why it can't go a while.
Features — 9
This amp I'm about to review is the HT-1R from Blackstar (started from 2 r&d guys from Marshall). I think the amp is circa 2009-10, and the company has been around for a few years.. I did have a Roland Cube 20X and as much as that was a good amp for home play, I somewhat felt the need to move to a tube amp. I'm no guitar tech expert and I'm still trying to find my tone myself. I've been playing for over 15 years, and I regret to say that I've never been more than a bedroom guitarist! :( But now me and a friend are starting to get a band together so now I thought was a good time to start! Anyway the tube amp I was looking at was around the 40w mark and far too loud for home use and too even push the tubes at home levels. So when I heard about this little 1w tube amp, I was excited to hear a tube amp at such low volumes... I know the cube is a good solid state amp but I did feel sometimes the sound was too digital, there wasn't much tone too the sound, especially to the amp models. Although the JC clean channel was very pleasant on the ear, and well emulated When I tested the ht-1r in my local PMT, the sound and tone was almost recognizable instantly, it was warm and you could really hear clarity with every note string and harmonic, of my playing. I play a lot of rock going from classic to hard to even Heavy metal, including GNR, Slash, Alterbridge, Killswitch, to name a few. Now I've had the Amp a whole weekend I've really experimented with the variation of sound you can get from it. Also my amp and guitar is situated in a large conservatory (18ft apprx) and at the amps loudest it can be more than loud enough, unfortunately any bigger than that ie: studio or small gig venue, I'm sure the amp will lose out to higher surrounding sounds. But then I didn't buy this amp for that, and it does have the ability for you to be able to plug in a cab (4x12 2x12 etc) I can't vouch for this setup as I haven't tried it yet. It features 2 channels clean & overdrive, with both having the ability to adjust gain/volume on them (using the same knob) Also the amp has a reverb adjustable knob, which I think sounds excellent, and comparable to the Roland its certainly better. Blackstar have seem to of patented this ISF control, which enables the player to reach various styles using one dial. Although it sounds to me like a contour (on other amps) selector, you can manage to get a cross between british sounding amps to US sounding amps in a matter of seconds. Which I think substitutes the lack of a full EQ quite well, and for my lack of knowledge in these areas I found it a helpful tool! It also has a line in so you can do the usual like ipod backing etc, and a fully emulated stereo headphone socket, I would love to add that listening through the headphones is fantastic the sound is as good as if it were through the speaker, this is one of my favorite features as, with busy or late nights I have to do this a lot. Playing with these features you can get some qwesome sounds out of it, the gain is high enough for me to play metal and the clean channel warm and clean enough to play Acoustic tracks and will crunch up that little for classic rock. This does take a lot of tweaking your own guitars volume and tone too. You can easily go to Drive to clean just by altering the vol on your guitar. Apart from these features I would of loved an effects loop, but for this money, and with my cube trade of 30 (poor I know but ) the guy priced match Ht-1r online for 169, i got this amp for 139, now thats a great price for a tube amp!!!! For a practise amp I would of gived it 10, but it may lose in bigger situations I gave it a 9.