Danslash, on march 09, 2011 6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Price paid: £ 139
Purchased from: PMT southend
Features: 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. // 9
Sound: 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... // 10
Reliability & Durability: 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. // 9
Overall Impression: 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! // 10
jpnyc, on july 05, 2011 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: Zzzounds
Features: I bought this amp, made in 2011, new from Zzzounds. I picked it up because I wanted its two channels to cover everything from clean finger-picking to metal. The amp has two channels, clean and overdrive; they share gain, volume and tone (ISF) controls. The ISF tone knob adjusts the mids to get tones that run from Mesa to Fender to Vox to Marshall. The headphone out with cabinet emulation is a big plus, without that I would have bought the VHT Special 6 Ultra. There's also an external input, bound to be useful when I can't play along next to some other audio source.
There are still a few things missing. There is no effects loop. And like most Blackstar products there is no button to disable cabinet emulation on the line out. Both of those are nasty flaws in an amp with no EQ! And with its PCB tucked away in the top of the amp the HT-1R is not mod-friendly. This is a tube amp (shut up about the diodes in the circuits, you know who you are) and comes with TAD tubes so I there is no need to replace the cheap Chinese tubes that come in some other Blackstar amps.
Reverb comes built-in. This is a great reverb that can just open up the sound a little or really drench things without sounding cheap and digital. It has a plain plate reverb sound with no fake spring pops or noise. For the money the features are good. But the lack of a three-band EQ or an effects loop is a big problem. // 6
Sound: I play it with a Fender MIM Strat (stock SSS), an Ibanez AG-75 (stock HH), and a Schecter C-1 EX (stock SD '59/JB, tuned to B). This amp really brings out the differences between the guitars in a way that even the best VST sims just fails to. I get a whole world of clean sounds just by switching up the guitars on this amp. That lets me use the HT-1R for clean country picking (real country, not the contemporary trash), any sort of rock, and even some decent Vintage metal tones.
Clean tones on the amp are sweet and can chime or hit like a piano depending on the ISF setting. Clean headroom is a lost cause; the clean channel does not get loud enough to distort unless you crank the gain to make it crunchy. But on a one-watt amp that is kind of the point. The lack of a real EQ does hurt the clean tones because you cannot just crank the treble for extra sparkle.
Far more volume can be coaxed out of the overdrive channel, which still gets loud too fast, but works much better at low volumes than the HT-5. The HT-1 has a crazy amount of gain on tap for a 1-watt amp. But it will never hit the brtl mdrn tnz that screamycore players want. The high gain tones sound more like a modded old Marshall and the Vintage channel on a Rectifier. Overall the tonal quality is good but lacking great definition. As the overtones pile on sounds can get a little muddy and harsh, but it sounds much better than just sticking a boot in front of a low-gain amp.
I was afraid that the boxy tone from the tiny cab and six inch speaker would hold the amp back, but that is not a problem. There is plenty of low end and the boxy tone gives it the boxy clean sounds of small Vox and Fender amps. For high-gain music it gives the sound a pronounced, tight feel akin to boosting the hell out of bigger amp. Nu-metal and screamycore players should definitely stay away, but other players will do fine. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I have only had the amp about a week, so I cannot say how long it will last. The HT-1R is a solid little combo built from good wood with metal corners and great tolex work. It does have a PCB inside packed full of funny little parts that nobody would really want to troubleshoot. So this is the wrong amp to travel with itor for your dumb teenager who like to kick his gear around. For the money this seems a lot more solid than other stuff out there. // 8
Overall Impression: Blackstar seems to have made the HT-1 to satisfy all the people who thought that the HT-5 was too big, loud, and lacking in punch for what was marketed as low-volume metal machine. Urban apartment dwellers will be very happy with this amp. Guys with loud garage bands will not.
For the money this is a winner. But it fails to be a great amp because Blackstar stripped it down too much. It should have an effects loop for time-based effects, and more importantly, to stick an EQ pedal into. But if you are not picky about that sort of thing, the HT-1R is probably perfect. // 7
Andy949494, on december 12, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Price paid: £ 145
Purchased from: eBay
Features: Mine was bought second hand on eBay and was made in 2010. The RRP is 200. I think I got a good price particularly as mine included a cover. The HT-1R is a basic tube amp for home practicing. It has very few features. Volume, Gain, ISF, and reverb pots with a switch to go from "clean" (ish) to "less clean". It also has large jacks for headphone out and audio in which I haven't used yet (no adapter to 3.5mm). It would have been nice to have had an adjustable volume pot for the audio in but never mind. It is made to a high standard (in China) and looks almost "boutique" with its leather finish. A lot nicer than many Amps in its price range which are often a bit "plasticy". It is quite small but is not quite as miniature as some video reviews will have you believe - It does have an 8 inch speaker!
I was after an Amp that would go from clean to classic 70/80s rock and possibly a little further with the minimum of settings. My previous Amp had a load of different settings but was too fiddly so I rarely used them and tended to just use either a basic Marshall or occasionally a Vox emulation preset. I don't need a lot of volume since I live in a flat. Occasionally I take it to group Guitar lessons and it is loud enough for that environment too (if there are drums they are politely played). I would like to say that I miss the separate treble, middle and bass pots of the HT-5 but actually I don't. Probably the biggest thing I miss of my old Amp was the built in tuner. // 5
Sound: Compared to my old Amp (G-Dec 15) it is lovely and has quite a deep tone. It is also NOT prone to pickup noise even at high gain which was a surprise to me. Except when playing clean I never run out of volume (but I play in a flat). I love its classical rock tone it just sounds so nice playing simple power chords (muted and not) I can lose hours doing just that...
I have a Steinberger Spirit and a Gibson Les Paul Studio. With the G-DEC both sounded okay but neither really stood out. With the Blackstar it really makes the Gibson stand out. It has a real "red wine oak" flavour too it's tone and sounds like its worth every penny where as on the G-DEC it just sounded a bit muddy. The Steinberger sounds okay, better on the humbuckers but the Gibson is just way better.
I guess it doesn't have a huge range of sounds, it does "almost clean" through to 70s/80s rock and further. It is trivially easy to get a lovely Ritchie Blackmore type tone out of it. Actually it seems to have potential for very high gain for an amp on its own and I can't say I would need a Tube Screamer much. For me though the tones it does make are just right and I love it. The Reverb is also useful and I tend to often add a little - the reason for me buying the more expensive HT-1R over the HT1! In common with many Tube Amps it is very clear toned and is much louder than its rated power would suggest. I have used it in lessons with others using Cubes etc and it is fine. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I can't really judge reliability at this point. Mine is second hand (and managed to come happily in the post despite the usual service) but has been well cared for. Its a solid little box and appears really nicely made but being relatively light I will be able to carry it carefully - its not so heavy that you are likely to drop it! All the switches, Pots etc seem high quality. I have heard of one person who upgraded the speaker (but why I don't know since it sounds good enough to me). I haven't heard anyone say of issues on the web etc with any Blackstars so I expect it to be good for some time.
Unlike many valve amps it has no standby mode. I haven't noticed any delay when I switch it on either (although I do turn it down before off so maybe there is one) A bit strange but there you go. // 8
Overall Impression: The one design feature I don't like is the power LED which is incredibly bright. I have covered it with a lot of tape otherwise it blinds you when you lean over to adjust the controls! I don't know why this hasn't been described before by any reviewers!
Rarely for me I think I have actually bought the right thing. Less is definitely more... It matches me very well and sounds lovely whilst having just enough tweakability to get the various tones I need. It reacts very well to the difference in my playing and is teaching me to really play with feel. I don't see the need for a load of stomp boxes or a multi-effects unit. Probably the only Stomp I can really feel the need for at this point is a tuner!
I have had a few practice amps in the past (Boss Microcube - awful tinny thing although sounded okay with a Squier Strat when I got the Gibson it had to go, Marshal AVT20 (Not too bad but loud and fairly prone to picking up noise from lights etc) and the G-DEC 15. I have also used the normal Boss Cubes and Boss Cube XLs (which are significantly better than Microcubes) but still prefer this Amp. If mine got stolen I would be very tempted to buy another. There is competition though in the form of the Vox AC4 TV, Vox AC4TV Mini, Yamaha THR Series and Blackstars own HT-5R (Unfortunately the little Marshall Amps are too expensive being 500+).
The Vox AC4TV is tempting - I liked the idea of having a 4 Watt Valve Amp with the ability to run at 1W and either 0.1W or 0.25W (Mini vs standard) but thought that I would prefer the tone of this one and wanted the reverb. I might buy one as well one day (probably not the mini as the reviews say that the 0.1W mode sounds a bit thin).
The Yamaha THR is not a valve Amp but is designed for practice in a flat type environment. The demos are very tempting but this time I decided to by a real Valve Amp not one emulating a Valve Amp. The HT5-R is also very strong competition for the HT-1R. As well as more power (which is possibly a negative in a flat) it has separate treble, bass and mid pots but is nearly twice the price (350 RRP).
If Blackstar want to sell me a new model they will need to add two things:
1. A bit more power but a Decent power attenuation mode as well (If it had 4 W and 0.2W that would be great)
2. 3 Pots to change the tone - Yeah I know I have said I don't need it but its difficult to think I might be missing something.
givemeajackson, on may 07, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 170
Purchased from: Musik Produktiv
Features: The HT1 is a one channel amp with a drivemode. It features one ISF EQ control, a gain knob, a reverb knob (it's a digital reverb) and a master volume. There's an AUX in and an emulated out for recording. I personally think that it was a bad idea to put a cab emulation on there, cause with recabinet or something similar and an unemulated out the sound results would have been better when recording. There is one 8-16 OHM speaker out. I am reviewing the head version. Inside there is one ECC83 preamp and one ECC82 poweramp tube. There are some diodes just amplifying the signal in the preamp. I would call this amp a 3/4 tube amp. The preamp is hybrid and the poweramp all tube. Just to clear things up since there is a huge rumor about this amp being tube or not. So, that was the list of features
This amp has just 4 knobs, this means it's not an amp with lots of features. But because of the emulated out and AUX in it gets a 5 in the features category // 5
Sound: I'm using a Jackson JS32TKelly with Seymour Duncan full shred pickups and a Framus FR 112 cab. I play mainly metal, but sometimes blues and rock too. Let's start clean: it does clean sound, and they sound pretty good. From a 1 watt tube amp you can't expect to have a loud clean, but in combination with the reverb and with the ISF more on the us side it sounds really nice. An advantage of the HT1 to the HT5 is that the gain control acts on both channels: the HT1 offers crunch sounds you wont get out of the HT5. Really nice bluesy sound and some good AC/DC sounds available here
Lets move on to the lead channel: this thing has lots of gain! The full shreds are not extremely high output pickups, but gain on 3/4 is enough for everything that isn't slam death (ok, for slam death a recto with gain on 11 isn't enough without boost) necrophagist, amon amarth or kreator are no problem with these settings, and 3/4 of gain is enough for legato acrobatics too. I tried it with a Schecer Hellraiser Special C7 too, a seven string, and the little guy didn't complain at all. It can give some nevermore feeling. Enough of the mean stuff, lets roll back the gain a bit: Van Halen sounds pretty authentic, and Deep Purple is no problem either. Can't say too much about medium gain sounds, I don't use them too much.
About the EQ: the ISF control does quite a lot in the midrange and completely changes the gain structure of the amp. It's still not comparable to the tweaking options with a 3 band EQ, but that's not the goal of the whole concept: it's not a tweakers amp, it's an amp to plug in and have a good sound. The ISF rather blends between different two characters than modifies one character. The reerb is nothing special, but it's nice to have
I'll give the sound a 9, it sounds very good, has enough gain for everything, has a very honest response and is just plug and play. Btw, this is the best sounding amp in the BlackstarHT range in my opinion. No kidding! // 9
Reliability & Durability: It's reliable and well built. No problems so far. I wouldn't gig it at all because it's simply not loud enough and I have an Engl Ritchie Blackmore for gigging purposes. I'll give it an 8. // 8
Overall Impression: This is the perfect practice amp. No time needed to make sound decent, it shows all your flaws in your playing so you notice them and can work on em, and you can Jam to backing tracks. It fits my purposes 100%
I play since 5 years now, and at really, really low volumes it can almost compete to my Engl when it comes to sound. If someone stole it I'd get it again since it's pretty cheap and there is no other 1 watt amp suitable for metal in this price range. I love it's looks and it's cuteness, the only thing I wish it had would be an FX loop for my looper. This would make The practice rig! I give it a 10 because it does what it's supposed to, and does that excellently at a very reasonable price! // 10