Price paid: € 450
Purchased from: Musical Yowi
Features — 10
We are in front of a 2 valves 5W amplifier made by license in China, designed and engineered by Blackstar Amplification UK. It brings 2 valves (1x12BH7 & 1xBCC83). The 2 speakers are 10" Celestion, both of them. It brings to you a warmer sound than HT-5R. This amp is in fact a improved HT-5R, which has won many splendid reviews and awards. Bringing the famous and licensed ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) you can reach almost any combination in clean and overdrive. It comes with very solid footswitch to change from clean to overdrive channel. You have mp3 input, headphones input, loop input, emulated output, and speaker output (1x8 ohm; 1x16ohm or 2x16ohm) so you could use it for practicing at home or even for studio or gigs too. Very suitable!
Sound — 10
The clean sound is awesome and so the overdrived sound is. Nice range for overall. The ISF allow you to play with real USA's sound or British one. Not noisy. It is very rich and it full the room with its sound. Quite bright too. The 2 Celestion 10" speakers does work awesome. I can't reach more than a quarter (9 o'clock) in a 15m2 room. Otherway I'd have to expect to receive my neighbors complaining at home soon. It's very suitable for all styles I guess. More than a conventional valved amplificator.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The construction is pretty solid with a splendid termination, quite vintage. It is semi-opened on the back and it has leather (it's leather alike at least). It could go to tomb with you if you take care of it and do a valve maintenance. It looks (and is) very reliable. No buttons here, just switches which are very solid. The feeling whenever you want to configure a new sound is great, and it give you an instantly feedback. ISF is awesome and the footswitch is kinda solid. I came from a Marshall and the termination is similar in quality (in fact Blackstar has ex-Marshall engineers).
Overall Impression — 10
I play rock, punk, grunge, metal, and I use to play even classical pieces. You can afford you to play from the Eagles to Metallica, Aerosmith with this amp. I have not been born-blessed with the virtuosity gift so I can't evaluate it for a Satriani-alike player, but I'm pretty sure he would enjoy it. I have a Marshall Valvestate 40v (8040 model) and I find this valved amp quite better in overall. I tried a Line 6 Amplifi 75w, but I returned it back since the sound was quite nosely (not noisely) and it was a great Bluetooth HIFI player, but not a REAL amplificator. Valves sounds like heaven in this gear. Try it and you will buy for sure. Nothing could beat it in its price range!