HT-5 Combo 110 review by Blackstar

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (50 votes)
Blackstar: HT-5 Combo 110
5

Price paid: € 339

Purchased from: Musicstore.de

Sound — 9
I am using this amplifier with a 2006 Gibson les paul. Like many guitarists I dabble in many styles but I am most partial to rock. I was disappointed somewhat by the sound of this amp when it first arrived but I soon learned that like all good valve amps you gotta wait for it to warm up before it starts to cook! Also a good sounding room will bring out the best in this amp but I guess that could be true for all amps. The clean on this amp was a revelation to me, it sounds beautifully clear and has a lot of character and doesnt't sound at all sterile like a solid state amp and if you dig in at about 1/4 volume you can get just a little breakup. Pushing the clean volume past 3/4 and you push the power valve acheiving classic Drive with a humbucker equipped guitar (think rock'n' singer by AC/DC and should I stay or should I go by the clash) cuts through well it is very easy on the ears. Moving to the overdrive side of things and you are in more modern territory as there is a lot of gain on tap here. The sound of the distortion is what I would describe as wet and saturated not classic rock smooth (Although this sound can be achieved by rolling the gain back and turning the volume knob up pushing the amps power stage)with the gain at around 6. With this setting I can quite easily nail the tone Joe Satriani had on his "surfing with the alien" album. If you don't think this possible check out the Peavey Joe Satriani mini colossal which promises to nail his tone but with an even smaller speaker but at twice the price. The isf is also very useful on this amp, actually surprisingly so with the gain whacked up and the isf turned toward the american side this amp can sound quite "djenty" maybe not pantera djenty but can certainly handle Metallica sounds from all their eras and most other forms of hard rock or metal. Because of the smaller speaker it tends to be on the brighter side but this can be remedied by proper EQ'ing. The amp is not noisy at all apart from the highest volume settings and this is what makes it such a viable choice for recording.The amp also takes pedals quite well either in front or through the fx loop.

Overall Impression — 10
For the price I don't think you can get a whole lot better particularly if you are after an all tube high gain sound. I had to buy this online as I couldnt find them in ireland and whatever ones are in shops have been flying off the shelves from what I understand. In my 8 years of playing this is the best small amp I've had, it certainly has a vastly superior clean and Drive channel to the MG and Vox valvetronix I had before this though it isnt quite as powerful as those amps. If it were lost I would buy either this or possibly the Blackheart handsome devil which is similar in price but is 15 watts although it has much less gain so would need a pedal to get a good heavy sound.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp is very solidly built. It feels like something that will last a long time if properly cared for. However, because it is all tube I can not recommend gigging without a backup as you just never know when the power tube(s) will decide to give up and die on you. I have not had to have this amp serviced yet as I have only had this thing a few weeks but it has been gigged and preformed well (with a mic of course). It got a little bit hot in the back by the end of the gig but I guess that's just the sign of a well worked power section.

Features — 10
This is a rather new product on the market having only been introduced in late 2008 and was designed in the UK by Blackstar, a company started by ex-Marshall engineers and manufactured in korea. It is a very feature rich amp for the price and wattage. It is all valve (5 watts), a 12xA7 in the preamp and a curious 12bh7 dual triode valve in the power section that operates in a push pull configuration whatever that means, packing 2 channels (Clean & Overdrive), black tolex covering, rear mounted gnarled chrome knobs, semi open backed cabinet, a 10 inch celestion speaker, shared EQ, standby Switch, FX loop that is switchable to suit either stompboxes or rack mounted effects, footswitch input, 8&16 ohm extension speaker output, emulated headphone line out with a 4X12 or 1X12 voicing Switch and of course the much vaunted ISF (Infinate shape feature) control. This comes in the form of a knob that when turned clockwise gives a amp a more british character (woody and dark) in the style of a Marshall and when turned counter clockwise gives the amp a a more american character (more bright and cutting with a mid cut) in the style of a Fender or Mesa Boogie. The amp also comes with a footswitch supplied. I was surprised by the power of this amp, I didn't realise a 5 watt all valve amp could be loud and it has never been past 5 on the clean or overdrive channel in my house. Rehearsals and gigs are another story especially with a loud drummer and it will probably need miking to be heard clearly. Btw this amp also comes in a mini stack and head form however I opted for the combo as it is the light (14kg) and portable option.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jc349
    The stack version looks worthwhile, but will it be loud enough to play small gigs? (eg. bars, clubs) Also, I was thinking of the Blackstar Artisan 2X12 extension cab instead of the two 2X10 ones. Will this make it any louder, or just project the sound and add bass more? I need a tube amp that will be able to play small gigs and I have a budget. Basically- Will a 2X12 cab make this head louder?????
    lao123
    jc349 wrote: The stack version looks worthwhile, but will it be loud enough to play small gigs? (eg. bars, clubs) Also, I was thinking of the Blackstar Artisan 2X12 extension cab instead of the two 2X10 ones. Will this make it any louder, or just project the sound and add bass more? I need a tube amp that will be able to play small gigs and I have a budget. Basically- Will a 2X12 cab make this head louder?????
    The size and amount of speakers doesn't make it louder, but will give the effect of that, and you can spread the sound around the room more. I don't know how loud it would be, but if they can mic it up you good to go.
    familybucket
    Ok, thanks but i want a practice amp that can stand for 5 years and more without touching anything in it so can this amp be a good choice or you advice me something else? I think this will be perfect. It's extremely good quality and as it sounds so good that as you get better in those 5 years that you won't want to change it!
    rocker313
    Yeah but is very unlikely. I would gig with it without a backup. They shouldnt stop working until they are about 2 or 3 years old, then they may need changing.
    Ok, thanks but i want a practice amp that can stand for 5 years and more without touching anything in it so can this amp be a good choice or you advice me something else?
    familybucket
    rocker313 wrote: I didn't understand when you said "However, because it is all tube I can not recommend gigging without a backup as you just never know when the power tube(s) will decide to give up and die on you" Does it mean that the tubes can stop working?
    Yeah but is very unlikely. I would gig with it without a backup. They shouldnt stop working until they are about 2 or 3 years old, then they may need changing.
    rocker313
    I didn't understand when you said "However, because it is all tube I can not recommend gigging without a backup as you just never know when the power tube(s) will decide to give up and die on you" Does it mean that the tubes can stop working?
    lunchboxattacks
    'tis a very nice amp for the money. It only has very limited availablity in america if at all at the moment judging from musicians friend's website and these boards so guess y'all will have to be patient.
    lao123
    Hmmm I voted 9. Almost perfect but can't quite get that real hardrock/metal sound. Even if I don't need it. Will write full review once I've had more time with it, as I only bought it today. It sounds sweet, really great OD, DS, and the clean is amazing!
    The^Unforgiven
    Man I want this amp. I've a Peavey Valveking 212 combo and I have to say I'm dissapointed with it. This seems so sweet, only problem with this might be the power. If I played this with a 4x12 cab hooked up to it, would it be loud enough for gigging?
    jc349
    Or should I go for a Peavey Classic 30 or Vox AC15 instead????? I need something that will go quiet enought for bedroom practice.... =P
    dave996
    Played on this amp in a shop in South Africa last week with a PRS Singlecut. It sounded fantastic, much better depth of sound to it when compared with a similar priced 18W all valve amp they had in, sorry can't remember the name of the other amp.
    lunchboxattacks
    To the unforgiven a 4x12 wont necessarily make it any louder as 5 watts is 5 watts but it will get you more low end especially with good speakers. The speaker built into the combo is decent enough its certainly a far cry better than those "custom designed" jobs youll find in a vox valvetronix or budget marshall. I might get a 1x12 extension for this for a stereo setup and mic the extension cab for gigs using the amp as a monitor though. If you mike the amp through a decent PA youll have enough power im sure.
    Carrot
    ive got the stack version sitting right behind me its a very lovely amp to play if you hav space then get the stack but all blackstar stuff is amazing i'll do a review on my amp in the near future tho need to put it through some tests first lol