Price paid: A$ 810
Purchased from: The Rockshop NZ
Sound — 10
I use an Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus, with stock pickups. I alsso have a Boss OS-2 overdrive/distortion pedal, but I only need to use it for band practices at school. I play punk, alternative, and hardcore punk. This amp fits perfectly. I don't need any ultra high gain, etc, and I like good overdrives, and also mild distortions. It sin't too noisy, but I tend to sit facing the speaker, so my pickups produce a hum. If I turn the other way, it's fine. Due to the ISF control, and 2 channels, this is one of the most versatile all tube practice amps. Although these are the sounds I need, on of the best sounds is the clean.Scoop the treble, and boost mids and bass, you get a warm, soft tone. Boost treble and scoop the bass, it's absolutely sparkling. Once you get the volume over 3 oclock, it produces a light overdrive, which is quite nice, although my styles don't have the need for that. My only pickle is that the distortion can't get ultra high gain, but I don't ever need that. A fiddle around with the EQ can help this alot too. Overall, a marvellous sounding amp.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a wonderful amp. Looks great, and sounds great. This is my 6th year playing, and 3rd amp. I have already said all my other gear, and this amps works well in conjuction with it. It's easy to use, and, for me at least, is well loud enough for band practices against a drummer. If this were stolen, I would personally hunt down the person and kill them. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the picture. I would hope that insurance would get me a new one, because I spent almost all my money on this. I wish the footswitch cable was longer, but an extension cable would be easy enough to get if I really needed it. I was also looking at the Orange AD5, and Tiny Terror w/ Epiphone Valve Junior cab, but this was by far the best option. Just plain better than the AD5, and more logical than having $1000 (New Zealand) head that had almost no features. I also looked at the Fender Blues Junior, but the overdrive on that isn't great, only a good clean. Overall, the best amp in this price range on the market, packed full of useful features (no mediocre built in FX boosting the price for nothing), and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a low priced, high quality practice/studio amp.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I can depend on this with my life. Although, being tube, I will have to replace the tubes eventually, but I wouldn't expect that for at least another year. I would gig without backup, seeing my Line 6 Spider III 15w sucks, and it is being sold. The design is very solid, the pots are very strong and stable, all in a recessed area on top, so if it falls over nothing is there to snap. My Line 6 fell over, and the cable bent almost 90 degrees. The power input, as well as footswitch, speaker inputs, and FX loop are located on the back, but under it. Hard to explain, but it means if it falls the other way, no cables will break. I haven't needed any repairs in the 2-3 weeks I've had it, and I wouldn't expect any repairs will be needed, but tube replacement.
Features — 10
A 2009 Blackstar HT-5 combo. 2 footswitchable channels, clean and overdrive (FS included). 5W all tube, one 12AX7/ECC83 preamp tube, and one 12BH7 power amp tube. A 10" Celestion speaker. FX loop return and send, with level Switch. Speaker emulated output with 1x12 or 4x12 voicing. For a valve amp this price, its quality and features are unbeaten. Because it is made in Korea, it is far cheaper, but Blackstar make sure there is no lack in quality. The ISF control is great, letting you haveva UK or US sound, and anywhere in between. This is one of the best practice amps you can get, only lacking a built in reverb, and ultra high gain. Both can be fixed easily with an FX pedal. Other tube amps around this price or less, lack many features, like channel switching, and a 3 band EQ. This amp has it all.