Price paid: £ 300
Purchased from: Gear4music
Sound — 7
I am currently using a Kramer Stiker 211 with the amp aswell as an MXR 10 Band EQ pedal, an EHX Memory Toy and a Maxon OD-9. I play rock/metal from 70's to late 90's. But first, the sound from just the guitar plugged straight into the amp. To start with, even though this is a 'bedroom' amp its still really loud, I can't have the volume past 1 (on the control not on a clock face) on the OD channel before I start annoying everyone in my house. The clean channel, I think, isn't all that bad. However, I dont play a lot of clean stuff and I can't compare it to Fenders and other amps like that because I haven't tried them, but for what I use it for, the clean channel sounds really good. The overdrive channel is where I spend most of my time. With the gain on max it can create some good Sabbath tones but nothing heavier in my opinion. It can do AC/DC very well and other bands with tones ranging between the two listed above. The ISF control is a really good feature. All the way to the left the sound becomes more tight and American sounding, all the way to the right the sound becomes more loose and wooly sounding, apparently sounding more British, but to me it just sounds like a mumbled mess if the ISF knob is turned round more than 2 o'clock. The middle and treble controls are very responsive but the bass is not. Probably due to the 10" speaker but there is hardly any bass from this combo, even when the control is maxed, which it always is when im playing Sabbath stuff, it still sounds a little tinny. The headphone/direct out is a nice touch, but it isn't all that good to my ears, there isnt a huge difference between the two available options and the body of the sound seems to dissappear. (Please read on further for a little review with an MXR 10 band eq, i didnt want to write about it in hear as this is about the sound just from the amp.)
Overall Impression — 8
Right then, the mini review with the MXR EQ pedal, aswell as a Maxon OD-9, and to clarify, ive had these pedals since I got my Orange TT which is listed later. With these 2 pedals connected to the amp it really becomes a whole new experience. The EQ pedal is placed within the effects loop and ive got it set up so that it boosts the bass quite a bit, boosts the treble a tiny bit and scoops the mids a little, the result in conjunction with the ISF knob all the way to the left and the added Maxon before the amp means that you can get into Metallica, Skid Row, Ozzy Osbourne/Zakk Wylde, Iron Maiden...etc.... territory. I know from what ive seen/heard from various vids on the internet that the HT-5 Head with a 2x12 or 4x12 cabinate has no problem with bass but with the combo you really do need an EQ pedal, in my opinion, if you want to get into these types of tones with this amp. The amp takes to pedals really well, as ive said im using a MXR 10 band EQ, Maxon OD-9 and an EHX Memory Toy. Now ive had a fair few amps, starting with one from Argos, to three Line 6 spiders, an Orange Tiny Terror, Hayden Mofo, Peavey 6505+ 112 combo to eventually the Blackstar. For me, with the setup ive got now, I wont be buying another amp, unless I start gigging and I need a louder amp, in which case id go with another Blackstar. The setup ive got now can do what any of the amps listed above could do apart from the huge gain that the Peavey has. Fair enough looking at my rig ive spent around 500 for the amp, MXR and Maxon all together but in my opinion its money well spent. I was never really happy with any of the amps ive listed above and due to where I live the music shops near me are rubbish so every amp ive bought ive tried my best to research it before ive orderd it from the internet but with every one there has been something missing, even with the Peavey, sure it had more gain than any of my previous amps but it was too harsh sounding when it came to tones like AC/DC. For me, the Blackstar HT-5 along with its ISF knob and an EQ pedal is one of the most versatile amps/setups ive heard. So, I would say to anyone who is looking for a small bedroom/practice amp that can do a wide variety of tones....grab one of these and an EQ pedal, you will not be dissapointed. Unfortunately I have to rate just the overall impression of the amp, not my setup, which would be a 10...finally! Thanks for your time in reading this rather lenghty review and I hope its helped you in making up your mind about either getting one or looking for something else.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have had it for about 4 months now and so far nothing has gone wrong. I dont use it for gigging so it hasn't been pushed all too hard, but like I said so far its worked fine and feels solidly built.
Features — 8
This is a 5 watt valve amp featuring: Seperate power and standby switches. 2 channels, clean/overdrive, both channels have seperate volume controls and the overdrive channel has a gain control. A shared EQ consisting of Bass, Middle, Treble and the ISF. A headphone/direct out which mimics either a 1x12 or 4x12 cabinate. An effects loop with boost/cut features, +4DBV and -10DVB. A footswitch. And 3 speaker outputs, one for the internal speaker and two for external cabinates.