HT-5 Combo 110 Review

manufacturer: Blackstar date: 10/01/2015 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Blackstar: HT-5 Combo 110
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.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9.3
 Reliability & Durability: 9.5
 Features: 8.7
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reviews (6) pictures (1) 42 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.8
HT-5 Combo 110 Reviewed by: lunchboxattacks, on february 17, 2009
5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 339

Purchased from:

Features: 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. // 10

Sound: 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. // 9

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 10
HT-5 Combo 110 Reviewed by: lao123, on june 26, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 810

Purchased from: The Rockshop NZ

Features: 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. // 10

Sound: 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. // 10

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 10
HT-5 Combo 110 Reviewed by: britishsligean, on may 19, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 375

Purchased from: xmusic dublin

Features: The amp was made in Korea in 2009, after being designed in the UK. This amp is very versatile, it will go from a blues sounding amp to heavy rock/ light metal amp, as well as being able to sound like an American amp and a British amp. It has 2 channels 1 clean and 1 overdrive channel. The clean channel is controlled via a single volume knob that has no eq, whilst the dirty channel has a gain, volume, 3 band eq and an infinite shape feature (isf) knob, which along with the eq give both a British or American amp characteristics to the sound. It has a 10" Celestion G10N-40 16ohm speaker, effects loop, headphone output with a 1x12 or 4x12 cab simulator. I use this for bedroom practice and it is plenty loud enough for what I want. This is a 5 watt tube amp, with a 12bh7 in the power amp and an ecc83 in the pre amp. // 10

Sound: I primarily use my Epiphone G-400 with it, using the bridge humbucker, and occasionally I use my brother's fat start which is a hss with coil tap on the humbucker. It suits my music style perfectly by being able to do blues, all types of rock and some metal. For 5 watts this thing is seriously loud when I use the speaker I only have the clean channel on about 4 and the dirty channel on 2. When using a high gain setting is can get abit noisy with background noise, but you can easily put a noise gate in the effects loop to clear that up. The clean channel is based on the Artisan series of boutique amps, and on 10 it is still perfectly clean with no break up what so ever. The distortion can get brutal whilst not into the death metal shredders territory, still by having the distortion on 10 you can still get screaming harmonics out of it. // 10

Reliability & Durability: By no means is this a gigging amp, it is designed for home practice and studio recording, but if you want to gig with it you will need to use a microphone especially on the clean channel, whilst I have no cranked the overdrive channel up to 10, judging by what it sounds on 2, you may be able to just hear it over a drummer. Whilst I've only had it about 5 months it has not once played up, as for the need to replace tubes, I've read in many forums that the tubes are barely used so never need replacing, whilst browsing forums a quote from Blackstar actually supported that claim, even in the manual there is no mention about retubing it. // 10

Overall Impression: This is a perfect match for my playing style of blues, rock and metal. I've been playing since September 2009, with an Epiphone G400, Boss DS-1 and a Tenson Scream 15. Before I got this amp I had little ambition of constantly playing, after I got this amp it made me want to play more and more, instead of playing for about 30 mins 5 days a week, I now play closer to an hour 5-7 days a week. I bought this amp purely based on reviews and youtube and it has not disappointed me one bit. When I was looking at amps I compared this to the Marshall class 5, which is about the same price, and in terms of value for money and features this amp blows the Class 5 away, as for the sound they sound very similar, and after reading Blackstar's history it's clear to see why they sound similar. If this was stolen, lost or broken I would easily replace it with the same amp. There is not one feature on this amp I don not like, whilst a 3 band eq on the clean channel would be nice the whole amp makes up for that not being there. // 10

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overall: 8
HT-5 Combo 110 Reviewed by: rock rocks, on february 16, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 300

Purchased from: Gear4music

Features: 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. // 8

Sound: 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.) // 7

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 8

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overall: 8.5
HT-5 Combo 110 Reviewed by: lizardlespaul, on august 23, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 499

Purchased from: Mega Music

Features: First things first, I'd done a lot of reading up on blackstar's products for a while and while I had made a pretty firm decision to get one, I needed to be convinced. The amp is an all-valve (or tube depending on what country you're from)5 watt combo with a single 10" celestion blue speaker. Made in Korea. It's come with a pretty simple set up, a clean channel and an overdriven channel, and basic eq settings of bass, mid, treble and a control that Blackstar call the "ISF" or "Infinite shaping feature". It sounds like a load of wank, but it does actually have a significant effect on the way the amp sounds, but more on that later. I haven't had it long but the main reason I got it was to supplement my other amps, and have something semi decent to practice on instead of some cheap crappy practice amp that I was using previously. Along with this I needed something with a fairly neutral clean channel to play acoustics through on smaller gigs, and to use as a back up to my 40w Marshall combo. All in all, it came with everything it said on the box. The only thing I would have liked would have been a larger speaker and maybe a reverb or chorus feature. They have now remedied this, having released the HT-5R which has a 12" speaker and a digital reverb channel. The only real gripe here is that the back inputs for the footswitch (optional) and effects loop and to hook it up to an extension cabinet are facing downwards, which makes it ergonomically awkward. Only a small gripe, and with such a small and lightweight amp, it's easily dealt with. // 7

Sound: Blackstar amps have a reputation of being chameleons of sorts, in that they can pull of a range of different sounds, yet still retaining a fairly unique character. I play a huge range of music from instrumental pop, to blues to hard rock and metal, and while it doesn't necessarily pull off every one of those styles with equal aplomb, it certainly gives an excellent covering of the bases that most guitarists will want to cover. The clean channel is very bright and almost Fender-esque (is that a word?) and dirties up just enough when you crank the volume on your guitar. The distored channel is quite the beast to behold. This is also where you get the true character of the ISF knob I mentioned earlier. Crank up the gain and swing the knob to the left and by scooping the mids you will get an excellent late 80s Metallica sound, particularly through a humbucking guitar like my Les Paul. Swing the knob back to the right and you'll be greeted by a thick crunch reminiscent of Cream or Black Sabbath (I could go on for days going over the myriad of tonal possibilities with this amp, but suffice it to say it's one hell of a versatile animal). Does this amp suit the styles I play? 100%. Does it give out the tonal character most people have come to expect from high-end boutique amplifiers and big-dollar, big watt items? Almost. As you would expect, there is some trade off, but as an amp to be used stand alone for rehearsals, small venues or recording, it's virtually peerless. Along with that, if you want to go a bit bigger, you can extend into a 4x12 or mic it through your PA. Overall, unless you have an infinitesimally specific sound you are chasing, and have the wallet to back it up, there aren't a lot of sonic applications where this little black box doesn't come up trumps. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I'm yet to gig this amp, but it is build solidly and despite having a semi open back, the speaker is well protected. Unfortunately, it's relative light weight may prove a hazard as I can see this being a lot more easily knocked over by an over-enthusiastic bass-player than a bigger, heavier item. All the more reason to keep one's bass player on a leash. Obviously, being an all valve item, there are specific care and servicing requirements, but I won't bore you those. It certainly looks tough enough to withstand everything I intend to throw at it. // 9

Overall Impression: Having been playing for 15 years, I've had the opportunity to play through some very cool gear. Like I said at the beginning, I need something that is more than a 1 trick pony, which I'm sure many of you will agree, is the downside of some of the high-end amps that we all drool over. While this particular model, being the older combo, lacked some of the other features I had been looking for ie. Reverb, it made up for it in the fact that it is an amp that is full of character, and yet is also a blank Canvas in terms of the way it can be used to achieve such a wide array of sounds. Frankly, aside from a few gripes, mainly to do with packaging and layout, I cannot fault this amazing little machine! // 9

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overall: 8.5
HT-5 Combo 110 Reviewed by: Andy949494, on october 01, 2015
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 170

Purchased from: Web Purchase

Features: My Blackstar HT5 was one of the earlier models fitted with a 10 inch Celestion speaker and without reverb. I bought it second hand with a fault that its had for ages - the switching between clean and drive channels always needs two presses of either the foot switch or the button. It was made in Korea but is finished to a good standard and looks and feels nicely made. Like all Blackstars it is fitted with corner protectors and the plastic covering feels and looks nice and not cheap. It's key features are two foot-switchable channels and an effects loop. The clean channel has a volume control whilst the drive channel has Gain, Volume Bass Middle and Treble controls. Like all Blackstars it has an ISF control which I am unconvinced by. Yes it changes the tone but not that much... The amplifier also has an emulated out that may be used with headphones etc. I have never used it on this model. // 7

Sound: Unlike many modelling amplifiers the Blackstar does one thing. It sounds like a small Marshall like amplifier and is really easy to tweak. It has a "Copper like" mellow clean tone that sounds lovely with Gibson type guitars. The clean channel goes fairly loud but doesn't stay clean for that long. It has a nice edge of breakup tone that can be made dirtier by heavier playing or using the volume knob on the guitar (think older style blues). The drive channel does have a lot of gain and go a lot more modern than I would tend to play and can cover most '70s/'80s stuff (e.g. Bryan Adams, Rainbow) without needing extra pedals. I have used mine for several jams with a drummer/ guitar/ bass/ singer through P.A. and I could hear myself fine and drummer had nice things to say about my playing - so obviously he could hear it! I don't regard it as loud enough for a genuine gig. Its quite a bit louder than a 30Watt solid state but. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I wouldn't want to do a conventional gig with a HT5. Its great for Jams with a drummer etc but isn't quite loud enough for a small heavy rock/traditional rock gig. That said you could play it comfortably in a coffee shop. Its also not so powerful that you can't play it in a flat with the volume turned down at sensible levels. I believe its on its first set of valves and believe its very strongly built. I wouldn't abuse it but it has regularly been transported in the back of a car (or by post when I bought it) and is absolutely fine. // 9

Overall Impression: Most of the time when I play at home I tend to play "Rocksmith" or practice along with backing tracks. I also have a Boss JS8 to play along with should I want it although I never tend to plug into it anymore - I prefer the Blackstar tone even when played very quiet. This amp was bought as a relatively cheap amp with a nice tone for Gibsons and dual channels that I could easily carry into a Jam session out of the car (guitar one hand amp other) and easily adjust to get the tone I wanted. I didn't want a modelling amp as I knew it would have lots of settings that I wouldn't know how to use. I was very tempted by Hughes and Kettner 18 Combo but was not entirely sure about the tone and they were at least twice the cost of this amp. The HK would have done everything I wanted and more but I couldn't justify the money. The Blackstar is still doing everything I need. I hope at some time in the future to need a more powerful gigging amp but at the moment it is good enough and its a good compromise between power, cost and weight. // 9

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