Price paid: £ 219
Purchased from: Andertons
Features — 10
I purchased this Blackstar HT5-C (the reverb free option) 5 watt guitar amplifier around 2 months ago from Andertons Music. These amps go back a few years now and have racked up a fair amount of awards. The build quality of this amp is top notch, the speaker housing feels sturdy and the grille robust. The control knobs are metal with a very smooth action, its feels reassuringly weighty, first impressions were very good based on its looks and quality build.
It was a pleasant surprise to empty the box and realise a footswitch was included with the amp. I already got this amplifier for a very reasonable price, so you really get some bang for your buck here. As with most Blackstar amps you receive a nice quick play/idiot proof instruction chart attached to the top of the amplifier making initial set up very easy, I like this touch, you can get to grips with the core of this amp in a few seconds and can easily dial in some killer tones.
Sound — 9
First off I am a bedroom player, using this in a small sized bedroom with a Gibson Les Paul; I play blues, classic rock right though to hard rock/metal territory. This amp is pretty loud perfect for bedroom playing and recording, you would struggle to max this out without annoying your neighbours.
Naturally for me the overdrive channel is where I prefer to be. This amp pushes out some brilliant hard/classic rock tones rich, fat and full great for slamming out power chords and screaming lead lines. Some respectable amounts of gain available here, from crunch straight through to border line metal. Using the gain flat out will yield some hiss although my rig may be in part to blame. Ultra high gain metal like tones are best accessible through a pedal, I feel the overdrive is more voiced to classic/hard rock.
The overdrive channel really is a star, it sounds pushed at low volumes, brilliant valve tones at bedroom volumes. I have already sold a couple of my drive pedals as I have no need for them due to the natural, versatile drive available here. The clean channel is not so much of a treat; with limited EQ controls it can sound flat and sterile. Although it can be brought to life with the addition of a good reverb pedal and an EQ pedal through the FX loop works wonders. I use the clean channel as a basis for my pedals it's not of much use on its own without extra colour and EQ control. The included FX loop and speaker emulated output features are brilliant on an amp at this price range! I feel as though I have everything I need in this combo for years to come!
Reliability & Durability — 9
I'm sure this amp will last for some time to come based on its build quality and Blackstar's reputation, having only owned this amp for a couple of months I can't comment on the reliability of the amp yet. I'm sure this amp would stand up pretty well to regular transportation to and from gigs it feels sturdy and well-built although I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for the gigging guitarist based on its low wattage. I have owned Blackstar amps in the past and I have never encountered an issue with them.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall I am really impressed with this amp. It's brilliant for overdriven playing styles, with the addition of a pedal or two this thing will cover all bases and will sound like a pushed tube amp at very low levels. The added FX loop is a bonus, bung in a reverb and EQ to really unlock the clean channel - this amp handles pedals really well. If it were stolen I would replace it immediately. For me this is my one and only solution for getting superb tone at bedroom levels, packed full of features that will make this a keeper! This really is suited to the bedroom guitarist or those who record in small spaces, it's surprisingly loud but I don't feel it would handle itself in a band situation; it's not designed for this purpose - look at higher wattage Blackstars for this.