HT-5H Review

manufacturer: Blackstar date: 10/24/2011 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Blackstar: HT-5H
This all tube/valve head puts out 5 watts into either 1x8 ohm, 2x16 ohm or 1x16 ohm and so can be hooked up to a variety of cabs.
 Sound: 9.3
 Overall Impression: 9.3
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Features: 8.5
 Overall rating:
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reviews (4) pictures (2) 32 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9
HT-5H Reviewed by: richardlpalmer, on october 24, 2011
5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 220

Purchased from: Craigslist

Features: My HT-5H is the previous generation head (not the newer one with reverb). I originally wished mine had reverb, but it's no longer necessary with my pedal board... It has 2 channels, an effects loop and a headphone jack. One thing that was poor was the length of the footswitch cable (very short). I removed the cable, replaced it with a 1/4" jack and velcro'd it to my pedal board. This mod is a must. Luckily it's probably the cheapest mod in history - and only takes a few minutes. This was my first tube amp. And while others claim here and there that it's a "hybrid" amp, I'm not aware of that as a claim. My Vox VT-series amps were hybrid. The Blackstar is described & promoted in only "tube" terms. It has a pre-amp tube and a power tube. Perhaps there's some digital wizardry happening inside, but regardless of that it's still a tube amp. It is remarkably loud when you consider it's only 5 watts. It also has a standby switch which is very useful. // 8

Sound: I played a couple guitars through this. The first was an Fender HSS MIM Stratocaster for a very short time, the second was a PRS CE-22. The PRS has markedly hotter pickups than the Strat, but they both sounded nice through this amp. I started with just the guitar TC Electronic Polytune and Dunlop wah into the front of the amp. With the guitar volume off, it is very quiet on the clean channel like this. The Drive channel is a bit noisy. I then added pedals to it through the effects loop; a TC Electronic Nova System and Boss 20XL Loop Station. The effects loop works flawlessly. Extremely quiet -- just perfect. I consider this amp very versatile. It has plenty of gain on tap (which I imagine is what most people are after). This will handle metal just fine. Metallica, Slayer, Godsmack, etc. Not a problem. If you want something heavier you should get a pedal. The ISF knob is very cool and very useful. You can leave it in the middle for the "Blackstar sound" or left or right to get California/England sounds. The clean channel is quite adequate. I've heard others pan the cleans but I found them nice. You'll get breakup anywhere above 7 or 8. I don't think that's surprising. Rolling off the volume will solve this if you're going to be picking hard. The main problem is lack of reverb - but if you have a pedal (or the newer model) this is a moot issue. I typically played with the treble & bass a bit past 1 o'clock and the mids scooped a bit, around 10 o'clock. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This is a VERY affordable amp. It does not have chassis mounted pots, hand-wired circuits or chassis mounted tubes. It has all overseas-made, PCB internals. That should not be surprising to anyone. The amp has never failed to work for me. It warms up quickly & plays nicely. I've never needed servicing done on it, but as it's so inexpensive, I would probably take it to a local shop rather than try to get the factory to repair anything. The discussion about gigging is interesting, but this is totally gig worthy. You'd just need to mic the thing - most clubs these days (that I've been at anyway) have moved this way anyway, so big amps aren't as useful... // 10

Overall Impression: The intent behind this purchase was to find a head that would work well in my home but that could also be used for recording. After playing through it for about a year, I think it would be an excellent head to gig with, but only if it was either mic'd through a PA or if the gig was relatively intimate/quiet. I mainly play blues, classic rock, hard rock/metal. My musical playing tastes range from SRV, to Metallica, to ZZ Top. I found this amp willing and able to do it all. This amp also made me fall in love with tubes. There's a warmth to the tone it makes once things are heated up and being driven hard - I've not been able to do that with large wattage heads. But this guy wants to be ridden hard and put away wet - and you can totally do it without worrying about your neighbors calling the cops on you! It's currently sitting to the side as I bought one of its bigger brothers (HT-20H) but I don't really want to sell it. I love this little amp. I have the feeling if I sold it, I'd just end up buying another one eventually anyway. The only reason I can see me selling it would be to buy another small wattage amp that sounds better to my ears... // 9

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overall: 9.8
HT-5H Reviewed by: JWZ28, on august 04, 2009
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 299

Purchased from: Andertons

Features: I believe this amp to be made in 2009 in Korea. This all tube/valve head puts out 5 watts into either 1x8 ohm, 2x16 ohm or 1x16 ohm and so can be hooked up to a variety of cabs. The Head comes provided with a power cable and 2 speaker cables. A foot Switch is also provided to swap between the clean and over driven channels. On the front there is an emulated out/Headphones, ISF control 3 band EQ, Volume and Gain control for the OD channel and a Volume control for the Clean channel and of course an input. And on the back there is an input for the foot switch and an effects loop. My only complaint is lack of a line in because I like to play along with songs and also some reverb. These are easily overlooked however due to the amazing tone and the pricing. It really is the perfect practise amp. // 9

Sound: I use a Gibson USA Les Paul Classic with the stock 498R and 500T ceramic pick ups. This Amp is hooked up to a Framus 2x12 with V30 speakers. I play a variety of music with this amp, anywhere from Neil Young style cleans to Power metal (Helloween, Hammerfall). This amp really can do it all, the cleans nicely break up for that Led Zep crunch and on the OD Channel you can get some nice blues tones then some Slash sounding stuff and then onto heavier sounding stuff. This amp does hiss quite a bit when cranked up on the OD channel but nothing a noise gate wont fix. The clean channel does break up around 11-12 o clock however it doesn't get much louder, just breaks up so you can get a decent clean sound. The ISF knob is quite useful for getting your favourite band's sound. For example on the brit side I can get Led Zep and Slash sound, then when I increase the gain and turn it to the USA, hey presto, Metallica. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This amp seems really well built and I doubt it will break soon. The amp is probably OK for small ish gigs but I wouldn't use it for gigging. // 10

Overall Impression: This amp suites my genres well and is miles better than the MG I used to play (don't buy those kids) If this was ever stolen I'd try get another one asap. I love this amp and don't see why people go spending thousands on an amp they have to play at 0.5. This amp is awesome! // 10

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overall: 9.8
HT-5H Reviewed by: Inferno_WRXT, on october 28, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 330

Purchased from:

Features: - Made in 2009 - All tube head - 2 Channels (Clean and Overdrive) - 5 watts - 1x8 ohm, 2x16 ohm or 1x16 ohm speaker output - Includes power cable, 2 speaker cables, and a 1 button footswitch - Emulated output/Headphone Jack - ISF, 3 band EQ, Volume, Gain knobs for the Overdrive channel - Volume knob for the Clean channel - Effects loop with adjustable output This amp has plenty features, all of them very nice and usable, as opposed to a lot of amps that throw unneeded tweaks to sweeten the deal. The biggest thing about this amp that I don't like is the lack of reverb. Unless you have an external source of providing it, you won't get any. Other than everything about this head is great, especially considering the price. This amp also seems to love pedals very very much, which I will elaborate on below. // 9

Sound: I'm using a Schecter Damien Elite with EMG 81/85 pickups along with a Boss ME-25 and MXR KFK 10 Band EQ, all of this running into a Jet City 2x12 cabinet. Before I describe the sound of this setup, let me tell you about what this head sounds like without anything boosting it or helping it out. Clean: Not terrible, but fairly weak. If you're not picky about the clean channel this won't bother you very much, but otherwise you'll definitely need to add some reverb or chorus. OD: Very impressive. EQ is very sensitive, you'll definitely get what you want out of it, especially with the ISF knob. The ISF knob when on the left side produces a very Mesa-esque sound and when on the right gives a Marshall-esque sound. As far as the Gain goes, this amp DOES NOT have a lot on tap. When set to max, you can get a 80's metal tone at best, but if you're expecting a massive KSE tone to pop out of this thing, think again. That said, this amp takes pedals like a solid state, but with tube tone. So, now for the boosted descriptions. Also, I don't use the OD channel. I run distortion from my ME-25 through the clean channel. Clean: Using the Acoustic Simulator on my ME-25 and adding some reverb, I got a wonderful, crisp, shimmery sound out of this channel. Not Fender clean of course, but it suits my needs. Think something along the lines of the intro to 'Welcome Home' by Coheed and Cambria. That's close to what I achieve, but of course that's just what I prefer. It's possible to get much better clean tones if desired. Overdrive (ME-25 Distortion into the Clean Channel): In order to get the metal tone I wanted, I used this preset: Ultra Metal preamp, Tubescreamer boost, Reverb, and some delay. I run the EQ pedal through the FX Loop, set to my preferences. I used quite a bit of gain with both the ME-25 and EQ pedal, however the end result was truly perfect. Chest punching bass, clear articulate mids, screaming treble, just overall monstrous metal tone. I'd say it rivals the tone of a Mesa Double Rectifier. In fact, I actually prefer it over the sound of a Double Rec, or any of the Mesa heads for that matter. Another surplus about this is amp is, being only 5 watts (which is still plenty loud; trust me), it is PERFECT for a practice amp because you can get fantastic tone at whispering volumes. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This amp is very well constructed and appears very sturdy. It could probably handle gigging, but I don't think it should be used for so. This amp was made for home/studio use, not live shows. However, it could pull off smaller gigs, like maybe a school show or a local gig but nothing large. // 10

Overall Impression: This amp is incredible. Very versatile, extremely adaptive to whatever you decide to add to it, lightweight, durable, and CHEAP. This thing is a steal! By itself, it's decent, but in my opinion this amp head is more of a starting point for you to add your own flare to after buying it. The tone I've achieved with this head is perfect for me. I've finally got that perfect metal tone that every metalhead is searching for, granted this did require the use of completely external distortion and gain, but it doesn't matter. The tone is still phenomenal and that's what matters, especially since I'm a person who is nick picky about their guitar tone and has to tweak something EVERY time they play. But, not with this amp. I've finally achieved a tone that can't be made any better for my taste, and that says something. You could probably find better tone for metal, but it would cost you at least double, maybe triple the price. // 10

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overall: 8.5
HT-5H Reviewed by: CantShred, on april 29, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from: Used

Features: As a new member, I wanted to submit a review for my newest piece of gear. Here goes nothin': On an impulse, I bought an HT-5 for $200 used from a forum member. I've only logged about 3 hours of playtime on it in one evening, but I'm loving it. It is extremely versatile for a small amp head. It has 2 channels, an FX loop, a headphone jack, and a emulated speaker out all in one small, reltaively cheap package! No other amp companies are offering equivalent deals like this (I'm looking at you, Orange Tiny Terror). If the two channels had separate EQs, this would be a perfect amplifier. At 5w this hybrid amp can get very loud. Not loud enough to gig, but good enough to Jam with a drummer who isn't smashing his sticks into oblivion. Thus far its a bedroom practicer, but it can keep up with a band practice situation, although its not ideal. The one thing I really have to complain about is the useless footswitch. It has no LED indicator (a necessity IMO) and is about 5 ft. long... Really? Am I supposed to play standing on top of the amplifier?! // 8

Sound: I am using an EC-1000 SD JB/59 equipped. It reallys sings quite well - the bridge pickup does breakup very easily though on the clean channel. The ISP knob really acts as a pre-presence knob, shaping your mids for different characteristics. I was able to get a load of different sounds, all of which sounded good. This amp was definitely meant as a hard rock amp IMO. With the gain on 6, I have enough distortion to bring down the house. The clean channel sounds great, but you need a low output pickup and can't crank the volume. // 8

Reliability & Durability: This amp is very reliable and durable. Everything about its physical design is great. It has 2 tubes, one in the preamp and one in the power amp. Since it's a hybrid they should have a very long lifespan. I haven't contacted customer service, so I won't address that. // 10

Overall Impression: I learned a couple of songs by Coheed & Cambria last night as they are my favorite band, to break in this amp. Hard rock with pop roots really sounded good through this bad boy. If this thing were broken/stolen, I would probably opt for the HT-20 or something that would be more suited for live situations because the top of the volume on this thing is just loud enough from my 2x12 to hear over drums. The distortion can get really searing for a small amp, which is fantastic. The only gripe is the laughably useless footswitch. // 8

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