Price paid: $ 499
Purchased from: SweetWater.com
Features — 9
An affordable, portable tube amp that's easy to use and easy to carry. Two channel (with included foot-switch, built in reverb, and an FX Loop (which is HUGE for me). Emulated out for direct to PA or USB interface monitoring/recording. and 3 speaker outs for 16-6-4 ohms. I hook it up to my Bugera 2x12 cab and if I really need to be louder (and on occasion I do) I use the emulated line out and plug into my Tech 21 Power Engine 60 which gives me a PA like tone from an amp with a Celestion speaker and 3-band EQ and master volume with 60 watts of power.
Sound — 9
I play '80s rock, classic rock, and dirty Texas style blues. I only play three guitars, each specific to a style and very different from each other tonally. Guitar #1 is my main and she is a PRS SE 245 Zach Myers signature with upgraded tuners (Gotoh Vintage locking), electronics (920D all American wiring harness with Emerson bumble bee tone caps, Switchcraft output jack and pickup selector switch), and pickups (GFS Alnico II chrome covered neck/bridge).
Guitar #2 is a PRS SE Custom 24 with upgraded electronics (920D all American wiring harness with Emerson bumble bee tone caps and switch craft output jack and selector switch) and pickups (DiMarzio Super Distortion/bridge and Steve Morse-Jazz/neck). Guitar #3 is a MIM Fender Stratocaster with Fender Texas Special pickups in the neck and middle positions and Fender Twin Head humbucker in the bridge. Pedals are TC Electronics tuner, MOJOMOJO overdrive, Dark Matter distortion, a Boss OD-1 overdrive, Tone City Golden Plexi, and Tone City Tape Machine delay. I also have a POD HD500X that run into the HT5R using the 4 cable method. My guitars and pedals work wonderfully with all the channels from the Blackstar HT5R.
Reliability & Durability — 4
I was in love with this amp from the second I turned her on. I stayed in this honeymoon phase for nearly 4 months. Then I started to really get to know her and the tones that come most naturally. Then a week ago (5 months and 3 weeks after purchase) it crapped out on me. Just stopped working. I changed the tube with upgraded ones but it didn't make any difference at all! So with shipping time It got back to Sweetwater for repairs 6 months to the day after I first opened the box. No telling what went wrong and how much or long it be in for repairs. It's been 3 days and still no word. If I can get it back in full working condition fine, if not I'll buy something else.
Overall Impression — 7
If it weren't for the repair needs so soon after purchase I would be rating it at a 8.5-9 due to its size, weight, features and tone. But I can't overlook the catastrophic failure of the amp. It's got everything I could want from a small bedroom practice amp. Tubes, FX Loop, External out for a cab, emulated out for recording or going direct to PA, built in reverb, and sexy black on grey looks. It takes pedals so very well and the tones are sweet, warm, and singing. I love it, but am disappointed with its reliability.