HT-5S Mini Stack Review

manufacturer: Blackstar date: 09/07/2010 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Blackstar: HT-5S  Mini Stack
The HT-5 is the ultimate studio and practice amp, packing all the great tone and innovative features of the awardwinning HT valve pedals into a two channel, footswitchable valve amp format.
 Sound: 7.8
 Overall Impression: 8.2
 Reliability & Durability: 8.4
 Features: 8.6
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reviews (5) pictures (2) 19 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.3
HT-5S Mini Stack Reviewed by: toddd, on april 30, 2009
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 1000

Purchased from: Music Store Sydney

Features: 2 Channel Head with effects loop. The Shared Eq is sometimes annoying, but really it is no trouble once you become accustomed to it. ISF control. It does work. But not really my cup of tea. Emulated speaker out which actually does sound alrigh. Just needed a little tweaking with the eq. 8 &16 ohm speaker outs. Overall a Basic 2 Channel valve amp for a really good price. // 9

Sound: I play a Fender strat and Shecter C-1 elite through this little puppy and it roars. Straight off the bat I pulled up some very nice Jazzy/ Blues Tones from the clean channel. With a little playing around, you can get some really beautiful cleans and if you push the volume you get a nice sounding break up if that's what you are after. If you want cleans at high volume, this is not really the amp for you. The clean channel does not have very much head room. The overdrive channel is where this amp really shines. Awesome crunch for blues or rock ballad stuff, and all the way almost up to high gain. There is enough gain for maybe 80's metal but not really for modern metal. Great for hard rock (imo a lot of people use too much gain anyway). For a practice amp/recording amp this is perfect, it is simple to use, your guitar tone is not lost and it lets you focus on The Music... Which is why we are all here. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Fantastic build quality. Better than most high end amps to be honest. It is made in Korea. I must say I have been impressed lately with the stuff coming out of Korea. The chassis Is neat and tidy. With plenty of room. Head and cabs are built solid. Handles and jack are sturdy. Everything seems to be finished to a really high standard. More than I can say for some other amp manufactured with a 'larger than life reputation'. // 9

Overall Impression: I play mostly Hard Rock, but I enjoy playing blues and actually just a bit of everything. Within reason, this little amp comes up with the goods. Very versatile and exceptionally quiet. For anyone who plays blues to rock to metal. This would be a good choice for practice or recording. Defiantly buy another if this one was stolen or lost. // 10

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overall: 8.8
HT-5S Mini Stack Reviewed by: Shred Guitar, on may 13, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Features: Since its creation in the mid 2000's, the Blackstar HT-5 has gone from strength to strength. Packed with useable features, the Blackstar has revlutionised the term 'Mini stack'. The HT-5 is extremely versatile, delivering sparkling cleans to heavy distortion all packed inside a valve driven head. 1x ECC83 and 1x 12BH7 valves really provide that extra punch you need as you crank up the volume, ready to play your favourite songs. I'm personally a metal player and I love the Blackstar. However, I also play a bit of classical too. "Can it do that?" you may be asking. I reply with a resounding "Yes!" Whether you play rock or jazz, Enter Sandman or Enter Shikari, this amp is capable of delivering the tones you require! A 3-band EQ enables you to mould your tone for your own personal style, giving a unique edge to your playing. With 2 channels to choose from, the HT-5 really gives you a lot for the price. Headphone/input socket also enables you to experience the Blackstar's quality in those late night jams. Maybe an effects loop and some built-in effects would have been the icing on the cake but we still have numerous oppurtunities with the HT-5 Mini Stack. This amp can be used for bedroom practice but it is also suitable for bands practice sessions and it's also the perfect studio amp as it's portable and small. 5 watts is plenty for the above; it isn't enough for gigs, you may want to check others if you plan on gigging. Two 10" Celestion speakers really reassure us that this amplifier has a beautiful sound, and by gosh does it! // 9

Sound: I'm using a Washburn HM series with fitted EMGs currently and it sounds great through this amp. Definitely recommended for all styles though, not just rock, due to its high versatility and tone. Being a metal player, I find this amp excellent. When cranked, the Blackstar delivers a sound that we'd usually expect from amps 3 or 4 times more expensive than this. The HT-5 has no noticeable noise, even when cranked to high levels, something rare for only a 5 watt amplifier. No built-in effects can reduce the possibilities of those who like to drench their sound in them, but through a small amount of pedals or a multi-effects system, the HT-5 can provide a tone that even the professionals will be proud to have. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Definitely a dependable amp for bedroom or band practice. But not suitable for gigs. You would definitely have to mic it up if the need be. The amp has never broken down, but a change of valves rarely can benefit your amp, maintaining the perfect sound of British Blackstar Amplifiers. // 9

Overall Impression: With my selection of music, the Blackstar suits the job fine when coupled with a couple of pedals. I've been playing a few years and have owned numerous amps from Peavey Classic 30s to Marshall MGs, and this Blackstar HT-5 is up there with the best! Highly recommended and highly sought-after. I've had no regrets with this amp, something that is very rare on the amplifier market. If stolen, the HT-5 is definitely something you would replace. No other mini stacks really give the same tonal qualities of the Blackstar, something desireable in an amp. No built in FX or FX loop is a downfall, yet the introduction of a headphone socket is a real benefit for all those players who like to play at night aswell. For all players seeking a new practice amp, check the Blackstar, it could be the one for you! // 9

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overall: 7
HT-5S Mini Stack Reviewed by: jpnyc, on january 15, 2010
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 450

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: This amp was made in Korea in 2009. A three band EQ and the ISF sound tweaking feature are just sensitive enough to do a lot but not sensitive enough that it's hard to find a setting. It has a clean channel, and overdrive channel, and effects loop. It needs an attenuator to reign in the overdrive channel. There is a headphone jack with 1x12 or 4x12 emulation. Come with a footswitch. // 9

Sound: I play the HT-5 with a Strat and a C1-EX. It handles everything the guitars can do without trouble, responding well to changes in volume, pickup selections, and pick dynamics. The clean channel is just a good clean channel with no hiss or hum. I'm pretty underwhelmed. Honestly it's no better than what you'll find in good modeling amps at half the price. The louder you play it the better it sounds, but it sounds great without getting annoyingly loud. The HT-5 has a lot of gain to offer, but it isn't responsive enough. At the low end it's finicky and getting a good sound can take a while. At the high end it's not much better; there's little difference between three o'clock and cranked. For rock that fits in between those extremes its great, but the extremes need smoothing out. The real problem is that the volume of the overdrive channel seems completely disconnected from the soft clean channel. It only sounds great if you turn the volume up, but that point is well beyond apartment/parent friendly. It also makes it hard to match a high-gain sound to the clean channel; I'm finding that I rely on a pedal for that. If you can't play loud, this isn't a good amp for you. It needs an attenuator just for the overdrive channel. There's also a headphone jack/emulated line out, this is the amp's big loser. Plug in a pair of quality headphones and it sounds like garbage. Everything you don't want comes out; humming, hissing, crackling, all cold and sterile. The sound is just as bad if I try using it through the line-in on my Mac or even just plugging it right into my sound system. Oddly, all of that goes away when I play it through a pair of $25 Sony headphones. It sees like nobody at Blackstar thought to test the HT-5 with headphones people who like sound might own. The cabinets sound great. The ten-inch closed back speakers hit a sweet spot between just enough bass response and too muchliving up to the low-volume, great sound promise. // 6

Reliability & Durability: Everything is very well constructed and should age well. I was a little disturbed when one of my two cabinets had a bad speaker out of the box. Every connection was good and nothing was loose or torn, so clearly it was not tested at the factory. Blackstar's response to this problem was to ignore my request for support. That is probably because Blackstar does not have warranty service outside the UK, but an email acknowledging it would have been nice. Fortunately Guitar Center replaced it, but be aware that if you are outside of the UK and your Blackstar fails, you are on your own. Blackstar should at least have some kind of FAQ or host a support forum if it can't offer international service, especially with the huge number of dealers it has in the USA. // 6

Overall Impression: I play mix of music and the versatility of the amp lends itself to that. But I do feel that the amp was very overrated, and I may return it or sell it and just go back to playing with a Valvetronix amp. It's also important to note that while the tonal range of Blackstar's ISF feature is nice on clean channels it can't compare to a good modeling amp. It it were stolen I would just cash the insurance check and buy a VT50. Blackstar's claims that this amp gives big-amp, high-gain sound at low volumes is rubbish; they should mail a free attenuator to everybody who fell for that line. // 7

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overall: 7.8
HT-5S Mini Stack Reviewed by: unregistered, on february 18, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 399

Purchased from: GC

Features: 5 watt 2 channel Class AB push/pull tube design. FX loop, footswitch, unheard of in a low watt package. Two 10-inch cabs -- custom Celestions, nice! The ISF knob is a little geeky, but it does let you dial in a nice chiming tone on a strat and a late-60s Zep on the Les Paul. The knock on this amp is a lack of reverb, but a T-Rex Roommate in the loop works lovely indeed. In fact, this amp is extremely FX friendly, all your pedals will sound great. I've got an Ibanez phaser and a 60s Crybaby, both sound pristine. Has an "emulated" output, which basically isolates the preamp section for headphones, direct to mixer and recording into the computer. Unfortunately, can't run the line out and have the speaker outs engaged at the same time. Also the 2X12 and 4X12 speaker emulation seems frivolous. // 8

Sound: This is an interesting amp, with both good and bad points. First, love the clean tones. Absolutley exquiste. My strat sings, my 12-string jingle jangles like Vintage Byrds or Burrito Bros. -- crisp, but clean. The distortion is only so-so. I like natural overdrive and I wish the clean channel had just a bit more gain. Channel 2 sounds like a pedal -- which this thing was -- until its pinned. Then it gets interesting. But it's still NOT LOUD ENOUGH. I know it's only 5 watts, but other low-watt amps like the Valve Jr. and the Vox blow my head off and they use basically the same 16 ohm speakers. The Tiny Terror will shake my fillings loose, this won't. With the HT-5 I have to stick a volume boost in front to keep up. Mind you, the extra gain does the trick, but it's beside the point. I expect it to keep up on its own. The HT-5 will recreate every tone you've heard on a rock record for over 40 years but it doesn't get you off the way a full-cranked Marshall will. It's basically a giant iPod speaker for guitar. // 7

Reliability & Durability: Seems pretty sturdy, nice build quality for an affordable amp, the chrome tele-style knobs and switches are a nice touch. Classic styling, everything is made to look like a 70s-era Plexi. // 9

Overall Impression: I'm a classic rocker, I like a mix between clean and dirty tones. The HT-5 is a reasonable facsimilie of every amp you ever heard on an album, with the right pedals and set-up I have No Doubt you could recreate almost any sound you've ever heard. The features, build and quality are all top notch. I got the cabs and footswitch thrown in basically free, and it was an incredible value for the money. Makes the Marshall mini-stack look sick in comparison. But prices have since gone up (nearly doubled, in fact) and I'd be extremely reluctant to shell out the extra dough. For one thing, it's not loud enough. This is an elaborate practice amp but short of running it through an 8X12 stack you won't be waking the neighbors, even a little bit. What sealed it for me though is the absolute lack of mods, it's vehemently discouraged by the company. I went on to a Blackstar forum and somebody asked what some good substitute tubes were. Some company troll ripped him down for even thinking about swapping tubes and said the whole thing would have to be rebiased. For a 5-watt head, WTF???? For the 799 or whatever they want now, I'd spend the extra $100 and get an Egnator or the new Tiny Terror. For that kind of coin I can get a Night Train and have enough left over for a weekend in Vegas. Great amp, but only at a certain price point. You have to figure out the value proposition on your own. // 7

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overall: 8.5
HT-5S Mini Stack Reviewed by: UKMaster, on september 07, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 399

Purchased from: Rowlands music swansea

Features: You can read above for this part as it's already been said quite alot! The only thing's I know are: - 2 footswitchable channels with shared EQ - 1 pre amp tube and 1 power tube - Blackstar 'ISF' knob I wish it had one EQ for the clean and 1 EQ for the overdrive channel. // 8

Sound: I use it with an LTD EX-50 with ESP LH-300 pickups (upgrading guitar soon!). My style is Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal. I mainly play bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer etc. It can do these styles very well. So far I have been able to get every sound I want! It's quite easy to get the sounds. For some reason, when I first got it it didn't sound that good but I think it was just my ears adjusting to it as I had been using a Line 6 spider III for 2 years! The ISF knob is pretty useless to me. I have only turned it to about 9 o'clock to get a good Iron maiden sound. It sounds best at 0. The clean channel breaks up after about 1 o'clock. Both channels sound good at quite low volumes. The Distortion channel gets quite noisy at high volumes when your not playing. There is lots of Gain on tap to use. I have not needed to turn the gain past 3 o'clock with any of the sounds I want. Overall, definitely a great amp that sounds very good. The clean is quite good but this amp is all about Distortion. Very great sounding amp and I am very happy with it even though I am using a cheap guitar with stock pickups. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I have never gigged before because I am not in a band but I am sure I would trust it as it seems to be pretty well built. The knobs are all nice and tight and nothing has fallen off yet! I have only had it for a few weeks so I can't really give a big review of reliability. I would use it for a gig without a backup. // 9

Overall Impression: I play metal and it suits it perfectly. I have been playing for about 4 years. I own a Zakk Wylde wah and it sounds good through the amp. If it was stolen I would call the police and then my insurance company and get a new one! Nah but if it were stolen I would probably save up some money and maybe buy it again. I love the Distortion channel because it is so easy to get sounds I want. I wish it had separate EQ's for the different channels because I sometimes don't like the sound of the clean channel but it is OK. // 8

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