Price paid: £ 611
Purchased from: CCMusic Glasgow
Sound — 10
For this, I'm using a Japanese Jackson RR3. Been playing for years and years, Jackson uses TB4 and SH2n duncans. I play anything and everything.
DO NOT waste a lot of money on Series 1.
The sound. The sound. The sound. I cried with joy. I've played the Blackstar series 1 200 (kt88) and thought it was alright. I waited for the series 1 el34 and 6l6 to come to the store. HT stage 100 came in before them and I played it. Bricks were shat.
IF you are a metal-headed nutter, this amp is for you. I got Iced Earth Vengeance is Mine exact sound and tone just plugged straight into the amp. IF you are classic rock, Slash-style etc. this amp does it and does it with that cocky "Of course I can f*&kin do it" undertone! It made the RR3 sound like an LP, amazing ability. The clean is great, boutique or classic voicing and with the coupled reverb is spot-on. Breaks up early if you hammer it on a high volume (the clean channel that is). PERFECTION in an amp, I'm gigging it and I'm not expecting I'll need another amp. Ever.
It gets a 10 for sound for me. A DEFINITE 9 for anyone else without even trying it!
Overall Impression — 10
I play melodic metal mostly BUT- I'm very listenable, not just mindless plank spanking. Sometimes giggle with the odd classic rock, thrash, bluesy stuff, even RHCP-type tune and like to malmsteen it up now and then. The amp has more than I could actually use I reckon.
Scoop your mids and check out how awesome the ISF is.
Buy a series 1 amp and (in my opinion) you might as well throw money down the shitter. Take advantage of Blackstar's major F-U to Marshall, in terms of their price vs. features. They've went out and blown away any Marshall amp with this thing. I've tried many Marshalls from AVT's to the 8/900's and this HT100 made me give up on Marshall, Metal pedals and fx. I'm riding bareback baby!!
Reliability & Durability — 9
Extended 3 year warranty from Blackstar. Solidly built, is an absolute brick and the tubes are very secure looking. I have done engineering-type stuff in the past and am very particular and tedious regarding finishes/quality etc and this thing is immaculate.
Hmmmmm, I would estimate an optimistic 9 based on build and reputation but in honesty I won't know til further down the road.
Features — 9
Go to the Blackstar site to check out absolutely all the features of the HT Stage 100 head, no point me repeating it all. I will say this though: The HT 100 is a gigantic F-you to Marshall from Blackstar. It has been designed solely to beat every feature of most top-end Marshall heads as well as including unique features like the ISF (Infinite Shape Feature). Wonder why it looks Vintage? Very similar to most Marshall head designs? eh? The ISF basically makes the EL34's sound like themselves (Brit) all the way to sounding like 6l6's (Yank).
An idea of the craziness of choice & functionality: You play metal (or Rock) for example, you use OD2 (or OD1). Go to MASTER section, put resonance up (overall bass wave through amp), presence up (overall treble wave over amp)- then go to OD1/OD2 and set ISF (choose EL34 or 6l6 based or anywhere in between) then choose EQ-treble, middle, bass THEN choose OD1/OD2 individual gain & volume levels! THEN choose the voicing, A or AB (think muffler or searing edge) of EACH of the OD channels. THEN go back and fine tun MASTER resonance/presence. Wow. It's even got footswitchable REVERB with a DARK/LIGHT Switch round the back.
Apparently, the Series one 1046l6 can do 6l6 (obviously) and a really good impression of el34's whereas the EL34 based heads (s104el34 and HT100) can't exactly get the 6l6 sound via ISF BUT- the sound is awesome regardless.
Gets a 9 cause it didn't make me a cappuccino. Wouldn't have been surprised if it did though.