Price paid: € 799
Purchased from: Six and Four (Local shop)
Sound — 9
I used a Shecter Omen extreme in Drop D tuning. I mainly play Metal / Doom / Gothic through this amp. We have an old hand wired JCM 800 for the Rock stuff, but obviously we've tested it for that too. The clean channel really is a highlight compared to many other tube amps. It is very clean, especially with the voice switch in the "on" position. I am much into the "cooler" sounding cleans, which this amp is capable of doing if you take back the bass and add a lot of treble and turn the overall presence up. If you're looking for a nice warm and full clean sound, this is what this channel was actually build for. Not my kind of beer, but it does it very well to a point where even I start liking the warm sound. You can get pretty nice crunch sounds out of it with the gain cranked. I assume a clean booster would improve this even further. The OD 1 Channel I expected to be able to dial in a pretty good crunch sound. I didn't spend too much time on that, since I was not going to play a lot of crunch on that channel anyways, but I wasn't able to do that. If you want crunch, I'd go for the clean channel. The OD 1 with the voice switch engaged gives you a pretty good overdriven sound, with lots of headroom. Overall it has a lot of mids and gets a little muddy if you take the mids above the 10 o clock position. The ISF control (which basically is kind of an equalizer) helps a lot to find the right amount of mids in the sound to cut through the mix and still have that warm and "fat" sound I love for Doom / Gothic Metal. OD 2 is where this amp really shines: Since the OD 1 and OD 2 share the equalizer section, after you've found your preferred OD 1 settings, just engage the OD 2 and get rocking. This channel has massive gain, but stays very defined even at very high gain settings. I doubt you'll ever need to put the gain beyond the 12 o clock position (mine is at 10 o clock) but even if you do, you can still hear every note you play very clearly. Overall, this amp has a massive and "fast/ punchy" low end that just loves hard picking and palm muting. even playing very fast rythms, there's no "mud" in the sound. And - unlike many Marshall amps - it lacks that ennoying "brizzle" in the highs many high gain amps produce. One more thing to say: this amp is loud! Even in my metal band, I can hardly go past the 9 o clock position without making our ears bleed, even with ear protection. That Monster is made for venues. If you're not going to use it for that, get the 60 watter combo. Same features, but your ears will thank you. The amp is very versatile because of all the sound options, and the equalizer work very efficiently. If the OD1 Channel had a better crunch, I would have given it a 10.
Overall Impression — 10
As said before, I play metal / Gothic / Doom mainly. This amp suits that style of music perfectly, and will handle all drop or down tuning up to baritone guitars extremely well. I've played tons of amps (including mesa rectifier, HK Switchblade, several Marshalls and Engels) and - for metal - prefer this amp over any of them. it is able to produce any sound from agressive to fat and full sounding, but never gets that "brizzle" in the highs that made me turn my back on marshall. I wish it had a seperate set of equalizers per OD channel, since that would surely make this the most versatile amp I have ever played. If it was stolen, I'd replace it the same day. If you have both a Good Hand wired Marshall JCM 800 and a Blackstar HT 100, you're set for life. I doubt there's any style of Music you're not going to be able to find your tone for. Because of the versatility of the amp, I'd recommend this amp to recording studios. With a lot of semi professional bands, you find yourself wishing for a Blackstar halfstack for reamping.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The amp is built like a tank. Heavy (21 kg) and looks good and sturdy to me. I have only owned the amp for a couple of weeks, so I really can't tell until later. I personally will never gig without a backup. That's just the perfectionist I am. however one thing you need to know about this amp: if one power tube dies on you, you can't just pull out one tube per channel and play on half power. Due to the heaters of the tubes being in series, if you pull out a tube the others will get a too high heater voltage, presumably causing damage to the amp.
Features — 10
100 Watt valve combo 2xECC83, 1xECC82, 4xEL34 Three footswitchable channels Enhanced tone controls Patented Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) Clean voice switch Overdrive 1 voice switch Overdrive 2 voice switch Presence Resonance Master volume Digital reverb with dark/bright switch Speaker emulated output with 1x12/4x12 voicing Effects loop with effects level switch 4-way footswitch included I took the above right off the Official Blackstar Page. For any further information, check that page since they have all manuals and stuff for download. No sense in repeating that over and over again.