HT 20 Studio review by Blackstar

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (19 votes)
Blackstar: HT 20 Studio

Price paid: $ 599.99

Purchased from: Alpha Music

Sound — 9
I'm using an Ibanez ARZ307 with the stock humbuckers, which are somewhat high output - I plan on changing these soon. The amp handles the low B string just fine - no mud here. The cleans on this amp shine, as good as anything I've payed. They are bright and full and don't break up unless you really set the knobs to get the breakup, in which case you get some nice power tube breakup. The distortion channel is also nice. Its a full, creamy distortion with good ntoe definition, and no fuzz at all. You can get a killer hard rock tone up to say a "Ride The Lightning" type distortion If you are a metalhead, you'll probably want for a bit more gain. I use a Boss Overdrive before the preamp to push it over the top, and it handles it nicely, staying clear but adding some chug. I tried the OD in the effects loop and it turned things to mush, so I run just the OD from the guitar and everything else through the effects loop, and everything sounds good, giving me extra crunch when I want it or a solo boost. The amp does have a bit of noise to it at high gain, but no more than the average tube amp and I'm not getting any unmanageable feedback, even with the OD pedal. Between the amp and the OD pedal, I have every tone I need here, There is a ton of low end available here, so I think an extension cabinet would suit this amp well, as it seems to be a bit much for the 1-12" speaker and small closed back cabinet. I'm backing off the bass to about 10 oclock to compensate.

Overall Impression — 9
I play all types of music, from ballads to blues to metal, rhythm and lead. This amp has everything I need. And it takes the pedals I use with it fantastically. I've owned a B-52 AT100 previously, and I prefer the cleans on this. The distortion channel is not as crunchy, but overall sounds smoother and harmonically rich. If it were stolen I'd be happy to have another. The cleans are my favorite feature on the amp - I chose this over a 6505 for that reason. I did like the heaviness of the 6505 but I need a good clean channel. I'm very happy with the amp, and it helps that the price was 599. The feeling of overall quality is a notch up from the price. Oh yeah, did I mention it's compact and LIGHT?!?! Great for anyone without a roadie.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This amp looks and feels really well built. The tolex is of high quality, everything looks solid. there's nothing here to complain about. Since I got the floor model, I was told if anything happened within a year it would be replaced by the vendor, rather than having to mail this off, but either way the 1 year warranty is nice. I'll give a 9 here since I have not had this long enough to know more.

Features — 8
I bought this new from Alpha Music. Its the floor model but Alpha is known for being anal about not letting anyone touch their gear. You can't even try a guitar without assistance. The amp has all the features I need. 2 channels, clean and overdrive. Digital Reverb, effects loop, and know to let you go from British to Modern style distortion. 20 watts is plenty with a tube amp. This amp is loud enough to play any local bar and anything larger I'd be mic'd up. The only thing I feel this is lacking is a really over the top distortion for extremely heavy genres.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This was a fantastically well written, well thought out review. It's so good that I want to try this amp myself.
    The HT line is a great series of amps for guitarists that need a good quality med/high gain amp for a reasonable price. They do use clipping diodes in the signal path to achieve that gain so tube purists might be put off. Nonetheless, it's a good amp worth its price.
    I had a fight between this and a Spider valve 212. The Spider valve won but this was impressive. Responds to pick attack nicely and has some good creamuy distortions. I was expecting a bit too much from the drive channel but it definately does the job. A tube screamer in front of the amp would probably do it alot of favours. Planning on getting a recording amp soon and this will be sat right next to the tiny terror for round 2. Great amp.