Price paid: $ 299
Purchased from: Robert M. Sides Family Music Center
Sound — 10
I use a Xaviere XV-500 with Crunchy PAT's (PAF clones) and an Epiphone SG. It suits most settings and everything I can think to play; if I can play it, there's a setting to sound like it. SRV? AC/DC? GNR? Metallica? Pearl Jam? Coheed? It does them all, if not perfectly, pretty close- and if not, check out the patches of other users; some are really excellent. Switching patches is not too hard, and amp sounds really great on most settings. It's not hissy or bassy or fake sounding; great work by Blackstar.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for over ten years. My other amp is a Crate V-18 212 (nothing special). I have worked in a music store, and after playing several amps, I was really sold on this one. It blows the Vox Valvetroix series out of the water. It's better than the Roland Cubes. It's more versatile than the Blackstar HT-5. It sounds way better than any of the Kustom and Ibanez boutique amps. This is a real quality amp, and all of the wattages I tried were really consistent and great. When you couple the amp with the software, I was truly blown away. The amp has a pile of different quality voices and it hits the mark - great work by Blackstar. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 8
I always worry about SS amps, and the long term longevity of this series remains to be seen, but they sounded so cool I took a chance. They are built fairly well, nothing rattling, nothing seems cheap or looks like it's poorly designed. I would be concerned about the USB port, simply because it's another cord to worry about, and I'd be worried about hitting it or breaking the port... But with the cord plugged in, you should be controlling the amp from the PC and not really working around the front of the amp. I would certainly gig with this amp, the sound is excellent, but at 15 watts, you need to mic it. This amp does come in larger sizes if volume is a concern.
Features — 9
This is the 15 watt version of the ID series, featuring "Loud As Valve" True Valve Power and Blackstar's Identity feature, which offers an online mixing and modding software that lets you plug directly into the amp and change settings via the dashboard on the computer. It has USB, headphone, MP3, and footswitch (not included) ports. The amp by itself is a solid state amp, and sounds like what you would expect of a SS amp - dry, brittle, and thin sounding. Engaging the True Valve Power button turns this into a completely different amp. It gets loud and deep, and truly emulates a tube amp astoundingly well. It offers several built in patches, which are excellent, and offer sounds ranging from a clean Fenderish sound up to an extremely overdriven metal amp, and several inbetween. The Blackstar software offers the ability to upload user and artist patches, as well as a built in metronome- you can even play MP3's on it, and use the dashboard to slow the tempo, but they stay in tune- really amazing and totally FREE with the amp.