Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: Dietze Music
Features — 10
1001 amps in one. 12 channels on amp and up to 128 with the FS-10 Footswitch. Not a amp modeler but offers 6 tube types for emulation (KT88, 6L6, EL84, 6V6, KT66, EL34)While the various valve types are emulated in great detail, produce clearly audible differences and incorporate a degree of power-supply sag. Combine that with Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1 and OD 2 voicings and you have unlimited possibilities. Which to me is a Solid State Mesa MK series amp. While there is not effects loop you get Modulation (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, & Tremolo), Delay (Linear, Digital, Multi, & Analog) and Reverb (Hall, Spring, Plate & Room) to sculpt you tone without the need for pedals as you would find in any other "amp modeler"; which is not.
USB allows you to record strait from the amp as well as connect to a computer for deep editing with "Insider Software" or load patches you create of download from Insider. In the Insider you can send up to 128 patches to the amp.
A Blackstar feature is the ISF. Some use it for mid but it is designed to change the eq. from American eq to British eq. to make your amp ring or chime. Other controls are gain, volume, treble, & bass. Headphone out that can be set up for line out via Insider as well as line in for a mp3 player. Weighs in about 35 lbs.
Sound — 9
All the headroom and loudness of a tube amp. Responds to pick dynamics as well as any tube amp I have played. While it will not sound 100% like a tube it will get you there better than any modeler amp; due to emulation of power sag if feels like a tube amp. The cleans are good but if you are a looking for a Fender sound you can get close but are better off buying a Mustang. The clean is as good as the MK series. The crunch is the strong point of this amp. I don't use the OD voicings much since I don't play styles needing to use it but if I were to play metal the voicings are solid and better than the Line 6 or Roland Cube offerings. The Crunch and OD settings have a warmth that are missing from Roland or Line 6
Reliability & Durability — 9
Having owned this for two years and taken it on the road. It has held up well. Really not much if any signs of wear other than dust. No noticeable noise from the controls. Looks like it will last for years to come. Being a S.S. amp I don't have to worry about changing tubes or handling the amp with kid gloves. The ID:30 would be a suitable back up and not skip a beat IMO. It could be use for small gigs under 200 people and rehearsal without breaking your back.
Overall Impression — 10
When you have diverse interest like me and not a lot of room or money for gear. The ID:30 fits the bill. Whether I play classic rock, blues, prog, jazz, punk, rockabilly, or ambient. The ID30 is ready to make it happen without a lot of tweeking or hassel. Setting up a tone is really easy on the amp or with the Insider and can be done in under 20 seconds if you know what you want to sound like. Have friends that are gear head and snobs. They were quite reluctant to try the ID30. Those from the Fender camp liked the amp but not overly impressed. Humbucker-Fender amp users liked the amp more that Single coil players. Friends that play Metal really liked the amp.
With PRS Tremonti and Brian Moore i9 and some LP copies and Fender MIM Fat Strat I can get the sound I want and not wish I had another amp to use. It is a swiss army knife of amps. The built in effects are good I would like to seen a effects loop since I like to stack delays for shoegazing and for looping. With that said the ID:30 takes pedals well. I would not use this amp for recording ambient or shoegazing material for that reason.
I wasn't ever looking for another bedroom amp being quite content with my Roland cube lite for bedroom use but the sound was so good I could not resist this impulse buy. I did second guess my purchase but over the past two years comparing it to Mesa MK's, Blues Jr's, Orange Tiny Terror, Roland Cubes, Behringer, Fender Mustang's, Line 6 Spyders, Vox amps, Yamaha modeler's, and Peavey's. I quite happy and content with my purchase.
Unlike a tube amp I don't have to crank it or use a power soak to get great tone at low volumes. Down the road there will be more amps of this ilk as with Marshall and Yamaha that will have Android, OS intergration which will render the Blackstar a relic. For now the Blackstar is a Diamond in the rough.