Price paid: £ 199
Purchased from: Guitar Village
Sound — 9
I've used this with a Fender EC Twinolux (hand wired tweed style amp), a Mesa Boogie Express, and an Orange Crush. Where this outperformed the T-Rex was the naturalness of the sound, and on the T-Rex Reptile I detected some background effect that I couldn't get rid of no matter how much fiddling I did. It may be possible but in a side by side in-shop comparison I couldn't figure it out. Compared to the Boss pedals - the sounds was warmer, more vintage, less obviously processed. Which was what I was looking for. So what doe it sound like? So many choices. I love the "tape" setting, it adds a bit more complexity and as a chorus with my Fender Deluxe it's heaven. On "Analogue" with my Gibson SG - wow, it add depth but doesn't mess with the growl. So natural. Other settings include two loops (with a separate loop switch), two multi-head settings, "space" and "linear" complete the line up. So I could make it cover the sound made by the original Boss DD3, I just didn't want to. Where this pedal is clever is in the added tube (ECC83). It's in the centre of the pedal and backlit by an LED with it's own "saturation" control. You can therefore add extra tube Overdrive to the delayed effect - this I love. It makes this pedal awesome, not just good but great. With something like my SG it gives me a whole new world of sound - on a doubling effect - where I have a really short delay and a single repeat I can get some fantastic tone - keeping the line clean, but with a background of overdrive, brilliant effect. The switching is total noiseless, as you'd expect. And the controls give you so many options I just can't do it justice. After a week of playing I've only just scratched the surface. The only downside of the pedal is that the saturation control for the valve also impacts on the level - so the two controls are interdependent - you can't just fiddle on the fly and it sound perfect you need to sort your settings out in advance if you want quick changes without messing with your levels. What I must say it that it is the most versatile delay I've tried and the sounds covers a greater range from Digital Delay to fantastic Vintage delay sounds. It also works well with other pedals in line - an upstream Cry Baby and DS1 are so much more fun with this box in the line.
Overall Impression — 10
This is by far and away the best delay I've ever got my fingers on. In short I'd say buy it NOW. Hell it's expensive but it even makes my cheap practice Vox transistor amp sound sexy. But the knit-picking me hasn't given it tens throughout - why not? Well it needs its own proprietary 18v power supply, the saturation and level controls aren't (and can't be) truly independent, and I worry about the valve life and durability. But for all that I bought it and love it. Playing blues, covering Floyd or Clapton, kicking the s*** out of a rock anthem - this pedal is the bomb... Hell yes I'd buy another. It blew the T-Rex and Boss pedals away. I also tried a Harmonix a week before and well, I left that in the shop. I've been looking for my perfect delay pedal for years, I owned a DD3 in the nineties, but sold it after a few years - that's how long I've been looking. It is fantastic, the added valve makes it awesome.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Built like a brick. It's heavy, over 2lbs in weight (about 1kg). I'd gig with it and perhaps even beat someone to death with it - it's that solid. It is a beast of a pedal - it looks positively prehistoric in design. But I love that chunkiness because I can stomp and not worry. It isn't battery powered though, it needs its 18v supply - so standard juice boxes will not work with this lump of metal - beware. And like most products with tubes in it gets HOT with use, not scorching, but definitely toasty on the fingers. My concern - and I will only know in a couple of years if it's a show-stopper is the tube. The manual says "no serviceable parts" in about seventeen different places and while there is a removable grill to get at the tube it expressly tells you not to do this, nor does it give tube changing instructions. So what gives? Is this a tube that never goes? Never wears out? And never gets mushy? Time will tell.
Ease of Use — 9
I've only recently come across Blackstar as a pedal maker, which is odd, because I believe it's where they started from. I was looking for a top quality delay pedal to go into a Fender amp, and alongside a DS1 Distortion (which I've owned since the '80s). I tried this next to a T-Rex Reptile and a Boss DD7 and DD3. None of these pedals are what you'd call simple. The Boss layout is a little more intuitive to me and the T-Rex almost impenetrable. Leaving the Blackstar in the middle. But what I liked was that on any of the 7 delay sounds I could easily get a sound I liked. When I got it home I actually read the manual - which is comprehensive and full-on. There is a lot you can do with the box, from a great sounding reverb, through chorus to a full 7 second loop. So it was all there. It also has both mono and stereo outputs and a good bypass so very happy. It is damn complex though.