Price paid: $ 182.4
Sound — 9
I play with a Ibanez RG350DX guitar and an Vox ac15 amp. The noise level on the pedal is surprisingly low considering the amount of gain I'm stacking on and that valves generally have more hiss than transistors. As for the sound signature, with all knobs at 12 o'clock it sounds dark and smooth. This setting is about the right amount of gain for classic rock. Compared to your average good overdrive/distortion pedal it is smoother and richer. The distortion itself also has a quality to it that is hard to describe. It is just slightly different. As you back the gain off it doesn't clean off perfectly but you can get some nice bluesy sounds out of it. In fact I prefer this to the distortion that comes out of my ac15. It is smoother than my amp. On high gain settings it sounds great. The gain smooths things out even more. The gain does not really reach heavy metal levels though.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall this pedal sounds very smooth, rich and full which is great for leads. I think it may be a bit too smooth for rhythm. It isn't very crunchy sounding. Despite this, imo it beats the other 20 or so dirtboxes I've tried in my time. I have to say it is only my favourite by a small margin. There are many pedals that I think do some things better than the Blackstar. The Blackstar is simply the best for my uses which are mainly blues, psychedelic rock and shred (fuzz for psychedelic rock please). As for the dirtboxes I've directly compared it to, here they are: Boss OS-2, Ulbrick 12axe, MI Audio Tube Zone, MI Audio Neo Fuzz, Catalinbread Silverkiss, Catalinbread Hyperpak, Catalinbread Supercharged Overdrive. I think the Blackstar HT-DIST is a great pedal and would recommend it to anyone wanting a serious distortion pedal. there's nothing I have about it. What I love most about it is flexible enough for everything I play.
Reliability & Durability — 7
cant comment on this much since it's pretty new. It looks pretty sturdy to me. It's valve as any will eventually need to be replaced which is a reliability issue. Because of that I have rated the ht-dist lower in reliability than I would if it was solid state.
Ease of Use — 7
The HT-DIST is as easy to use as one would expect. It has a volume, gain, bass, mids, treble and an ISF knob. The ISF basically changes between american and British sound signatures and mixes the two. My only complaint in this area is that it needs it's power adaptor to run. This isn't really a bad thing since either wouldn't work or wouldn't sound as good if it ran on batteries. Overall, nothing out of the ordinary in a good or bad way.