HT-DISTX review by Blackstar

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  • Sound: 2
  • Overall Impression: 3
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Ease of Use: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 4.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 7.4 (42 votes)
Blackstar: HT-DISTX

Price paid: £ 119

Sound — 2
I was very much looking forward to the sounds out of this pedal from all the raving reviews and demos I had read and heard about it. When I plugged it in, all knobs pointing straight up, the first thing I noticed was mud. Lots and lots of mud. I reach down to try to dial it out. I play with all the settings, and move the ISF knob from one side to the other, but I cannot get rid of it. I was playing my Jackson Kelly tuned to C standard so I tried switching to my Dinky which is in regular standard tuning. The mush is still there, and it seems this pedal's circuit is voiced specifically to sound mushy. It definitely has that tube warmth and feel but at the same time it sounds very processed and as if there's a 'blanket over the tone' or it's being fed through a low-pass filter. I tried sending it straight into the effects return on my amp (to bypass the preamp), but the pedal still sounds like it does. The emulated output also has the same character, but with some added fizz and even more compression. The gain knob also reached its max when it's half way. Turning it up further just adds compression and some noise. In summation to its sound, this pedal will do stoner rock, grunge, and core. No, it won't do prog, death metal, or heavy metal, and it definitely won't do djent.

Overall Impression — 3
I play lots of different music. Classical, flamenco, funk, 80s rock, and of course heavy metal. I bought this pedal to cater for my metal needs, and it hasn't fulfilled them in the slightest. As such, this pedal will be going back into the box and back to the shop that it came from.

Reliability & Durability — 6
Built like a tank, just like what it's trying to be. All the knobs are solid, and mounted well. With the tube, though, it's definitely not worth using it at a gig without a backup since tubes die and what not. I should point out that the grille also has this plastic sheet under it, which kind of defeats the point of it being a grille. Because of this, the unit gets quite warm when in use.

Ease of Use — 6
This pedal is big, it's heavy, and it's big, and it's heavy! The controls are pretty much laid out like a channel on an amplifier. You have all the controls to (try) tweak the sound and also the ISF knob which... kind of varies the tone. It doesn't really do the Mesa on one side and Marshall on the other, but I'd suggest just using it to taste. It also has a tube running at high voltage so it DOES use the tube properly, unlike most tube pedals on the market. The knobs are all chrome, so your settings won't be visible AT ALL on stage. Another drawback is the unconventional power supply rating.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Yeah, sounds a lot better through a decent amp. The Boss I run in my chain also saps a lot of tone though, so if I don't need mod and delay I just run without it.
    I have to agree with Herminder on this one. It's a little mushy, but not bad at all with a good guitar and amp, but with the right tweaks it can do Black Sabbath, System of a Down, Alice in Chains. It naturally suits big, hard rock power-chord riffs as opposed to fuller chords and djent riffs. Not the most versatile pedal out there, but you can get some good sounds for certain genres of metal. Waiting to try it on some different gear, but through my yamaha practice amp its muddy, but everything is. Sounded a lot better through a Marshall JCM and a good humbucking strat. It has plenty of low end that stays tight and it has a very big, warm vintage sound to it. Gain is pretty controlled to and it doesn't sound fizzy. Seriously, the low end is massive! As it's basically a pre-amp, different guitars sound unique through it. My yamaha pacifica with stock pickups... sounds like a mushy pacifica played through a stack (really need to get better electronics in it), but you can get very sabbathy sounds out of an SG, and a humbucking strat (rails) works pretty well too, although it's still got its bluesey sound. I have found that you can get tighter, modern metal sounds if you boost this. I have an ME-20, so I just boost it with a blues-driver. Not the best combo, but with the Blues on zero gain, you can get closer to the prog metal sound. Curious to see what happens if you boost it with a proper tube screamer