Blackstar HT-Dual

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Quitty, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Quitty

    Quitty Hates 'mojo'

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    Feb 27, 2011
    Impatient ones: sample clips are at the bottom :)

    I've been looking for an organic sounding distortion so that i could tune my rig towards a metal sound and still be able to play softer stuff. Bear in mind my main demand was a smooth rhythm sound and good string separation when chording - this may or may not be what you're after.

    That said, for my needs it's absolutely brilliant.
    It's built like a tank, it's impressively versatile -
    the ISF control is a resonant mid frequency control, if you want to trust my ears. It changes the center of the mid frequency, and adds some 2nd, 3rd and maybe more harmonics to the list of frequencies the mid control tinkers with.

    Clean channel is cool - although it's a bit of a one trick pony.
    You share settings between it and your dist channel, so for me it always comes off very bright. Cool, if you want to sharpen your sound a bit, but not as flexible as it could be.
    It can do a bluesy crunch rather well too, and on it's own it really does sound like a good, vintage rig - but the right settings for me on the clean are mismatched with the dist, so...

    Crunch channel is amazingly articulate, like having the best of both worlds; you get the touch sensitivity of a good tube overdrive but the articulation and control of a clean channel. It reaches some decent gain levels, if you have the pickups to pull it - think Tool (gainwise. Sound is very different)
    My very, very low set JB with the gain maxed and some power amp saturation can easily do some Death, too - and lately i've been boosting the Blackstar with a clean boost from a Vox Bulldog to some insanely good results, but lots of noise.

    Dist channel adds some diodes to the procedure - again, if you want to trust my ears.
    It actually gets mellower rather than harsher, which is a plus for me. I HATE sizzle on my rhythms.
    It's still very tight, the ISF control gives some great play through different sounds and the string separation is superior to everything i've ever tried.
    Available gain is insanely high, bass is tuned great IMO, containing both actual bass and some very low mids, mids are wide and fine-tuned, and the treble almost never gets harsh or fake sounding.

    You won't get a 5150 sound out of it. It's not stiff enough, and lets too much of the guitar sound through.
    Marshall sounds are easier, but again - it's not harsh enough on the high mid end.
    It sounds like a very, very high gain version of a vintage-y amp - if you ever boosted and cranked the hell out of a peavey classic 30, this is the kind of character i'm talking about.

    Last time i gigged with it, it was very microphonic.
    Now, this may be due to my changing the tube to a microphonic one or bumping the volume too high (the volume control on this one gives a very, very high bump in volume when maxed, over the bypassed sound), but i've yet to try it a second time.

    After trying to solve the microphonic feedback for a while with no success, we plugged direct to the console with the emulated out.
    Saying it sounded good would be an understatement. It's brilliantly voiced, and responds very, very well - it's evident a lot of thought went to voicing it.
    That said, it's built for consoles more so than for recording. Going direct to studio monitors is going to sound a little too mellow, and you'll need an external EQ.

    I'll update on the microphonics issue when i get to test it again - but even so, i'll keep it if only for home practice and recording. It's really that good.

    Clean channel on Blackstar, neck front coil

    Blackstar clean channel, gain on max.
    This is played on the bridge + neck position, same settings as previous clip.
    This is also where the compressor i forgot on started affecting the sound

    Blackstar american crunch mode, Neck pup.
    This one got trashed so hard by the compressor, all that's left is a sample of the Blackstar crunch channel's available gain.

    Dist channel, american setting, bridge.
    The compressor crapped this one up pretty bad as well, but the overall vibe was maintained and you can see what i'm talking about when i say string separation on this thing is spectacular.

    Saving the best for last, 'cause you really can't get a post in this forum by if you don't djent a little:
    (This is done with a slightly british tint, and yes, i know the bass drum is too loud. It's partially the Soundcloud transcoding, and partially because i suck)

    Full review is here.

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