Saturday August 27, 2011
 

Blackstar HT-5 Practice Amp

This is another practice amp which has garnered some respect for being small, inexpensive and yet versatile. Blackstar’s claim to fame is that the company was formed by ex Marshall R&D department employees, Ian Robinson and Bruce Keir. Their HT-DRIVE valve pedal got a reputation for being punishing and brutal with its cascaded valve gain stages. Now oodles of that technology are being offered in the new HT-5 series of practice amp heads.

There are two variations of the HT-5 amp available:        

  • HT-5                      5 Watt valve combo $399.99.
  • HT-5H                   5 Watt valve head $329.99

The Blackstar HT-5 is a 5 watt amplifier using a twin triode 1xECC83 and 1x12BH7 valves which is quite different than the usual 12AX7 or EL84’s tubes used on the majority of amps. It has two footswitchable channels (clean and overdrive), shared three band EQ and a push – pull power stage. A footswitch is also provided. The overdrive channel is based on the HT-DRIVE valve pedal known for its Unique ‘A-Class’ tone.  The Overdrive channel has a separate Volume and Gain controls.  The Clean uses a single Volume knob. Also unique to this amp is a Patent-Applied-For Infinite Shape Feature (ISF). The ISF is a single knob and appears to adjust the mid range character. Clockwise the gives off a more British Marshall tone while turning it counter clockwise ups the brightness for an American Fender style tone.

Blackstar HT-5S Mini Full Stack

Blackstar HT-5S Mini Full Stack

Other features include an effects loop with a level switch to allow for guitar pedal level effects (-10dBV setting) or pro rack mounted equipment (+4dBV setting). A headphone socket and speaker emulated output which imitates the tonal characteristics of a speaker cabinet is also another distinctive aspect.  You can select between either a 4x12” closed back or 1x12” open back cabinet emulation.

Although the labelling of Blackstar amps declares “Designed and Engineered by Blackstar Amplification UK” they are in fact built in Korea. If this for some reason worries you then consider the Marshall Class 5, another 5 watter which is solely built in Bletchley, UK.

Blackstar HT-110 Matching Cabinet

The HT-110 is the only purposely built cabinet available for the HT-5. It is a single 10” Celestion closed back cabinet with 40 watts at 16ohms and weighing 24 pounds. It can be bought by itself for $199.99.
The HT-110 is also available with the HT-5 head in half stack and full stack packages:

  • Blackstar HT-5 Series HT-5H and HT-110 Guitar Mini Half Stack $479.99
  • Blackstar HT-5S Series HT-5H and HT-110 Mini Full Stack $599.99

Blackstar vs Jet City

It seems that the Blackstar’s HT-5 and Jet City Amplification’s JCA20H are both vying for position to fill the Christmas stocking. Both are affordable Western designed Asian built amps with a ton of features and tone. The Jet City JCA20H only has a single channel while the Blackstar HT-5 has a Clean and Overdrive. But the Jet City is 20 watts whilst the Blackstar is 5 watts – whether that will give you any extra overhead is relative.

The Blackstar in theory should break up earlier than the Jet City. The Blackstar has an effects loop while the Jet City does not. The Jet City JCA2112RC Combo does have a tube reverb (not found on the head units). Various comments on forums have said the Jet City does have a better clean tone. If you’ve buying a small valve amp and have narrowed it down to these two, the decision could be quite difficult. The two amps are distinguishable enough to set them apart. But if the price tag is a factor the Jet City combo retails for $299.00, the Blackstar HT-5 combo retails for $399.99. The winner of the day is us!

Blackstar HT-5 Series 5W Practice Amp           

  • Innovative 5 Watt valve amplifier
  • 1xECC83 and 1x12BH7 valves
  • Unique push pull power amp design
  • Award winning HT Pedal preamp
  • Two footswitchable channels
  • Enhanced tone controls
  • Patent-Applied-For Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)
  • Fully equipped for studio or practice
  • Speaker emulated output with 1x12 or 4x12 voicing
  • Effects loop with effects level switch
  • Footswitch included

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