AF’s Weblog

April 28, 2010

Blackstar Amplification HT Club 40 Review

British amp and stompbox manufacturer Blackstar is known among guitar players for its Artisan Series of hand-wired amps that crunch, and its One Series, a line of hi-gain models for metal freaks. The brand is back this year with a new range of tube amps called HT Venue which ought to be less expensive but still versatile. We focus on the 40 watt combo.

Blackstar HT Club 40Blackstar was founded in 2007 when former Marshall employees decided to create their own tube amp brand. They started out by launching tube overdrive stompboxes followed soon afterwards by amps conceived in England and hand-assembled in Korea (the Artisan Series). The One Series came out one year later with a more modern sound and a much higher headroom. The only thing missing to round off its product range was a more affordable product line. This is what they have achieved with the HT Venue Series, which inherits some of the features of the more expensive series and benefits from the know-how of the Blackstar team.

This Series includes not less than six amps ranging from 20 to 100 watts including combos, amp heads and speaker cabinets. The model we review today is the HT Club 40, an all-tube, 40-watt combo sold for about $700.

Let’s start by unpacking the amp…

Dark Valvor

Blackstar HT Club 40The HT Club 40 is a juicy 53.8 lbs, 24.4″x22.3″x11.7″ baby. Under the hood you’ll find a preamp stage with two ECC83 tubes, a 40-watt RMS power amp with a pair of EL34 and a 12″ Celestion speaker. The finish is quite good with plastic knobs and on/off and standby chrome switches. The handle on top and the dark gray cabinet covering are made out of leather. The amp looks very classy but without overdoing it, which will certainly appeal to most guitar players. The amp sits in a three quarter-closed back cabinet, whose open part is protected by a grill. The HT Club 40 seems quite sturdy and it ought to withstand transportation without a problem.

The connections include a guitar input and three speaker outputs on the rear panel: one 16-ohm output for the internal or an external speaker, plus two additional speaker outputs for a pair of 16-ohm speakers (internal+external or a pair of external speakers) or a single 8-ohm speaker cabinet. Besides these connectors, you’ll also find an input for the included footswitch (nice detail!) for channel selection and reverb activation. It also features an output with speaker simulation for direct connection to a mixer or a sound card. The sound of the speaker simulation is not the best but it adds versatility and it will certainly come in handy at times. The integrated digital reverb has a selector to choose between a bright and a warm/dark effect sound. The effect won’t replace your stompbox or dedicated rack processor but it is more than enough for rehearsals.

Last but not least, a mono FX loop with a +4dBu/-10dBV switch will allow you to connect external effect units to the amp.

Let’s take a look at the preamp settings…

Conclusion

Blackstar HT Club 40With the HT Series, Blackstar offers quality amps with versatile sound possibilities at an affordable price. The manufacturing quality is good and the special features offer the user some major advantages. The different voicings provide four basic sounds, while the ISF control affects the EQ settings of the lead channel radically, allowing the guitar player to easily and quickly shape his sound. Add enough output power to play with a band plus the footswitch that comes along and you end up with a versatile and affordable all-tube amp.

Advantages:

  • Good value for money
  • Two voicings per channel
  • Effective and creative ISF control
  • Footswitch included
  • Versatility
  • Enough power to play with a band

Drawback:

  • Clean sound could have more personality

To read the full detailed article see:  Blackstar HT Club 40 Review

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