A little powerhouse of an amp
I wanted this for a late night, quiet play practice Amp. I disn't want another sterile, SS for that role. Wanted that good tube tone through. By far the best headphone tone I have found on a tube amp. Also works as a great studio amp getting as dirty as you want at reasonable volumes.
It has very basic features. But, it has everything that is needed. Well, an FX loop would be nice. First company that produces an amp like this with an FX loop and perhaps a 3 knob EQ is going to clean up the home recordist/player market.
Solidly built. Pots feel of the highest quality, and are quiet and a nice sweep. Extrmely high quality fit and finish. Looks very nice, Reminds you just a bit like a Marshall, doesn't it.
This amp sounds very good, very very good. Don't get me wrong, 1w can still get pretty loud when you dime the master volume and gain, through a 4x12. GIGable loud? No, but can still rattle windows in a bedroom, easily.
It is very responsive and articulate. As responsive and articulate as my Rivera? No. But, it is the match for my former Egnater, more than a match in this regard for my former Peavey C30. It REALLY sounds huge, like a much bigger amp, even at talk over volumes. And THAT is what I wanted, and what this is all about.
Cleans are nice, clear, warm with just a little chime. Many think of Blackstar as Gain machines. But the cleans are very good. Not Fender cleans, not typical that is. TO me, it's Bassman meets Marshall with a little vox thrown in.
Clean Channel can actually go from clean to a little past Blues crunch into light classic rock crunch. 1 Watt does not leave room for a lot of clean Headroom. But this little amp REALLY RESPONDS to adjustments on the guitar and/or attack. I am actually extrmely and pleasantly surprised by how well it does this.
Roll this Channel's volume and gain up, then back the Guitar volume off and the Amp cleans up nicely. Can do this on both Channels. So you can get plenty loud and clean.
The OD Channel is worth the price of admission. There is a decent amount of overlap between channels, which is great. you can actually go from clean, that will start to growl with aggresive picking at full guitar vol, to very modern gain levels. Definately into Marshall JCM900, DSL and beyond gain levels. IMHO you can do unaided metal. Distortion is really something special. Lively, responsive, articulated among the strings. It has a hint of wildness and a bit out of control, without being out of control. Really sounds like a 50w, or 100w tube amo, at very low levels. I expect it's the pushpull behind it.
The 'EQ' on this amp is not a true EQ. This worried me at first. But, the Amp's basic tone is just good. So, it doesn't need a lot of tweaking. What it does, is really show the differences in different Guitar's tones. And, you have to work the guitar's tone knob to get more varied tone.
What the EQ is, is their Infinate Shape Feature, or ISF. What it really is, is a Mid hump adjustment. Doc says it shifts between US and Brit voicing. To me it appears to lessen both the depth and width of the mid hump AND shift it to upper mids, while scooping a little bit of the lwer mids on the FULL "US" side. All the way to Brit side, it widens and deepns that hump and shifts it to the low mids, while reducing the upper mids.
Now, we get to the Heaphone and Emulated out. It is good, almost great. It blows the Bugera away in this area. In fact, it's the best I have heard from a tube amp. It is more than useable. That said, it still attenuates towards the higher frequencies. It's not quite as deep and full sounding as the amp through a speaker CAB. However, if your first hearing of the amp was through this, you would think it sounded pretty darn good. I think it is about as good as your going to get for this.
But, definately could use an off-board EQ for the headphone/emulated out. I ran that to my mixer with seperate Upper, dual mids and lower EQ adjustments. I was able to duplicate pretty close to the speaker tone, with minor tweaks.
Reverb is good. As good as a real Spring reverb? No. But it is good enough, can get fairly lush, and is quiet.
All of my guitars sounded very nice through it. It REALLY loves humbuckers.
THis is the perfect practice/quiet use, tube amp in my opinion. I also think it will make a great recording amp. If you want great tube tone, crunch and distortion, for home/bedroom/low levels and home recording, this is your amp. You can get nice cleans all the way to metal tones at these volumes.
Good amp at any price point. Awesome amp at this price point. Of what I have, or have had, only my higher end amps beat this out as far as tone, responsiveness and playability.