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June 2017 Giveaway

Blackstar HT-5RH 5-watt Tube Head with Reverb Reviews

4.5 stars based on 18 customer reviews
  • from Central Illinois June 2, 2016

    Great Little Amp

    I bought this little power house a few years ago, I was stunned by the tone and power of this head,
    I have used this on my Marshall 1960 vintage cab and it sounds great and loud, hard to believe it is only 5 watts. the reverb, and effects loop are nice features on an amp this size. Also I like playing around with the ISP feature from American to British. I bought a Marshall DSL 15w head just because I wanted to see how it stack up to this amp head. Conclusion well the Marshall sounds great but with no effects loop or on board reverb the choice was clear. I packed the Marshall up sent it back to the store it came from, called my Sweetwater engineer ( Dennis K.) had him get me new tubes coming my way for many more years of great sounding music from this Blackstar amp.I do not think you would be disappointed buying this amp head. Mine is currently attached to a Marshall 1936 cab with Celestion V-30s.

  • from Glendora,NJ November 16, 2015Music Background:
    Playing Guitar for around 32 years

    Get Rid of Those MODELING AMPS!!

    This Amp will Get you Your "HOLY GRAIL of Guitar Tone,OR VERY CLOSE TO IT. I Won't get into details,IF you Go to SWEETWATER'S GEAR DEMO VIDEOS,..Look this Puppy Up,..The ISF Feature is Simply a WORK OF GENIUS ! You can Mix/Match Various Amp Tone Settings from Different players/Bands,In Union with using your EQ Settings,You can't believe what you'll get,from a Fender BlackFace, TO A Full Blown Jcm 800 2205,AlA Michael Schenker ,... It also cleans up Very Nicely,ao,it's not a one trick pony. I LOVE MINE,..GO AHEAD And Get One,You WON'T BE SORRY !!!

  • from Kannapolis, NC April 9, 2015

    Holy Crap!

    So I've played a Mesa Dual Rec Roadster. I wanted to down size and still have plenty of power and tone where I could just mic up a shows (less to take up room in my ride). I bought a Mini Mesa 25w and was very impressed on how well it performed compared to my Roadster. I was no longer in need of one and sold it last year.

    Well I got back into the full swing of thing with my band and needed a rig again. I did a bunch of reviews and sat on it for weeks. I broke down and bought the Blackstar HT-5RH head. Let me tell you I just got it last night, HOLY CRAP, are you kidding me? This is the best amp for I have had for $400. It is not nearly as thin as my Mini Mesa for $600 more. I was absolutely blown away. I played it throught the emulated 4x12 output and it took it to another level.

    Keep in mind I was very leary of buying one because of the price and the fact that I have been a Mesa man for years. If you are looking for a new head with (for me) a perfect clean and dirty channel you would be crazy not to buy this jewel. UNBELIEVEABLE!!! It is so good I actually just to the time to do a review. ;)

  • from Las Vegas, NV March 10, 2015Music Background:
    Guitar and Recording Enthusiast

    Amazing Amp

    What an amazing amp! I was looking for a small recording amp with big tones and the HT-5 didn't disappoint me. Does a nice job with jazzy cleans through my Les Paul in the neck position. And produces that great light breakup with just a hint of gain. Switching to the lead pickup and dialing the ISF control over to the American side puts me right back into 80's rock heaven! Very versatile whether though the Blackstar 1X12 or my Mesa Rectifier 4X12 cab. And plenty loud. Speaker emulator works very well...as does the headphone out. Nice to record direct to the board and while getting a "live" sound through the speakers at the same time.

    No review would be complete without recognizing the incredible service of the Sweetwater gang. In particular, my rep - Jason - is always there to guide me through smart purchases that are relevant to my needs. And the products always show up on time and in perfect condition. Nice job guys!

  • from Mesa, Arizona February 26, 2015Music Background:

    Awesome Amp!

    This amp has amazing cleans with no distracting idle hiss like some other amps. Of course there is a little noise when switching to the gain channel, but that is to be expected. I purchased this HT-5RH to use occasionally with a different main amp, but this quickly became my favorite.

  • from St. Louis, MO January 2, 2015Music Background:
    Instructor, Writer, Performer, but foremost a Student.

    First - Ya Gotta Trust Your Ears!

    This amp is a complete gem! I've owned this baby for a few years and I'm just as pleased today as the day I bought it. Blackstar has nailed the low-wattage tube market with the 5 watt HT-5RH. No other company has brought out a small tube amp that provides the eargasmic qualities of a full size stack. With the HT-5RH, you can gets those same ballsy tube tones in your bedroom or office as what you would only get on stage. In fact, you can use this same amp to gig and record with.

    I've been playing for 30 years and we did some seriously heavy lifting, carrying multiple heads and 4x12 cabs. Thanks to Blackstar, those days are over. I must admit, I never expected my stop-boxes, hardware, and cabling to weigh more than my amplifier. I also never expected a little amp to sound better than my big amp.

    Buy it. You'll be impressed. Actually, Sweetwater guarantees it!

  • from Yorkville, IL January 17, 2014Music Background:

    Great buy

    Easy to use, great sound, bought this the other day along with the 1x12 Blackstar celestion speaker. I am definitely adding another 1x12 cabinet, not that I need one, but for the price and the sound, plus Sweetwater's service you can't go wrong. I have it hooked up in my office, and it is loud, crystal clean, great gain without a pedal, but have it hooked up to a fender mustang floor and really holds a lot of sustain. I went from a Line6 amp, after hooking this up the line 6 went straight to the basement. If you're not looking to spend a lot of money but want the big sound why waste your time with a Marshall when the quality of this is better !!!!!!!!! I am very happy with this purchase. I was buying different guitars to get a different sound, and never needed to. Thanks Brian Kerns and JR. for all the help on this purchase and your professional help. Get one if you can afford it. They're nice, great sound, and not at the over rated price.

  • from Jamestown,NC USA October 2, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer, Pro Session Musician 20+ yrs exp.

    Best Home Recording Amp

    First of all I must thank my sales rep Kurt for saving me from
    amp Modeling hell, & helping my obtain home recording bliss!
    Being a new father I was in a mad dash to find the perfect home setup on a budget. This rig came thru in spades! Great tube clean/gain tones, and the emulated out is amazingly voiced. I can't say enough good things about this amp! It takes pedals like a dream. The EQ and ISF let you literally dial up any tone you can think of. The reverb is subtle and beautiful. Nothing even comes close in its price range. I can now record at home & get the same results I do in the big studio! All without waking the baby...or breaking the bank!
    Thanx Sweetwater...& thanx again Kurt
    your the best!

  • from Wichita, KS June 18, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Hobbyist

    Big Things Do Come In Little Packages

    I'm a FOH engineer on the weekends, and work in my home studio the rest of the week. The biggest challenge in studio (and live) has been finding "that guitar sound" that makes you go Mmmm. I've used everything from Marshall tube amps to Fender Twins to Vox AC30s. I own every major guitar plugin you can think of including NI Guitar Rig, and IK Multimedia Amplitube. Nothing was giving me that gut chugging guitar sound. I've been following Blackstar for several years; reading reviews and watching YouTube videos. I was always impressed by what I heard, but as we all know, you can't trust the audio of a YouTube video. When I finally decided to buy the HT5HR, I saw another 5 watt amp that was coming up in popularity. I won't mention it's name, but it's initials are Marshall Class5. I decided to buy both simultaneously and put them through their paces.

    The Blackstar HT5HR is BY FAR the best guitar decision I've ever made. The day I got both amps in, I took them straight downstairs, plugged them in side by side and let 'em rip! Immediately, without tweaking anything, the Blackstar was 85% of the way there for me in terms of how a heavy rock guitar should sound. The low end was thick but not muddy, the mids are set to the prefect frequency to be able to push your guitar forward or pull it back in the mix. The treble is VERY smooth; I tried to push it to harshness and couldn't do it. Nothing but cream. The ISF knob is interesting. A very subtle effect that allows you to go from a "British" to an "American" sound. So far, I've used this to make double tracked guitars set differently in the mix; without having to grab a different guitar or mess with EQ to avoid phasing issues.

    • Clean Tones: I'll be honest, I bought this amp for it's distortion tones, but the clean tones are very nice. The HT5 doesn't punch as hard as my Fender Twin, but what other amp does? I had my guitar player come in the other day and lay down some test tracks and we couldn't believe the thick, clear tone we were getting. We were so pleased that we re-tracked some of the guitars for our new album right there on the spot!

    • Distortion Tones: These will BLOW YOU AWAY! My guitar player was extremely skeptical about using a 5 watt amp to track guitars for a heavy rock album. But once we got everything set up and dialed in, he couldn't stop playing! "It's like I have a full stack in the next room!". Did I mention that all of these tests were through the Emulated Output?!?! That's right folks! The guys over at Blackstar have NAILED cabinet emulation! More about that later…

    • Switching Tones: After making sure the gain between the clean and distortion channels was even, my guitarist and I hit the record button and put down a test track of switching back and forth between the two channels. We couldn't believe what we were hearing and seeing. With other amps, when switching channels, there's a small gap in the audio where the first channel is turned off and the second channel is engaged. NOT ON THE HT5! The transition between channels is FLAWLESS! Even looking at the waveform on the computer screen, it was hard to tell were one ended and the other began! This is great for live players trying to recreated a studio recording!

    The reverb is absolutely stunning! The guys at Blackstar have picked the perfect guitar verb! Even at 100% it isn't overwhelming; it just sounds like you're in the perfect concert environment during sound check, and the natural ambiance of the room swell as you play. No digital harshness or distortion. I don't ever print verb or delay to guitar tracks. I like to do it all during mixing… until now. I own all the Waves reverbs, as well as Lexicon and Redline Reverb plugins. The verb on the Blackstar sounds just as good as any of those, except I don't have to spend time dialing it in!

    As I stated above, the guys over at Blackstar have NAILED cabinet emulation! I don't have a cabinet yet, and with the way the emulated output sounds, I don't need one for studio use. Listening to the test tracks, and you'd NEVER know that there was no physical cabinet involved. Somehow, Blackstar has captured the low end punch and mid range harmonics that are missing in all of the software emulations! I've already had 2 other guitar players talk about selling their 'big rigs' and heavy combo amps to get one of these tiny bad boys!

    I have not used this with a cab so I can't really comment here, but everything I've read and seen online says that this thing will drive a 4x12 cab, and drive it like a bat out of hell!

    This thing is built to last… no cheap plastics here! The box is covered in a tough leather and has heavy duty corner caps. The handle is a double thick LEATHER band with METAL brackets. The knob motion is smooth but sturdy. Very easy to make those minor tweaks and know that the knob is going to stay where you left it. Everything about this amp screams road ready! Oh and it's only 20lbs!

  • from Ebina, Japan April 1, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist for now, but watch out world

    Now I'm a Believer

    I haven't owned a tube amp since the early 1980s when I was playing an all-mahogany Gibson "The Paul" through a Peavey Classic 50. Since then, I've been through two different digital modeling amps, two hardware modeling amp simulators, and four software amp emulators, and every one of them sounded a thousand times better than my old '80s rig, bereft as I was of any stomp boxes or rack effects or, for that matter, playing skill. So, perhaps you'll pardon me for having scrunched my face up and turned my back with a dismissive wave every time I've heard some analog purist or self-proclaimed tone guru rant in a forum about how awful modeling amps are and how tubes are the only way to go.

    But secretly, the whole time, there was something lacking in my tone, and it was gnawing like a rat at the back of my brain. I changed pickups in my guitars, and guitars around my pickups. I even changed picks: tortex, metal, rosewood, ebony, from paper-thin Dunlops to Yngwie (F'ing) Malmsteen signature picks as thick as phone books. But the search for the sound in my head was never-ending and the sound on my home recordings remained... home recording-like.

    And then my HT-5RH arrived from Sweetwater. Bigger than I thought it would be, and beautiful. Beautiful in that way that gear can be to those of us who crave it. No, seriously, this is a gorgeous head, with that "cracked vinyl" covering all over it so it looks like a couch in a strip club, the corners all protected by metal, the shiny black control face and even shinier serrated silver control knobs. It's every bit the quality and ruggedness of a full-scale 100-watt Blackstar death-dealer, just -- smaller. I knew as I pulled it from the box and carried it to my "studio" that this was the nicest amp I'd ever owned -- and at such a low price... if only all superlatives were this easy to achieve when it comes to gear.

    Then I set it up and started touching it. This is a solid amp, nice and appropriately chunky for the size, with knobs that really give you a sense of confidence when you twist them.

    But all that sexiness would be for nothing if the amp doesn't sound better than my current 75W tooth-rattler of a modeling amp. I have no cabinet (bought this for recording, not gigging) so I plugged headphones into the emulated speaker out, plugged a homemade dual humbucker shredder into the input, powered up and started playing clean. Nice freaking clean channel. NICE. I've got some pretty darn good sounding clean presets saved on my various modelers, both hardware and software, but this was different... the amp reacted to the way I plucked a string, almost like compression. Expressiveness mattered... which suddenly meant I had to start paying attention to it and playing better. Wait, could this be the effect of real tubes? Hey, no time to get philosophical, let's dirty this thing up.

    I stomped on the (also very rugged feeling) included footswitch and engaged the overdrive, which was rolled down fairly low. A nice, toasty crunch rewarded my ears, and again, there was that expressiveness to my picking, and a clarity to each note, even in dissonant chords that would usually be obscured by overdrive. The tubes? I thought again. Let's heat 'em up!

    I spent the next hour trying different settings and different guitars. The homemade beast with the Alternative 8 in the bridge that had always seemed too bright on all my modeling amps regardless of setting (even with a 300K tone pot and .022 cap in it) suddenly sounded -- dare I use these tired adjectives? -- "tight" and "warm" through the Blackstar. My other homemade monster with the Full Shred neck and Invader bridge loved the high gain settings and chimed like crystal on the clean channel. The Ed Roman custom with the two Duncan Blackbacks was at home throughout the range of every knob on this amp, and the 60th Anniversary strat with its HSS and 5-position switch combined with the HT-5's ISF and 3-band EQ for a nearly infinite variety of tones, and through it all, there was that tightness, that clarity, that response to how I plucked strings, either by pick or by fingerpicking, that had been absent in my modelers. And it started to make sense... these were physical tubes being driven by my high gain pickups and the differences in the velocity of my picking, where modelers just use math and convolution to add emulated responses to any signal that comes in the input hole, no matter its volume or dynamics. The light came on: there IS a difference between tube amps and the other varieties. I've heard it now with my own ears, felt it in the amp's response to my admittedly hamfisted playing.

    Is it the sound in my head I'm hearing with the HT-5RH, as Blackstar so cleverly says in their ad copy? For the most part, yes. Pretty darn close. All it needs in some cases is some delay, some chorus on occasion (the onboard reverb is very nice... understated except in its most extreme settings, it just "opens" up the sound a little wider when you rotate the knob clockwise, without getting that noisy spring/plate sound). And that's why I bought the 5W version over the 1W... this one has an effects loop; so now I am already filling my wish list with stomp boxes that I had long neglected due to the nature of my modeling amps and VSTs. And I can tell I'm going to need the cabinets that match this head. I can't imagine firing up my modeler much, now that I've experienced this amp. In fact, that's likely to go up in my 9-year-old's room for him to play his mini-Strat through.

    So... the above is to give you an idea of just how nice this head is. It's made a believer out of a doubting hipster, a "new tech beats old tech any day" banner carrier. To recap: it's rugged, it's gorgeous, and it sounds like that dream amp playing in your head... only smaller. Get one. Unleash your inner rock star.

  • from Richland, Ga May 7, 2012Music Background:
    Guitarist for 23 years and Luthier.

    Amazing..Totally blown away!

    Get this amp while it's under $500..This amp should cost way more than it does. The range of sounds you get is amazing..From Fender cleans to Marshall and Mesa...They're all here. The reverb is great and and the effects loop takes my delay pedal like a champ.

  • from Between Alberta and California April 25, 2012Music Background:
    Hobbiest working on becoming something more

    Best amp at the price-point

    What can I say? Awesome blackstar tone for less than most tube amps. You can definitely tell it was made for distortion, the clean channel has only two controls. That said you can get good clean tones on channel 2 if you want more controls. Would've liked the aux in to be eighth inch, that's the only fault I can find with this amp.

  • from Georgia April 20, 2012Music Background:
    I've been playing for 31 years, guitar and bass.

    Black star HT-5RH

    The Blackstar HT-5RH is the amp that I've been looking for for many years.The tonal diversity of this head is amazing.the ISF circuit is not a gimmick,in that it really does shape and fine tune the tone from British amps to American amps and everything in between. I play a Gibson custom shop firebird with humbuckers and haven't heard it come alive like this through any other amp. Heck, I might buy another one, playing in stereo will double the fun!

  • from October 18, 2011Music Background:
    Recording artist

    Truly "the sound in your head"

    Guitarists are known to lust over a certain sound. That ever enigmatic tone in their head. That sweet spot. Well boys and girls, the good folks at Blackstar are NOT lying when they say they can help you achieve that sound in your head. I was simply blown away by how easy it was to dial in the very sound I had yearned for. A few simple knob turns (including their patented ISF) and BOOM, insta-tone.

    The features are above and beyond as well, effects loops, reverb, emulated out, etc. This thing is the BEST recording amp I have used and with the right cab setup you can get plenty loud!

    You will not regret buying this beauty, it can nail any tone you want.

  • from Montana April 28, 2012Music Background:
    Small town Rocker, play in bands from time to time. Just love loud rock guitar!

    Blackstar HT-5RH Killer Tube Amp

    One badass little tube amp! Great tone variations Awesome clean sound. Reverb is very clean as well. If you want to see what all the talk about tube amps is about, look no further. The great price, the features, the tonal characteristics....you cannot find a better 1st tube amp. I still can't believe how much gain this thing has, it's unreal. The only reason for the 4.5 instead of 5 is my clean channel volume is not near the volume of the gain channel, not even close! Tiny nitpick considering I bought it for the gain. But the clean channel sounds so good it is a bit of a disappointment. Would love to see a version with stereo out and a built in chorus! Would buy 2! One for me and one for my son. Will still buy one of these for my son though, lol.

  • from Lexington, SC August 20, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist, player of many inst. master of none!! But I enjoy!!

    Fantastic Low Watt Tube Head!!

    Great sounds at low volume and cranked up, it"s really impressive! Very user freindly and compact. Nice control on reverb. Not to impressed with the ISF feature, but I have to say I have not put it to the test yet!! It has some great features that are stright forward and easy to use. Running it thru a B/S HTV-112 cab. Although it's a low end cab it sounds good! In the home studio, it blows my Fender H/R away!!
    At it's price point, I'm very happy with the purchase.

  • from Wilmington, NC May 10, 2013Music Background:

    Not bad at all...

    This amp is about as good as you're going to get in this price-range, (that is unless you're looking for a one-trick pony). It's got some great high gain tones in store, but beware if you're looking for the kind of molten, over-the-top saturation that you might find in an Engl , Diezel, Uberschall, etc. etc. The drive on the HT-5 isn't quite that intense, but it can definitely take you into metal territory, especially with a good boost. It rather reminds me (to my ears) of a late 80's/early 90's JCM -style tone (which makes sense, considering these guys used to work for Marshall). The drive is nice and dynamic, even when maxed out. It's actually very tasteful, considering that the reviews I had reading had me prepared for an all out gain-assault of apocalyptic proportions.

    As for the clean, it's not quite as chimey and sparkly as I would like it (I prefer a nice Fender-style clean), but then again, I wasn't expecting it to mimic a Princeton in the first place. I can say that what is there, even though only governed by two knobs (one volume, and one "tone"), doesn't sound anything like an after-thought. It's a full-bodied, more than useable clean tone with plenty of headroom (at least for my taste) and it definitely has that tube-driven feel. (Again, the clean rather reminds me of a JCM 900's clean channel: not the most jaw-dropping, but clear, useable, and perfect for pedals).

    Last but not least, it's well-built/solid. It's not too heavy, given it's size, but it's got just enough weight to leave you feeling confident in it's construction. Aesthetically it's pleasing, and you can see that it's not simply cheap housing for cheap components.

    All in all, the best all-around "tube-driven" amp for the price (there are some solid state components, but it's near impossible to avoid this in modern amps of any range these days anyhow). If it sounds good, it sounds good, and at the end of the day, that's what counts.

  • from seattle, Wa October 25, 2014Music Background:
    recording engineer

    it's okay

    5 watts, the tube gain is the same as their peddle, and they modified it slightly, so it's bascially a peddle and you need a bigger power section to handle active on board eq electronics, so the tone isnt that versitle, but it has a cute little tone if that's your thing, id get the peddle it was modled from and an amp with a stronger power section;

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