Best Distortion/Overdrive Pedal Ever!!
I use this pedal with a Marshall JCM-2000 DSL 100 with the Gain Cranked to 8 and it sounds great. I've tried a lot of pedals most of which were solidstate including MXR ZW-44, MXR Distortion Plus, Mad Professor Golden Cello, Ibanez Tube Screamer, also the Tube King Overdrive, Tube King Distortion, however in my opinion none of these come close in there tonal quality and range of tone to the Blackstar HT-Metal. With the exception of the Tube King pedals which are powered by 12AX7 tubes, all of the solid state pedals clip the sound when you try to push too much singal content thru them (ie play fast, or play chrods with a lot of frequency and volume content), also they make a lot of really irratating screetching feeback due to the electrical noise in the solidstate circuitry. The Tube king pedals did not have enough headroom, and totally killed the volume levels, and the tone was weak.
The Black Star HT Metal Pedal on the other hand is the first pedal I've used that produces the full specturm of tone range, all the way from the chunky low end (which is usually lacking on a distortion pedal) to a searing overdriven high end. This is the first pedal that produces a full bodied tone without the need for an Amp, and can completely replace any solidstate pedal board such as the POD XT Live (wiith the exception of effects such as delay, chorus, etc). The tone can be smooth or slightly gritty depending on how you adjust the settings on the The ISP Tone shapping knob. The tonet is not chirpy or clipped, but is full and continous.
I use the Blackstart HT-Metal pedal in front of my all tube Marshall JCM-2000 DSL100, and it is the only pedal that actually complelents the tone of the amp. I've never used a Blackstart Amp so I can't comment on how this compares tonally. However compared to a Marshall it resonates with a somewhat different tone. The Tube King and Ibanez Tube Screamer seem to have the same basic tone as the marshall, so when added in front of the Marshall they really didn't change the tone, just boosted the volume, and then when the drive was really cranked they would add a lot of feedback . The HT-Metal has a tone that differs from the Marshall, so when added in front of the marshall it seems to fill in the tone where the marshall lacks producing a new tone. When used on the Marshalls clean channel with minimal drive on the Marshall, all the distortion or gain can be produced directly by the HT Metal as the preamp. I found that the Marsall tone has more grit to it than the HT-Metal which tends to be a little more smooth in nature.
The HT-Metal is the only pedal I found that actually sounds good when added to the Lead1 or Lead2 channel of the Marshall JCM-2000 with the gain cranked on both the HT-Metal and the Marshall at the same time. It is a little tricky to EQ in this setup because with the combined gain of both the HT-Metal and the Marshall you will get some feedback, however it is not as irratating as the solidstate pedal feedback. To minimize or eliminate the feedback it is crucial to properly adjust the volume level on the HT-Metal, this is done by turnign the volume low on the HT-Metal, and then keep bringing up the volume until the volume level coming out of your amp cabinet sounds the same for both when the pedal is engaged and when it is bypassed. Once the volume is set, you can go ahead and crank the gain up on both the pedal and the Marshall Amp head and get a great sound without all that feedback noise.
I've also used the EQ'd output on this and pluged straight into my Sony Stereo System. I've never had a pedal drive the bass this hard when I cranked up the bass on the pedals EQ knob, you could feel those stereo speakers pushing some air, it produced rich mids, and a nice full high end all at the same time. I've never ever found a distortion pedal besides the HT-Metal that can produce the full specturn of frequency. All the other pedals I've tried either gave you a halfway decent sound on the low end, but the highs were lacking, or it produced nice soaring highs, but had no low end. What's nice about this pedal is I can got to a friends house, and as long as they have a decent stereo system, all I need to sound great is my guitar, a pair of cables, and this pedal. A word of caution, I would avoid, or be very careful if you decide to experiment with using the line out (that normally goes to an amp) and plug it into your stereo system, the output from this is very bassy and could damage your stereo speakers since it is EQ'd for an Amp.