Easy Access to Great Sounds
After spending a few hours with the amp, I am thrilled with the sounds I am easily getting, including a great Robin Troweresque sound that had eluded me, wonderful clean sounds, a good blues sound, rockin' Fendery sounds, and more. I've spent most of my time playing and only a little time tweaking the sounds. I love turning knobs instead of working on a computer screen.
I bought this amp because I became frustrated with my Line 6 POD. The POD is an incredible instrument, with an enormous set of options and fantastic sounds. However, using all those options is too much work. I was unhappy with the sounds I produced unless I used the computer application for editing the sounds, and the editing application, although beautiful in its own way, is tedious to use! I got very tired of scrolling up and down on a computer to change the values of the large number of possible adjustments to the sound.
This Blackstar amp allows you to get a variety of great sounds very easily, and the way you store and access them is the best I've ever seen. The indicator LEDs of different colors are very helpful--something I had not realized from watching the videos. It's wonderful. The effects are useful and good. Sometimes less is more, and here, less complexity provides excellent sounds and more time playing and enjoying the sounds.
I've always thought Line 6 products sounded great, and I'm sure the capabilities of their products are continuing to improve. I loved an old Line 6 Flextone amp that I used for many years. I'm curious to read users' comments about the Spider V amps because it appears to me that they have continued to increase the complexity of the user interface, making it laborious to search for and repeatedly access one's preferred sounds. I suspect many customers will mistakenly conclude that the Spider V amps don't sound good. The problem is NOT with the sounds available; the problem is that discovering the sound you want and making it accessible in the future is WAY too much work.
It's interesting to see how Roland has also decided less complexity is more satisfying. Roland's Blues Cube Stage and Blues Cube Artist amps have received rave reviews from users, and this is for an amp with very few knobs and a limited variety of sounds; however, it's fine because those few sounds are fantastic. And people have enthusiastically paid a premium price for an amp with a narrower range of options because those fewer sounds are the ones they have been craving--and now they have them easily accessible.
So far, the only thing I don't like about the Blackstar amp is the weak signal coming from the headphone jack. I live in an apartment and do all my playing with headphones. I need to use a separate headphone amp to drive my headphones to a good level. This is weird and dumb. It's still a great amp, but I hope Blackstar fixes this problem. Also, the headphone jack doesn't seem particularly sturdy. Blackstar should realize that many players use headphones at home and provide a sturdy headphone jack and a much stronger signal.