Solid and Dimensional Amp - With One Caveat
This would be a five-star review, except for one key claim. We'll get to that in a second.
First off, the amp's fantastic. Know that up front. it's very difficult to plug this amp in and not be able to find a killer tone that's right up your alley within five minutes. The six different amp voices, six different modeled tube selections, ISF control, Resonance and Presence controls, full EQ...this amp's got the flexibility to handle anything from single-coil SRV blues to classic rock to modern metal. Once you've gotten within range of your tone using the voicings, EQ, and Res/Pres, it's a pretty simple turn of the TVP knob to 'audition' different tubes for your needs, and you'll find one or two (or three!) that work very quickly. I was somewhat surprised how much I liked 'nontraditional' voice/tube pairings, too, so don't just pull up the tried-and-true combinations - explore a little!
The effects are very good and sound fantastic in stereo. They're quieter than most on-board effects, but I've seen several reviews that called them 'silent,' and they're not that. Obviously, your choices and controls aren't going to measure up to a giant pedalboard...but if your performance rig calls for a touch of delay, some chorus or a flanger, and good 'verb, there's more than enough options on board to handle your needs. I put a wah pedal in front of mine, set up a few clean, rhythm and lead presets, and was ready to go.
So what's the missing star for? Blackstar's 'Loud as Valve' claim. It's right there on the outside of the box in six-inch black letters, and...well, it's kinda not true. Don't get me wrong; the amp's plenty loud for most stage settings, and you'd probably run a mic to the soundboard if you've got a true club sound system available anyway, so the realities of modern performing kinda render 'Loud as Valve' pointless. But it's their claim, so I tested it out. I demo'ed the ID:260TVP up against a few of my 20-, 50- and 100-watt tube rigs, and even the lowest-wattage of them held serve over the ID:260. Had Blackstar not made a big deal of this, I probably would've let this fact slide and enjoyed one of my new favorite amps (because it is - this is a GREAT amp!) But I can't let a claim like that one go unchallenged, and unfortunately, the ID:260 didn't pass the test. Don't let that deter you from buying it; just know that, while it's got more than enough oomph to handle most performance settings, solid-state still has a ways to go to catch up to the glowing glass bottles.