Blackstar HT-5 RH Head Review
Like the Blackstar HT-1, the gear used is the Schecter Hellraiser C1 into the head, and out through a 1x12 Blackstar HT112 extension cabinet
The HT-5 takes the concepts of the HT-1 and adds yet more functionality to the already brilliant feature set. As well as having the ISF and the emulated output found on the HT-1, it also comes with a 3 band EQ section (bass, mid, treble), the speaker cab emulation also has a 4x12 option as well as the 1x12 from the HT-1, and there is a serial FX loop which is switchable between Hi-Z level for pedal use or line level for rack gear. The ISF still controls the crunch channel tone characteristics of the amp, but the new HT-5 also has a separate clean volume gain and tone control, which allows you to match the levels of your clean and overdrive sounds. A footswitch is also included which allows you to switch between the channels, and the EQ section allows even greater tone shaping than the HT-1. As well as being a great recording and practice amp, it is also good for band practices and gigs in small venues thanks to the FX loop and footswitch options. It would still need a mic in front of it to bring it up to level, but it is certainly louder and has more gain than the HT-1.
Ease of Use: *****
Just like the HT-1, this amp is intuitive and straightforward to use. It is very lightweight which makes it a perfect tool for the session and gigging guitarist, and the added 4x12 emulation functionality and footswitching options are easily accessed.
Sound Quality: *****
If you liked the gain sounds on the HT-1, then the HT-5 takes this a step further with yet more gain on the crunch channel. One difference that the HT-1 has and the new HT-5 does not is the driven clean sound. Turning up the volume on the clean will not kick it into overdrive like it does on the HT-1, which is a shame as the breakup into subtle overdrive on the HT-1 was spectacular and the clean channel is worth the price alone. However, nothing is wrong at all with either the clean or crunch channel sounds; they sound great and the tone and EQ on the channels provide sufficient tweaking (remember the tone knob on your guitar, folks!) Metalheads will love the added gain of the HT-5 as well as the footswitching option to transition into clean passages. The subtle overdrive of the HT-1 can be achieved to a degree on the HT-5 by lowering the gain to minimum on the crunch channel, but it's not the same, still usable, but different. It would be a great improvement if a clean gain was included separately as well as the crunch gain. However at this price point, the features are killer and the sound is great. I was impressed by the sounds of the emulated outputs too, and the 4x12 definitely gives a different flavour for yet more diversity of tone in your recordings. You can also keep the amp enabled whilst recording from the direct out (a feature not available on the HT-1) which will let you blend between the actual amp and the emulated speaker cabinet.
Bang for Buck: *****
This amp is priced extremely generously for the amount of features that it has. Blackstar could easily charge at least twice the price for an amp of this quality.
Overall Rating: *****
I would say it is one of the best small practice and studio amps on the market. Blackstar have really outdone themselves once again with this amp. A great feature set, tonal variety and functionality set it apart from the rest. Would recommend it to any session guitarist or home recording guitarists.
FAQ about the HT-5 RH
Q: Is the HT-5 loud enough for gigs?
A: While the HT-5 is louder than the HT-1, I would still recommend only using it for gigs with a PA and the ability to mic the amp. You can always use the emulated output to send the signal straight to desk though, which will definitely make it loud enough.
Q: What impedance speaker is used?
A: Like the HT-1, this uses an 8 ohm impedance.