Hi, I recently placed an order for a Marshall DSL 40C and wanted to share my perspective of why I did it and why I chose it over the Blackstar HT-40 BACKGROUND: (Skip this section if you are not interested) I am in my fourth year of learning guitar. Its taking me longer than some most probably because I am in my 40s and maybe because I am very much an engineer, used to left brain thinking. I have always had a creative bend but thinking in a structured and linear way initially inhibited me. I have had to let go of that a bit to bring out the music in me. I am now at the stage where I don't feel terribly embarrassed auditioning a bit of gear in a guitar store. I am telling you this so you take my review in the context of my skill level. I was the happy owner of two really awesome sounding amps, a Jet City 2112RC and an Ibanez TSA15C (Tubescreamer). Before these I had Blackstar HT-1R, a Vox AC4TV and before that a Roland Cube 30X. I bought the Tubescreamer to replace the Blackstar because the Blackstar had no headroom on clean, the Blackstar replaced the Vox because the Vox was really a one trick pony. It had a nice sound but it was not ultimately me. The Vox in turn replaced the Roland, which was my first amp. While I had the Ibanez the Jet City was released which gave me some serious GAS and I bought it to complement the Ibanez, thinking that I would have the whole tone spectrum from a sparkly Fender like clean on the Ibanez to the Marshally overdrive on the Jet City. When considered objectively the Tubescreamer is probably a better amp than a Jet City and also more versatile if you take pedals into account because of the effects loop. However I ended up discovering that I was always using the Jet City rather than the Ibanez, mainly because of the type of music I played and also because it made a better connection with me at a visceral level. It was during this stage that I realized that the tone that resonated the strongest with me the Marshall sound because even with the Ibanez I would invariably use a Marshall style pedal like an MI Audio Crunchbox. Some of the best tone I ever got was putting the MI Audio and a delay pedal in the effects loop of the Ibanez and then turning the Tubescreamer on. But the Jet City was also convenient, I did not have to use pedals and consider gain stacking and the like to get a good tone. I just switched it on turned a few knobs and bingo I was in tone heaven. I began realizing that I had one amp too many. Both of the amps did great Marshall tone, but neither did everything. If there had just been an amp that combined the two. If the Jet City had an effects loop this post would never have been written. If the Ibanez had a gain knob this post also would not have been written. When I was buying the Tubescreamer amp the price of that elusive ideal amp was way outside my price range. But recently two things happened. Sellers have reduced prices of gear in Australia and Marshall and Blackstar released amps in a lower price bracket because of Asian manufacture. So suddenly I realised I could sell both my amps and buy that one ideal amp. The specs I was looking at were an amp that could get me my tone, two switchable channels and a series effects loop. So I started looking, in my journey I briefly considered the Vox AC15, the Vox AC30 but then narrowed it down to the Blackstar HT40 and Marshall DSL 40C BLACKSTAR HT-40 vs MARSHALL DSL 40c: This was going to be hard. I was determined to choose properly this time, audition it using my own guitar, and then think long and hard. This was something I had not done in the past. The reason why it was hard is because in Melbourne there is no single store that stocked both the Blackstar and the Marshall. Only two stores sold both. One was an online store and the other was so overstocked with other amps that they were not willing to get these in for me to audition. Anyway I researched everywhere on the internet, watched all the youtube videos, read all the literature to understand the two amps a bit better. One average both are very popular amps, well respected and loved. Both have had good reviews in the press. It was going to be down to my personal preference. I found the Marshall amp first and auditioned it first. I used my Schecter Synyster Gates Custom with Seymour Duncan Invader pickups. The Marshall struck me as being very familiar. Its a nice looking amp with controls that are very logical. The two gain channels with two distinct voicings takes from clean all the way to the opposite end in a clear logical way. I was struck with how nice the clean sounded and how much more clean headroom there was, even with my pickups, than I was expecting. The crunch channel was great with those oh so lovely early Marshall tones. Lead 1 was pure heaven and Lead 2 even more so. I was impressed by the articulation, how I could get clear staccato notes without too much noise even on lead 2. Power chords on Lead 1 were the best I have ever heard. I actually got lost for a moment just playing a simple B to C to D sequence. The tone was magical. Then I tried some tapping and again it was awesome. The amp is very bright in a nice way but I could cut the brightness enough using the treble and mid knobs to give me the range of EQ that I would need. The reverb was OK but not out of this world. Maybe a nice pedal would do a better job. The tone shift made a big difference to the sound and together with reducing mids added up to a very scooped sound, something I dont really use. My overwhelming feeling after 30 minutes was happiness. I had a big smile on my face on my way to the Blackstar store. The Blackstar immediately struck me as being more modern and nicer looking and slightly better made. Its layout was also less clear and a bit more unfamiliar. I started with the clean and was immediately struck by the greater clarity, the more bell like quality it had over the Marshall. It was Fender like. The second clean channel was dirtier and could be said to be Vox like but without the creaminess so I skipped that. It would have been better to have had volume and gain on the single voice and do it well rather than try to emulate the Vox sound, which is something I have never heard anyone copy very successfully. On the drive side, the distortions were much darker sounding than the Marshall with very tightly controlled, very British HiFi speaker like bass. It all sounded pretty good but it had this of a sound that seemed a bit constrained and a bit tight with a hard edge that was not as nice as the Marshall. It was very hard to put my finger on it. I was trying to like it because the amp looks so great and because it has a feature that would have really worked for me, the emulate out, but it bothered me that the distortion was not sounding the way the Marshall did. On the emulation thing the Blackstar has the nicest sounding sound through headphones of any device I have ever heard. One big contrast with the Marshall's distortion is that on the Blackstar the intrinsic sound quality did not really change as I increased the gain, it just became grittier and dirtier. It still sounded like a very modern sound while on the Marshall it seemed to change far more, all the way from old Marshall to new Marshall, as I moved through the various stages of gain. The Blackstar also had this slight sterility to it. I tried moving the ISF knob but that only seemed to move the mids very much like the Tone Shift button on the Marshall does. I could hear Peavey on one side and Marshall on the extreme opposite but not truly authentic rather just a shadow of those sounds. At this point I was beginning to feel a bit underwhelmed. I could tell that on a rational level the sounds were awesome and the dynamics of the amp were really really good but it was just not connecting emotionally; almost as if it was a shade too perfect. I then discovered it had a great reverb. At that time the guitar store person showed me the Blackstar ID range. It was extremely hard and sounded really bad compared to the HT-40 but I realised that it had this overwhelmingly hard edged quality that would only really serve for something like death metal or Motorhead or the like. Strangely it made me realize what was bothering me with the HT-40. It had a degree of that same hardness, something completely absent in the Marshall. Anyway my conclusion was that the difference between the Marshall and the Blackstar was like the difference between a beautiful woman and a sexy woman. You like looking at a beautiful woman but would rather be with a sexy one. The Marshall is like a great looking sexy woman, the Blackstar like a cold beauty. On the way home I put a deposit down for the Marshall and resolved to save some money to buy an HT-1R for that headphone sound. Would I have bought the Blackstar if I hadn't auditioned the Marshall. Its a hard thing to answer and I am not sure. Did I choose the better amp ? I dont know but I know I chose the amp that connected better with me personally. Would I recommend the Marshall over the Blackstar to anyone. No I would not. I would recommend you go and find out which one resonates better with you and then buy that one regardless of what anyone else says.