New 2019 Blackstar Ht-1r, Ht-5r, Ht-20r Mkii Amps

Discussion in 'Other Amps' started by Moony, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    Firstly a few videos:






    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UekBf4clIcI

    I owned a HT-20 combo years ago and it always sounded good, but never really wow'ed me. Could be the hybrid design with a lot of "sand" in the signal path - but if it sounds good, I don't care.

    I've ordered the HT-5R MKII combo and I'm very curious about how it sounds. Now it has a 0,5W switch which is a great feature for playing at home if you would like to crank the amp a little bit. I will compare it to the DSL5C and DSL5CR, which use the same power tube (12BH7A).

    I must admit, that Jared James Nichols' enthusiasm about his new signature HT-20 has impressed me quite a bit. He's a really nice guy, great player, very authentic and I liked his presentations at NAMM2019 a lot and loved to see him so happy with his new amp!
    Here's a video (guitar faces included :D - all about the amp at 3:25):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvPuJYLj3kM

    And another one with Steve Marks from Blackstar:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHSjT5bN9Tk

    Has anyone tried one of these amps so far? Opinions?
    If you're interested, I will report back, when I got the new HT-5R MKII and tell you, what I think about it.

    Best regards!
    Moony
     
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  2. John BNY

    John BNY Well-Known Member

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    Congrats! I like Blackstar amps.
     
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  3. Sun King

    Sun King New Member

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    Hey Moony, thanks yea let us know! I had a Blackstar HT-5R combo, swapped in a Celestion V-30 and played around switching the preamp tube (yea, singular!) a few times. I thought it sounded great, but, I bought it used from GC, and before long it started giving me trouble with intermittent volume. Traded it back to GC toward a DSL40CR. The HT-5 being a "push-pull" power tube design, made it a bugger to try to bias though. Since it's a 9-pin tube, I was unable to find any kind of proper bias tool, and had to try to make my own. ("Try" being the operative word... ) The actual bias trim pot was a super-tiny, flimsy little plastic button that had no precision at all to its adjustment. (Ya gotta love biasing the new DSL40, in comparison! :thumb:) One other issue I had with the amp, was that the clean channel only had about half the volume of the gain channel. Not sure if they were supposed to be like that, but it was really lacking. However, I'm looking forward to trying out the new model once a local store starts getting them in stock.

    One thing that's disappointing, is the lack of technical support- Blackstar has a "forum", but it's very lightly trafficked. What I typically see, is somebody post with a problem, and get NO response from anybody, or a few side-track posts and then the thread dies with no help at all to the OP. I did like the HT-5's sound, so I'm still holding out hope for the new Mark II version.

    I'm actually more impressed by the new HT-20R Mark II. It's only $100 more than the HT-5, and I like that it has a master volume as well as individual channel volumes, plus the two footswitchable voicings per channel. One thing that these Blackstars have, that even the DSL40CR doesnt, is a tone adjustment for the clean channel. It's not a three-band EQ like on their respective gain channels, but at least it's something. Also, the Blackstar reverb sounded a lot better than on my DSL, in the demo's I've watched. Emulated out on the Blackstars also seems better than Marshalls. The Anderton's demo on the new HT-20 was a pretty good one, too.

    I think I will definitely pick up either an HT-5R Mk II, or HT-20R Mk II, in the next month or two. Well... if this damn divorce doesn't clean out my bank account first. ~:<
     
  4. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! I think, they are fine, too! :)

    I will do so!
    All I can say so far is that I like the new HT-5R MKII a lot more than the old HT-5R.

    I've seen, that it even was sold as a special "Deluxe Limited Edition" from Andertons equipped stock with a V30 - there's a nice video with Danish Pete on Youtube - but honestly, I guess, that these bigger 12" speakers won't sound good in that small cab, as it's more or less the same size as a DSL5C, which also doesn't sound good with a 12" put in.
    The new HT-5R MKII has a very lightweight (guess under 2 kg) 12" 20W Blackstar speaker in it. But I could try several other speakers for sure as there are many lying around here.

    I know the schematics of the old HT-5R - there is indeed only one 12AX7, which provides two gainstages, the rest is solid state, there isn't a 12AX7 for phase inverter either (the bigger ones use a 12AU7 for the PI iirc.

    There is a very easy way to do that without a bias tool.

    I haven't noticed that on the old model, but the new model doesn't have that problem. You have 2 voicings now on clean, the Voice 2 will be a little bit fuller and louder. As you haven't got a master volume on the HT-5R MKII, you can't get it to crunch at low "TV" volumes (the new HT-20 MKII has a master so it will be easier there).

    I've seen that, too, it's really a shame. Maybe I'll ask there, if there's a trick how to bias the new HT-5 like on the older model. :D

    To me, the new one is MUCH better - though they spec'd down the interior parts (there are almost only tiniest SMD components left and only a few proper sized caps and resistors).

    I have picked the HT-5R MKII over the HT-20R MKII, because I simply liked the sound of the HT-5 better in the Dawson's clips. The HT-20 was a little more fizzy sounding - I wonder if that has to do with the EL84s in the power amp. And of course, the HT-5 goes down to 0,5W which works amazingly well without sacrificing sound. The 20W goes only down to 2W which may be quite louder - but I don't know, how good that works with the master volume. The HT-5 has the footswitch with channel/voicing switching, too.
    As I won't use it for gigs, I thought, the new HT-5 was the overall better choice, but the new HT-20 is certainly fine, too. Maybe it has a better clean sound, as it has two 12AX7, so there could be one per each channel (clean and overdrive) as on the older HT-20. The new HT-5 has only one 12AX7 and I don't know, if it's shared with both channels or for overdrive only. The tone knob on the clean channel works really well, I don't miss anything here.
    Haven't tried the emulated out so far.

    And in regards to the comparison to the DSLs... I guess it's not appreciated on Marshall forum to say something about that. I think you probably won't regret buying the HT-5 MKII over the new DSL5CR. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
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  5. Sun King

    Sun King New Member

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    There is conflicting information on whether the new HT-20 has one, or two 12AX7 preamp tubes. I think a lot of retailers are simply copy & pasting some of the old info onto the new amp specs- even Anderton's got it wrong, I believe. Pretty sure the new HT-20 is also down to just one preamp tube.

    By the way, my old HT-5 that I had referred to, is what I guess may have been the "2nd generation" model- the original HT-5 came with the 10" speaker, but the HT-5R had the "Blackbird" (?) 12" speaker, so that made for an easy swap to the Celestion V-30. So, this new HT-5R Mk II would be kind of a "3rd generation."

    Good to hear that the Clean channel volumes are better. From the demo's I've watched, the two voicings sound quite distinct from one another and would be quite useful. Nice feature. Also the power reduction, on either the HT-5 or HT-20, sounds like no loss in sound quality for either amp, and the emulated out vs mic'd demo's sounded really close, too. Good stuff!

    Hm, yea as far as the DSL5CR, it looks like a pretty good head-to-head vs the HT-5R Mk II, but seeing as how I already have the DSL40CR, I'd rather go with something different anyway. Thanks for all the great info and responses Moony! :cheers:
     
  6. Sun King

    Sun King New Member

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    PS- if and when i do get a new HT, i'll be checking back with you about that "easy way" to bias that amp! ;D
     
  7. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    The HT-20R MKII has two 12AX7 - you can see that at the head version:

    [​IMG]

    Yes, the new HT-5R MKII combo has a 12" Blackstar labeled speaker, too, it's rated at 20W and very tiny, so it works fine in that small cab.

    The voicings do make sense indeed and sound quite different from each other, on the clean channel and the overdrive channel, too. The power reduction is really that good! I'm very happy to have that function as you can't get that sound on low volumes without it.

    That's not necessary - it's like on the older model, just with SMD components and a test point. My HT-5R MKII came biased very cold at only 57%, I bumped it up to 70%, wouldn't go higher with the 12BH7. And it has that Ruby labeled 12AX7WBC HG in the preamp, which seems to be a Shuguang version of the Sovtek 12AX7WB/WC. I really don't like that tube at all. I bought a bunch of them back in 2015, when they were brand new and tried them in several amps since then - and didn't find a single amp, where they sounded good. I swapped it with one of my favorite 12AX7 and it immediately sounded better, less wooly and boomy. That's just something to consider when checking out the new MKII amps as I guess, they all come stock with these tubes - it can only get better when swapping them (unless you're not going for Electro Harmonix or super bright Tung Sol 12AX7)!
     
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  8. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    Spent some time with tube rolling on the new HT-5:

    [​IMG]

    It does make a difference, which 12AX7 you choose.

    My favorites so far are the Ruby 12AX7 AC5 HG+ (a selected Chinese 12AX7B) and the S4GB "normal gain" (a selected balanced JJ ECC83MG).

    I would recommend the first one to people, who play mostly Metal and need a tight bottom end, the second one to people who don't use hi-gain settings all the time and want a more versatile sound with thick lead tone, without being muddy.
     
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  9. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    My issue with the original Blackstars firstly they had a dedicated clean channel, I have no use for a clean channel you cant dial in any breakup at all, secondly the dirty channel had way too much gain, I had it barely dialed on 1 to get the gain I needed any higher it was too high gain, seemed like a waste of dial to me plus the gain tone was kind of dark and I didn't like the ISF EQ thingy seemed kind of strange. Fast forward to today Blackstar has the HT Club 50 which looks really nice and is priced just as nice too. This amp has all the features you would ever want and the demos sound really good.

     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  10. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    I know where you're coming from! That was always my criticism, too. If you wanted to get a nice breakup "crunchy" sound, you had to use a pedal into the clean amp. Fortunately the clean channel worked really well with overdrive pedals (on the original HT-20 I owned), even with distortion pedals - I had an Okko Dominator running into the clean channel and it sounded great!

    The OD Voice1 channel on the HT-5R MKII works really well with pedals, too. Not so much with a tubescreamer - but a Klon or King of Tone really punch the crunchy "classic" gain to the limit, that's a lot of fun to play!
    Breakup on clean is possible on the newer models - however the HT-5R MKII has no master volume so that would be louder then. The bigger models have the master volume, so there's no problem.
     
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  11. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    What do you think of the HT Club 50 I posted above, I've seen them used for about $500, that's the one I'd get if getting a Blackstar. EL34's, 4 foot switchable modes, etc.
     
  12. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    Do you mean the HT-50 MKII? Just not to confuse this. The video shows the HT Stage 100 MKII.
    The HT Club 50 MKII is the head version of the Club 40 MKII combo.
    They sound fine, too. There are many demo vids out there, fe:





     
  13. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    The HT Club 50 MKII is the 50 watt version of the HT Venue 100 MKII I take it, they show the same video for both.

    I'm thinking they sound pretty Marshally. :yesway:
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  14. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    Blackstar was founded by ex-Marshall-employees - so that makes sense.

    But they have a more refined sound - Steve from Blackstar said, that they always tried to produce "the sound of a record". Some people like that, some don't. However therefore it's hard to get a bad sound out of a Blackstar.
     
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  15. Sun King

    Sun King New Member

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    Yea my HT-5R 112 combo had way more gain than you could use, too. Swapping out the preamp 12AX7, for a 12AY7 or similar, helped to shift the gain structure and make it more usable. Sounds like the new Mark II's are better in that regard? It's always kinda fun rolling tubes anyway!
     
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  16. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    Have done that on the MKII already:

    [​IMG]


    I like the S4GB 12AX7 "normal Gain" the best - that's a selected and balanced JJ ECC83MG.
    If I would play hi-gain only and focus on tight riffing, then my choice would be a Ruby 12AX7AC5 HG+, which is a rebranded selected Shuguang 12AX7B.
    Stock preamp tube is a Ruby 12AX7WBC HG, which is a Shuguang version of the Sovtek 12AX7WB/WC (C is higher gain than B).

    They have two different overdrive voices. Slight Crunch still isn't where the amp shines but I think, the OD voice 1 is a bit more classic and it cleans up with the guitar volume knob better then the original HT-5. OD voice 2 is more modern, more upper mids and tighter - maybe not your cup of tea.
     
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  17. Sun King

    Sun King New Member

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    Nice! FWIW, my HT-5 had a Sovtek 12AX7 as stock, and IIRC, an EHX for the power tube.

    Yea,,, Oh, it wasn't that I didn't like the HT-5's tones, I just like to experiment. It was more that the amp had some problems (random volume drops, etc.), and right about then, the new DSL40CR was coming out. It was kinda like Eddie Murphy when his momma told him she was gonna make him a hamburger, "Betta den McDonawld's"??? :drool:
    Trade-in time!
    So, I like the Marshall, but hey variety is the spice of life! If one amp is good, two is better. :D I'm more than willing to give a new Mark II another shot!
     
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  18. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    As those amps are now made in China - the first original HT-series was made in Korea - it makes sense to put Chinese tubes in it. The HT-5R MKII has a Shuguang 12BH7C in the poweramp, which is the same as the TAD 12BH7A-STR and what Marshall used on the first DSL5C series (the newer DSL5CR have a JJ 12BH7A in the powertube - I like the Chinese version better).

    I'm a Marshall guy, too, if I had to pick only one brand.

    But I like Blackstar, too and their different approach to create overdriven guitar tones. A lot of people bash these amps because of all the solid state components in the circuit. But if you take a look into the schematics, you will realize, that they are VERY complex (in comparison with a simple Marshall DSL schematic) - and there have to be knowledgeable sound engineers who had tweaked until they found a nice sound. I have a lot of respect for that work, that's kind of art.
    You can't deny, that Blackstar was pioneer on the small 5W hi-gain amp market. I would call the HT-5 a modern classic.

    The new ones have lost almost all proper sized caps and resistors, it's mostly mini SMD left - but these black pcbs and black laquered transformers look nice. The overall new look with the grey sparkle grill cloth and the vintage white chickenheads is tasty, too. Like that more than these old "Rectifier" knobs where you couldn't see the settings from a distance.

    All in all, I would give my thumbs up and say, the MKII revision is really good - and of course worth a try!
     
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  19. Moony

    Moony Well-Known Member

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    I've made a decision - I'll keep the HT-5R MKII.
    Can't send it back, it's just too good! :applause:
     
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  20. Sun King

    Sun King New Member

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    The decision now, is whether to get the new HT-5, or for only $100 more, the HT-20 MkII, which has identical features as the HT-5, but also a Master Volume, which is nice to have.

    However, it seems a 20-watter may be "neither fish nor fowl" in a way- a bit loud for home use, while at the same time being rather low-powered for band use and/or playing out. The HT-20 does have power-reduction down to 2 watts though, so the "home use" thing is probably solved by that. But again, the HT-20 combo is very nearly the same size and weight as the DSL40. I guess that would be a point in the HT-5's favor (smaller, lighter). And i only really play at home anyway, so it should be adequate.

    Not having a Master Volume on the HT-5 is probably a moot point anyway, now that IT also has the power-reduction feature; the older model i had, even at 5 watts, was pretty darn loud.

    Last thought- I wonder if the new HT-20 MkII is compatible with the Blackstar 5-button footswitch? I believe it's the "HT Venue FS-14". That may only work with their Venue Series, though. It kind of reminds me of Marshall's new (very hard-to-find!) 6-button switch for the DSL40CR, in that some users report problems, others love it. FWIW, the Blackstar switch is far more affordable, compared to the Marshall switch that runs about $200. (Ouch!) Anyway, that Blackstar FS-14 has switchable reverb! That sounds like a very useful feature, yet i've seen that topic come up before and the majority of posters feel switchable reverb is totally unnecessary?

    What are your opinions on these thoughts?
     
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