Blackstar Tube Powered HT Pedals - YES

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by Trelwheen, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Well-Blown Member Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    I've got to share my enthusiasm for the HT line of Blackstar pedals.

    I'm a big fan of clean boosts and certain overdrives. Not exactly a hoarder, but over time the collection has grown. Particularly interesting are the many tube-driven variations. Some of them sound pretty good, but the starved-plate designs always seem to fall short in the realm of tightness and firmness in the low end.

    What first caught my attention from the Blackstar camp was the fact that the HT line's gain stages are powered by a 12ax7 running at full plate voltage (300 volts). In reviews, the general consensus is that the HT line all present a robust and firm signal, retaining a tight, amp-like feel. The videos bore this out, and so I decided to investigate first-hand.

    I first bought an HT Drive. As expected, the pedal brings the goods with a very strong and present signal. What I wasn't expecting was that the HT Drive has a shit ton of gain. It will go far into distortion territory. And it won't clean up quite enough to use as a boost, the way one might use a tube screamer, for example. So I pulled the 12AX7 and stuck an old RCA 12AU7 in there. Much, much better.

    But I still felt like I wanted a version with less aggressive attitude. After all, clean boost is the recipe for magic with 2203 type circuits, Plexi circuits and the like.

    So I hopped on Reverb and ordered an HT Boost. Plugged it in and.....That's what I'm talkin about!! A massive, tight boost with strong EQ and gobs of harmonics. No mud to dial out, no fuzzy bee swarms or loose bottom end. I've put both pedals in front of a JMP 2203, VM 2466, Mesa TC100 and Supro Royal Reverb with great results. I've got several other boosts and ODs to compare with....EHX LPB-1, Catalinbread Super Chili Picoso, Radial Switchbone boost, bunch of TS9s and 808s.....all great, all different. The biggest sounding of them all are the Super Chili and the HT Boost. The tightest and firmest is the HT Boost.

    I'm keeping both pedals. I could see situations where I might use the Drive pedal on certain things, and the Boost is now my go-to box for solo boosts and more.

    IMG_20201025_151427755~01~01.jpg

    They're built like tanks, I'm sure they can take a beating. They're huge though, and that could be a problem for somebody with limited board space...fortunately not an issue in my case. My pedal chains are usually one to three pedals and in a constant state of flux depending on what's being recorded.

    Bottom line -
    If you want an aggressive overdrive with some real teeth, try the HT Drive. You can tame it some with a 12AU7 or even throw a higher gain AX7 in there to get even more drive (RFT, Mesa SPAX7 maybe?)

    If you want a powerful clean boost with no low end loss, superb tightness, clarity and superior tone, try the HT Boost.

    Or get both. Cover all the bases on different amps from clean boost to a wall of tight gain.
     
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  2. stickyfinger

    stickyfinger Well-Known Member

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    I had a HT boost pedal years ago. I really liked the way it looked and it sounded good but it was a bit noisy even with a good JJ tube. It also had terrible switching latency. When I opened up the pedal to change the tube I could not believe how many components it needed for what should be a simple triode tube boost pedal. Definitely some SS adding gain
     
  3. ibmorjamn

    ibmorjamn Well-Known Member

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    Trell , bastard ! No more gas .
     
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  4. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Well-Blown Member Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Yep, the silent type true bypass switch takes getting used to. No signal when depressed. I'd likely swap them out if I was using them live on stage.

    Although the HTs I have aren't as quiet as my SS pedals they're both quiet enough. I usually use a little isp deci-mate up front anyway.
     
  5. TXOldRedRocker

    TXOldRedRocker Well-Blown Member* Gold Supporting Member

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  6. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Well-Blown Member Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Yes, but not the 5 knob version. I had one several years back. They make a lot of distortion. Not really my cup of tea, but very useful if you like getting all your distortion from a pedal. They're a starved plate design, BTW
     

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