Tube amps are known for being able to deliver high wattage and maintain their performance at high volume levels without introducing any undesired distortions apart from the distortions introduced by the high gain amplifier. It is quite difficult to have a tube amp sitting in your bedroom without taking your whole house down along with your neighbourhood with the volume. For that reason, we have tiny, low wattage amplifiers such as this one. But there is no comparison left to do between a classic tube amp and a solid state amp. So what do you do when you want that classic feel in your bedroom without causing any wreckage?
Blackstar HT-1 is a measly 1 Watt tube amplifier with all the classic valve harmonics and compressions. This one is specifically designed for bedroom players who want a tube like performance.
What do you think about the Blackstar HT-1 looking at the image above? Does it look big? Do not trust your eyes on this one, because marketing gimmicks can make small things look big. The HT-1 is an absolutely tiny amplifier. The cabinet itself is made from good quality material similar to the one used on HT-5. You can easily expect the HT-1 to last for years to come. All the edges are properly screwed and sealed to protect high fidelity circuitry inside. The speakers measure to have 8 inches diameter.
There are volume and drive knobs on the top to do the obvious settings. There is also a headphone output jack for monitoring the audio coming out of it and there is obviously a guitar input jack and a 3.5mm input jack for playing sounds from external sources. You also have an option to plug an additional speaker and there is a separate jack for that. In addition to that there is an “emulated” output jack which we will talk about later.
HT-1 amplifier circuitry is built upon the ECC83 and the ECC82 vacuum tubes originally manufactured by Philips. Looking at the datasheet, the tubes have a maximum capacity to output 5W of power. Nevertheless, ECC83 and ECC82 tubes are quite popular for their great performance in the audio frequency band. Not to forget that these tubes were first manufactured and released in 1970.
It is no surprise that in the day of solid state amplifiers, the tubes still find their use in music and people are ready to pay a premium for an outdated technology just to hear the distortion which the modern technology tries so hard to eliminate.
The amplifier only has two channels; clean and drive. The clean channel introduces no distortion and amplifies the input from guitar faithfully. Upon switching on the clean channel, you will feel the quietness of the amplifier. There is no hissing whatsoever. There is that classic valve feel to the sound that comes out of it. The sound feels inclined towards the warmer side. Those traditional harmonics will definitely make someone forget to add reverb. To adjust the bass and treble you have the ISF knob. While on the clean channel you will also hear slight breaking and that is because of the push-pull amplifier design.
A push-pull amplifier also known as the Class B amplifier consists of two separate tubes that share the load. Any audio signal has a positive voltage component and a negative voltage component. A class A amplifier amplifies both components all by itself and because of that you cannot necessarily pump up your volume too high. Class A amplifiers are also not that efficient in doing their job. In a push pull amplifier one of the tube handles the amplification of the positive voltage component whereas the other tube amplifies the negative voltage component. Whenever a signal crosses the 0 voltage mark, the first tube turns off and the second one turns on. This switching causes the breaking sounds.
Switching on the gain channel, you begin to hear the characteristic hiss. This is because the high gain of the amplifier is amplifying even the usually silent white noise. The guitar strings are immediately distorted because of the high gain. In my personal opinion, I felt the drive channel gain can go crazy high and the level of distortion it can cause can almost match the death metal level. It maintains performance throughout. The volume feels to be slightly higher on the drive channel as compared to the clean one.
Even if the amplifier can output only 1Watt, do not underestimate the volume of air it can shake. A lot of users have warned about the volume. If you go too high, it is well capable of disturbing your neighbours and getting you in trouble.
The jack for connecting external speaker can be used to feed another external amplifier and drive higher wattage speakers. For those who do not care about the effects, Blackstar HT-1 is a good, inexpensive amp that can be used for performances as well with the setup mentioned above. If you feel like you are missing the reverb knob, you can opt for the Blackstar HT-1R. Everything on the HT-1R is identical except for the added reverb effects knob. This little feature costs around $120 extra (obviously less if you live in the UK, Blackstar is based there). If you are willing to shell out $329 for this small amp then you would be better off putting in some more money and buying a large, high wattage amp that has many more features.
There is the Blackstar HT-5 with 100W output and all the features that you might ever need. The HT-5 has been one of the popular amps among the guitarists and it costs $200 more than the HT-1.
I haven’t seen any amplifier that is as small as the HT-1 and still have all the features as the big ones. For $200 it is well worth buying, especially for those guys who are just starting with the strings.
the warm tone will make you forget about reverb and other effects
it should be plenty loud enough for anything you want to do in a personal practice situation.
limited eq capabilities make getting that precise valve tube tone you may be looking for difficult or impossible to achieve without added pedals,
I can get the sweetest most perfect cleans out of this thing.