"For the home musician that would like to record and play at normal volumes."
This reviewer purchased this item from Same Day Music.
Outstanding unit for the money. Great tube sound, perfect for the home musician. Headphone capability, or use as a line out.
Keeping things in perspective, there are a lot of features in this unit. When you are comparing it to the Blackheart units, or the Epi, a few more features as far as tone shaping. The ISF knob gives you a mix between USA, and British tones. This effectively is nothing more than a "tone" control. The USA is a little brighter, while the British side is less bright, a little fuller. This is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, just a different sound.
The Reverb, as some have said is really not that good. But if you are looking for customizable tube tone at a very reasonable price this could be what you were looking for.
Ease of Use:
I wasn't happy at first, as I relied on just throwing what I thought would sound best, this volume, that gain, ISF in the middle. I was a little disappointed. Then I began to back off the gain, add a little volume, experimented with the ISF, and VOILA, a tube tone that I was very happy with. So much so that I removed all effects from my wish list. I personally have never played on a tube amp, so I was quite impressed that I could get a tone, minus effects of any sort that I was extremely happy with.
In summary, you have to dial in your tone. And that can take some time, depending on the tone that you are looking for. Once you have it dialed in as a baseline tone, the tweaking is a lot easier.
The product arrived packaged correctly from the factory, and Same Day Music packaged it perfectly for shipping. Once I opened the box and removed the head, I was reminded of one of Blackstar's catch phrases, "this is not a toy". Built beautifully, and should provide years of use.
I have read from others that it takes Blackstar a long time to respond to e-mails, but did not have the same experience. I read about the HT-408, thought that it sounded interesting, so I e-mailed about the possibility of using 2 to be powered by the head unit. I received a response the next day. (You can use 2 in series). The HT-408 has an "in jack & and out jack". For those who want quick responses, keep in mind you are e-mailing England, and there are time differences if you are in the United states. Have patience...
I have given zero 10's to this point not because the amp isn't great, it is, but because to me a 10 means perfection. And really is anything perfect? In the case of value, I find it hard not to think that it isn't perfect, if you need the features this amp has, and not dwell on the things that it doesn't have, (if it had those things, it would cost a lot more, or would be built more cheaply).
The speaker emulated output is perfect for headphones, or a line out to your computer for recording. The CD/MP3 input is perfect for jamming along to your favorite tracks. The 1 watt allows you to cook the tubes in a way that the police aren't knocking down your door. These were the features that I had to have in an amplifier. The missing effects loop, (not needed if you are just wanting tube tone without effects), and the lack of a premium reverb, (if that was my major selling point I would have purchased a Fender).
You can spend more, But is it worth it? If it is you wouldn't be looking at a lower end unit anyway. I was looking at some boutique products, Dr. Z, Bad Cat, Swart, etc, all great products but all over a grand! For less than $250 you can have tube tone, the ability to jam along and record.
The Wow Factor:
I saw the articles, read the reviews, and wanted it from the beginning. Outstanding piece of equipment!
I am glad that I chose this unit. It has fulfilled the need that I have outlined above, low wattage, headphone/line out capability, and tube. My next purchase will probably be in the Fender realm to get the other sound, less gain, more reverb.
There is a reason that guitar players have more than one guitar, and many have more than one amp. There really isn't a one size fits all in either category.
This unit fills it's category as well as anything in its price range. And beats more than a few in higher ranges. Find a low wattage, tube driven, line out/headphone, and CD/MP3 in anything less than $500, or over $500 for that matter. I looked, there aren't many.