Blackstar’s long-running HT Venue series has been one of the world’s most popular amplification choices for more than a decade now, and it’s around three years since Blackstar took the brave move to update it.
Not just a case of adding ‘MkII’ to the front panel, every feature was painstakingly explored and improved, with several new functions to facilitate modern home recording, including USB audio, balanced DI outputs with speaker emulation, and a brand-new digital reverb.
The update proved to be a major success, cementing the HT Venue’s reputation as the go-to mid-priced valve amp.
Meanwhile, Blackstar never stands still and, following significant customer demand, there’s been a recent addition in the shape of the HT Club 40 MkII 6L6, which swaps the standard-issue EL34 power valves for a pair of 6L6s. For many players the 6L6 is a fundamental part of the ‘American sound’, although its origins are a lot closer to home.
Back in the early s, British companies EMI and Marconi-Osram Valve funded an R&D project to design a new power valve that would circumvent European patents on pentodes, which were held by Philips. The research was a success.
However, M-OV’s management decided the new valve, called a beam tetrode, would be too expensive to produce and cut its losses, licensing the R&D to Radio Corporation of America. RCA promptly turned it into the 6L6, which went on to become the world’s most popular power valve, used in all kinds of applications including guitar amplifiers, where it’s been around in one shape or another for 70 years.
This 6L6-equipped HT Club 40 is distinguished from the rest of the range by a coat of immaculately applied basket-weave vinyl and black chickenhead control knobs – apart from which it’s identical in form and function, with a generously sized plywood cabinet housing a single Celestion Seventy 80 inch loudspeaker.
Inside the robust steel chassis, most of the electronics reside on a large high-quality through-plated circuit board, laid out with typical Blackstar attention to detail, minimising noise while maximising reliability.
There are two channels each with two voices, and all four sounds can be accessed from the supplied footswitch. These four voices are far from simple tone presets; for each one the preamp voicing, EQ, gain structure and power amp damping simultaneously shift to maximise each sound’s capability.
The Clean channel offers volume, bass and treble controls, while the Overdrive channel has gain, volume, bass, mid, treble and ISF. Unique to Blackstar, the Infinite Shape Feature continuously varies the Club 40’s EQ network between British and American configurations, considerably widening the amp’s tonal range.
The Club 40’s master section includes a level control for its digital reverb, an overall volume control and a useful power reduction switch that drops output to around four watts for home and studio use.
Rear panel goodies include a trio of speaker outlet jacks and speaker-emulated balanced DI and stereo line/headphones outputs, together with a push-button switch that offers 1x12 or 4x12 cabinet emulations. Another push button selects between two reverb presets: one a bright plate, the other a warm room with plenty of jazz club ambience – nice.
There’s a series effects loop with switchable levels and two footswitch sockets. One is for the supplied two-button unit, which changes channels and toggles voice settings, while the other is for Blackstar’s optional FS five-button controller, which accesses channels and voices, as well as toggling the reverb and a global boost. Lastly, on the far right, there’s a USB audio socket that lets you connect the Club 40 directly to a computer or DAW for recording.
The USB sends four independent channels simultaneously: a fully processed left and right with speaker emulation and stereo reverb, a preamp out with no reverb or speaker emulation, and a dry, unprocessed guitar signal as received by the amp. The USB can also receive audio in on a stereo pair, taken via the emulated output.
Overall, as you’d expect from Blackstar, the HT Club 40 MkII 6L6 is a good-looking and well-built combo, compact and portable enough for home and studio use, while ready for any size of stage.
Feel & Sounds
Along with our Duncan Alnico Pro-loaded Strat and PAF-equipped Les Paul Standard, we borrowed a Gibson ’63 ES CS replica to put the Club 40 through its paces. It’s practically noiseless in operation, making it ideal for use at home or in the studio where Blackstar’s speaker emulation, digital reverb and USB audio interface make it easy to connect to computers or DAWs.
This new 6L6 option is really about taking a different tonal direction, and given its wide-ranging tone controls we were interested to see how much of a difference the valve makes.
The Club’s ‘American’ clean voice setting already produces the kind of sounds you’d expect to hear from 6L6-powered amplifiers: clean, bright highs and a solid yet tight low-end, with plenty of headroom to accommodate pedalboards.
Meanwhile, the ‘British’ voice has a warmer midrange and responds more to player dynamics. We tended to favour the American clean voice setting, which we felt was enhanced by the 6L6, with a sweeter treble and better-defined lows.
The Club 40’s two overdrive voices are best described as ‘vintage’ and ‘modern’, with a variety of circuit changes producing two very different sounds. Our preference was the vintage voicing, which is tight and highly responsive with medium damping.
Used with that ES and the gain set to around halfway, this channel was instant vintage Larry Carlton, right on the money for recreating Mr ’s back catalogue and perfect for any jazz/fusion style. Swap to the Les Paul or Strat, add a little more gain and you can sound equally authentic playing any classic rock hit from the late 60s and early 70s.
The higher gain modern overdrive voice has a boosted midrange, with a more aggressive feel that’s ideal for modern rock and metal – we felt this one might be better with EL34 power, while to our ears the other three voices all sounded better in 6L6 guise.
From warm, vintage jazz to snappy country and funk, and indie chime to classic and modern rock, the HT Club 40 6L6 has an uncanny knack of sounding perfectly dialled in, no matter what style you choose – something that’s usually more associated with boutique designs that only zero in on one or two specific tones.
We’ve encountered the new improved HT Club 40 MKII on several occasions over the last couple of years and it gets better every time, with inspirational sounds and practically boundless versatility.
The 6L6 subtly shifts the Club’s tonal centre, adding sonic authenticity for American-influenced genres yet taking little, if anything, away from textures normally associated with the EL
Currently, both valve options cost the same so the choice is simple – go for whichever sounds best to your ears. Compared with the competition, either version is still hard to beat when it comes to bang for buck, with instant pro-quality tone for home recording or internet broadcasting.
When grassroots live music returns, you can relax knowing the Blackstar you bought during these strange times will handle any gig you can throw at it, with volume to spare and all the tone you’ll ever need. Bring it on!
- PRICE: $ / £
- ORIGIN: Designed in the UK, made under licence in China
- TYPE: Hybrid preamp and valve power amp
- OUTPUT: 40W RMS, switchable to 4W RMS
- VALVES: 2x 12AX7, 2x 6L6
- DIMENSIONS: (w) x (h) x mm (d)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 24/53
- CABINET: Birch ply
- LOUDSPEAKER: 1x12” Celestion G12 Seventy 80
- CHANNELS: 2, each with 2 footswitchable voices
- CONTROLS: Clean channel: volume, bass, treble, voice switch. Overdrive channel: gain, volume, bass, mid, treble, ISF, voice switch. Global reverb level, power reduction switch and master volume. Speaker emulation cab select, effects loop level select
- FOOTSWITCH: 2-button FS footswitch (supplied), selects channels and voices
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Series effects loop with switchable levels, digital reverb with 2 modes, power reduction switch, speaker-emulated direct outputs on balanced XLR and headphones/line jack, 4-channel USB audio, external speaker jacks
- OPTIONS: 5-button all-access FS foot-controller, $89 / £80
- RANGE OPTIONS: ELequipped HT Club 40 MkII, $ / £
- CONTACT: Blackstar
UK-based Blackstar Amplification has been making big, loud waves with their recent entry into the US market. For a small company, their product line is fairly diverse—products range from their hand-crafted Artisan Series, the big and bold Series One amplifiers and their highly popular (at least in Europe) and somewhat pricey HT tube pedals to their affordable, but feature-rich, HT Venue series combo amps. Of the Venue series, Blackstar sent us the HT Club 40 for review. Powered by two ECC83 and two EL34 tubes, it is, by appearances and a glance at the data sheet, your standard mid-range valve combo minus the digital doodads amp makers tend to stuff into products at this price point. Plug in your guitar and tweak a few knobs, and you quickly realize that the Blackstar HT Club 40 is much, much more.
The amp feels and looks rugged and road-ready. The black Tolex is tight and thick for road use; the external hardware is likewise rugged, giving the amp a somewhat vintage look. A 12" Celestion lies under the black and white grille. On the back side you'll find the usual complement of jacks, including an FX Loop with a +4/ dbv switch, speaker-emulated output, and three powered speaker outs: 16 Ohm for the internal Celestion or an external 16 Ohm cab, and two additional powered outs that can be used with a single 8 Ohm cab (without the internal speaker), two 16 Ohm cabs, or one external 16 Ohm cab along with the internal 16 Ohm speaker. There is also a footswitch jack and included two-button footswitch. The amp also worked fine with my standard two-channel footswitch—one switch managed the amp's two channels, the other, reverb on/off. The back panel also has a Light/Dark switch for the amp's digital reverb, which, in my mind, is the right place for such a feature. The Light/Dark switch turns on or off the reverb's high frequency damping, and a single knob on the front panel controls the reverb amount. The speaker portion of the amp is essentially a sealed cabinet, giving the amp lots of focus and spank, and a tightly controlled bottom-end that may border on too tight at lower volumes. Still, I would much rather carry my footswitch and power cable in my gig bag then deal with the flabbiness that can occur with open backs at low and medium output levels.
In the throes of sweaty onstage inspiration, the last thing I want to do is count knobs or worse, study the front panel of a complicated combo before tweaking something that I feel needs it. Blackstar's front panel seems to be built by guitar players with a similar mindset. (The company was founded by former Marshall R&D alum Ian Robinson and Bruce Keir, along with a handful of their colleagues.) And controlling the Blackstar is somewhat reminiscent of controlling classic Marshalls as opposed to today's fancier ones. The HT Club 40's standard amp layout—clean channel, followed by the high-gain/distortion channel, followed by EQ then master out controls is improved by a sensible use of spacing between sections and crystal-clear white-on-black labeling.
Clean and … Not So Clean
The clean channel has two knobs—volume and tone, and a switch called Voice. The Voice switch is the key to both knobs, switching the clean channel from "Boutique" meaning pure Class A, to "Modern" which is Class A/B. In Boutique Mode, the volume can introduce a dose of overdrive reminiscent of classic Vox amps and approaching the threshold of a classic HiWatt. With the Voice switch in, the sparkly high-end definition of a Class A/B amp is obvious and pristine at any Channel 1 or Master Volume level. The Tone knob controls brightness and has a wide range. To my taste, the amp and my guitars sounded best from 12 o' clock to 9 o'clock.
The next set of knobs is Channel 2's gain and volume controls. While I was impressed with Channel 1's versatility, Channel 2 (overdrive) is what made me covet this amp and come up with excuses as to why I can't send it back to my editors. The distortion is nothing less than gorgeous, colorful, aggressive and equal parts punchy and creamy. To my ears, the distortion sits somewhere between classic Marshall and Mesa/Boogie, and can be managed very effectively using the ISF knob, and, to a lesser degree, Channel 2's Voice switch.
Creamy distortion has become a mainstay tone beyond Heavy and Nu Metal genres, but it often lacks enough punch and definition to cut through a rock band's live mix. Many guitarists attack this problem by turning up (the solution to, and cause of, most live guitar tone issues), which pushes them out of the house PA and can often destroy a good live mix. The HT Club 40's ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) knob lets you dial back in some crunch and bite so instead of an either/or choice of creamy metal distortion or classic hard rock distortion, you can achieve a hybrid of the two. So at virtually any volume and gain level, you are guaranteed clarity and punch. This is where the amp truly shines, and probably why Blackstar's artist roster leans towards heavy metal, punk, and hard rock acts, though not exclusively so.
Blackstar succinctly describes the ISF knob as a tonal shift from American to UK characteristics, or anywhere in between. It works in conjunction with the treble, middle and bass EQ knobs. The relationship between the EQ knobs and the ISF knob means there are nearly endless tone settings and so many sweet spots it may be hard to park on just one (the upside to a simple UI is also its downside—unless you plan on twiddling knobs during your gig, you will just have to pick your tone and try and forget all the other good ones lurking closely by). But it also means every guitarist who owns this amp can have his or her own signature sound that is of very high quality.
I ended up with many Channel 2 tone settings I really liked, but my number one was with the bass EQ nearly wide open, mid EQ around 3 o'clock, the treble backed off to around 4 o clock, and the ISF knob set to 12 o'clock, giving me plenty of cream on the sustain, but plenty of spank and crunch on the attack. Set this way, I found little reason to scoop out the mids. With everything set so hot, I was impressed with the amp's unobtrusive hiss levels. I kept the aforementioned Overdrive Voice switch off, as it did little for me that the knobs didn't give me with more precision. When engaged, the Overdrive Voice switch adds body and what Blackstar describes as a "smoother overdrive characteristic" by adding some mid-band gain. Maybe I'd be scooping out mids more with this feature engaged. I am used to a big bottom combo, which could explain why I kept the bass knob cranked.
The amp's Channel 2 Gain offers plenty of overdrive saturation at settings just above 12 o'clock. Sustain was everything you wanted at these levels—richly voiced and very live and uncompressed sounding and beautiful feedback was easy to attain and control—even with the gain pushed towards 3 o'clock. At higher gain levels finger and pick noise rose prominently, but was not unpleasing. In fact, it made the amp appear loud at practice volume levels.
EQ, Reverb and the Rest
Following the Channel 1 and 2 knobs are the previously mentioned treble, middle and bass equalization knobs. The EQ section only applies to the overdrive channel (channel 2). Depending on your music, pickups, and playing style, the tone requirements between clean and distortion can vary significantly and a separate EQ section for the clean channel would be 'nice to have.' However, if only one of the two channels on your amp is going to have EQ, it had better be the overdrive channel. I did not feel like I was missing out on EQ controls on channel 1, especially when set to Class A, thanks in large part to the HT Club 40's well-tuned cabinet. Again, the sealed back of this amp helps enormously in this regard via focus and upper mid definition. If you need more EQ for your clean tones, EQ stompboxes are common enough and will give you more control than the EQ section of most amps.
The last two knobs are what you'd expect—Reverb and Master Volume. When I listen to Jeff Beck on a song like “Blanket,” I think, “Wow, killer reverb.” When I dial in reverb on my own, or sometimes when I hear a guitarist use it in a club I think, “What's the deal with the reverb?” It's just so subjective in a live rock and roll environment. With that said, the HT Club 40's reverb is very reverb-y at high settings and less so at low settings. It's obviously digital, and while that's not a slam, if you're looking for a spring reverb, this amp doesn't have one. The Light/Dark switch on the back panel is a smart reverb parameter if you dig 'verb. Channel 1's Class A/B Voice with Reverb switched to Light provided gobs of shimmer without getting strident. When was the last time you heard a 40 watt tube combo amp that wasn't hellah loud for its size? The Blackstar is no exception. It screams plenty loud for most clubs yet sounds great at mic-able levels so that you can get in the house mix. I think that is important since two sets of PA cabinets will do a far better job of saturating the venue space than a lone 12" in a sealed cabinet. There is plenty of headroom so that the Master Volume controls your level and not your tone, which is what all those other knobs are for.
The Final Mojo
The HT Club 40 is packed with tones. The versatility of the clean channel ranges from classic Pete Townshend to sparkly clean, uncolored guitar tones. Its overdrive channel ranges from British or American blues-rock (thanks to the ISF knob) to mega-aggressive distortion and anywhere in between, and even bits of both at the same time. I only wish it had an additional footswitch to go between Channel 1's Class A and Class A/B, which would essentially make this a powerful three-channel (tone-wise) amp. Though the Marshall-pedigreed company is based in the UK, the amp is manufactured in Korea. Even knowing that, its street price of $ feels like a typo.
You predominantly play rock or metal guitar, need sensible, not over-the-top versatility in a combo form.
You have a thing about Asian-made amps, you need the classic breakup of a vintage tube amp, you expect onboard digital effects or modeling, or play venues that require a stack instead of a combo.
Blackstar HT Club 40 Review
The competitively-priced Blackstar HT Club 40 is well-constructed and contains enough tonal versatility to be used in a wide variety of situations.
Founded by a cadre of former Marshall amp designers, Blackstar Amplification has turned quite a few heads in the companys relatively brief existence. Of course, with a team of experienced amp designers running the company, you would expect solid performance. Blackstar Amps are designed in the UK and built in Korea to the companys exacting specifications. The HT Club 40 is an affordable dual channel 112 combo that focuses on tone rather than a slew of ancillary (and probably unnecessary) features. Is it a worth contender in an already crowded field? Lets take a look and see.
The Blackstar HT Club 40 is a 40 watt tube combo powered by 2 ECC83 (12AX7) preamp tubes and 2 EL34 power amp tubes. A 12 Celestion speaker is standard. The Clean channel features independent volume and tone controls as well as a voicing switch that selects either boutique or modern settings. The Overdrive channel sports individual controls for gain and volume in addition to its own voicing switch that allows you to pick from a more classic overdrive to a more modern mid-focused drive. Channel 2 EQ controls are bass, middle, and treble.
Unique to the Blackstar is a patent-pending ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) control, which lets you assign a more American or British sound to the amp or some combination of the two. A digital reverb is included, as is a reverb voicing switch (warm/dark or bright). Rounding out the feature set is a switchable effects loop, compensated output, and 2-way footswitch.
I tested the HT Club 40 with a Fender Deluxe Stratocaster HSS and a G&L ASAT. The first thing I noticed upon inspection is what a quality feel this amp has, especially given its price. I know from experience that quality gear can be made in Asia, but I also know sometimes companies cut corners with Asian manufacturing. I have had great luck with Korean-made guitars, and this Korean-made amp is no exception. The build quality is excellent. The layout is also very logical and obviously made by guitar players who are also engineers, not engineers who happen to play a little guitar. Its logical and easy to move around.
The clean channel, channel one, is extremely versatile and allows you dial in tones reminiscent of Vox, Hiwatt, Tweed, and Mesa/Boogie cleans quite easily. The key is using the voicing switch and tone knob judiciously. For me, an amp isnt very useful if I cant use it with an array of effects pedals, and I cant remember the last time I had a more pedal-friendly clean channel.
Of course, this is a two-channel amp, and any amp designed by former Marshall R&D guys has high expectations. Just to sum it up succinctly, the HT Club 40s distortion tones are everything youd want in a small combo amp. The amp can easily cop some of the best Marshall and Mesa/Boogie overdrive sounds youve ever heard, and the tonal controls are especially versatile.
Channel Twos ISF control lets you shift between UK and American sounds or blend the two if you so desire. In practice, I found the ISF control best suited for finding the perfect sweet spot in a crowded mix. The tonal variety in the lead channel is truly stunning and one of the most versatile yet easy to use overdrive channels youll ever encounter. It sounded equally good with humbuckers and single coils. The amp was also particularly quiet, given the amount of gain on tap.
The reverb was very good for a digital reverb, and I was glad when using the amp that Blackstar didnt pack the amp with a ton of effects that I probably wouldnt use anyway. The best thing about the reverb was the light/dark switch, which allowed you to change the basic tonal quality of reverb itself. Personally, I like digital reverb, since it doesnt boing when you move the amp and its generally pretty robust compared to a reverb tank. It may not be your cup of tea, but I think it was good.
If you wonder if a Korean-made amplifier can compete with the big boys, dont worry. The Blackstar HT Club 40 is well-constructed and contains enough tonal versatility to be used in a wide variety of situations. Its also very fairly priced given the amount of features it carries. Bottom line its a winner.
Name of Gear:Blackstar HT Club 40
List Price: $
Manufacturer Info: Blackstar Amplification; blackstaramps.co.uk
Pros: Incredible value; wide range of clean, overdrive, and distorted sounds
Cons: Digital reverb not as convincing at higher settings
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For years, Blackstar’s best-selling HT Venue range of tube amps has been the benchmark in the highly-contested mid-price market, where the Venue amps have become go-to favourites for working players.
So, replacing or upgrading them becomes a nail-biting challenge. There’s the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but for Blackstar, standing still has never been an option - it’s why the company was formed in the first place.
So, after nearly three years and possibly the most intensive R&D project in the company’s year history, here we are with the new, improved MkII HT Venue, and the amp that could well become the range’s bestseller, the HT Venue Club 40 1x12 combo.
The new HT Club 40 looks reassuringly familiar, with the same front-facing control layout, however, practically every detail has been worked on and sweated over. It’s a smart-looking combo with pleasing proportions and looks the part on bigger stages, while being portable enough for smaller pubs, clubs and restaurants.
The HT Club 40’s control panel has separate channels for clean and overdrive, with two footswitchable voices on each channel. There’s also a new, low-power option, which reduces output from around 40 watts down to just four watts. Global controls include a master volume and level control for the Club’s built-in digital reverb.
On the rear panel, you’ll find extension speaker outlets and an effects loop, with new features including a USB recording output together with speaker-emulated line outs on jack and XLR.
Inside the chassis, most components live on a high-quality PCB, which is through-plated for long-term reliability. The parts are first- class, and the economical layout is typical Blackstar, keeping hiss and hum to absolute minimum levels.
Like all Venue amps, the Club has a hybrid valve and solid-state preamp joined to a classic dual-EL34 valve output stage. The choices are pragmatic, using valves where they do the best job of generating gain and overdrive effects, while top-quality op-amps are used elsewhere for effective EQ and filtering.
The MkII’s clean channel has a completely reworked architecture with two tightly-defined voices, best described as classic American and classic British, which can be pre-set on the control panel or footswitched. Although only one button is pressed, lots of changes happen inside, including preamp voicing, EQ and valve gain structure, as well as the power amplifier damping.
A similar thing happens on the overdrive channel, with a choice of two voices called ‘classic crunch’ and ‘super- saturated lead’, which can be infinitely tweaked between Brit and USA response using Blackstar’s patented ISF control. Like the clean channel, these voices have been reworked to be richer and more responsive. The icing on the cake is the HT Club’s integral digital reverb, which can be switched between a bright plate or a darker room setting.
In use, the HT Club 40 MkII is jaw-droppingly good - while the MkI version was efficient if a little bland sometimes, the MkII is full of character and attitude, with astonishing tonal depth and response that will have many top-dollar boutique amps struggling to keep up.
From punchy Fender and Vox-influenced cleans that work equally well with single coils and humbuckers, with enough reserve headroom to really cut through, to stunning classic rock touch-sensitive mild distortion that’s perfectly matched for a decent Les Paul and all-out modern rock sustain, the new MkII HT Club 40 is, well, much more of everything that made the MkI so good.
It’s great to see the HT Venue’s good looks combined with new stand-out features like the power reduction, which drops the output down to useful recording and practice levels, as well as the dual line outs and USB audio. Other clever touches are a smart, valve-saving standby mode and a Kensington lock, but above all it's the sounds that define the MkII HT Venue and crikey, they're superb.
Club 40 review ht
Blackstar HT Club 40 Review and Video
The Blackstar HT Club 40 Tube Amp Delivers a Classic Mix of Clean and Crunch in a Well-Designed, Compact Unit.
Finding a decent all-tube combo amp that leans more towards modern tones that doesn’t break the bank isn’t easy. The Blackstar HT Club 40 brings plenty of modern rock and metal tones, without scorching the wallet.
While it is a 2-channel amp, the clean side is very minimal, with just a volume and a tone knob. The cleans are super sparkly; chords ring out with excellent punch. The single tone knob might seem limiting, but it’s voiced so there’s not a lot of hunting around for that perfect clean tone.▼ Article continues below ▼
Blackstar HT Club 40
A separate voicing switch allows the clean channel to be overdriven to get that natural tube tone, or go totally modern, keeping clarity at higher volumes, with extra bass, and more high-end response.
RELATED: Check out more guitar and amp reviews from Performer.
The overdrive side has a lot more features, with Gain, Volume, and 3-Band EQ. The voicing switch works in a similar manner as the one on the clean channel, going for a slightly scooped presence, or a more classic hard rock sound: think of switching between a gold and tolex-styled amp, or a chrome diamond-plated one. The EQ can really sculpt the tone overall, throughout the range of the gain offered. This is a serious hard rock/metal machine. Yes, you can get some vintage classic rock and bluesy stuff at lower gain settings, but that’s like putting training wheels on a Harley-Davidson.
This amp really lives in the higher gain settings, places where a lot of combo amps can’t go without turning to buzzy mud. Rhythm tones are super tight, while the lead tones have loads of attack and sustain. To give even further flexibility, there is an ISP control; turn counter clockwise, and its flavor sits in the USA side of things, and clockwise, in more British sounding areas. The reverb is digital, which itself has a dark/bright switching option, and sounds as bright and snappy as a spring-driven unit. 40 watts may not seem like much, but there’s plenty of (clean) headroom to keep up with a band in a practice space or even a large club.
RELATED: Check out stompbox and fx pedal reviews and videos from Performer.
On the back panel, there is an effects loop, with the ability to select for line level (rack mounted) or instrument level (pedals). It’s a nice option to have; time-based effects like reverbs, delays and modulations sound better in an effects loop, and as the trend of more complex pedalboards becomes more common, its a great way to get the most out of a rig. The usual speaker outputs of 8 and 16 ohms reside next to a Speaker Emulated output for recording or even live use. Even better is it can work silently; just disconnect the speaker, turn the master volume to 0, or set the amp to standby mode.
Blackstar HT Club 40 rear panel
Behind a removable panel on the back is the business end, a 112 Celestion 80 speaker, as well as (2) EL34 and (2) ECC83 (12AX7) tubes that give the amp this great crushing and dynamic tone. Considering the back panel is secured by 12 screws, any issues that arise at a gig or practice may require a lot of work to diagnose, which is a slight bummer. There arent a lot of amps we’ve seen at this level that go into this high gain area, without a lot of help from digital modeling or some other solid state technology. The only pedal that might be needed is a boost for pushing some solos over the top of the mix (depending on the musical situation). A player who relies on a high gain pedals to get those modern rock/metal tones may want to take a look at this to help clean up their signal path.
Blackstar HT Club 40 front panel
Flexible modern rock/metal tones GALORE, plenty of tonal EQ options on the overdrive side.
Back panel is a pain to remove if any issues arise.
BLACKSTAR HT CLUB 40 FEATURES
-2xECC83 preamp tubes
-2xEL34 power tubes
-2 footswitchable channels (footswitch included)
-Patent-Applied for Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)
-Digital reverb with dark/bright switch
-Speaker emulated output
What do you think of Blackstar HT Club 40 review? Let us know in the comments below or drop a line on the Performer Magazine Facebook page or on Twitter @Performermag.
Homepage Lead StoriesSours: https://performermag.com/live-sound/amplifier-reviews/blackstar-ht-clubreview/
Thanks to ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) technology, Blackstar is able to expand the possible tones that you can get from an amp, and do so without stripping it of genuine tube elements.
The HT Club 40 is a great example of what this technology can do, this gig-ready tube amplifier has all the traditional features, while having comparable versatility to a digital amp modeler.
With 40 watts of power, two ECC83 and two EL34 tubes, and a 12" Celestion speaker, this amp has juice for professional gigging.
The extra EQ controls and built-reverb adds a bit more tone shaping options, while the effects loop with level control makes the amp more compatible with complex pedalboard setups.
All these features add up to make the HT Club 40 a gig-ready versatile tube amplifier that can cater to the needs of different musical styles.
- Power Rating: 40W (2 Channels)
- Preamp: 2 x ECC83
- Poweramp: 2 x EL34
- Speaker: 12" Celestion Speaker
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Output: 3 x 1/4" (Speaker), 1 x 1/4" (DI), Effects Loop, Footswitch
- Cabinet: Rear Ported
- Main Controls: Standby, Power, Channel, Master, Reverb, Reverb Type, Effects Loop Level
- Equalizer: Bass, Middle, Treble, ISF
- Clean Channel Controls: Volume, Tone, Voice Switch
- Overdrive Channel Controls: Gain, Volume, Voice Switch
- Weight: lbs
With its impressively high ratings, its hard to deny that Blackstar hit all the right notes with the HT Club Many are impressed with its tone and versatility, with some users even describing it as "Perfection". Peter Hodgson of I Heart Guitar puts it nicely, "There are many players who would dig this amp. Country spank, bluesy grit, rock crunch, shred scream and even fusion tactility are all in here".
There weren't really any notable complaints, other than some users who wish that the Blackstar HT Club 40 had three channels for easier switching between clean, crunch and lead.
If you want nothing less than one of the best guitar tube amplifier combo in the sub $ price range, then the Blackstar HT Club 40 is the one to get if you can still find one for sale.
If you can find one available, then check out our current recommendations in our guide to The Best Combo Tube Amps
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Blackstar's continued march towards world domination in the guitar amplification market has seen the release of some seriously good amps at very affordable prices. It started with its delectable hand-wired range and was followed by such gems as the Gold Award-winning Series One watt combo and the awesome little HT-5 head, which we predicted would be a runaway success and apparently still sells faster than Blackstar can make 'em - it's an enviable situation to be in under current market conditions.
Now it's time for Blackstar to address the highly competitive mid-priced market: enter the new HT Venue range. Making their debut at the Winter NAMM show, the HT Venue amps are intended to give the working musician maximum bang for his/her buck.
Like all the Blackstar products we've seen so far, the Club 40 1 x 12 combo is superbly crafted. The satin black-finish vinyl covering is applied without any cuts in the corners, something that many amp builders seem incapable of. It looks impressive and although the HT Venue range's styling may seem a little utilitarian at first glance, the attention to detail lifts it above the competition.
The electronics are held on a robust PCB, which is adequately protected inside a tough steel chassis and holds practically all front and rear panel components. There's particular attention to detail in the layout and component choice that leaves you in no doubt about Blackstar's devotion to getting every last aspect right.
The overall impression is one of reliable capability - these are amps that should thrive in the unforgiving world of club gigging and will easily handle being chucked in a car boot night after night without losing their good looks.
The combo is a two-channel design with separate EQ controls and digital reverb. There are controls for volume and tone on the clean channel, with a familiar gain and volume arrangement on the overdrive channel.
The overdrive channel's EQ combines bass, mid and treble controls with Blackstar's now-familiar ISF (Infinite Shape Feature). This disarmingly simple control sweeps you from a typical American tone to a more Brit-influenced sound, with every conceivable point in between. Originally developed as a tool to help Blackstar's R&D team dial in amps for artist customers, it proved so popular and easy to use that it's now a permanent fixture in many Blackstar designs.
Topping off the front panel are master controls for volume and reverb. Around the back there are sockets for the integral series effects loop - with a useful level switch that accepts stompbox-type pedals or semi-pro rack units - and a speaker-emulated recording output.
The Club 40 combo's capabilities are considerably expanded by the addition of a pair of voice switches for the clean and overdrive channels and a handy tone switch for the built-in digital reverb. Channels are footswitchable, and you can also toggle the reverb on or off remotely.
The recording output is very clean as far as noise is concerned and makes it easy to get a good 'real' amp tone onto your PC or portastudio with a minimum of fuss.
The Club 40 combo uses EL34 output valves and Celestion speakers, which should give you an idea of what tonal ballpark the amp sits in. Check out the following audio examples to hear it in action:
The clean channel voice switches preamp gain, voicing and power amp damping to give Class A performance in 'boutique' mode, with shimmering cleans that can be wound up into a very tasty chiming effect. In 'modern' mode, the power amp is reconfigured to Class AB for extra clarity and a tight, snappy bottom end.
The overdrive channel's voice switch swaps between a tight, crunchy overdrive to one with a much fatter mid-range and less power amp damping for a completely different response that's looser and much more dynamic. The simple 'reverb tone' switch on the Club 40's rear panel provides either a bright, zingy decay or a darker and warmer effect, making it easy to achieve authentic vintage surf and sixties sounds, through to more modern fusion tones.
The Club 40 packs an enormous amount of tone into an unassuming layout that makes it a real pleasure to use, with plenty of volume for gigging. Blackstar's HT Venue range is a big hit with us so far; we're more than a little surprised at just how flexible and responsive the amps are, yet they are blessed with straightforward controls that make them simple and intuitive to use.
Full marks for the clever voice switches, too, which do exactly what they say and make for a very rewarding sonic experience that you don't often find, even on amps costing over £1,
The Club 40 is ideal for enthusiastic semi-pro and amateur use and should last for absolutely ages. In this very competitive price bracket there's a lot of very worthy competition that's fighting hard for your money and the Blackstars are not the cheapest products out there. They are, however, among the very best.