Blackstar HT-5R

With the HT-5R, Blackstar has tapped into two universal human truths: everyone loves bargains and everyone loves buttons.

Priced £349, the HT-5R comes tearing out of the blocks with a super-spec, and the best news is that the manual's hot air translates into tangible results.

"Pushing into the red on the overdrive side unlocks a full-bodied, brown-sounding bark that eats up classic rock riffage."

Plugging in, you've got a choice of two channels, each with dedicated gain and volume, and both snapping at the Marshall Class 5's heels with a tone that made us achieve 'ear-gasm'.

On the clean channel, you've got a stunning shimmer-with-attitude that frays beautifully around the edges when you pick hard at higher gain, while pushing into the red on the overdrive side unlocks a full-bodied, brown-sounding bark that eats up classic rock riffage.

Admittedly, there's only one set of Treble, Mid and Bass controls to service both channels, but you'll forgive the HT-5R once you've dialled in some digital reverb, coating your licks in an atmospheric sheen. Blackstar's Infinite Shape Feature sounds like a gimmick, but it genuinely opens up the sonic palette, spinning your tone from a tight-bottomed US grind to a woodier British boom.

Where most of its valve brethren offer one tone, all these features stack up to give the HT-5R a real sense of versatility.

MusicRadar Rating

5 / 5 stars
Pros

Price; looks; greater versatility than most of its rivals.

Cons

Not much

Verdict

It looks cool, costs relatively little, offers an MP3 socket and roars like a bear being poked by a stick - it's a true 'Star.

Audio Output Power

5

Device Type

Valve combo

Dimensions

444 x 400 x 237

Weight (kg)

12.3

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.