We like how Blackstar continues to diversify while remaining true to its roots; because even back when the British company began it was making preamp pedals alongside valve amps. And now as it evolves the latter with is St James range, its the turn of the still-new Dept 10 series to expand with Amped 1; a comprehensively-featured 100-watt guitar amp, at your feet.
Unlike the previous Dept 10 Overdrive and Distortion pedal that we gave a full five stars to in our review, the Amped 1 is not just a preamp – there's a power amp valve responses too. It doesn't contain actual valves either.
Blackstar has packed in more than we could have expected into to a unit that will fit on your pedalboard – and even power some effects too thanks to two 9V outputs with 500mA total draw.
With three different preamp voices, onboard reverb and an impressive selection of power amp responses, this is a compelling proposition as a pedal platform, and something you can plug your modelling unit into. And it has Blackstar's Cab Rig technology built in too.
The power amp response selection recalls Blackstar's Silverline amp range with KT88, 6L6, EL34, 6V6, EL84 and Linear modes. The three preamp voices are USA (think mid '60s Fender clean and bright), UK (medium to low gain preamp with touch sensitive dynamics) and Flat (for using with multi-effects pedals and modellers that supply their own preamps while 'restoring the feel and projection of a real amp') for a huge range of choices onboard.
In addition, players have 1-watt, 20-watt and full fat 100-watt power response modes for different scenarios they find themselves in with 8 and 16 ohm speaker output options. And yes, there's an effects loop, MIDI in and headphone out – unlike some other recent pedal amps. Blackstar isn't messing around here with its compact amp!
The Cab Rig 'advanced DSP simulator' allows you to use three onboard cab sims or go tweak-happy and edit your own with Blackstar's surprisingly involved Architect software.
Lots of options here, and there's onboard reverb too, though reverb type is perhaps oddly not selectable on the unit itself but can be done in the Architect software.
We're going to be reviewing the Amped 1 soon to let you know how all this stacks up for us in real world use – including that vital playing and touch response experience in the room. After our experiences with the previous Dept 10 we are excited at another option for rig flexibility.
The Blackstar Amped 1 100-watt amp pedal is £439. For more info visit Blackstar Amplification.