Blackstar’s HT Venue series just got even more versatile with new MKIII tube amps featuring CabRig speaker sim as standard

Blackstar HT Venue MKIII
(Image credit: Blackstar Amplification)

Blackstar has launched the HT Venue MkIII, adding its powerful CabRig technology to an already feature-stacked platform for what is surely one of the most versatile tube amps you can get for under £1,000.

When it launched in 2009, the Venue Series soon established itself as one of those guitar amps that you could deploy in all manner of situations – onstage, in the studio, and with a range of sounds that made it a very tempting proposition for jobbing pros and serious amateurs who needed a do-it-all amp that would pair nicely with any electric guitar in their collection.

The series was then updated in 2017 with MkII adding footswitchable voicings for each channel and the capability for USB/XLR direct recording. 

MkIII offers a complete cosmetic refresh and goes on to make further improvements under the hood, adding an newly designed digital reverb that has switchable Light and Dark modes for alternating between a plate and room voicing respectively. 

There are new state-of-the-art digital features such as deep editing – including of the reverb – via Blackstar’s proprietary Architect software. 

But it’s the CabRig software, bringing the HT Venue series in line with Blackstar's Amped and St James amp ranges, that is the big ticket upgrade here, offering a powerful DSP solution for applying cabinet, mic and mic placement, and room settings with close to zero latency.

MkIII allows players to pop the amp into standby and run it in silent mode, sending the signal direct to the mixing desk or DAW.

The HT Venue MkIII series is offered in a variety of sizes and power outputs. There are three combos and two heads. All have switchable power scaling that allows you to run the amp at a tenth of its full power rating. 

The heads include the 50-watt HT Club 50 MKIII and the 100-watt HT Stage 100 MkIII, priced £899 and £999 street respectively. 

The combos include the HT Club 40 MkIII, rated at 40-watts and priced £899 street; and the HT Stage 60 MkIII, which is a 60-watt amp offered in 1x12 and 2x12 configurations, priced £999 and £1,149 street. 

Rounding out the MkIII release are 1x12, 2x12, and flat and slanted 4x12 speaker cabinets.

The smaller HT Club models offer two channels, with two footswitchable voicings per channel, offering British and American clean tones, and classic and more modern overdrive voicings.

The clean channels have Bass and Treble controls. The overdrive channels have Bass, Middle and Treble. The larger models have three channels, again with two footswitchable voicings apiece.

Blackstar’s patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) allows you to dial in a US-style amp response at one extreme and a British-style at the other, and a mix of both in between. And those larger Stage models have global Presence and Resonance controls.

Blackstar HT Venue MKIII

(Image credit: Blackstar Amplification)

Blackstar uses a pair of ECC83s in the preamp, with a pair of EL34s in the power section (four EL34s in the HT Stage 100 MkIII). The combos and speaker cabs are loaded with 12” Seventy-80 Celestions.

Other connections include USB-C, a series effects loop, speaker emulated 1/4” and XLR outputs, and there is a two-way foot controller included with each amp – though you might want to upgrade to Blackstar’s five-button switch to make full use of the footswitchable voicings.

See Blackstar Amplification for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.