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.