NAD Review Blackstar HT Studio 20

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by gtrjunior, Dec 3, 2016.

    Dec 3, 2016
  1. gtrjunior Wannabe

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    I bought this last week on Sweetwater for $299. I thought it was a steal so I grabbed it.
    It arrived a day earlier than anticipated so that was refreshing.
    It's a 2 channel amp with a basic control layout. Powered by 2 Ruby EL34's and has 2 12ax7's in the preamp. There is some debate online as to wether it's a pure valve amp as advertised or if there is some diode clipping happening. Fwiw I don't really care....the amp sounds killer! It's a loud 20 watts as well. I can see this amp being plenty loud even in a medium to large venue. In a large venue I'm sure I'd monitor some of the guitar.
    The OD channel has quite a variety of tones available from low gain bluesy to high gain rock.
    Each channel has its own volume control and the amp has a master volume.
    @Chad asked about the clean channel so here's my take.
    The only controls are a single tone and volume knob. I think the tone knob does an adequate job on its own but a small EQ pedal would really bring it to life. You need to keep the channel volume above noon or else the overall volume won't match the OD channel. I wouldn't think you'd want it any lower than that anyway. With the volume at about 1-2 0'clock you can get a really good clean sound without any breakup. As you increase the volume the amp begins to break up very nicely. It's advertised as a boutique style clean channel but since I've never played a 5e3 style amp I can't really compare and contrast. However as you get more and more break up it gets a nice chewy feel that really get a great fender-ish type sound. In all honesty the neck pickup on my Strat really sounds good on this channel. Much better than the Les Paul. That's not to say the Paul doesn't sound good, it's just the Strat shines a little brighter. A boost pedal pushing the amp here would be heaven for a blues guy.
    Overall, for what I bought it for...a practice/recording amp....I couldn't be happier.
     
    reverend1, Johnny N., bsman and 5 others like this.
  2. Dec 4, 2016
  3. GilmourD I speak in pixels

    Seems there's an opamp in the preamp section at least.
     

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    gtrjunior likes this.
  4. Dec 5, 2016
  5. Chad Kick Henry Jackassowski

    awesome. I am a less is more kinda person, so only a volume and tone on the clean channel is a plus. I'm glad it stays clean that loud, that is really what I want. I really liked the 40, so I may end up with one of these.
     
    reverend1 and gtrjunior like this.
  6. Nov 13, 2017
  7. Johnny N. Kick Henry Jackassowski

    I'm actually really thinking about getting the Studio 20 combo. I know Blackstar is known for higher gain and I don't do much of that so I 'd love to be able to play one but haven't found one to play. I am not good enough to play super clean either but I like that thick, sort of break up and up to standard rock crunch. I think they have new models coming out so the black version is $350 so I'm tempted. Good to see the review. Sounds like it would work but I'd still love to play one.
     
  8. Nov 13, 2017
  9. USian Pie cat selfie

    I need an all-tube amplifier with no diode clipping at all so I can put my solid state distortion pedal in front of it.
     
    reverend1 likes this.
  10. Nov 13, 2017
  11. bsman b00b

    I have two blackstars currently -- an HT1 combo (currently in my son's possession) and the little FlyRig (the one with an accessory speaker). I like them both. Obviously, they do the high-gain thing well, but I've found that they are quite credible for cleans (at least at low volume). I would not hesitate to check out one of the higher-powered units, and if I was gigging, I would definitely check out the 20 watt head like you bought. The ISF control really does seem to "change the character" of the two I've got (from fender-ish to marshall-ish) and that really adds to the flexibility when using different guitars.
     
    Johnny N. and gtrjunior like this.
  12. Nov 14, 2017
  13. Johnny N. Kick Henry Jackassowski

    So much for that. I don't see those black ones for $350 any more.
     

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