Blackstar's HT series has always been highly-regarded. Encompassing a range of British-designed valve amps that don't break the bank, the HT line has been a popular one at Andertons Music Co. for several years. The Blackstar HT-20R MkII is the latest contender, unveiled at the 2019 NAMM Show.
The bigger brother of Blackstar's portable HT-1 and HT-5 combos, the HT-20R MkII can be the perfect gigging workhorse with its 20W of headroom. Still compact and easy to transport, the MkII edition boasts a raft of new updated features.
With USB connectivity, balanced XLR outputs and a power reduction switch, the HT-20R has all of the appointments to meet the demands of modern guitarists.
British Valve Tones
The Blackstar HT-20R is a pure and authentic valve-powered amplifier. With a single ECC83 preamp valve, the HT-20R gets most of its British voice from its two EL84 power amp valves. Delivering pristine-sounding cleans, warm overdrive tones and saturated high-gain, this versatile little combo is suitable for both contemporary players and traditionalists alike.
With 2 channels, allowing you to setup switchable clean and overdrive/distortion sounds, the HT-20R has a clever trick up its sleeve. Each channel has two footswitchable voices, giving you more tonal options.
The clean channel lets you access "American" and "British" voices. The latter has a stronger mid-range, while the US-style mode has a more scooped, bright and focused character. Flick to the overdrive channel, and you can choose between "Classic" and "High-Gain" voices. So, whether you want those rich, old-school British rock tones, or aggressive American metal sounds - the choice is yours!
Blackstar's signature 'ISF' tone knob features on the HT-20R. Letting you mould your sound to be more American or British, this unique control gives you that extra level of tweakability, alongside the flexible 3-band EQ.
Also sporting a USB port and balanced emulated XLR outputs, direct recording has never been easier. With the ability to switch between 1x12" and 4x12" cab emulations, you can also take advantage of the HT-20R's headphone output for silent practice.
Speaking of practicing quietly, you can power down the HT-20R to 2W. This means that you can get glorious cranked valve sounds without blowing your ears off! Another great feature is the newly-voiced studio quality reverb too, which you can use to really spruce up your clean tones, for example.
Last but not least, the Blackstar HT-20R boasts an essential effects loop. Letting you seamlessly run modulation and time-based stompboxes between the the preamp and power amp sections, the HT-20R can become the perfect platform for your pedals.
Here's what Blackstar says about the HT-20R MkII:
The HT-20R MkII offers huge versatility for home, rehearsal or studio use. The carefully voiced preamp, coupled with an EL84 power amp, provides you with the ability to create wonderfully lush valve tones. From pure boutique cleans, to mild overdrive that cleans up by backing off the guitar volume control, right up to saturated distortion, this amp does it all.
The best clean tones: Two footswitchable Voices, one with an “American” character and the other with a Class A “British” sound – both are 100% Blackstar:
- Voice 1 “American” – A clean, bright and tight tone with a solid bass response for a refined American tone.
- Voice 2 “British” – A highly responsive “chime” with looser bottom for the British tone that can be pushed into a mid-range overdrive when driven hard.
The best overdrives: The two footswitchable Overdrive Voices are characterised by a tone which is high in gain, but avoids any of the detached top-end “fizz” often found in other designs.
- Voice 1 “Classic” – This is the Classic “British” Blackstar overdrive. Rich and natural it goes all the way to Super Crunch gain but cleans up beautifully.
- Voice 2 “High Gain” – Inspired by the critically acclaimed HT Venue MkII high gain sounds, this overdrive has additional aggression in the high end with a tight resonant low-end.
The best features: Joining Blackstar’s patented ISF tone control are USB and balanced XLR outputs for more recording flexibility, plus a power reduction switch taking you down to 10% power and a newly voiced studio quality reverb.
The best looks: Now even more refined and boutique the newly design cabinet has a 3 degree angle, top-loader panel and stage-friendly chickenhead knobs.
- Footswitchable Voices for Clean and Overdrive
- Power reduction to 2 Watts
- USB audio out
- XLR D.I. out
- Newly-voiced studio quality reverb
- Boutique styling
- 20 Watts
- 2x ECC83 Preamp Valves
- 2x EL84 Power Amp Valves
- 2 Channels
- 1x12" Speaker
- 2-Button Footswitch Included