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Anyone have experience with the new Blackstar HT Venue Mark II series?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by E5RSY, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    Big improvement over the originals, or not so much?

    And, I wonder why they dropped the 20 from the line...

    Scott
     
  2. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

    339
    Sep 23, 2016
    Southern Ontario
    I can't answer the question directly as I haven't tried the MKII's, but I have an HT40, and it's the best amp I've ever owned. Lots of gain, and the reverb (on dark setting) is perhaps the best digital onboard reverb I've heard. Mind you, I've got NOS British Mullard EL34 power tubes, NOS Sylvania's in the preamp, and an EVM-12S for a speaker, but even stock they're excellent. The one thing that concerns me about the MKII is that the back venting is quite different. There is much more of it on the new ones. From a distance, I see nothing on the new ones that would have me looking past the originals.
     
  3. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    How would you rate the clean tones on your HT? Or, are these really just gain machines?

    Thanks,
    Scott
     
  4. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 12, 2016
    Virginia Beach, Va
    I have the MK 1 as well and I love the clean side. One voicing stays clean all the way up, or as loud as I can go. The other voice breaks up very nicely. I did demo a MK 2 and I really do like it as well. Both sides sound great to me. I forget what the stock speaker is in the new one. If it's still the 70/80 you may want to swap it out if you push volume for any length of time

    I am seriously considering getting the MK 2 to run in an ABY config with my old one
     
  5. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

    339
    Sep 23, 2016
    Southern Ontario
    I wasn't sure, so I just spent some time on the clean side. I'd rate the clean side very high. I'm going to sound like I'm pitching for a job at Blackstar, but I spent 35 years chasing an electric tone I was truly satisfied with. I've owned at least 30 amps over that time, and still own a Triamp MkII, Hylight era Hiwatt DR103, hand built and hand wired AB763 and 5F6-A, Egnator Tweaker 15, and others, and yet the only one I play is the the HT40. I've looked inside, and the PCB looks complicated as all get out, but I don't care. Whatever they've got going on, it's magic. I also love the ISF, and use it very subtly, straddling the halfway point and perhaps ten degrees either way. It's worth noting that I don't gig or jam, and play at merely low or moderate volume levels for my own enjoyment these days, so your needs might vary depending on requirements. I will say that the odd time for the fun of it I turn it up for a moment or two. I can never get past say four before the walls start moving.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  6. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    Great info. Thanks. I'm looking at picking up one of the 20s I found on CraigsList.

    How long did it take for you to decide to change the speaker. Are the stock Celestions really that bad? That's about the only negative thing I read about.

    Best,
    Scott
     
  7. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

    339
    Sep 23, 2016
    Southern Ontario
    I'm lucky enough to have a stable of good speakers hanging around, so changing it was something I did automatically, just to squeeze everything I could out of the amp. I tried a bunch, including Eminence Governor, Eminence Man o' War, early Oxford, EVM-12S, Rola Celestion G12T-75, Rola Celestion G12-80, and even a Chinese Greenback, which sound terrific. At my typical volume, I could get away with a 25W Greenback. But I think the 70/80 holds its own in the HT40. I mean one has to assume that the amp designers either build a circuit around a particular driver (perhaps not so likely) or they pick a speaker (even if inexpensive) that compliments the amp. Of the list above, the EVM is my favorite, then Oxford, then Greenback, then 70/80 (maybe tied with the G12T-75) and then the rest. I would not remotely pass up an HT series amp because it has a 70/80. I bought it based on the sound I heard dead stock. Everything else (tubes and speakers) is just refinements. Again, I can't put my finger on it, but I love the tone and gain structure Blackstar amps present.
     
  8. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    Thanks for all that info.

    Well, the HT 20 which I'm looking at comes with the Celestion Rocket 50. I wish it were the 70/80. Can't really find a good word written about the Rocket 50 anywhere.
     
  9. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

    339
    Sep 23, 2016
    Southern Ontario
    Hmmm.., there's more than a few good reviews of it at MF: https://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/celestion-rocket-50-50w-12-guitar-speaker

    Some people like to complain for the sake of complaining, and budget priced speakers are a good target. If the HT20 is a bargain, then perhaps buy it with the intent to replace the speaker down the road. What are they asking for it?

    Here's a promo video of the HT20, no doubt fitted with a rocket 50:
    Some great sounds in there. I particularly like the tone from 2:23 on. I actually have three Blackstar's, an HT1, ID:Core Beam 10, and the HT40.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  10. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    51
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    Yeah, that's my basic plan. Thing looks new and they're asking under three bills for it. Definitely leaves some room in the budget for a speaker swap. There is a comparison video out there with two HT 20s, one stock, one with a Warehouse Veteran 30. The Warehouse really sounds good.
     
  11. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

    339
    Sep 23, 2016
    Southern Ontario
    A few observations. By my reckoning, the Rocket 50 holds its own compared to the WGS. For example, at 4:02 to 4:12, neglecting volume, I like the Rocket 50 better. If one were hunting for say Jimmy Page's tone in Heartbreaker, the Rocket 50 would get the nod hand's down. The second observation - and I have to confess that it's my pet theory - is that it's improper to use the same amp settings when comparing two different speakers, like in the video you linked. I know that conflicts with virtually every speaker comparison ever done, but if speakers have a specific and unique frequency response (which we know they do) and if the amp has controls that can alter the frequencies delivered to the speaker (which virtually all do, and certainly the HT20 does) then to me, a more reasonable approach to comparing speakers would be to find the sweet spot with tone controls for each, and then compare. That way, one would be comparing the best that both speakers potentially have to offer with a given amp. There is a very strong possibility that any one set of amp settings might favor one speaker over the other, at that particular setting, which may not say much about the entire range of other possible tone and volume settings.

    When I compare speakers, I find the best amp settings to compliment that speaker, then I try the next one, and find the best amp settings it has to offer, and then I go back and forth a few times, then I make my decision.

    The last point is confirmation bias, which we all can suffer from. Part of us wants to (or just does) believe that the more expensive thing is better, because it's supposed to be, and because most people believe it is. Frankly, I have zero confirmation bias, or rather I've had it driven out of me time after time. For example (besides preferring the HT40 to a Triamp or DR103) I have around seven Strats. My least favorite is comprised of a perfect early MIJ rosewood neck, Fender Alder SSS route body, Callaham Tremolo and hardware (top tier aftermarket Trem) and Lindy Fralin PU's, yet my real favorite player (slightly ahead of my 2012 American Standard) is a dead stock maple board Indonesian Squier. I wish it wasn't so, but it is. I'm sure the Fralin's would sing with the right body/neck, but I cannot argue with what my ears and hands tell me.

    Lastly, not every quality a given piece of equipment can possess can be expressed or quantified. Sometimes it's something intangible, it's a feel. I connect with the my HT40 not because it has more gain or is louder or whatever the case may be. It just has something special. I don't care if it's a mid priced, SS rectified, PCB board amp. As it stands, it allows me to play with a passion I've never obtained with any other amp at any price.

    Don't pay any attention to what a few say. Try all gear without bias.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    E5RSY likes this.
  12. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

    339
    Sep 23, 2016
    Southern Ontario
    I think it's also important to listen to video clips of guitars and amps with good headphones, to have a fighting chance to hear what's really going on.
     
  13. sgguitarzz

    sgguitarzz TDPRI Member

    9
    Jul 25, 2014
    NYC
    I am guessing due to the ability of the new MkII series to drop power to 10%.
     
  14. Twang Banger

    Twang Banger Tele-Meister

    211
    Apr 7, 2011
    Jacksonville, Fla

    Thanks for this rundown. The Eminence British-voiced Man-o-War did not do much for you? Can you speculate on what a Cannabis Rex might sound like in this amp? I am thinking of trading a guitar for a HT 40 Mkii and have an unused CRex on the shelf ... 'don't want to waste my time putting it in if the consensus is that it would sound like doo doo from the start ;-)
     
    OldGuy6873 likes this.
  15. OldGuy6873

    OldGuy6873 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    45
    414
    Oct 2, 2018
    USA
    I absolutely love my 40 MKII. If you want to wait a few days, I'll have a full demo of it on my YouTube channel "Old Guy's Guitar Vlog", with my over all thoughts on it. It's a great amp for the price.
     
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