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Updated sonics and functionality for a pair of home-friendly amplifiers for beginners and experienced players alike…

There was a great deal to like about the original Blackstar HT-1R and HT-5 amplifiers, with both proving very popular due to their highquality valve tones and affordability.

Launched at NAMM 2019 in January, these new ‘MkII’ versions not only offer tweaked aesthetics but also new functionality, and sounds that bring them bang up to date.

The first thing we notice when unboxing this brace of combos is that the cosmetic upgrades, while subtle, lend the amps an air of elegance that surpasses their more workmanlike predecessors. Cream chickenhead knobs, elephant-hide-textured tolex and the Blackstar black/white/silver weave cloth all suggest a much higher price-point.

A glance at the control panels reveals that both amps are bristling with sizeappropriate features such as different voicings, channel-select options and USB outs for hassle-free digital recording. Like the original models, these updated combos are built around the idea of a low-powered, ‘push-pull’ power amp which produces the overdrive and breakup characteristics of a more powerful machine.

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