Blackstar has announced a completely new amplifier series called Silverline. The idea behind these five new digital amps is to deliver tube sound and boutique feeling. Are these amps really as high-end as Blackstar promises in the videos?
The new series comprises five amps, including four combos: the 1 x 10 20-Watt Silverline Standard Combo, the 1 x 12 50 Watt Silverline Special Combo, the 1 x 12 100 Watt Silverline Deluxe Combo and the 2 × 12 100 Watts Silverline Deluxe Stereo Combo. Then there’s a 100-Watt Silverline Deluxe Head and a matching 2 x 12 Silverline Cab.
Both the combos and the external speaker are equipped with Celestion V-Type speakers. All the amplifiers should sound the same no matter how “big” they are, as it is all digitally modelled. Each amp features 6 preamp voices (Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1, OD 2) and 6 tube emulations (labelled Responses) covering virtually all popular valve types: EL84, 6L6, 6V6, EL34, KT88 and KT66 .
The tech used here to achieve these tones is a DSP chip and Blackstar’s TVP technology. All amps in this range have 12 programmable presets, rising to 128 when using the footswitch.
American and British
As usual on Blackstar gear, the the proprietary ISF-Control lets you blend between ‘British’ and ‘American’ tones to taste. It’s supposed to interact well with the newly designed tone stack, too.
There are also some “studio grade” effects Reverb, Delay and Modulation, which are activated via a pressure switch and are varied via a controller in four stages. If you’ve played through a Roland Cube, you’ll be familiar with the concept.
You can also record via the Speaker Emulated Output and the USB port, listen on headphones or play along to audio coming in via via AUX IN. The settings in the INSIDER editing software can be adapted to your own preferences and stored for eternity using the USB connector. The amp itself can store 12 presets, via a MIDI footswitch up to 128.
How boutique is boutique?
Reading through the marketing material for these amps, terms like ’boutique’ turn up a lot. That makes for a high-end feel, but I’m not sure how ‘premium’ these types of digital amps really are (another example would be the new digital amps Fender announced a few weeks ago). There’s certainly a lot of useful functionality on offer here for the price. But if you read about a boutique amp, you might be expecting things like hand-wired, point-to-point circuits. As a digital solution, of course, these amps don’t provide that. Sure, all manufacturers use this kind of marketing hyperbole. Maybe just go try these amps out out for yourself and see how they stack up against your favourite valve amp. Let your ears decide on their merits.
You can hear the new Blackstar Silverline amp range in the official demo videos below.
- 1 x 10 20 Watt Silverline Standard Combo GBP 369
- 1 x 12 50 Watt Silverline Special Combo GBP 429
- 1 x 12 100 Watt Silverline Deluxe Combo GBP 579
- 2 × 12 100 Watts Silverline Deluxe Stereo Combo GBP 749
- 100 Watt Silverline Deluxe Head GBP 449
- 2 x 12 Silverline Cab GBP 399