Blackstar is about to launch a new HT-20R MK II head that’s also going to be available as a combo. With NAMM around the corner, now is a good time to look around if you’re in the market for a new amp, as we expect plenty of other new products to be announced in the next few weeks…
Blackstar HT-20R MK II Head and Combo
Following the recent announcement of the new Blackstar Studio 10 series, Blackstar is presenting an updated version of an old favourite. The HT-20R MKII has a pretty reasonable 20 Watts and two channels, each with two voicings. The best bit is the connection for a footswitch that blurs the line to the Venue amps a bit, but it’s nice that Blackstar has added this option.
The first version of the HT-20 has been around for many years now, the release was around 2010/2011 if I remember correctly. It didn’t have that many features really but had two footswitchable channels, Clean/Dirty. The new HT-20R MK II clean has American and British voicings, while the overdrive includes Classic and High-Gain options.
All valve all tone?
In the preamp stage, the MKII is the same as its predecessor, with a single ECC83. The power stage has two EL84s. You can also knock the 20-Watt power output down to a mere 2 Watts for those moments when you need the tone, without the volume. Blackstar says the MKII has plenty of clean headroom when required, though, which makes these amps far more versatile than all-out gain machines.
Of course, you get the obligatory Blackstar Infinite Shape Feature for adjusting between American and British EQ. Plus, there is also a USB port and XLR outputs with both 1×12” and 4×12” cab emulations available to you.
A crowded market
It is a decent looking little amp and I imagine it will certainly be popular with players looking for flexibility. But this area of the amp market is absolutely saturated with amps very similar to this one, so the street price will have to be something special to make this one stand out from the crowd.
I’m a massive fan of EL84-based amps, but have yet to find a Blackstar model that floats my boat. Hopefully, this new one will change my opinion and make me more buoyant.
RRP – HT-20RH head GBP 579 and HT-20R combo GBP 649