review - Blackstar INSIDER



review - Blackstar INSIDER
MARCH 2013
TGR238.gear_dps.indd 128
2/4/13 11:08 AM
REVERB, delay and
modulation effects can be
used simultaneously and
stored along with your
sounds. Each effect type
has four variations
THE ID:260 allows you to
store 128 user presets,
12 of which are accessible
from the front panel.
There’s also a tuner onboard
PLUG THE ID:260 into your
computer via USB to access
deep editing software, store
patches, record and re-amp.
You can also share and
download sounds within
an online community
ID:260TVP £459
Brit valve-amp company goes digital… with a difference
launching in
2007, Blackstar
has become a big dog in the world
of valve amps, inspiring the likes
of Gus G and Richie Sambora
to sign up along the way. The
ID Series sees the brand swap
valves for digital processing and
programmability for the first time.
While more and more big-name
guitarists are taking Axe-Fx rigs
out on the road, at the affordable
end of the spectrum we often find
that digital modelling lacks balls
and immediacy at band volume
when compared to the valvepowered equivalent. With the
ID Series, Blackstar promises to
rip up the rulebook and deliver a
performance that packs a punch
on stage as well as in the bedroom.
From a distance, this 2x12
ID:260TVP combo looks
traditional enough, but closer
inspection reveals plenty of action
on the front panel. At the preamp
end, you dial in a basic tonality
with the voice control, with six
Blackstar flavours available,
ranging from virgin snowfall clean
to disgraced television presenter
dirty, and many points between. All
sounds are generated in the digital
domain using SHARC processing,
but when they hit the solid-state
power amp, Blackstar’s TVP – ‘True
Valve Power’ – can be switched
in to simulate the response of six
different power valves: EL84, 6V6,
EL34, KT66, 6L6 and KT88.
TVP settings, it affects the speaker
damping and voltage across
the coil, which impacts on such
factors as bottom end resonance,
top end presence and the point
at which distortion occurs. Flip
the power switch on, and all of
Blackstar’s painstaking R&D
translates into an end product
capable of monstrous punch. The
core tones sound and (perhaps
‘True Valve Power’ simulates
the response of six valve types
While there are no actual
valves inside, rather than using a
huge power stage to try to punch
in the same weight division as
a valve amp, TVP regulates the
ID:260’s solid-state power amp
digitally, cleverly aping the way
in which valves interact with
loudspeakers. Rather than a
simple change of EQ structure,
as you move through the various
most importantly) feel closer
dynamically to a grown-up valve
amp than anything else we’ve
tested that didn’t have vacuum
tubes under the hood. And in this
2x12 stereo combo incarnation,
there’s more than enough volume
to compete with loud drummers
and give your mate’s valve stack
a run for its money. Critically, and
unlike a big valve amp, the ID:260
delivers plenty of juicy overdrive at
neighbour-friendly volumes, too.
Lacking generic labels such as
‘Brit Class A’ or ‘Small Tweed’ to
help dial in sounds, the learning
curve might be steeper than some
modelling amps. Yet it shouldn’t
take even the least valve-savvy
long to learn. Fans of Foo Fighters,
Biffy Clyro and indeed modern
alt-rockers of almost any stripe
will lap up the medium-gain tones
on offer, and it’s here the ID:260
really sings, capturing plenty of
the addictive chime and grind that
makes the idea of a ‘proper’ valve
amp so appealing. Give the ID
Series a spin with an open mind
and you might not think you need
those hot glass bottles after all…
Chris Vinnicombe
Photography: Simon Lees
TYPE: Stereo digital/solid-state combo
OUTPUT: 2x 60 watts
SPEAKERS: 2x 12” Celestion Seventy 80
CONTROLS: Voice selector, gain, volume,
bass, middle, treble, ISF, TVP on/off,
TVP selector, on/off buttons for modulation,
delay and reverb, effect type, effect level,
tap tempo, master resonance, master
presence, master volume, manual, bank
and four channel-selection buttons
SOCKETS: 2x speaker outputs
(4-ohm minimum), MIDI in, footswitch,
MP3/line in, emulated output
WEIGHT: 24kg
DIMENSIONS: [HxWxD] 510 x 686 x 250mm
CONTACT: Blackstar 01604 652844
MARCH 2013
TGR238.gear_dps.indd 129
2/4/13 11:08 AM

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