Blackstar Silverline Special Amplifier Review

Modeling amps have come a long way. Blackstar’s new Silverline series concentrates on practical amp versions and features that guitar players actually want.

The whole package is quite classic, with the silver (hence the name) control panel, and the light grey/dark grey vinyl covering and silver grille cloth. Celestion’s G12 V type speaker drives things and is voiced to handle vintage and modern styles of tones. There are six amp selections to choose from that cover sounds from clean to raging; clean warm, clean bright, crunch, super crunch, OD1 & OD2. The gain and volume controls sit next to a simple EQ system; Bass and Treble, along with their ISF (infinite shape feature). This unique control when turned to the left, captures an American amp tonal quality, and to the right, goes into the British territory. Essentially, it acts as a mid boost/cut function as the American side scoops the mids, while the British side pushes them.

The next big selection comes from the response section, covering EL84, 6L6, 6V6, EL34, KT66 & KT88 power amp tubes. Each has their own signature sound and gives the player options that in most cases might defy what’s available, like a big and clean KT88 tone for example, and of course all at a reasonable volume. There are modulation, delay and reverb effects built in, which all share the selector knob for adjustability, but each has four variants; Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Tremolo covers the modulations and the delay has Linear, Analog, Tape and Multi modes, while the reverb choices are Room, Hall, Spring and Plate.

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Simply put, having a half-dozen amp voices and responses at your fingertips is enough of a win on its own, and being able to save your tones and effects settings on-board is great for recalling presets you’ve conjured up. For more of a deep dive into the editing, and preset management, we recommend utilizing the free INSIDER Software. You’ll get easy patch management and sharing, plus it’s as simply as plugging in a USB lead.

 

Plugging in and dialing up a great clean tone? No problem at all! Changing the response section can really alter what’s going on tonally. Working through the variants, with the EQ set flat, it’s quite noticeable. Moving into the crunch modes, it really feels and responds like a tube amp. The OD1 and 2 modes really get into that heavy amp area, but the real kick in the pants is the KT88 response — a big volume jump with that, but in a good way!

One cool thing is keeping the naming structure of the sounds almost generic and letting the response section dictate the kind of amp the player wants to emulate. So, there’s no trying to find that perfect VOX sound for example, dial up the EL84 response, and match the voicing and gain to taste. Not having to work around a sound designer’s version of a particular amp gives the player the ability to create their own version.  The real pleasant surprise is the fidelity; in some high gain modes, a lot of other modeling style amps get to hissy and a bit brittle. Not here, it sounds big, rich and full. The effects section didn’t leave us wanting, either. The tremolo was really nice and warm, and the delay and reverbs were very natural and not over processed.

Connecting it into a computer running PreSonus Studio One, the USB really blew us away. Getting great DI tones out of amps can be hit or miss, but in this case, it’s on target like a sniper. The overall sound quality was great, and still maintained a natural feel and response, throughout the settings.

Overall, it’s the non-modeling, modeling amp (say that out loud). It covers the stuff guitar players want to do — get great tones easily, and get plenty of them. For players who have given up on digital amps, this is a whole new world, and it’s got a lot to offer.

PROS:

Great sounds, plenty of voicing options, great for USB recording.

CONS:

Footswitch not included, app is needed to get into deep editing.

STREET PRICE:

$529

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