A first glance at the sleek stompbox will throw up numerous similarities to the previously released Amped 2, though closer inspection will confirm this is a wholly different beast altogether.
Featuring a similar form factor and many of the same specs, the Amped 3 caters specifically to heavier players, seriously amping up the gain with what has been described as “one of the highest gain circuits that Blackstar has ever developed”.
Whereas the Amped 2 reserved its footswitches for triggering modulation, delay and reverb, the Amped 3 ditches these effects – and, notably, the onboard tuner – in favor of a more straightforward approach that offers Clean, Crunch and Overdrive channels, with a further footswitch taking care of a Boost option that can be set to Pre or Post.
Having said that, the Amped 3 does retain a Reverb – adjustable from Dark or Light voices – which is engaged via a final footswitch and tweaked by way of a one-size-fits-all control knob.
As an added bonus, each channel also possesses a mode-selecting toggle switch. While Clean offers Warm and Bright voices, Crunch is split into Crunch and Super Crunch. OD1 and OD1 are on the cards for Overdrive.
Elsewhere, the Amped 3 offers a suite of sound-sculpting knobs, including over-arching Gain, Volume, Bass, Treble and Middle parameters, as well as Presence and Master controls. The Boost and Reverb circuits also have their own dedicated knobs, with Blackstar’s proprietary ISF circuit also making the cut.
In practice, ISF is used by Blackstar in an effort to bridge the gap – and find a desired middle ground – between classic British and US amp sounds: amp sounds that are supported by the company’s CabRig technology.
Said technology allows users to go straight to front of house, headphones or audio interface without a cab, and can be used alongside the Architect software to explore numerous cab, mic and mic placement options.
But, as was the case with the previous Amped iterations, it's the promise of genuine tube amp tones and response that makes the Amped 3 such a powerful and enticing unit. Again, there are three power tube emulations available – EL84, EL34 and 6L6 – as well as staggered power options – 1W, 20W and 100W – depending on the playing context.
There’s a boatload of connectivity options on offer, too, making the Amped 3 out to be a mighty flexible companion indeed. MIDI, stereo TRS and XLR mono DI connections can be taken advantage of when hooking up to stage or studio, with USB-C allowing for audio interface compatibility and deep-editing with Blackstar’s Architect software.
Elsewhere, the Amped 3 also features an effects loop for assimilation into your wider pedalboard.
While the Amped 2 sought to be a one-stop-shop for those in the market for a holistic multi-effects that paired the power of tube amp emulations and CabRig technology with a generous helping of onboard effects, the Amped 3 is all about the gain, and taking that gain seamlessly from stage to studio.
To really hammer home this point, preset-saving powers are on the menu: channel presets can be set and saved directly to the pedal, or via Architect.
“Guitarists are looking for innovative solutions and great tones in portable packages to ensure they get their sound consistently when gigging or travelling,” Blackstar said of the Amped 3. “Our goal was to create a compact and powerful power amp pedal that delivers the response and ‘feel’ of a real guitar amp.”
The Amped 3 is available to preorder now for $599.
Head over to Blackstar for more information.