Blackstar has unveiled a trio of tube (or valve in UK nomenclature)-loaded effects pedals, which the brand has boldly dubbed “the world’s most advanced valve pedals” – the Dept. 10 Boost, Dual Drive and Dual Distortion.
Named after Blackstar's R&D team responsible for "blue sky innovation", each model features an ECC83 triode at its core, and runs off more than 200V in its quest to deliver studio-quality performance and genuine tube amp tones, complete with organic dynamics, tone and break up.
While each unit has its own design brief and features a number of pedal-specific specs, the Dual Drive and Dual Distortion double as USB audio interfaces, and can be used both on a pedalboard, and in synthesis with Blackstar’s Cab Rig simulator and Architect controlling software.
The Boost, meanwhile, is described as a streamlined, high-voltage boost pedal that can be assimilated onto ‘boards and other rigs for additional hot valve stages.
Read on to find out all you need to know about the latest tube pedals from Blackstar.
Blackstar Dept. 10 Boost
Let’s start with the Dept. 10 Boost, which is labeled by Blackstar as “the ultimate high voltage valve boost pedal”. As previously mentioned, at the heart of the Boost as an ECC83 triode – used to deliver organic valve tones – that lines up alongside a Class A gain stage and a passive James-Baxandall EQ.
Running at 250V, the pedal aims to offer a natural, warm boost, as well as a headroom large enough to drive valve amps into saturation. A built-in buffer has also been included in a bid to preserve guitar tones that are travelling through longer cables and larger pedalboards, as well as giving extra juice to low impedance pedals.
In terms of control, it’s incredibly straightforward: Boost, Low and High knobs, as well as a bypass switch.
The Boost is available now for $219.
Blackstar Dept. 10 Dual Drive
Up next is the Dual Drive – a preamp pedal seeking to unleash true valve tone and power. Again, the ECC83 triode makes the cut, and works with the two-channel pedal to offer up four individual clean and overdrive tones, which are accessible via two toggle switches.
Each clean and overdrive sound has channel-specific Gain and Level controls, with a three-band EQ comprising Bass, Middle and Treble knobs offering up a more focused tone-sculpting experience.
Blackstar’s proprietary ISF EQ control knob – an appointment found on most of its amps – is also included. In practice, the ISF is used to access tones reminiscent of those from both British and American amplifiers.
Additional features include a low latency USB audio interface for recording – the pedal can be used alongside Blackstar’s Cab Rig DSP simulator – and an XLR output for DI. A built-in effects loop also features, allowing for seamless integration into your wider rig.
The Dual Drive is available now for $299.
Blackstar Dept. 10 Dual Distortion
Last but not least is the Dual Distortion. Much like its Dual sibling, the Dept. 10 Distortion features four clean and distortion voices selected by two toggles, which have individual Level and Game parameters.
Aside from the different tonal voices, the rest of the controls and features of the pedal are much the same. A three-band EQ is situated next to the versatile ISF knob, with an on-board effects loop, low latency USB audio interface and XLR output making it employable in a variety of live and studio environments.
Again, the pedal can be put on a ‘board, or used alongside Blackstar’s next generation Cab Rig simulator and Architect controlling software.
The Dual Distortion is available now for $299.
To find out more, visit Blackstar.