Blackstar Dept. 10 Amped 1 review

Blackstar gets serious about scaling down with a pedalboard amp that has all the mod cons

Blackstar Dept. 10 Amped 1
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Guitar World Verdict

A comprehensive set of features and superlative performance makes Blackstar's pedalboard amp solution a triumph.

Pros

  • +

    Serious sounds.

  • +

    Compact.

  • +

    Versatile.

  • +

    Dual high-current 9V power outputs for running other pedals.

Cons

  • -

    Can only change reverb via the app.

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Who says an amp can’t be on your pedalboard? It’s now a totally viable option, cab permitting, and what’s especially interesting is watching amp companies acknowledge this demand for flexibility alongside their more traditional guitar amp lines. 

With the Amped 1, Blackstar are joining fellow Brits Victory in that widening of appeal, but unlike that company’s V4 Duchess, Copper and Kraken, this 100-watt pedal unit does not feature tubes. It does, however, cover a lot of needs for an amp.

The first three pedals in the Dept. 10 series last year were tube-loaded preamps, with two also debuting the company’s DSP speaker simulation technology Cab Rig. That features herem too, but the additions elsewhere are striking: three preamp modes, six power amp response settings – like Blackstar’s Silverline range – and onboard reverb. 

The effects loop of the Dept. 10 Dual Drive and Dual Distortion is here too, but the comprehensive power amp stage and power response modes (1-watt, 20-watt and 100-watt) suggest much more of a versatile pedal platform than before. We already know how much the Silverline amps could feel like a tube experience, so we’re hoping that’s the case here, too.

Blackstar Dept. 10 Amped 1

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

UK, US and Flat preamp modes are onboard, with the latter aimed at those who want to use the Amped 1 alongside a modelling processor like Helix or Kemper, with their own preamp models. The US mode is based on mid-’60s Fender amps and delivers high clean headroom for your overdrive pedals.

The UK brings much more gain range, up to the medium drive Blackstar are so adept at – ideal as a preset to kick in as required (and setting the onboard preset is a breeze). Selecting from the power amp tube responses allows you to audition and tailor our Amped 1 settings around your particular drive pedals.

Blackstar Dept. 10 Amped 1

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

And... it does feel and respond like Blackstar’s Silverline amps. Crucially, as a foundation for your tones it offers the clean headroom the Dual preamps were lacking and that enhances the full amp experience.

The simple three-band EQ and clean layout make the transition from traditional amp to pedal layout feel smooth. And the Cab Rig/headphone amp makes for an easy transition to studio desk. It’s comprehensive and well-considered – there’s MIDI input too, though no stereo out – but most of all, Amped 1 can go fiercely loud and be tamed down efficiently to bedroom levels.

Amped 1 can go fiercely loud and be tamed down efficiently to bedroom levels

The appeal for players using comprehensive modelling processors is debatable for us – it seems like an overengineered solution to run into a traditional cab compared with a straightforward power amp – but our gripe for traditional pedal users is the fact you can only change reverb type between spring and plate via Blackstar’s Architect software. Nevertheless, that’s a relatively forgivable absence on a pedal with a big amp’s performance and feature set.

Blackstar Dept. 10 Amped 1

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Specs

  • PRICE: $499 / £439 
  • ORIGIN: Designed in the UK, made in China
  • TYPE: Solid state 100-watt pedal amp
  • FEATURES: Preamp section with UK, US and Flat voices, Class D power stage choice of six responses (KT88, 6L6, EL34, 6V6, EL84 and a Linear mode for maximum transparency), Reverb with Freeze function when held down for longer reverberation, Cab Rig with three onboard presets, three power modes (1-watt, 20-watt and 100-watt)
  • CONTROLS: Preset and Reverb footswitches, Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, Master Volume, Reverb level, power amp Response rotary selector, preamp Voice mini toggle, Cab Rig output line level control. 
  • CONNECTIONS: MIDI in, Line in, line out / Loop, USB C, 8 and 16 ohm speaker outs, 2x 9V outputs (500mA total), XLR DI out, Cab Rig / headphone Line Out
  • POWER: 100V-240V mains 
  • DIMENSIONS: 200 x 81 x 149 (mm)
  • CONTACT: Blackstar (opens in new tab)

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Rob Laing

Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar (opens in new tab), handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.