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Blackstar Unity Elite U700 review

With onboard tube emulation and effects, does the Unity Elite represent a changing of the guard for pro-quality bass amps?

Blackstar Unity Elite U700H Amp and U410C Cab
(Image: © Blackstar)

Our Verdict

Lightweight yet substantial, fully featured yet competitively priced – all in all, this makes for a very impressive bass rig.

For

  • Plenty of options to expand the rig.
  • Solid build.
  • Oodles of power on tap.

Against

  • Will soul and funk players enjoy it as much as rockers?

The new Unity range from Blackstar has been much discussed over the past few months – and looking at this rig, from the outset it’s clear why. 

The lightweight amp comes in a durable carry bag along with an FS-13 footswitch: The FS-12 version, with added features, is also available at an added cost. The unit can be rackmounted if you wish – again, a rack adaptor is available for a fee – and boasts an impressive 700 watts output. 

In its armoury is a tube-emulation Response control and three types of drive and chorus, plus octave and compression options. We’re only scraping the surface here – read on for the full low-down.  

Build Quality

The U700 Elite weighs in at 9.3 lbs and its dark, brushed-steel chassis features a fan on one side, and venting on the other for reliable airflow across the circuitry. 

The front control panel is fully-featured: The input jack socket and -10 dB pad switch are followed by Gain, Drive, Low, Mid, Mid-Frequency, and High controls, along with three-way selection switches for voicing (Classic, Modern, and Flat) and drive (Overdrive, Distortion, and Fuzz) options.

The Response control offers three options for tube emulation – Linear, 6L6, and 6550 – and the Compressor has a simple on/off switch, followed by the Master Volume control, and the Chorus and Octave effects.

Blackstar Unity Elite U700H Amp and U410C Cab

(Image credit: Blackstar)

The rear of the amp is equally busy, with a Speakon/jack output, footswitch socket, 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB output for DAW recording, headphone jack output, output Level control, emulated output or DI selection switch, a Balanced DI XLR and Ground/Lift selector, FX Send/Return loop, Chorus Level and Octave Blend controls, and an additional cabinet link socket.

The cabinet is of solid wood construction with protective metal corners, a black vinyl covering, recessed carry handles and a cloth speaker grille.

Weighing in at 62 pounds, the cabinet is relatively lightweight and easily manoeuvrable; the four 10" Eminence speakers and APT:80 Super Tweeter are reinforced tonally with an open rear port on the back of the cabinet and a three-way Tweeter Control switch. A pair of Input/Thru Speakon connections are easily accessed on the rear plate.

Sounds

Even with the EQ set flat, the variety of options to call upon is extensive – so pick your voicing before letting rip with the tone controls. Overall, the amp and cabinet combination gives a warm and responsive delivery, so if you like a heftily rounded bass signal, this will be very much to your liking.

The Classic voicing supplies a gritty, warm tone with a thick mid accent, while the Modern voicing provides the expected cleaner, spikier response with more presence. The EQ section is very intuitive and takes little time to get used to – so don’t be afraid to make radical adjustments if needed.

Blackstar Unity Elite U700H Amp and U410C Cab

(Image credit: Blackstar)

The tweeter control on the rear of the cab provides extra clarity and finesse, so if percussive techniques are employed, consider bringing it into play instead of cranking the High control. The delivery from the 4x10 speaker configuration is very impressive, providing plenty of definition, so your reliance on the tweeter may be determined by your instrument and playing techniques.

The Response control offers audible light and shade. If you’re a fan of distorted bass tones, use it in conjunction with the Drive control and Drive selector switch, and you may well feel that you have a valve amp in front of you, such is the harmonically rich display.

The U700 Elite is a very impressive amp in all departments. It’s intelligently laid out, packed with useful features and contains several optional extras if you require them

The grit and distortion on offer are very well done and thankfully the signal doesn’t become overly muddy, unless of course that is what you want – in which case cut the tweeter and treble EQ, boost the lows and wind in some low mids.

Thankfully, the chorus and octave effects are very well voiced, and although you probably won’t have them switched in permanently, the quality of their performance is very impressive. You may need to remind yourself that there are level and blend controls on the rear of the amp, as these are worthy additions to the options.

Conclusion

The U700 Elite is a very impressive amp in all departments. It’s intelligently laid out, packed with useful features and contains several optional extras if you require them. 

As a hub for a bigger rig, it is a great starting point, with the option to add further cabinets. Although it may not tick all the boxes for every player, the rock and metal fraternity will love this particular setup, feature-laden as it is. 

The connectivity options get a positive thumbs up, as do the multiple tonal and signal-tailoring options, while the light weight of the whole setup is a definite plus. There is much to like here – so check it out at your earliest convenience.

Specs

  • PRICE: $599 / £549
  • MADE IN: China
  • POWER: 700 watts @ 8/4 ohms
  • FEATURES: Hi/Lo Input selector, Gain, Drive, 4-band EQ, Response, Compressor, Volume, Voicing, Drive, FX, Compressor, Speakon/jack out, Line Out level, Emulated output/DI selector, Chorus Level/Octave Blend
  • DIMENSIONS: 80mm (H) x 390mm (W) x 250mm (D) / 3.2” (H) x 15.4” (W) x 10” (D)
  • WEIGHT: 9.25 lbs

Unity Elite U410C Cab

  • PRICE: $1,099 / £999
  • MADE IN: China 
  • POWER: 800 watts @ 8 ohms 
  • SPEAKERS: 4 x 10” Eminence Beta-10A ceramic speakers and 1 x Eminence APT:80 tweeter with HF Level control 
  • DIMENSIONS: 660mm (H) x 620mm (W) x 405mm (D) / 26” (H) x 24.4” (W) x 16” (D) 
  • CONNECTIONS: 2 x 1/4-inch Speakon combi sockets (Input and Thru) 
  • WEIGHT: 61.7 lbs 
  • CONNECT: Blackstar