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Blackstar Blackfire 200 Amp Review

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Blackstar Blackfire 200 Amp Review

Specs

Tubes: Four KT88 power tubes, one ECC82 and four ECC83 preamp tubes
Output: 200 watts at 4, 8, or 16 Ω, adjustable to 20 watts with dynamic power reduction control
Channels: Clean, Crunch, Fire, and Fury
Controls: Master resonance, presence, and volume; independent gain and volume on each channel; Clean and Crunch share a 3-band EQ and ISF; Fire and Fury share another 3-band EQ and ISF.
Additional Features: Series FX loop with level control, speaker-emulated output with balanced XLR & 1/4 outs, MIDI switching, 4-button footswitch

Ratings

Pros: Versatile modes with distinct voices. Plenty of volume for metal and hard rock.

Cons: Heavy. Expensive. Limited to only 225 units.

Tones:

Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street: $2,499
blackstaramps.com

The Blackfire 200 is Gus G’s signature amplifier, and it unites the extra firepower from the guitarist’s signature HT-Blackfire overdrive pedal with Blackstar’s Series One 200 head. It uses a quartet of KT88s to deliver a potent 200 watts, and four ECC83 preamp tubes fuel the amp’s two dual-mode channels, with an ECC82 functioning as a phase inverter. Each of the two channels has its own 3-band EQ and ISF control for sweeping between U.S.- and U.K.-style voices.

Both of channel 1’s modes have clean and crunch settings, dedicated gain and volume knobs, and brightness and gain-boosting options. Channel 2 has two overdrive modes (dubbed Fury and Fire) inspired by Gus G.’s HT-Blackfire pedal. Each has a dedicated gain and volume, plus a button-activated gain boost. To save your eardrums, the amp’s brutally high wattage can be set anywhere between 200 and 20 watts from the DPR (Dynamic Power Reduction) knob on the front panel.

With a Les Paul Custom in front, the Blackfire dishes out crystal clean tones and an impressively diverse array of metal tones, beginning with grungy ’70s Sabbath and mid-heavy Randy Rhoads-style chug on the first channel’s crunch mode. The gain control affects the sponginess of the low end and presence in the mids almost as much as the EQ control. Low gain settings, meanwhile, give upper mid content a crisp response that gets rounder and punchier as gain is applied. No matter where you set the gain control, though, you’ll get plenty of low-end definition.

The second channel’s Fury and Fire modes pick up where the crunch mode leaves off. The Fire mode sounds the most open of the two and is less mid-heavy and clearer in the highs. Note-to-note separation is exceptional, making it a great choice for intricate thrash rhythms. The Fury mode’s liquid sustain makes playing legato licks a breeze. But the tone can become congested and compressed in higher gain settings. Most of the time though, the amp’s considerable headroom keeps the low- and high-end content present and focused, which is essential for an amp that covers as many heavy tones as this one does.

Watch Ola Englund demo the amp:

See more Monsters of High Gain 2013 reviews and videos:

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