By Chris Loeffler
Blackstar ID:Core Series Amplifiers
Only a few years ago the likelihood of getting an affordable amp that was toneful and feature-rich was near impossible outside of stumbling across a garage sale special. Blackstar took note of this and created the Blackstar ID:Core series of solid state amplifiers; bringing flexibility and tone normally found in expensive amps to players at a very affordable price.
The Blackstar ID:Core series includes the ID:Core 10, 20, and 40 models with 2x5W, 2x10W, and 2x20W configurations, respectively. The Blackstar ID:Core family shares a common thematic DNA makeup of true-stereo speaker output, patented ISF tone shifting, six classic preamp channels with savable presets, 12 onboard stereo effects, computer connectivity to share and download tones, and MP3/Line In and Speaker Emulated Line Out for greater practice and recording flexibility. The USB connector also allows you to record your amp directly to your computer.
A Tone Chameleon that Excels in Any Shade
The foundation of the Blackstar ID:Core sound is built around two unique tone shaping tools that allow players to craft their sound; the Voice and ISF controls.
The Voice control gives players access to six distinct preamp voicings and covers a sonic range of pristine cleans, gritty, tube-like breakup and over-the-top gain. Clean Warm offers a traditional, harmonically rich clean tone while Clean Bright offers more openness and fuller frequency range. Mid-gain voicing Crunch produces the highly dynamic breakup of a classic tube preamp and Super Crunch doubles the gain and compression for tight and responsive distortion. The heavy gain voicings of OD1 and OD2 sit firmly in the modern world, with OD1 producing full-tilt, saturated distortion and OD2 kicking the mids into overdrive for silky, focused lead tones.
ISF (Infinite Shape Filter) is Blackstar’s proprietary passive circuitry that adjusts the tone stack voicing between “USA” and “UK”. The USA side produces the focused, percussive response of a vintage Fender while the UK side is more crunchy and mid-heavy, evoking vintage Marshall tones. The magic of the ISF is the uncharted territories between the two extremes, where perfect blends of the two styles can apply their specific strengths to individual player needs.
More Hues for Your Palette
Placed after the preamp and tone stack, Blackstar ID:Core amps feature a collection of three stereo effect “types” that can be used individually or in serial; modulation, delay, and reverb. Modulation options include Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, and Tremolo; Delay options include Linear (digital), Analogue (rolled back treble), Tape (exponential treble degradation), and Multi (replicating multi-head, syncopated delays); Reverb options are Room, Hall, Spring, and Plate. The modulation effects are present and syrupy with rounded, natural tones that tastefully sweep the input signal rather than taking over the core tone. The Delay and Reverb effects are as organic and convincing as any standalone effect device available and build upon the depth and dimension of your guitar tone. Once you have your amp settings and effects dialed in, they can be saved and recalled at any time.
The stereo field of the effects is huge... much larger sounding and feeling than one would expect from such a compact amp. Modulation swirls expand the perceived sonic field, and exaggerated multi-head delays appear to originate from several feet beyond the amp in all directions, even when you’re sitting directly in front of the speakers.
The Perfect Practice Partner
One of the intrinsic benefits of the Blackstar ID:Core series amp architecture is consistent tone at any volume. This makes for no-fuss tonal transitions when adjusting the volume from a band context to bedroom practice. If “quiet” practice still isn’t enough, the inclusion of a line out with speaker emulation makes silent practicing and recording hassle-free. The MP3/Line In jack lets you play over jam tracks or your favorite songs without lugging around a separate stereo for your audio player, and the free INSIDER software allows for deep editing and storing of patches and uploading and sharing tones with the Blackstar online community.
Blackstar ID:Core Series Product Page
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Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.