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Changing to Active PA speaker from Blackstar Club 40.


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Hi all,


Did my first show (Hairspray) with the HD POD 500x this week at a local theatre. I was essentially using the Blackstar as a monitor with the POD being DI'ed out to the house PA. My main problem, being sat above the amp was that I frequently couldn't hear myself above the 15 piece band! When i did drive the amp louder II upset the brass section (not difficult, though).


I've decided that the amp is not for me, as it's too big and heavy to use in an orchestra pit. Also, a PA speaker can be angled to project the sound upwards at a 45 degree angle, enabling better monitoring. So, the Blackstar is being put up for sale and I'm going to buy an active speaker instead.


I'm sure this has been covered a gazillion times on this forum, but, I just want to ask this:


In my situation, as a player in theatre shows and smaller gigs, which speaker?


Mackie Thump 12 or Alto TS212? I really don't need anything louder, as this will be purely for monitoring my sound in an orchestra pit situation.


Thanks in advance.

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Hi, short answer - just my opinion but I would keep the blackstar.

I speak with good experience though! I have exactly the same setup as you and regularly play in pits. I have a show this week and using the blackstar as opposed to a monitor is invaluable to me - I've used both.

I find being able reach over and adjust channel volume, drive and master on the fly very useful. There just isn't the time to spend properly soundchecking and setting levels on the pod for every song you need with the band. You can try your best at home during practice but it can easily go out the window when you get to band call. Playing with musicians you've never met and music you've never played before can drastically change the sound you need. As you know, versatility is key to this type of work. People who haven't done this type of work will simply not understand as its very different to playing in a regular band.


I need multiple patches but also need to reach over and tweak a few knobs quickly. Even bending down to do this quickly on the floor unit is a problem in a tight pit. If you get a pa speaker it will be very hard for you to adjust its master on the fly as the volume will be behind the speaker. I used to use a bean pod with a multi channel keyboard amp, that wasn't too bad as I had easy access to the knobs next to me and could use a second channel on the amp for acoustic.

In my new setup I use the pod 500x aux in for my acoustic. The benefit of this over my old setup is I can use the volume pedal and tuner on both acoustic and electric.

It has been challenging for me to change to this new setup. I use a 6 cable method! I dislike this and would prefer a simpler setup but I can't think of a better solution for pit work. At least I only have to setup once a week. The trade-off for a complex setup is simple switching between patches and instruments.

I use a standard 4 cable method using Fx loops, then one lead for my acoustic and one for my nux pms2. This little box takes a midi program change that is transmitted when you change patch on the pod and turns it into a OD channel change for the blackstar. This means I can change all settings with a single foot tap. Eg acoustic guitar has a patch on the pod that cancels my electric guitars input and switches to clean on the blackstar. By using the 4 cable method I can bypass the blackstar pre-amp and it doesn't sound too bad for monitoring purposes. I normally DI it for FOH and just use the blackstar so I can hear it. If I need distortion next it is one click away, it cancels my acoustic input and switches to OD on the amp. Having volume control under your foot is useful to me. All this is very handy when you only have 2 bars rest to change instruments.

I use an amp stand to tilt the blackstar speaker up towards me.

So that's my long answer, hope you find it helpful.

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Thanks so much for writing such a thoughtful response, just what I was after!


I've just had the TS212 in and it sounds great; some of the tones are better than the Blackstar, frankly; the sound seems more focussed, somehow. I've decided to part with the Blackstar, against your advice, but I can see what you're saying - I won't rule out getting another Blackstar or similar, but it'll be a much smaller amplifier - the Club 40 is a beast!


Also, i'm returning the TS212 and exchanging for the TS210 for the smaller unit size - there was loads of spare volume on the 212 that I just don't need, and given that I play in some seriously tight spaces, it's all about space-saving right now. I'm satisfied that the Alto will provide a a good sound overall.


Where do you play, out of interest?



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No problem, I can see your point. I got by with a keyboard amp and relied purely on pod tones for years so it's definitely possible. But now, on the rare occasion I can let go with some nice loud distortion I definitely prefer the tone of the blackstar to the app sims of the pod.

However most of the time it ends up being a massive compromise tone wise. You know those classic moments when it says heavy distortion -pp underscore. This is where Im still struggling to try and get good sounding tones for every situation. I'm sure it will come as I get more familiar with my setup but definitely a bit of on the fly tweaking needed for me still anyway. I'm UK based by the way.


One thing to note, I would advise against a studio 20 if you consider going smaller with a blackstar. It doesn't have the voicing switch on the clean channel so it breaks up too early and gives much less headroom on cleans.

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Cool, I know what you mean by the amp distortion: the Blackstar had a superb meaty tone, even at lower volumes. It is a compromise, but at the end of the day, nobody is going really notice the difference in tone in the situations I play in. I've now gone for a Alto TS210 speaker, which means I can pretty much get from car to pit in one trip (or two if i need more than just my strat). It's also a smaller footprint in the pit, which is becoming ever-more important!


I'm based in South Wales, next show up is 'Spamalot'!


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