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zooey

Blackstar ID:60 revisited

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Spent some time over the past few days playing through my Blackstar ID:60, which I hadn't done almost at all since Helix. Overall tones were pretty cool actually, reminded me of why I got it.

 

Very "solid" sounding, for lack of a better word, and natural, with really nice semi-driven tones, though I wouldn't call it exactly warm. Noticeably well controlled low end, doesn't flub out out easily, even with overdrive. Quite a bit of variability too, between the different preamp and power amp models, the ISF control, and the channel EQ. (Per patch, you get only bass-mid-treble, but it's quite effective and useful.)

 

Of course it doesn't have about a gazillion software and hardware features that Helix has, the EQ and FX are very basic, and the UI on the amp itself isn't great. Another big negative for me practically speaking is that on the amp itself, you can't name patches, or see the names you give them in the editor. But still, as a one piece plug and go, not too shabby at all.

 

 

Made me think about using just Helix into it, 4 cable method. Helix + 12" combo -- potentially back to a one-trip load-in, plus I'd feel less like a jerk showing up to a living room jam with that than my current medium-small PA.

 

Helix would provide way better footswitching than the ID's 4 button thing (which is elegantly dense, but kind of a pain), allow Helix's fx pre and/or post the amp, and let me use Helix or ID amps or both. Just the one cab in play though, for everything.

 

Don't think typical 4CM setups involve an amp that itself has 128 presets. Would be quite a project to build out your patches, or even decide what they should be, between the ID and Helix. Yowza.

 

Weird thing: Plugged my Helix into the ID's power amp in, just to try it, and after pulling out the cabs or IRs, my patches consistently had too much top end, like 5k-ish. Strange, since they were built with my Alesis FRFRs, which I find kind of bright, and the ID is a single 12" only. And yes the ID:60 was in effects loop mode, not mp3. The ID itself doesn't seem too bright.

 

Those highs weren't something I could tame with just Helix's amp controls, needed an EQ, whcih of course I could do. However, in the relatively short time I spent trying, I didn't get Helix to sound quite as straightforwardly unartificial as the ID itself. Don't doubt that it's possible though.

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Made me think about using just Helix into it, 4 cable method. Helix + 12" combo -- potentially back to a one-trip load-in, plus I'd feel less like a jerk showing up to a living room jam with that than my current medium-small PA.

 

 

Can't you just take one speaker from the PA and use that by itself for a living room jam?

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If you are just taking the cabinet/IR out of your preset and running that into the front end of the Blackstar, you will definitely get harsh high end. You can demonstrate that by listening to the Helix through on board headphone jack and take out your cab/IR of your preset. Things get really harsh on the high end because the modeled impedance from the cab/IR is missing. Now you are running those extra harsh highs into the front end of the Blackstar to be amplified further. 

 

I've run my Helix into the front end of a few tube and solid state combos on clean just playing around, and I just leave my presets as is with the amp and cab/IR models still in there. Generally speaking, they sound pretty good without doing much to them. 

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Can't you just take one speaker from the PA and use that by itself for a living room jam?

Yeah. But it still seems like a bigger deal than a pretty small combo, more pretentious, or something, in that informal scaled-down world.

 

I've been using short speaker stands for the FRFRs too, about head height, but I suppose I'd want something to get a combo off my ankles too. In my "studio", it's up on a stool, but I don't want to carry that, need to look around, if I decide I want to pursue this further.

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If you are just taking the cabinet/IR out of your preset and running that into the front end of the Blackstar [...]

Not going in the front end. As I said, Helix was plugged into the power amp in/effects return, bypassing everything in the ID except the power amp and speaker. Even the ID's  presence and resonance controls were out of circuit; they must be attached to its amp sim section, not the actual power amp.

 

So really this seems to be about differences between the ID preamp/amp sim and my settings for their counterparts in Helix.

 

And I did try leaving the cab/IRs there at first, pretty muffled and low-end-y, as I'd expect, since there's a real guitar cab in play too, not an FRFR setup.

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Not going in the front end. As I said, Helix was plugged into the power amp in/effects return, bypassing everything in the ID except the power amp and speaker. Even the ID's  presence and resonance controls were out of circuit; they must be attached to its amp sim section, not the actual power amp.

 

So really this seems to be about differences between the ID preamp/amp sim and my settings for their counterparts in Helix.

 

And I did try leaving the cab/IRs there at first, pretty muffled and low-end-y, as I'd expect, since there's a real guitar cab in play too, not an FRFR setup.

That's pretty interesting. Sounds like the ID amp "modeling" and Helix are quite a bit different like you mention. This makes me want to play around with 4CM a little more just for fun. 

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This makes me want to play around with 4CM a little more just for fun.

You should if you haven't already. I have an amp I'm not very fond of but running the Helix into it made it sound so much better and it was a blast.

 

I still like my wedge tho

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Guess the ID is tuned for that particular speaker, or vice versa.

 

Far as I know, 4CM is less common with another modeler than for instance a tube amp. There are getting to be more and more modeling rigs with a built-in guitar speaker these days though, be interesting to see how this plays out with different ones.

 

I've never tried real 4CM. What I just tried was ultra-simple, just the ID power amp and speaker w Helix front end, should be a pretty basic comparison.

 

I can't see having a rig as expensive as Helix just for FX, and the ID notwithstanding, before this I've been having a blast with Helix in full mic'ed-amp-sim mode, so we'll see how this resolves for me over time. Really not sure what I'd want for a collection of patches if I had the Helix and ID universes both available. You only need one of those for a healthy dose of option paralysis, but both?!?

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Going off of some experience with my Crate Powerblock.  I see that the Blackstar ID60 is solid state.

 

I pulled the ID60 manual and looked at some pics online.  Here are a couple of things I can think of to try.

 

  • Adjust the Presence knob on the amp.  This generally tames the power section highs on a tube amp.  Not sure of the effect on this one.
  • Try MP3 mode and send Helix to it from the 1/4" phones out with a 1/4" stereo cable.  The ID60 sums the stereo signal.  The 1/4" line in on my CPB has a different tone than my CD in.  I think it has some tonal filtering.  CD Input on the CPB works better for Helix.

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You should if you haven't already. I have an amp I'm not very fond of but running the Helix into it made it sound so much better and it was a blast.

 

I still like my wedge tho

Yeah, I guess I'll get a 4cm preset set up on my Blues Deluxe Reissue just in case I play somewhere I won't be going direct from the Helix. I'm curious to see how some of the preamp models sound through the power amp section of this amp. Looking forward to playing around with that!

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Thanks roscoe5, but...

  • Presence knob is out of circuit when coming in the fx return, Resonance too. As I said before, them seem to be part of the amp sim section, not the actual power amp. Those do affect highs and lows respectively when using the ID pre and amp. I bet the idea is for presence to imitate what it does on a tube amp, which is reduce negative feedback at high frequencies, and for resonance to imitate varying speaker impedance, affecting low-end thump. Both are useful, and I wish they were pre-preset, though I also get the desire for global EQ to handle different venues and contexts.
  • When I first tried this, the ID was in MP3 mode, because that's the default, and boy was that Wrong. Even more top end, completely gross. I think MP3 mode probably EQs that input to make the single 12" imitate a full range hi-fi speaker, as best as possible. That's the opposite of what's needed here, unless I leave the cabs/IRs on in Helix, which seems like setting up these two counteracting processes, when I'd rather just skip both, and try playing through the ID as a guitar cab. If I'm not mistaken, you've enjoyed playing Helix through guitar cabs, without an IRs except maybe maybe one of those impedence-match ones. In any case, I'm not 100% certain, but my initial tries probably did have the Helix cabs/IRs on (along with MP3 mode), because that's how I normally run.
  • I know you're suggesting coming out of the Helix phones output, but AFAIK, that's still flat response, no different tonally than the regular 1/4" outs, don't see how that'd improve anything.

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Sounds like you have the bases covered then.  Can't really think of anything else off hand.

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Well, I know you have been around the Helix for a bit, so you have probably thought your way through most of the options.

But, I'm wondering if the ID is really a modeller?

So that its speaker and amp are kind of a FRFR system?  Maybe not quiet as full range as it's a 1x12, but say FRFR in essence.

The fact that the presence etc is all part of the modeller and not the power amp points to that possibility.

Why not try it with your amps and cabs in the patch and see what you get?

If you are using global EQ or per patch EQ to tame the highs and lows in your FRFR setup,that might need adjusting (or turning off) - but I'm thinking treat it like FRFR with maybe some EQ adjustment.

Be interesting to know - blackstar might be more Helix/modeller that we think?? Just because it looks more like a conventional amp............

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