Blackstar HT-5RH MK III: How I Use it for Home Studio Recording (and for Metal)

By Jason Stallworth

June 17, 2024


The Blackstar HT-5RH MK III amp gives you the best of both worlds with hardware (aka a real amp) and software. And it’s great for small home recording studios as it fits perfectly on your desktop.

You don’t need a speaker cab (I’ll show what you’ll use instead, which comes with the amp). You don’t even need an interface as the HT-5 MK III can be used as an audio interface (I’ll show you this, as well as how I use mine with an interface).

Here’s what I’ll cover below:

  • Blackstar HT-5RG specs (features on the front and back of the amp)
  • Using Cab Rig for a variety of tones
  • How to use the HT-5RH MK III as an interface for recording
  • How to record the HT-5RH MK III through another interface (this is how I do it)
  • How to use pedals and effects with the HT-5RH MK III (I also cover how I get metal tones in this section)
  • Other ways you can use the HT-5RH MK III

Blackstar HT-5RH MK III Specs & Details

Blackstar HT-5RH MK III front

The HT-5RH is a 5-watt, 2-channel amp head. It’s powered by one ECC83 and one 12BH7 tube (yes, it’s a real tube amp). Each channel has Blackstar’s unique voicings and their patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) control giving you a wide range from ‘American to British’ tones.

Here’s a rundown of the HT-5RH MK III:

  • 5 watts of power (with a .5-watt option)
  • 2 channels (overdrive and clean, each with an additional voice feature)
  • Full EQ for the overdrive channel
  • Tone knob for the clean channel
  • ISF (American to British tone feature)
  • Reverb
Blackstar HT-5RH MK III back

Let’s take a look at the back of the amp where things get more interesting. As you can see in the image, the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III can be used as an audio interface, with an external interface, through a soundboard, with headphones, and you can even connect this amp to a cab.

Here’s a rundown of these features:

  • USB Audio output (the other end would go to your computer to be used as an interface and to make changes to the Cab Rig software – we’ll go over that soon)
  • Footswitch input
  • Effects loop with level control
  • CabRig selector
  • Line out and balanced outputs for headphones or going direct to an interface or soundboard
  • Options to connect to three types of speaker cabinets

Get the Blackstar HT-5 RH MK III at Sweetwater

How to Get a Variety of Tones Using the HT-5RH MK III with Blackstar’s CabRig Software

Before we get into recording with the Blackstar HT-5RH amp we need to cover how you’re getting your tones. CabRig is Blackstar’s signature cabinet simulation software.

Blackstar provides an array of cabinet and speaker combinations with CabRig. It also comes with multiple mic simulations and deep shaping controls such as mic EQ, room types, location of mic, and level controls.

CabRig allows you to create your own combinations of speakers, mics, and settings. And you can assign three of those to your HT-5RH amp head. This lets you have your favorite combinations in the amp without being connected to your computer.
There’s a CabRig switch on the back of the amp for your cab selection.

Below is a complete tutorial on how to use Blackstar’s Cab Rig software:

How to Use the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III Amp as an Audio Interface

Blackstar HT-5RH MK III as an interface

The easiest way to record guitars with the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III is to use it as your audio interface. Here are the steps:

  • Connect the USB cable to the back of your amp (the output under ‘USB Audio’)
  • Connect the other end to the USB input of your computer
  • In the audio settings of your DAW, select the HT-5 to be your input source
  • If you’re using headphones with the HT-5, select the HT-5 as your output source as well
  • If you have another interface with your studio monitors connected, select that one as your output source

You could also use your computer speakers as the output source though that’s not recommended. Studio monitors or headphones will give you a much better sound for this application.

How to Use the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III Amp with an Interface for Recording

Blackstar HT-5RH MK III recording

This is how I use the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III amp. I run it into my interface. I’ll share how you can do that followed by why I do it this way.

  • Connect an instrument cable to the line out from the back of your HT-5RH
  • Connect the other end of that to your audio interface input
  • In the audio settings of your DAW, make sure your audio interface is selected as your input and output source
  • If you’re using headphones, you would use the audio interface headphone input

I prefer this method because I record vocals and other instruments using my main audio interface (in this case, it’s the Presonus Quantum 2). This also prevents me from having to change the audio settings in my DAW when I want to record something other than the HT-5 amp.

How to Use Pedals and Effects with the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III Head

The HT-5RH MK III is equipped with an effects loop for your time-based effects like delay and reverb (the amp comes with reverb but you may want a more spacy, ambient type of reverb pedal). There’s also a +4dBu and -10dBV option.

As with any amplifier, you can run pedals in front of the amp, such as an overdrive and nose gate.

Jason’s ‘how to get a metal tone with the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III amp:’

I recommend using an overdrive pedal as you would use with other high-gain amps. The overdrive alone on this amp probably isn’t going to satisfy you for playing metal. But you’ll get an amazing tone using an overdrive pedal (overdrive down, volume up).

Another way I use effects when recording with the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III head is in the DAW. Specific to my lead guitar tracks, I add delay to the track in the studio. It’s a simple method, but worth mentioning.

Get the Blackstar HT-5 RH MK III at Sweetwater

Other Ways You Can Use the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III Amp

Blackstar HT-5RH MK III studio amp

Here are some other convenient ways to use the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III amp.

Practicing with Headphones: The Blackstar HT-5RH MK III amp head is also a great amp to practice guitar silently using headphones. You can plug your headphones in the line out and you’re all set.

Running the HT-5RH MK III with a soundboard: You can also run a cable from the line out to a channel on your soundboard.

Using the HT-5RH MK III with a Speaker Cabinet: Lastly, you can connect your HT-5RH amp to a cabinet (be sure to use an appropriate cabinet – the three options and specs required are on the back by the speaker outputs).

Overall, this is a great little amp for recording, especially if you’re in a small room. Again, the HT-5RH fits perfectly on most desktops.

Blacstar’s CabRig software for speaker and mic simulations is a definite highlight. This is available with their entire line of MK III amplifiers. I think you’ll find CabRig to be one of the more realistic-sounding cab simulators.

You can order the Blackstar HT-5RH MK III head at Sweetwater through my affiliate link(this helps, and thank you!): Get the Blackstar HT-5 RH MK III at Sweetwater

Jason Stallworth

About the author

Jason is a melodic metal solo artist, songwriter, acoustic performer, and co-founder of Metal Mastermind.

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