What if you could have a 100-watt tube amp but also be able to dial it down to 10 watts? And what if I told you that you could have all of that and not need a cabinet (perfect for studio recording)?
Oh, more thing…
What if I also told you that this 3-channel amp has an amazing metal tone and an amazing clean tone, and that ‘in-the-middle’ overdrive channel also sounds pristine?
It’s all here in one amplifier. The Blackstar HT Venue MK III.
In this post, I’m going to give you a complete overview of what this amp can do for you, in practically any scenario. And I’ll also share a video where you can hear how the Blackstar MKIII sounds in the full mix. We’ll start with the basics.
Blackstar HT Venue 100-Watt Head Features
You may think you could only use a 100-watt tube amp for playing live at large venues and stadium-sized shows. But with the HT Venue MK III, you can dial in all the way down to 10 watts.
Aside from that, both overdrive channels give you a nice, chunky distortion sound at low volumes, even at the 100-watt setting (and we’ll get into using this head without a cabinet later!).
Here’s what the Blackstar HT Venue MK III offers:
- Power and standby switches are located on the front of the amp (convenient!)
- 100 and 10-watt options for power
- Master volume, presence, and resonance
- Reverb (with Blackstar’s light and dark option)
- Powered by 4 EL34 tubes
- 3-channels (clean, OD1, and OD2)
- All 3 channels include a voice switch (this is almost like having 6 channels)
- Both overdrive channels have an independent volume and gain
- Blackstar’s ISF (American to British, and somewhere in between tone-shaping feature)
Back Panel Features for the Blackstar HT Venue MK III
The back panel of the Blackstar HT Venue is loaded with benefits that allow you to get really creative with your music and tones. Whereas you have the effects loop, footswitch, and speaker outputs, you have several additional Blackstar-specific features that allow you to break through some of the limitations of many traditional amplifiers.
Here’s a rundown of what you see on the back panel:
- USB audio input (I’ll explain more along with the Cab Rig options below)
- 2 and 5-way footswitch inputs
- Effects loop with the ability to adjust the level
- Dark and light reverb option
- Cab Rig (3 different options, which can be programmed per your own specs…we’ll get to this in more depth)
- Cab Rig line out and balanced output
- Multiple speaker output options
The USB option allows you to connect your HT Venue MK III head directly to your computer and use it as an interface with your DAW. Once you connect it, you would simply go to your DAW settings and select the HT Venue MK III to be your interface and you can start recording.
The Cab Rig software (explained in more detail below) is what you’ll use for your cabinet/speaker and mic simulations.
In addition, you can use the templates, create your own, and assign up to three cab/mic combinations to your Blackstar head. This is what that toggle switch is for that you see in the 2nd image above.
The Blackstar HT Venue MK III already has three options assigned for you, which all sound awesome.
Along with that, you can use the line out or balanced out (located by the Cab Rig 3-way switch) to connect your amp head to a soundboard or an interface (your amp does not have to be connected to a computer; that’s only for creating and assigning new cab/mic combinations or if you want to use your amp head as an interface).
Don’t get me wrong, the Blackstar 4×12 cabinet sounds amazing and beefy, and we’ll talk more about that soon. But to reiterate, no cab is required to use the HT Venue MK III amp head.
Another killer feature is that you can use both a real cabinet and the Cab Rig software at the same time. For example, let’s say you want to record your guitar. You could throw a mic in front of the cabinet and also run the line out into your audio interface (or use your MKIII amp head as your interface) and record both versions. In fact, I’m getting ready to do that the week of writing this post (this will be shared on my YouTube channel).
Blackstar’s Cab Rig Software for the HT Venue MK III
This is where things get interesting and tone possibilities greatly expand. Remember when I said you don’t necessarily need a cabinet to use the HT Venu MK III 100-watt head?
The Cab Rig software is Blackstar’s exclusive simulation of cabinets, speakers, mics, and more. And you have the freedom to mix and match to get endless tone possibilities.
I also covered this software in my overview of the Blackstar Amped 3 pedal.
What’s great about the Cab Rig software for the Blackstar HT Venue MK III is you can use two cabinet and mic combinations.
In image 1 above you’ll see the first layout of Cab Rig and you’ll also see Cab One and Cab Two. Under each one, you can see the icons for the cabinets, mics, and EQ settings. Clicking on those icons will take you to the appropriate screen.
In image 2, you’ll see an array of cabinet options from 1×10 to 4×12, from vintage to modern, and American and British styles. You’ll also see an option for DI (this means you can record your Blackstar amp, direct, allowing you to use another impulse response if you choose).
Image 3 shows you the many mics you can choose from. You also have on and off axis for each mic.
Image 4 shows you the EQ setup for each cab and mic combination. There are also several presets, including a preset that caters to each mic. This comes in handy. For example, the EQ preset for the 121 Ribbon mic will take out some of the low-end while the preset for the 57 dynamic mic will take out some highs.
Blackstar HTV-412 MK III Cabinet
There are two versions of the HTV-412 MK II cabinet that pair with the Blackstar HT Venue MK II amp head. One is straight and the other is slanted (I have the slanted one).
This is a 320-watt closed-back extension cabinet and is loaded with Celestion Seventy 80 speakers. You’ve got handles on both sides with finger-locked joints, and Blackstar’s heavy-duty wiring. The Blackstar plate is metal (and I’ll say that’s an intended pun because this amp and cabinet combination produces some serious metal tones!).
What Jason Really Thinks About the Blackstar HT Venue MK III
First of all, I need to let you know that I worked out a partnership with Blackstar for this amp (as well as the Amped 3 pedal, which you probably saw my post and several videos for). And I’m truly grateful for this as it’s something that I went after, purposely. And I hope to continue this relationship.
Yeah, this amp is amazing. But there are two changes that I would make if I could. We’ll get to that.
Here are the features that stand out to me:
- If you know me, you know that I primarily play metal but this amp has a superior clean tone! This isn’t so common with high-gain amps but Blackstar nailed it here.
- Both overdrive channels sound phenomenal. From my experience, and probably yours, too, it’s usually the super high gain channel that I really like but the first ‘mid-gain’ channel always lacks. That’s not the case with the HT Blackstar Venue MK III.
- I do prefer both overdrive channels with the voice switch on. But I do like the fact that you have the other option (voice switch off). That really broadens what you can do with this amp in regard to music styles.
- Overall, I’m able to get darker sounds out of this amp (thanks to the ISF feature and just the nature of this amp). I’m really dialing in a signature tone here!
- The HTV-412 MK III cabinet with the Celestion Seventy 80 speakers is just amazing. It gives you this powerful feel and tone.
- The Cab Rig software, in my opinion, beats any other cabinet/mic software or impulse response in both feel and sounding more realistic in the mix (see my video using this amp and cab in a full mix).
As I mentioned, there are a couple of tweaks that I would make to the Blackstar HT Venue MK III. Even with the voice switch on for the OD channels, I still prefer an overdrive pedal in front of the amp for playing metal.
With that, there is a pretty big difference in tone with the voice switch switch on versus off, which I assume is the intent and not a bad thing. But what I would change would be to have the OD 2 channel’s ‘voice off’ be a high-gain metal channel that doesn’t need a boost and have the ‘voice on’ be more of an overall volume boost with a little more edge. This would be perfect for going from rhythm to lead, smoothly, with no boost or overdrive pedal needed.
Hopefully, that makes sense. And that’s a minor complaint if you can even call it a complaint.
Now it’s time for you to hear this amp in the full mix!
Blackstar HT Venue MK III with HTV-412 Cab – Full Metal Mix
This is an instrumental track that I wrote exclusively for Blackstar and this video.
I hope you enjoyed the song here and that you have a better understanding of how cool the Blackstar HT Venue MK III amp (and cab) is.
To recap, even though this is a 100-watt amplifier that can give you a monstrous tone with the matching 4×12 cabinet, it’s not reserved just for playing live at large venues with thousands of screaming fans. Although this amp can certainly do that. You can use the MK III series of amps to record direct, both as or through an interface, or run through a soundboard by using the Blackstar Cab Rig software (which is free, by the way).
This gives you the ability to have more than one tone. You can have your cab miked up and also have your line-out running through the interface or soundboard. And you can do this in the studio, as I went through earlier, and on stage. Imagine being on stage and having your cabinet miked but also having a line-out to the soundboard using Cab Rig. That could really make the overall mix sound more full and interesting.
By this point, you’re probably ready to order yourself a Blackstar HT Venue MK III amp and cabinet. If you would rather go down in size, there are other MK III options, like several versions of combo amps along with a 50-watt head and matching 2×12 cabinet.
You can order through my Sweetwater link below. This also supports my music and I appreciate it.
Keep it Metal, and Keep Playing Music,