Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 Review: A Portable 100 Watt Monster!

Blackstar DPT 10 Amped 1
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The new Blackstar DEPT 10 AMPED 1 is an amazing guitar amp that can fit right on your pedalboard! There is a lot to go over with this pedal, or is it an amp? Let’s see, and test it out!

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1: This Thing Is WILD!

I have always been a big fan of Blackstar, and I have talked a lot about how much I enjoyed gigging with the HT40 over the years. I liked the idea of a couple of dudes from Marshall starting their own company, making amps that Marshall would probably never produce.

That may be how Blackstar started, but the company soon became its own thing when it started producing amplifiers with different voicing options. Blackstar calls this the “ISF Knob” and stands for “Infinite Shape Feature”. The ISF would let you dial between a British style amp, and an American one. But you could also mix the two!

Blackstar used the ISF on tube amps, as well as the popular ID:CORE Series that were solid state. The Blackstar DEPT. 10 pedals were also very cool, and you could program those up to a point. Since then, Blackstar has given us the ST. James amplifiers to think about too, the world’s lightest tube amps. Overall, Blackstar is just a great company, right?

The new Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 pedal is something totally next level, though. I was not expected to be so surprised by this pedal, and Blackstar has literally thought of everything. I don’t even know where to start with this little pedal, but expect some serious gushing.

The Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 may look very unassuming at first, but don’t let that fool you in any way. This has everything that an actual amp would give you, and a little more! I am honestly speechless at this point, and had a hard time focusing to write this review.

I mean, it is basically a just a pedal-sized power amp with some effects built in. This should not be that big of a deal. But it is, when you think about how much this pedal/amp can do! It is also a great source of 100 watts of power for anything you need to amplify.

But it does so much more than that! Today we take a look at all of the different things that you can do with the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1. Then, we are going to record some sound samples. The options are actually limitless, but we will try to cover as much as possible.

Let’s dive in!

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1: Features And Specs

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1

Look, I know that there are a million pedal-sized amplifiers out there and that this is not a new idea in the slightest. But what you have under the hood is what makes this thing amazing. Blackstar has ditched the ISF switch for a simple UK/USA/Flat voicing switch. But I am getting way ahead of myself!

The Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 is a 100 watt amplifier made to fit on your pedalboard and replace/supplement your amp, but also made to be an efficient studio tool. You can add pedals to the DEPT. 10 in the FX loop that is built in, but it can do a lot just on its own right out of the box!

  • Take-anywhere, portable amplifier pedal: 100 Watts
  • Cab Rig DSP speaker simulator and Architect software compatible
  • Power reduction to 1W and 20W: Full Attenuation
  • Response control using patented TVP technology: KT88, 6L6, EL34, 6V6, EL84, Linear USA, UK and Flat preamp voices
  • Bass, Middle and Treble controls
  • Built In Reverb
  • Preset to toggle between your favorite and current settings
  • Cab Rig USB, headphone jack and balanced XLR outputs
  • Effects loop (series or parallel via Architect)
  • MIDI In: All controls switchable via MIDI
  • Two 9V DC outputs to power pedals
  • Full power from either the 8- or 16-ohm speaker outs
  • Mains powered, universal voltage
  • Aluminum housing and illuminated logo

Where most of these types of pedals are just a power amp that can power your pedalboard/rig if it were to ever go dead in a live setting, the DEPT. 10 AMPED is more of an amp modeler ON TOP of being a power source. Let’s start with the controls on the top and what they do, because this is much more than just a power amp.

The top of the pedal features a simple gain knob, which is self-explanatory. The voicing switch allows you to switch between a UK/Marshall style sound with tons of gain and breakup options. The USA voicing is more of a Fender clean tone, with the expected amount of headroom. The FLAT option would be for a power amp only option, like running a Line 6 through it, for example.

The FLAT voicing pairs with the LINEAR tube response option, and when you set the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 pedal to this option it becomes the perfect platform for a Helix, POD GO, or Kemper. The FLAT setting makes the AMPED 1 a straight power amp, with the amp models and speaker IR (Cab Rig) turned off.

So if you want the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 to just be a power amp that takes care of your needs to amplify your multi-effects unit, it can do that! However, I think you would be missing out on what the AMPED 1 really has to offer!

The sounds that the AMPED 1 are capable of really take this pedal to the next level. Yes, it is a pedalboard power amp, but it is more meant to take the place of your amp all together, should you want it to. Imagine showing up to a gig with just this little guy and a speaker cab!

The UK/USA voicings can be shaped to make the amp sounds that they are known for, but you can also tweak them with the gain and tube emulation options almost infinitely. The UK sound again is very much like a cranked Marshall, while the USA voicing is more for clean tones. But you can change this around with the tube response selections.

Tube Response Breakdown:

  • KT88: American High Gain amps, like Mesa. Compressed and heavy.
  • 6L6: Fender chime, with scooped midrange
  • El34: Classic British Crunch, wide open
  • 6V6: Small combos, compressed cleans
  • EL84: VOX-like chime

So you can really change the sound up by flicking the switch and changing the tube response. Do you want a Marshall drive sound with KT88 compression and response? You can do that! You can also change the sound of the USA setting to respond all kinds of different ways, giving 6 different clean tones.

You also have a 3 band EQ section, with a Master Volume knob. Next to the volume knob you have a wattage selector that allows you to go from 1 watt, 20 watts, or the full 100 watts. This can be crucial for practicing or recording if you want to really crank the gain without annoying your neighbors.

The Reverb control seems like it would be really simple, with just one dial and a footswitch. But what you get is a regular reverb that can be used all the time, or a more granular reverb option if you hold down the switch! This gives you some crazy reverb sounds that you usually get out of a “Space Verb” style pedal. Blackstar calls this the “FREEZE” effect in the manual.

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 100W Amp Pedal

The Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 100W amp pedal is an all-in-one, take-anywhere solution for professional gigging, practicing and recording. It features Response control using patented TVP technology (KT88, 6L6, EL34, 6V6, EL84, Linear USA, UK and Flat preamp voices). Dial into your sound with Bass, Middle and Treble controls, as well as footswitchable Reverb. Toggle between your favorite and current settings with the footswitchable Preset. The AMPED 1 includes Cab Rig DSP speaker simulator, with USB, headphone jack and balanced XLR outputs. 

The Preset footswitch lets you store a sound, using the Blackstar software options. This way, you can switch back between two different sounds that you have programmed. Frankly, I just used the knobs to change my sound and never did anything else with the software!

Most people know that I am not much of a software guy, and I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. I get overwhelmed when there are too many options, so I stayed away from the software. But it is an option to fine tune your sound.

If this was the only thing that the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 did, I would still be incredibly impressed. The review would end here and I would still be gushing and singing praises. But it does so much more, just out of the box! Let’s take a look at the other features that make this one of the most versatile amp-pedals ever made.

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1: The Back And Side Panels

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1

This is where things get even more interesting for the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1. This thing can honestly take the place of your amp head entirely, by using the speaker outputs on the back. This could easily power a 4×12 cabinet, or any type of speaker cab you want. 100 watts gives you plenty of power to work with.

The back of the AMPED 1 also has an FX loop that you can use pedals with, and it comes with a Y-Cable for acting like an amp. Otherwise you would put the AMPED 1 at the END of your signal chain on your pedalboard, just like a real amp head. Unfortunately, there is no real stereo option, unless you have two of these.

The back of the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 has two 9 volt outputs to power two pedals of your choice. I could not quite get the solo tone that I wanted, so I put a drive pedal and a delay pedal into these outputs, and then into FX loop. It powered my pedals, and the FX loop worked great!

The MIDI port is included for those of you that have an automated system that switches things for you. I know not many people would use this feature, but its THERE if you need it. The Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 even comes with a MIDI cable to use and experiment with. Maybe it is something you would like to get into?

This means the AMPED 1 can take the place of your amp all together. All you need is a cabinet to plug the AMPED 1 up to, and you have what would basically be a Marshall stack, or a clean amp that you can use as a base for pedals.

But the big thing that the AMPED 1 does that floored me… is the idea of it being a desktop recording device. This can be done with the Cab Rig software, and the two different output options on the side. There are three cabinet impulse responses built in, right out of the box. All three of these are usable with all of the voicings, but I used Cab 2 (middle position) the most.

However, if you find that you don’t really like any of the three cabs that are built in to the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 out of the box, then you can change it! The Cab Rig software offers so many options that it would be impossible to even list all of them.

This can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. But using the AMPED 1 for a desktop recording device is a no-brainer. With the AMPED 1 used with the USB connection, you can tailor the sound to be whatever you want using the Blackstar Software.

 Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1

You can choose from so many different cabinets, it can get overwhelming really quick. You can also pick the microphones, and different responses that change the whole sound of the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1, and you can save these settings in the menu. There is a lot you can do here, on the stage or in the studio.

Unfortunately, like other Blackstar products, you cannot load your own IR through the software. I have a few IRs that I use with digital gear, and this was a but of a bummer for me. That being said, there are more than enough options to create your own IR, or re-create your favorite IR. You may just have to get creative.

But I never even did anything with the Cab Sim software, and I still got some amazing tones out of the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1. So limitations like not being able to load an IR doesn’t upset me. I didn’t even expect something like this pedal to even feature an IR in the first place! having the Cab Rig and Architect software is just an added bonus.

But how does it actually sound out of the box? I am glad you asked, because I have been playing with it nonstop, and I have talked a big game up to this point. Suffice to say, you will be surprised if you are capable of pushing a few switches.

Note: I did try out the AMPED 1 in straight power amp mode, and my Line 6 sounded great. I didn’t see the point in recording this, since the power amp does nothing to color the sound of the unit. So if you would rather use a cabinet over an FRFR, this is a great option for 100 watts.

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1: Testing

I tried out the Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 and ran it straight through my Scarlett using the UK and USA Settings. I kept the cab on the middle option, because it has the fattest sound to me. I did not use any other pedals, this is the direct signal that you are hearing.

I recorded the first part with the USA voice, EL34 tube response, with the gain about halfway up. The second part of the demo, I recorded with the UK voice, EL34 response, and the gain all the way up. Again, this is straight out of the box, without any tweaks in the software.

I didn’t even master the track. This is the original raw WAV file that you are hearing. The Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 sounds huge through my studio monitors, just as it did through my 2×12 cabinet! I am definitely surprised by the sound, and I spent over an hour trying out different guitars and pickups.

I used my trusty Schecter Nick Johnston HSS to record the demo, and I kept everything at noon on the EQ. The only thing I really changed was the VOICE switch in the middle of the track. The reverb is always on, set a little past half way. I switched to the humbucker for the high gain tone. But otherwise, this is what it sounds like out of the box!

Like I said, I have not even done a deep dive into all of the things the AMPED 1 can actually do! But I think over the coming months, I will be buying one and using it for recording! I rarely get this excited over a piece of gear, but it would seem I am not alone.

After my time with the AMPED 1, I checked out some of the reviews on YouTube. It appears that everyone else agrees with me on just how cool this device can be, in the right hands. Check out some of the reviews yourself, and see how other reviewers used it to get so many different styles of tones.

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1: Wrapping Up…

I think the AMPED 1 can appeal to a lot of different types of guitarists, and I am one of them! I like things as simple as they can be, which is why I like my BOSS Katana so much. It just delivers, without having to tweak too many settings or doing a deep dive into confusing software.

The AMPED 1 has that same potential that the Katana has, only in a super compact package. It is small, straightforward, and it does everything you need an actual amp to do. If you want to get complex with it, you can. But there is real beauty in simplicity, something Blackstar seems to have mastered.

Look, I tried really hard to find something I didn’t like. I wish the pedal was another color, or you had another choice other than white. I also wish you could load your own IR. But other than that, I have no gripes at all. This is a solid piece of gear.

Blackstar really hit a home run with the AMPED 1, and I can see the company doing different versions of this pedal, maybe. It doesn’t have quite enough gain to chug, but if you throw an overdrive in front of it, it will have no problem keeping up with high gain tones. So maybe another AMPED pedal could be made to handle extreme high gain?

But the best part, is the PRICE. The AMPED 1 sits right at $500 and does everything that a traditional amp head can do. Actually, it does more when you consider the different tube response and IR capabilities. On the stage, or in the studio…this could be a hugely valuable tool!

Get out and try one of these if you can! I think you will be just as impressed as I am!

Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 100W Amp Pedal

The Blackstar DEPT. 10 AMPED 1 100W amp pedal is an all-in-one, take-anywhere solution for professional gigging, practicing and recording. It features Response control using patented TVP technology (KT88, 6L6, EL34, 6V6, EL84, Linear USA, UK and Flat preamp voices). Dial into your sound with Bass, Middle and Treble controls, as well as footswitchable Reverb. Toggle between your favorite and current settings with the footswitchable Preset. The AMPED 1 includes Cab Rig DSP speaker simulator, with USB, headphone jack and balanced XLR outputs. 


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