Corporate synergy can be a wonderful thing – that’s why we can have bits of Oreo in our Dairy Milk bars and Spider-Man in our Avengers movies. And now, that has also allowed Blackstar to put its sound signature on Korg’s ultra-compact amPlug headphone amps.
Since their launch in 2007, amPlugs have been an incongruous success for Vox and its parent company, Korg. In a world where everyone has a full amp and effects on their cell phone, why do you need a little plastic doohickey that packs an amp sound and some basic effects?
Wellâ¦ how many of us waste our evenings scrolling through Netflix because we can’t decide what to watch? For gamers who are short on time and just want to get started, amPlugs are a compelling alternative to the options crippling of modern amp and effects software – especially when they do so well at emulating that classic Vox sound. .
However, what amPlugs haven’t always done best are non-Vox sounds – and that’s where Blackstar comes in. qualities in guitar and bass units that are even more portable and affordable is seriously appealing.
If you’ve used an amPlug before, you know the trick: a plastic box about half the size of a cigarette pack, with a quarter-inch plug that turns to fit a variety of jack configurations. In addition to the guitar version, we have three rotary controls for Blackstar’s gain, volume and ISF shaping, as well as 3.5mm jacks for headphones and an auxiliary input and push buttons for the headphone. power and to cycle through the three different built-in effects (delay, reverb and chorus), each of which has three modes.
On the bass side, it’s the same, except that a classic tone control replaces the ISF and the effects are swapped for six tap-tempo rhythmic loops to accompany.
First of all, we connect to the headphone output of our trusty classic Fly and A / B with the sound of the amPlug Fly Guitar, and there is no doubt that the amPlug has the beat of its big brother.
Especially with clean sounds, there is a warmth and depth to the amPlug sounds that the Fly cannot match – especially when you add a little delay or spatial reverb into the mix, it really delivers the feel. same 3D feel as the original Fly, but via a pair of headphones.
A common complaint about Vox amPlugs centered around what happens when you crank up the wick, and here Blackstar’s high gain experience really pays off. Whether it’s a crisp overdrive or a full lead, with fine tuning of the ISF control, you can achieve thick and powerful distorted tones that exceed the rather abrasive tones often associated with Vox amPlugs.
The Bass model can also be used. The three modes – classic, modern, and overdrive – all do exactly what you want (overdrive is especially fun), while six varied rhythm patterns deliver everything from rock and funk to a simple metronome. Having to select the pattern and tap tempo using long / short clicks on the same button is a bit tedious at first, but you get used to it.
The amPlug concept has always been about delivering all the sounds you would need for a quick workout or jam session with minimal fuss, but the injection of Blackstar know-how has taken it to another level. In all the ways that matter, these amPlug Flys feel like a big step forward for headphone amps.
- THE PRICE: Â£ 42 each
- THE DESCRIPTION: Headphone amplifiers for guitar and bass
- CONTROLS: Power / mode switch, volume, gain, ISF (guitar), tone (bass), FX (guitar), rhythm / tap tempo
- FEATURES: Both: 1/4 inch rotary input jack, 3.5mm headphone output, 3.5mm auxiliary input. Guitar: 3x amp models (clean, crunch, lead) and 3x effects (reverb, delay, chorus – each with 3 preset modes). Bass: 3x amp models (classic, modern, overdrive) and 6x rhythmic loops with tap tempo.
- POWER: 2x AAA batteries (up to 11 hours of use, automatic shutdown after 30 minutes without signal)
- SPEAKER: N / A
- DIMENSIONS: 86x38x31mm
- WEIGHT: 40g / 0.08lb
- CONTACT: Blackstar blackstaramps.com
Like that? Try these.
- Vox amPlug 2 AC30 25.99 â¬
- Electro-Harmonix headphone amplifier 49 â¬
- Nux GP-1 â¬ 9.95