Take a deep dive into the specs of the all-new tone machines that Blackstar are calling the world’s most advanced valve pedals
The sonic geniuses at Blackstar have once again come up with a brand-new range of guitar pedals that are guaranteed to get players excited.
The ‘Dept. 10’ selection is, in many ways, an evolution of the much-lauded HT range - but with a host of significant upgrades that make them perfectly suited to the modern pedalboard.
Check out this video to hear what all of the hype is about and keep reading to get a better idea of what makes them sound so good.
The Dept. 10 Lineup
The Dept. 10 lineup includes 3 pedals that can take your tone from subtle saturation into full-blown hi-gain madness. They are:
The name ‘Dept. 10’ comes from the research & development department at Blackstar who are responsible for creating these new bits of kit - a team of musicians who will stop at nothing on their quest for the best tones.
Each of these stompboxes boasts latchless switching and a sleek-yet-rugged construction that features a protective element for the exposed tube - so they’ll hold up on tour as well as in the studio.
The awesome sound of the Dept. 10 pedals comes courtesy of an ECC83 tube that runs at 250V. This tube gives you access to an organic and dynamic saturation, just as you’d expect from a full-valve amplifier.
Pedal aficionados will be thrilled to find out that unlike the previous HT range these units run on a standard 9V power supply - ensuring that integrating them with the rest of your pedalboard is super simple. The included power supply will ensure optimum performance from the unit, but if you plan to use them with a power brick then you will need to have access to a high-draw output of up to 500mA.
One of the pedals in this collection is a little different from the others, however - the Dept. 10 Boost features a simplified control system and just a single channel from which to wrangle your tone. Despite this, it offers some wonderful options for gently pushing your tone and dirtying up when you need it to.
Let’s take a closer look at it..
Dept. 10 Boost
The smallest unit from the Dept. 10 collection is the Boost pedal - featuring just 3 controls for Low, High, and Boost.
It comes with a built-in buffer that is ideal for combatting the effect of long cable-runs, whilst the high-voltage Class A gain stage is responsible for the searing tones which are at your disposal.
This gain stage is combined with a passive, natural-sounding James Baxandall two-band EQ - so it’s akin to adding two extra-hot valve stages to the front end of your rig.
Despite the limited parameters on this pedal it offers a wealth of tasteful and usable tones, and the more basic configuration actually means that it’s really easy to dial-in the perfect boost for solos and lead sections.
There are some extra layers to explore with the other pedals in the range though, so let’s check out some of the features which can be found on the Dept. 10 dual pedals.
Dept. 10 Dual Pedal Features
The Blackstar Dept. 10 range treats us to two new double pedals - the Dual Drive and Dual Distortion.
Both pedals grant access to an entire world of new sounds, and there are some premium features to be found across each of the units that make them a worthy choice for any rig.
Here are some of our favourite things about the Dept. 10 Dual Pedals..
Two Channels, Four Voicings
As their names suggest, each of the Dual Drive and Dual Distortion pedals utilises two separate channels.
Each channel also has two further voicings, so you’re able to play around with 4 distinct voicings per pedal, unlocking an entirely new sonic palette with each one and granting you complete control over your drive and distortion tones.
Each channel has separate gain and volume knobs with an overall EQ section, and the inclusion of Blackstar’s patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) control lends an even greater selection of sounds to your arsenal - giving the best of UK and US-flavoured rock tones.
These pedals are more than fit for the modern guitar player, with a wealth of connectivity options available depending on how you want to use the units.
As well as a post-gain FX loop and ¼” jack line-out, you’ll also find a balanced XLR DI and USB audio connector that gives you access to professional-grade recording tones directly from the pedal.
Our favourite thing about the Dept. 10 range though is the Cab Rig DSP Speaker Emulation Technology - a superb way to approach recording your instrument, and a handy tool in a live scenario too.
Cab Rig DSP Speaker Emulation Technology
Cab Rig is a DSP Speaker Emulation Technology - an impulse response-based piece of wizardry that is able to reproduce the sound and feel of a mic’d up cabinet in incredible detail.
You can use the Cab Rig mode as you would use a pre-amp, or you can plug directly into a PA/recording set-up and hear your guitar as if it was being played through a selected cabinet.
The Cab Rig switch on the pedal offers 3 preset simulations for you to pick from, and these settings all offer an awesome array of sounds straight out of the box. The real fun starts when you utilise the accompanying Architect software, though - it offers 250 cab and mic placement variations as well as the ability to shape the space and ambience of the ‘room’.
You can then alter the presets on the pedal and use your favourite cab, mic, and room combinations whilst you’re playing.
For a true deep dive on tone we can’t recommend this software enough - it opens up a world of possibilities for use in the studio and in a live environment, turning what is already a sophisticated stompbox unit into a fully-realised tone machine.
The Dept. 10 range from Blackstar grants players remarkably precise tone-sculpting abilities across a range of extra-intuitive machines. By combining conventional valve-based technology with innovative connectivity and modern capabilities, the Dept. 10 selection is perfectly suited for any kind of player - no matter if you’re a traditionalist who relies on tube-driven tone or a producer looking for a modern solution to guitar tracking.