We have a brace ( I think a brace is three right?) of Blackstar pedals to look at here - the new Blackstar HT-Effects: HT-MODULATION, HT-REVERB and HT-DELAY.
Each feature digital effects with a single ECC83 (12AX7) valve which adds adjustable saturation and harmonics. Firstly - the power - these pedals require a 22v 1.1A power source (included), so are quite beefy and not something you’ll be able to stick in your pedal board 9V ring.
However, theres a reason for this and thats because the internal voltage is stepped up to 300volts to make sure the valve is driven to is full potential. HT-MODULATION and HT-DELAY both have saturation control which dials in the amount of valve drive into the sidechain signal and affects the tone and harmonics accordingly - the HT-REVERB has a the same but they call it the DWELL control. The valve certainly brings quite a lot of warmth and feel-good factor to the sound, giving these pedals an extra bit of character.
All pedals also have mono input and stereo output, they can be integrated in-line, in a mono or stereo FX loop, or patched in to your board for send return type use in the studio.
The Need For Speed There also a second footswitch on the right (left hand side is bypass) which switches between two preset speeds - in the case of the HT-MODULATION, switching between them goes fast and slow, but also it accelerates and decclerates - especially handy for Rotary speaker effects. Press and hold sets you into manual mode - the speed is then set by the speed knob - in the cased of the HT-DELAY and reverb, this footswitch engaegs long and short settings - so you get quick preset (again not user modifiable) or manual lets you set the length of rhe reverb or delay respectively.
HT-MODULATION Presets: Flanger, Phaser 1 and 2, Vintage Chorus 1 and 2, Tremolo and Rotary
Some good solid favourites here with plenty of scope for hard jet flange and funky phase. Rotary speaker is particularly nice.
All usuable sounds - apart from reverse (why?), greatly enhanced by the Dwell control which brings the valve into play and adds some character.
HT-DELAY Presets: Linear, Analogue, Multihead 1 and 2, Tape, Space, Loop1 and 2
Some really nice delays here, with pretty good emulations of the Tape and Space echos - valve makes it sound even more analog - great for some dub action. Max time - Delay mode 3.0 secs, Loop mode 7.2 secs
Overall, we like these pedals - sure they do cost a little more than your run of the mill stomps that perform the same basic functions, but there’s plenty to tweak on all of them and the valve really does bring something extra to the party. Perhaps you wont want all of them, but pretty much any setup could benefit from the tone they bring.