Looking for good sounding practice amp: Blackstar ID Core 20 V3?

Thanks again, Lodewijk, that sounds good! I’m pretty sure, that 20W are more than enough for my needs.

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Thanks, Marc!

@SDKissFan @Whiterabbit Thank you both for your effort.

Hi, I don’t know what you ended up with, but I’ve had a Blackstar ID Core 20 V3 for about a week and can report that:

*It’s super versatile, more different tones are possible than I’ll really ever need
*It has no noise or hum of its own, but does naturally amplify any hum that your pickups, guitar wiring or cable produce if you turn the gain up. I had a crappy cable that made things very noisy but it’s better now I’ve replaced that with a better one.
*The nice clean tones that you’re after are there, might take a bit of settings adjustment to get them just how you like them.
*Crunchy and hard-driven metal tones are there too
*USB connection and Architect software works hassle-free on a MacBook Air (M1).
*It sounds great at low volume in my little office/music/hobby room. And it’s loud enough for a home amp, I haven’t run it at full volume yet and probably won’t.
*It sounds great through headphones too.

I think the Architect software is an optional extra for my usage, I can get most of what I want from the controls on the amp which are pretty straightforward for the complexity they’re controlling. I’ll try recording using USB from the amp into GarageBand at some point in the near future and see how that goes.

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Thank you Oliver for your detailed report. I’ll answer soon and share my experiences so far, just very busy at the moment, as parents need my support due to illness. :wink:

Hi Oliver, just a short report, as I’m very busy these days, too little time to play guitar at the moment.
I finally bought a ID Core 20 V3 a few weeks ago, but had not enough time yet to discover all features.
At the very beginning I was a little frustrated, because the sound was not even close to what I expected. There was humming, uncomfortble noise, dull sound and so on. Before ordering, I already read about some people who sent the amp back due to humming issues but others were completely satisfied with the product. So I decided to go out in search for reasons. I had a checkup on the guitar, fixed a loose power jack of my guitar, I already ordered a cable of good quality before using the amp for the first time. Things got a little better, but far away from sounding good.
I soon realised, that a part of this issues were caused by myself. I had to learn, that an amp doesn’t only amplify my playing, but even more any other false movement or fault while playing. So less movement, trying to play more precise, reduce the “attack” to strings, being “gentle” to the guitar and finally another place for the amp helped a lot. I was fumbling around with the settings of amp and guitar for a while and was rewarded with a significant improvement. The variations of a crystal clear clean sound get better and better.
What else can be reported?

  • Control panel is clearly arranged, easy to use
  • Tried out the different channels and built in effects, working good as far as I’m able to evaluate.
  • Strangely enough, the sound of the amp gets better from prolonged use. Can’t explain this to myself, as it isn’t a tube amp, but was mentioned by a guy in a product review as well. Said he noticed a better sound after a couple of hours. Hmm… however, as long as it gets better…
  • I use the line in a lot for playing with the app, that works great without any problems.
  • Didn’t try out the line out/direct recording yet.
  • Speakers: I liked the idea of 2 speakers to create the “wide stereo sound”. Speakers are ok for the size of amp (I’m a little spoiled by some Yamaha speakers I own for my HIFI with incredible sound, compared to them, every other spaekers sound poor).
  • What I didn’t get so far is the “wide stereo sound” they advertise, but might be a thing to program in the modelling section? Do you have any advice for that?
  • Couldn’t try out the Architect Software so far, not enough time at the moment.
    As far as I’m informed, the amp doesn’t have a jack for pedals. Do you know, if it’s maybee possible to connect some kind of divices like a trio+? Not necessary for the next time for me, but would be a useful future gadget…

So, my experiences with the amp are very limited as you can see. I hope I’m able to provide some more information soon.

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Great review and feedback, Andrea; thanks.

I have a Blackstar amp and also experienced some humming. My amp came with a 2 pin plug and I found replacing it with the power cord from a PC with a three pin plug that connected to ground circuit in the house helped.

Also no some amps powered via an adapter like a laptop in which case perhaps trying different plugs and not using a multi-plug adapter might help (but I’m shaky ground when it comes to such things, so that might be nonsense)

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Thanks, David, a lot of things to consider. All those cables and plugs, inputs and outputs, guitar cables and so on. There are so many parameters in this game…
So I think, I’ll concentrate first on playing properly and developping appropriate technique and second on messing around with the technical stuff. I think technical finesse will come by and by. But always good to get helpful feedback. Thanks again!

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I think the speakers are too close together to make ‘stereo wide’ really work unless you put the amp right against your head!

As for the hum, there’s a ‘noise gate’ pedal simulator in the Architect software that might help. What it does is silence the amp when there’s low signal, so it should reject some hum and string noise etc.

To add actual pedals, they go in the signal chain ahead of the amp - so guitar, cable, pedal, cable, amp. I haven’t tried any as I don’t have any! I’m sticking with the effects in the amp for now, one of the reasons I bought it is that I can avoid paying $$ for more pedals. And the amp has a plug for a foot switch which lets you switch between setups, but I don’t have that either.

I tend to agree. I haven’t used this particular device, but I’ve used a number of similar devices (including my Yamaha THR, the PG Spark, and several boom-box/bluetooth speaker units which aren’t guitar amps) and the stereo effect is rarely good. It’s often incrementally better than plain mono, but not that much.

There are some clever processing techniques that they often employ to increase the apparent stereo separation beyond just having the stereo left/right speakers in the same unit and these work to a degree, but they’re often not that good and they tend to highly depend on the environment you are using them in.

Personally, it’s not a feature I would put much weight on for a guitar amp, unless it involved being able to deploy a physically separate cabinet like you can with the Katana mkII or Blackstar Fly.

Cheers,

Keith

Yes, I wondered about that “wide stereo sound” the amp should provide, seems to be limited due to construction. To be sure, I expected a little bit more out of the box, as I had a simple bluetooth speaker which made a better illusion of stereo sound than the amp does.

Good to know, have to check out the software soon, when I’ve got more free time.

I’d appreciate some kind of “spatial sound” whilst playing the backing track. I asked, because Blackstar pointed out the stereo effect, even labels on the control panel.