Review: Blackstar ID:Core BEAM

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – front

Blackstar’s ID:Core BEAM (current price in Finland: 299 €), which was introduced at this year’s NAMM Show, is one of a new breed of amplifiers:

The BEAM is a so-called ”lifestyle amp” that combines a practical solution for living room practising with a Bluetooth stereo system with a suitable Rock look.


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – angle right

The Blackstar ID:Core BEAM is a genuine ID:Core-combo, which means that all its parameters are accessible via Blackstar’s Insider software.

The newcomer is a stereophonic amp with its 20 watts of power running into a pair of three-inch speakers. Blackstar’s Super Wide Stereo-effect – a feature taken from the company’s larger ID:Core combos – can also be applied to the BEAM’s music player, with its own, separate width adjustment.

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – back

Apart from the power switch, the ID:Core BEAM’s back panel features the input jack for the (optional) footswitch. The rest of the combo’s controls and connectors can be found on the top-mounted control panel.

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – control panel

The larger ID:Core combos are well-equipped practice amps, but the BEAM has a couple of additional aces up its sleeve:

The ID:Core BEAM offers you 12 amp models (Voices). The first set (the Voices LED glows red) deals with six amp models for electric guitar, while the second set (green LED) gives you two Voices each for acoustic guitar, electric bass, and acoustic guitar simulation.

The amp section has three physical knobs for adjustment – gain, volume, and Blackstar’s patented ISF-control, which control’s the amp’s overall tonal character. Using the Insider-software you will be able to access additional parameters for deep editing, like a three-band EQ-section or a noise gate.

The effects department features four different modulation effects, four delay types, and four reverbs. The two Voices for bass swap the reverbs for bass distortion. You can choose one effect from each effect section for a Voice (meaning up to three simultaneous effects).

The small combo also features a built-in tuner.

The music signal, sent to the BEAM from your mobile device via Bluetooth, naturally isn’t sent through the combo’s amp modelling circuits. It is fed into the signal chain just before the power amp section. The ID:Core BEAM allows you to play along to the Bluetooth signal, of course!

The USB-port isn’t only used to remote control the amp’s parameters via Insider – this lifestyle combo doubles as a full-blown USB sound card. The BEAM can be run in three different USB-modes, which allows you to either send a stereo signal of the amp sound to your sequencer, or send two discrete mono signals (with one channel completely dry, and the second channel with all the amp modelling and effects) to your recording software. The third USB-mode is called Reamping, and it’s used to feed a dry guitar signal off your audio sequencer into the ID:Core BEAM and record the effected signal onto a separate recording track simultaneously.

The signal level of the USB-audio can be controlled directly (and independently of the amp’s master volume settings), making it very easy to set the correct recording levels for your personal studio setup.


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – front angle

Blackstar have really hit the bull’s eye with their new lifestyle combo!

Listening to music with a very critical ear you can hear a little bit of hiss, but it isn’t loud enough to spoil the fun. Remember, the ID:Core BEAM isn’t meant to be a studio monitor, but rather a nifty, compact music player for your bookcase – something this little combo handles with much aplomb. You wouldn’t necessarily expect such a full and strong delivery from such a compact unit.

The ID:Core BEAM also sounds great as a guitar and bass amp, which isn’t quite as surprising, considering this combo’s pedigree.

The guitar amp voices have plenty of character, and the effects have more than ample depth and width:

The high quality of the acoustic simulator was something of a positive surprise:

Despite its diminutive size, the BEAM also delivers when it comes to electric bass tones:


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – angle left

The Blackstar ID:Core BEAM succeeds to combine a programmable practice combo for guitar and bass, a Bluetooth-player, and a USB sound card into a very enticing package. In addition to being a great living room amp, the BEAM could also prove a handy little amp for guitar instructors.


Blackstar ID:Core BEAM

299 €

Finnish distributor: Musamaailma



+ well thought-out concept

+ value for money

+ feature-packed guitar and bass amp

+ adjustable Super Wide Stereo-function

+ USB sound card

+ full sound


– high noise gate setting on default bass distortion

Review: Carvin MicroBass MB 10

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel

Carvin’s series of extremely compact MicroBass bass combos is built using the company’s lightweight BX 250 MicroBass amplifier sunk into four differently-sized speaker cabinets. Thanks to some clever design work – as well as lightweight modern bass speakers – even the largest of the MicroBass-combos, the MB210 (equipped with two 10-inch speakers and a horn tweeter), only weighs 16 kilos.

Kitarablogi received the smallest member of the MicroBass-family for testing. The MB10 is small enough to take with you on public transport, should the need ever arise.


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view

Carvin MicroBass MB10 (current price in Finland: 577 €) is compactness incarnate:

The combo’s dimensions are only 47 x 33 x 28 cm (h/w/d), and it weighs in at just below 12 kilos!

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – side view

Despite its diminutive size the Carvin’s build is roadworthy and sturdy.

The 10-inch speaker and the horn tweeter are safely tucked away behind a chunky metal grille.

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – back view

You can use the MicroBass MB10 both with the cabinet standing up and lying on its side, thanks to two sets of rubber feet installed to the closed-back cabinet.

Carvin MB10 colour options

Black vinyl is the MB10’s standard livrée, but if you feel more flamboyant you could also get your small Carvin in, say, fake snake hide for a small surcharge (40 €).


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel – large

Small it may be, but Carvin’s BX 250 MicroBass amplifier comes fully equipped:

Carvin’s preamp section runs in Class A with satisfyingly low levels of hiss. Adding more Drive to proceedings will fatten up your tone and add a little bit of grind, but you shouldn’t really expect any Metal-style distortion from this combo.

The Contour-knob allows you to apply a loudness-type pre-EQ curve to your signal, which will boost both the bass and treble frequencies, while attenuating the mid-range slightly. Contour works nicely in cleaning up a crowded mid-range, as well as adding a bit of punch to your overall sound.

The EQ-department on the MicroBass is very well equipped, too. In addition to the shelving Bass and Treble filters Carvin has added a lot of flexibility in the guise of two semi-parametric mid-frequency filters. There’s ample boost and cut on tap to satisfy any bass player.

The amp also includes a nifty bass-optimised one-knob compressor. A red light in the middle of the amp’s blue jewel light gives you nice visual clues about the amounts of compression applied to your signal. Carvin’s compressor works in a very musical fashion, and it helps the player to get the most out of this little bass combo. Even small amounts of compression will go a long way in helping to clean up the MB10’s output, helping you to get even more volume out of the Carvin.

Using only the built-in speakers, the MicroBass’ Class D power amp will dish out 200 watts of power, adding a compatible extension cab will give you 50 watts more.

In addition to the speaker output, there’s also a headphone output that doubles as a tuner out, and a balanced DI-output (XLR). The output levels for the headphone and DI-output are controlled by the DI Level knob. Using the Pre/Post switch you can decide, whether to send the input signal directly to the output, or whether you’d prefer to use the preamp signal, complete with compression and EQ.

Lovers of warm vintage sounds will be pleased to hear that you can dim the Carvin’s tweeter, using a mini-switch.

Because writing about sound always seems somewhat futile, I’ve prepared different audio clips to give you an idea of the Carvin MicroBass MB10’s versatility. All clips have been recorded with a microphone:

Jazz Bass – EQ-controls in neutral

Jazz Bass – light bass boost, Tweeter-switch set to Dim

Jazz Bass – played with a plectrum, a little bit of Contour added

Jazz Bass – slapped, Contour set to 12 o’clock

Höfner 500/1 – plectrum, Tweeter set to Dim

Rickenbacker 4003

Rickenbacker – plectrum


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view 2

If you’re holding down the bass in a loud-as-f*ck Metal band, or if your usual gigs include 20,000-seater stadiums, Carvin’s little combo probably isn’t the right choice for you. The MicroBass MB10 is a loud amp – for its size – but it can only go so far…

But: The Carvin MicroBass MB 10 is a fantastic choice for the majority of us bassists, who play in small clubs, in restaurants or in pubs. In venues such as these the Carvin will be just the ticket, its tiny footprint and big sound making it a gig machine. The recording studio is also a place where a high-powered bass stack can be counterproductive, due to issues such as audible bleeding into drum mics, making a high-quality, moderate-power combo, such as the MicroBass MB10, a great choice. I’d also reckon that this little Carvin will find a place in the hearts of many Unplugged-, Folk- and (acoustic) Jazz-players.


Carvin MicroBass MB10

577 €

Finnish distributor: Musiikki Silfverberg

Thanks to Vantaan Musiikki for the loan of the review combo!



+ compact size

+ lightweight

+ versatile

+ easy-to-use compressor

+ sound

Testipenkissä: Blackstar ID:Core BEAM

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – front

Vuoden alussa NAMM-messuilla esitelty Blackstar ID:Core BEAM (299 €) kuuluu uuteen, nopeasti kasvavaan vahvistinkategoriaan:

Se on niin kutsuttu ”lifestyle amp”, joka on samalla sekä hyödyllinen pikkukombo harjoitteluun että kitaristin imagoon sopiva Bluetooth-vahvistin musiikin kuuntelua varten.


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – angle right

Blackstar ID:Core BEAM on aito ID:Core-kombo mikä tarkoittaa, että sen kaikkiin parametreihin pääsee käsiksi Blackstarin oman Insider-softan kautta.

Uutuuskombo on stereofoninen, ja sen 20 watin tehoa pusketaan ulos kahdesta kolmen tuuman kaiuttimista. Isoista ID:Coreista tuttu Super Wide Stereo -efekti toimii BEAM-kombossa myös musiikin kuuntelussa, ja sen vaikutusta voi säätää erikseen.

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – back

ID:Core BEAM:n takaseinästä löytyy sähköliittimen lisäksi jakki jalkakytkimelle (maksullinen lisävaruste). Kaikki muut liittimet on sijoitettu isolle etupaneelille.

Blackstar ID_Core Beam – control panel

BEAM:n isot sisarukset ovat jo todella hyvin varustettuja, mutta pikkukombo panee ominaisuutensa runsaudella vielä selvästi paremmaksi:

Vahvistinmallinnuksia löytyy tässä peräti 12 kappaletta. Ensimmäinen satsi (Voice-ledi palaa punaisena) on varattu kuudelle eri sähkökitarakanavalle, kun taas toisesta satsista (vihreä ledi) löytyy kaksi vahvistintyyppiä akustiselle kitaralle, kaksi akustisen kitaran mallinnusta, sekä kaksi ohjelmaa sähköbassolle.

Vahvistinosasto tarjoaa kolme fyysistä säädintä soundien muokkaamiseksi – gainin ja volumen lisäksi löytyy vielä Blackstarin patentoima, yleissoundiin vaikuttava ISF-toiminto. Insider-softalla pääsee säätämään sitten tarkemmin muitakin parametrejä, kuten EQ:t tai kohinaporttia.

Efektiosasto tarjoaa neljä modulaatioefektiä, neljä viivetyyppiä, sekä neljä eri kaikua. Bassovahvistimien kanssa on kaiun sijaan lisätty bassosärö. Jokaisesta efektityypistä voi valita yhden per vahvistinmalli, siis samanaikaisesti voidaan käyttää korkeintaan kolmea efektiä.

Pikkukombossa on myös kätevä sisäinen viritysmittari.

Bluetooth:n kautta vastaanotettu audiosignaali ei luonnollisesti kulje mallinnusosion läpi, vaan se lisätään ID:Core BEAM -kombon signaalitielle vasta kitaravahvistimen jälkeen. Bluetooth-musiikin kanssa voi tietysti soittaa mukaan!

USB-liitintä ei käytetä ainoastaan Insider-softan pyörittämiseen, vaan tämä lifestyle-kombo on myös täysverinen usb-äänikortti. BEAM:lla on kolme eri USB Audio -moodia – vahvistin pystyy lähettämään joko stereofonista kitarasignaalia efekteillä höystettynä sekvensserille tai kaksi monosignaalia, joista yksi on kuiva tulosignaali ja toinen koko mallinnuksen läpi käynyt monosignaali. Näiden kahden lisäksi on tarjolla vielä erittäin kätevä Reamping-tila, jossa sekvensseristä lähetetty prosessoimaton kitararaita viedään ID:Core-kombon läpi ja mallinnettu signaali äänitetään toiseen sekvensseriraitaan.

USB-signaalitasoa pystyy säätämään itsenäisesti ja riippumatta kombon masterista, minkä ansiosta usb:n kautta lähetetyn voimakkuuden saa aina omalle äänityssoftalle sopivaksi.


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – front angle

Kyllä, nyt täytyy sanoa, että Blackstarin uusi lifestyle-kombo on täysosuma!

Musiikin kuuntelussa on havaittavissa pikkusen kohinaa, mutta se ei nouse lainkaan häiritsevästi esiin. ID:Core BEAM ei ole tarkoitettukaan studiomonoriksi, vaan kirjahyllyn musiikkikeskukseksi, ja se asia on kombolla suveräänisti hallussa. Musiikki kuulostaa yllättävän täyteläiseltä, ja myös sitä volyymin määrää on tarjolla kiitettävän runsaasti.

Myös kitara- ja bassosoundien osilta Blackstar-uutuus ei jätä mielestäni toivomiseen varaa!

Kitarasoundit soivat erittäin hyvin, ja myös BEAM:n efektitarjonta on varsin maukas:

Akustisen kitaran mallintaminen onnistuu pikkukombolla yllättävän hyvin:

Vaikka tämä Blackstar-uutuus on hyvin kompakti tapaus, jopa BEAM-kombon bassosoundit kuulostavat mukavan meheviltä:


Blackstar ID_Core Beam – angle left

Blackstar ID:Core BEAM yhdistää erittäin onnistuneesti mallintavan harjoituskombon kitaralle (ja bassolle), usb-äänikortin, sekä tehokkaan Bluetooth-kaiuttimen. Ainakin omasta mielestäni tämä uutuuskombo sopii todella hyvin – olohuonekäytön ohella – myös opetusvahvistimeksi.


Blackstar ID:Core BEAM

299 €

Lisätiedot: Musamaailma



+ toimiva konsepti

+ hinta-laatu-suhde

+ hyvin varusteltu, ohjelmoitava kitara- ja basso-osasto

+ säädettävä Super Wide Stereo -toiminto

+ USB-äänikortti

+ täyteläinen soundi


– voimakas kohinaportti bassosärön tehdasasetuksissa

Pidä blogia WordPress.comissa.

Ylös ↑