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The St. James heads and combos are highly versatile amplifiers suited to a wide range of playing styles and situations.
Channel I, all models: The valve/tube gain structure and voicing of this channel has been inspired by classic American amplifiers of the mid ’60s (Fender ‘black-face’). It is very clean and bright but with a solid low-end and controlled mids. Also, on this channel the valve/tube power stage is set to be tight and relatively clean and linear across the frequency range.
Channel II is different depending on the specific model:
The EL34 models use a ‘classic’ valve/tube preamp topology for Channel II which is based on a much loved British ‘class A’ amplifier of the early ’60s (Vox AC-30 Top Boost). This is a low to medium gain preamp that can be used clean, warm or mildly overdriven.
With no jack applied to the INPUT the amplifier will automatically be switched to a safe, low power consumption, silent mode.
2. VOLUME I
This controls the volume of Channel I. At extreme clockwise settings the preamplifier will start to overdrive slightly. It has a natural variable ‘bright’ response designed in.
3. CH. II SELECT
This switch selects between the two preamp channels as well as adjusts the response of the valve/tube power amp.
Switching to CH. II will turn the LED on and activate Channel II.
Channel II on EL34 models use an early ’60s British style valve/tube preamp gain structure and sets the power amp to be loose and resonant.
4. GAIN II
This controls the gain of Channel II and the amount of overdrive or distortion. Lower settings will clean up and respond well to the player’s dynamics and guitar volume setting.
5. BOOST / VOICE switch
This switch selects between the two voices of Channel II.
On EL34 models this switches in a clean 10dB boost at the input stage which pushes the valve/tube preamp into overdrive.
On ‘6L6’ models this increases the gain into the valve/tube overdrive section pushing the saturation available from the GAIN II control even further.
When the footswitch is connected then this switch is bypassed but the LED will still indicate the VOICE status.
6. VOLUME II
This control adjusts the overall volume of Channel II and balance against Channel I.
Differences in EQ ‘tone stacks’ on each channel and each model:
This adjusts the reverb level on both channels. However, the actual reverb type is different on each channel.
11. POWER switch
This 3-way miniature toggle switch allows the user to switch between three very different power output settings:
50W - This is the full power setting which will give the loudest clean headroom. This is likely to be used for live, stage use.
SAG - This includes a power supply ‘sag’ which is a form of dynamic compression that will be most noticeable on loud transients (attack). The overall headroom will be lower than the 50W setting and the ‘feel’ will be softer and more ‘vintage’. Needs to be experienced to full appreciate it.
2W - This is the low power setting and as suggested reduces the output power way down to around 2 Watts.
This controls the overall volume of the amplifier through all the following outputs: SPEAKER OUTPUTS (also dependent on the POWER switch setting (point 11). D.I. OUTPUT XLR LINE OUT/ PHONES jack USB AUDIO output
13. STBY switch
This large toggle ‘Standby’ switch selects between two different modes:
Position ‘0’ electronically disconnects the main SPEAKER OUTPUTS. It re-routes the output of the valve/tube power amp signal to the INTERNAL REACTIVE LOAD.
14. POWER switch
When switched on, the front ‘BLACKSTAR’ logo will light up.
1. MAINS INPUT
Unusually for valve/tube amplifiers, the St. James products are designed with a ‘universal input power supply’. This means that the mains input range is rated at 100Vac to 240Vac and capable of operating at 50Hz and 60Hz. (We actually test them beyond these rated limits.)
2. SPEAKER OUPUTS
Unlike many other valve/tube amps, these have clever sensing and switching which means that they can be used without being connected to a speaker load.
3. CAB RIG EMULATED OUTPUT - MONO BALANCED XLR D.I. OUTPUT socket
This output is for using an industry standard 3 pin XLR cable for connection to a recording device, stage box or mixing desk.
4. CAB RIG EMULATED OUTPUT - STEREO JACK LINE OUT / PHONES socket
This 1⁄4" TRS jack socket provides a stereo connection to connect to a recording device or mixing desk.
5. CAB RIG switch
This allows the user to switch between the three currently stored CAB RIG settings.
Almost unlimited further options and permutations are controlled and set in the CAB RIG software app.
6. EFFECTS LOOP RETURN socket
7. EFFECTS LOOP SEND socket
8. EFFECTS LOOP LEVEL switch
The LEVEL switch sets the effects loop to either +4dBu or -10dBV, which enables the user to use it with either professional audio equipment (+4dBu) or with guitar level effects such as effects pedals (-10dBV).
The supplied 2-way footswitch can be connected here. The footswitch will enable the selection between Channel I and Channel II and also select between the two VOICE settings of Channel II.
10. USB AUDIO socket
This B-type USB socket is for the connection to a computer via a suitable lead (not supplied).