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This article was originally published in issue #12
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Hot on the heels of the British made powerhouse Laney Nexus Tube and NX810 cabinet reviewed in issue 11 of iGuitar, comes the mighty Laney Nexus FET head sporting 650W RMS output power from a solid state Mosfet amplifier, driving punchy bass tones fed from the similarly fully featured pre-amplifier of the Nexus Tube. Are we spoiled for choice, or what?!
The front panel layout of this FET Nexus exactly the same as the Nexus Tube and is just as much a total breeze to use, even without the manual. There are some great features on the front panel that makes this Nexus head one of the most flexible on the market in terms of tonal shaping options: Not many heads, or even separate pre-amplifiers, can boast a clean FET stage and a tube stage that can be used independently or in tandem with each otherbutalso be able to control the amount of dirt and its level in the mix with your punchy clean bass sound; usually mixing those two signals together is the reserve of multi-effects pedals or boutique bass distortion pedals.
If that wasn't enough, foot switchable via the included robust metal cased five-way pedal is the parametric equaliser section that can be punched in or out as a solo or boost channel, or used simply for tonal variation. Most manufacturers stop at just one switchable EQ section - but not Laney! A graphic equaliser for further tonal adjustment is also switchable. Yes, you can use that independently of the parametric too! Does the Laney FET actually need these to sound good though? Well, no, even with all the additional features turned off, it makes for a pleasing and clear tone with lots of headroom. The amplifier head has four 'always on' controls that set your 'base' tonal shaping. Bass and Treble shelving EQ as well as a global Presence control and my favourite 'deep' control for when you really want to shift some air - an additional 'low end bass boost', if you will. It's not as if the 650W head is going to struggle providing girth, but those of us who like a beefy low B, or in the case of my seven string, an even lower F# string, the sub control adds that all important heft! - but beware - it's not always wise to over-cook this control - especially if you are using cabinets that can't handle this sort of low end. I think the Laney NX range won't have too many problems, however, as they are well matched feature premium drivers, and have a suitable power rating to stop them frying too quickly!
Four Neodymium Celestion speakers in a ported cabinet provide punch and a balanced sound that will cut through well in pretty much any environment. Plenty of headroom on tap with these custom lightweight drivers as they are able to handle 800W RMS at 8 Ohms. In the middle of the baffle lives a compression driver tweeter that can be set for three different levels of operation. Full on, attenuated to 'half output' and off. The Off position works very well if you prefer using high gain sounds and distortion. I like a bright tone and found that the full on setting with my naturally bright sounding bass needed reigning in a little with the tone control. To be honest, I'd rather have this than not enough clarity. Those with 'warmer' sounding basses will approve of the added top end sparkle.
The NX115 cabinet features a single Neodymium Celestion woofer rated at 400 Watts RMS at 8 Ohms and a shelf port at the bottom of the baffle for extending the low frequency roll-off. The cabinet is the same width as the NX410 but not quite as tall. It's an easy lift at 20Kg, featuring heavy duty side handles as do it's bigger brothers, the NX410 and NX810.
It has to be said that both the Nexus FET and Nexus Tube heads with their wooden sleeves are mighty beasts. We are as far removed here from the dinky, lightweight heads of recent years as we are likely to get! Even without the valve technology, the Nexus FET head alone still weighs in at a monstrous 27Kg. The weight of...well, the NX410 to be exact. You can however remove both heads from their sleeves and rack mount them should you need to. This is a serious touring rig. If you are not too fussed about the size and weight of these machines and you are looking for a 'proper man's rig' then for the money, you're in for a real treat!
In terms of sounds, it's each to their own and a close race between the FET and the Tube. For me though, despite being a huge beast of a head, the Laney Nexus Tube and the NX810 cabinet really were the winning combination. I can absolutely understand why some players would prefer the Nexus FET, but personally, even though the tube version is quite a lot more expensive, I loved the real grind in the tube channel and would very much like to have used the rig at a gig to hear what it can really do! A huge full sound!
I've played a lot of Laney gear over my short music career but have to say that both the FET and Tube Nexuses (Nexi?) strike me as as being amongst the very best in UK engineering. Laney is obviously very proud of the Nexus range and the attention to detail in the specifications is stunning. Gold contacts in signal relays and gold plated circuit boards, a massive toroidal transformer and the best industry proven FET transistors on board, all go toward making the Nexus amplifiers the best they can be.
This is big hefty professional-class kit that is getting noticed by bass heavyweights the world over - it's not hard to see why.