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This article was originally published in issue #44
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Cast your minds back to issue 34, when we introduced you to Laney’s newcomer, its Nexus range, notably the Nexus SL head and matching cabinets. I’m going to be quoting that review but that doesn’t mean the latest addition to the range is any less important or just ‘more of the same’. The SLS has the same functionality in a smaller package – and it really is something quite unique!
The Nexus SLS itself is a brand new head from Laney. It’s a downsized version of the Nexus SL and it is designed for those who want to travel clever; to be on the move and drop the head in a small carry case with a bass over the shoulder. This would mean ease of transportation especially for those having to use public transport to gigs or who are flying.
What this innovative manufacturer has done now has been to use this same head in a combo version, resulting in the SLS212, which is a meaty 500 Watt package, featuring all of the cool options that the SL brings in a highly compact form.
Across the front panel are controls for gain level, semi-parametric EQ and master level. There is a preset compressor that is accessible with a pull switch on the gain knob. There is no separate threshold knob for this, but the default setting is musical and usable. Above the equaliser controls are three 'fast access' effects knobs giving you either a mix of chorus or reverb effects via the 'space' knob. Advancing said knob from a centre position in either direction will add intensity to each effect; chorus one way, reverb the other. Similarly a 'dual effect' control next to that marked 'interval' offers a cool octave below effect counter-clockwise and a fifth above effect clockwise. Finally, paired with this control is the focus parameter. This control adds top end clarity to the effect, best heard with the +5 setting, or reducing the level helps to get the wet effect to sit more smoothly with the direct bass tone.
Moving across, the SLS has a master volume control with a pull mute switch – muting of the bass signal being available under foot too. To the right, two featured controls are: “Tilt” – a sort of see-saw EQ that when turned to the left boosts low end and cuts top end or advancing to the right boosts top end and cuts low end - a great way to tailor your sound to a room or mix without messing with your more subtle settings on the main EQ! Next comes “Touch”, a way of adjusting the way that the valve per-amplifier reacts to touch sensitivity. Although subtle, and in our case actual hard to hear differences, the manual suggests turning the control clockwise makes the sound more open and anti-clockwise 'tighter and faster'.
I should add at this point that there is a tube (aka valve) in the front end – an ECC83 - while providing the muscle and volume in this surprisingly light weight package is a single 500W D Class module. Full power into a 4 Ohm load and you have the option of connecting an external cabinet too for extra air moving capacity!
Away from the stage, you can run the SLS212 as a recording interface, providing you with input and output connections to your computer based recording system via a USB connection, which Laney calls its T-USB. This alone could take some time to explore and explain, but suffice it to say that it means this combo could very easily become the access point to your DAW-based home/project studio. But it doesn't even end there!
All the connections you need, including a configurable D.I., serial effects loop, headphone output and auxiliary input, are provided around the back but it's important to understand how flexible the SLS really is as these connections do more than just provide simple in and outputs. The SLS is capable of 're-amping', a method of recording that allows you to track both the sound of your dry bass and that of the 'wet' signal path output with all that lovely valve tone, EQ and effects on. Later, if it is decided that you delivered a flawless performance in your recording, but the EQ on the SLS was set incorrectly, then the dry signal can be fed back through the SLS from your DAW, tweaked and re-recorded in real time – even without you being present since your original instrument performance will have been preserved!
As you can see, this new Laney is an amazingly comprehensive piece of gear but what makes it so remarkable is that it has been incorporated into a sturdy cabinet along with a 12” neodymium woofer and 1” tweeter.
As you would expect, the sound quality is great. It's loud and it's powerful but to hear it at its full potential you need to hook it up to a bigger cabinet – and Laney has plenty on offer. That's not to downplay the sound of the combo version, which does as good a job as you could expect from its size, it's more to say that in this one package you have a hugely versatile amp that could go with you from the studio to really quite big venues and handle them all. So long as you had a bigger cab to plug it into when you wanted to tackle the biggest venues.
Laney has shoe-horned more features than you thought you needed (and probably thought possible) into the SLS112. It may look daunting at first, considering the wide range of connection possibilities around the back and feature rich front panel. In fact, it could scare a technophobe on first looks, but honestly, it’s really easy to use.
For the player who wants the maximum flexibility from a single small amp he or she can use for all purposes, especially DAW based recording, there's nothing out there that can really challenge this one.