NAD: Synergy Amps

Discussion in 'The Squawk Box' started by Stuff, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Well, my Kemper buyer's remorse finally got the better of me. Got the chance to play through some Synergy modules, and couldn't leave the shop without a couple of them. Picked up the T-DLX and Metro Plex modules.

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    The main reason I'm looking for a new amp is to get Fender-style cleans. I started off by trying the B-MAN module, running via the Syn-5050 power amp into a Friedman 1x12 cab loaded with a G12M. Man, that module puts out a lot of low-end. Was too boomy for me with both a Les Paul and a Suhr Strat. Probably spent 20-30 minutes trying to dial in something a little more forgiving, but couldn't quite get there.

    I wasn't sure how much of it was the cab, so we switched to the Metropolous Metro Plex module. Fell in love instantly. Had a perfect crunch tone dialled in almost straight away, with none of the bass boom that we had with the B-MAN module. I wasn't actually looking for the Metro Plex module; I didn't know that there were any in the country. Bonus :)

    Then the guys unearthed a T-DLX module from out the back, and brought over an Xotic California Classic to try it out with. Just as with the Metro Plex, found it very easy to dial in what I was looking for. Although, man, that Xotic Strat made it so easy. It's as nice sounding, and as nice to play, as any Fender Custom Shop I've tried over the years. I wonder if they take kidneys in part-ex?

    So yeah, ended up buying both modules. T-DLX sounds like it'll solve my Fender cleans problem, and that Metro Plex was just too good to pass on. I've got a lot going on at the minute, so it'll be a couple of weeks at least before I can sit down with them and spend some serious time with them.

    I wonder how long it'll be before I pick up some of the other modules?
     
  2. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    The T-DLX is a Fender Deluxe? No reverb or Tremolo/Vibrato?

    I think these modules look very interesting. I would run them with a Fryette Power Station. What are you planning to use?
     
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  3. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    No reverb, no trem - that's correct. Just the preamp itself. A big part of the reason for going Synergy is that I need small and light, so I'm happy with that. Trem's not really my thing, and I'm happy enough with reverb from pedals.

    I'm going to run them with the Syn 50-50 power amp. It's a Fryette design. It's a nice sounding power amp, without the unmanageable weight of a Mesa Boogie 2:90.
     
  4. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    Hmmm. I'm interested in understanding. I googled a little, but someone whi actually owns is (in my opinion) a better resource.

    So this is a tube preamp, voiced to sound like legendary amps (nut'in wrong wih dat) and you go through a power amp (which can be tube or ss)?

    Do you still have your Kemper?
     
  5. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    OK, I just saw your answer to mdubya about the syn5050. I googled it; rack mounted tube amp, if I understood correctly?
     
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  6. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    Please forgive me, in my eagerness to understand, I forgot to say a big huge CONGRATS :)
     
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  7. JohnnyN

    JohnnyN Old School Premium Member

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    Appears to be a clever design, and concept behind it. Congratulations! :)
     
  8. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    It's made of three bits:
    1. tube preamps - these are two-channel modules. Some are re-creations of classic sounds - B-MAN for the Fender Bassman, T-DLX for Tweed Deluxe, Plexi and 800 for Marshall territory. Some, like the Friedman and Morgan modules, are made by the amp manufacturer themselves.
    2. the modules go into a housing, either the SYN-1 or the SYN-2. The SYN-2 is a rack-mount housing that will take two modules at once, effectively giving you a 4-channel preamp. The SYN-1 takes a single module.
    3. The SYN-50/50 is a 4x6L6 power amp, designed by Fryette. It's a 1U rack unit.
    The SYN-1 has a built-in analogue cab sim, so you can (if you want) go direct from there to an audio interface and so on. Not sure if the SYN-2 can do that too. I didn't try one of those out. So yeah, the power amp is entirely optional. I got it because I want 6L6s :)

    Yes.

    Play to its strengths, and the Kemper's a good piece of kit. It's very low-noise, and every time you switch it on you know it's going to sound consistent. Two very big plusses for me in my little home hobby studio with crappy electrics, where we snatch an evening here and there over a month or two just for a single track. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to record at home.

    The main negative for me is that it doesn't react quite the same as a real amp. It's not great if you run dirt pedals into a clean profile. It doesn't react right if you roll back tone and volume pots - and that's where I prefer to live.

    I like a lot of what the Kemper can do. I just like my pedals more :)
     
  9. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Thanks! And no worries :) I was so eager to try them in the shop that I passed up the chance to play a Murphy-aged 59 RI ...
     
  10. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    Cool. Thanks so much, Stuff.
     
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  11. JohnnyN

    JohnnyN Old School Premium Member

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    Wow :shock:
     
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  12. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Yeah, I know. I went with a 2018 Standard (which had no QA issues that I could spot, btw :) ). Wanted to use a guitar that's likely to sound like something I'm used to. In my experience, Custom Shop guitars all sound different.

    Should have asked them to let me try the 59 RI once I'd got used to the amps though :)
     
  13. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Is this something similar to the Egnater/Randall MTS? You have me intrigued - I am on my way to research!!
     
  14. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    This may be one of the most impressive setups I've ever seen.
     
  15. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    It's effectively the next version of MTS. They've designed the SYN-1 and SYN-2 to take MTS modules too. Bruce Egnator is one of the people behind Synergy Amps.

    Never used one myself, and I'm afraid I don't know anything about them.
     
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  16. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    It's (roughly) just the equivalent of running a separate DRRI and Superlead 100 amp. About the same cost too (ignoring buying cabs!). (Just realised this whole rig cost about the same as a real Metropoulos head!)

    Except it takes up a lot less space, a lot less weight (if you don't chuck it all in a single rack), I can match it with any cab of my choice - and once you've bought into the system, extra modules are cheaper than a KoT. Assuming they keep making them, it's a system that I can adapt as my tastes and needs change in the future.

    (Who am I kidding? I'm going to get more modules as soon as I can afford them, just to make sure I can get them ...)

    It's an evolution of the old Randall / Egnater MTS system. There must be a good reason why that didn't catch on first time around. Who knows ... maybe a few months down the road I'll find out the hard way ...?
     
  17. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Finally home, and got the Synergy stuff unboxed and wired up ... just to make sure it all survived the trip, of course :D

    IMG_1441.JPG

    Some initial impressions now I'm back at base.
    • It's heavier than it might look. I wouldn't want to move it around regularly if it was all in a single rack. I'm glad it's separates :)
    • The fan in the 50w power amp is loud. Annoyingly so at home volumes. I'm hoping I won't notice it as much once it's stuffed into a rack. If not, I'm assuming (from the noise) that it's a cheap and nasty PC fan that can be swapped out for something less 90s :)
    • Took a lot of fiddling to get both channels working on the power amp. I've had dual mono-block power amps before, and this works a little differently to those. In 'bridged' mode, Channel A's knobs control both channels, which wasn't clear at all in the manual. With a mono input, you can't adjust Channel A and Channel B separately to compensate for different speaker efficiencies. At this price point, that's disappointing.
    • The control layout on the power amp ... Channel A standby is right next to Channel B standby. I've already flipped Channel B into 'on' by mistake. I did have a cab plugged in for Channel B, so no harm done. But that's an accident just waiting to happen.
    • The manuals are crap. Diagrams aren't labelled, the text refers to sections that aren't in my copy, and the description of how MONO, MONO BRIDGED and STEREO works was no use at all. At this early stage, it looks like all the effort has gone into the amps themselves, which is fair enough :)
    • The T-DLX module takes drive pedals really well, especially on the red (deluxe) channel. Already dug out a couple of pedals that didn't shine through the Blackstar, and yeah ... very encouraged by how much better they sounded.
    • The Metro Plex module doesn't take drive pedals at all well. It doesn't clean up enough, and all the bottom end drops straight out once you kick in a pedal.
    • However, I don't care - because it sounds absolutely glorious on its own. Slam the frontend with a compressor or a Tumnus, and all of a sudden an hour and a half has gone by and now I'm starving :)
    Both modules sound great through the top cab in that photo, which has a G12M-65 Creamback in it. I'm going to look at how easy it is to replace the V30 in the bottom cab with an A-Type to make the most of the T-DLX module.

    The original plan was to run two modules in stereo as a completely-overkill pedal platform, which is why I've got two SYN-1 enclosures. (Now I've got the power amp and enclosures, additional modules aren't expensive). I need to go away and think about either getting another module to partner with the T-DLX, or keep the Blackstar HT-100 and use its preamp into the SYN-5050 power amp for that job (very tempting).

    Oh, and did I mention how good the Metro Plex module sounds yet? :D
     
  18. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    :applause:
    Too freakin' cool!
     
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  19. Stuff

    Stuff Senior Member

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    Spent the morning exploring the green channel on the Metro Plex. I've settled on it with the gain dialled down and the volume cranked. That seems to give the most touch-sensitive response so far.

    No two ways about it - I've utterly fallen for the Metro Plex module. It sounds musical, and there's life and character to it. I've heard the Synergy Plex module described as 'sterile' a couple of times. The Metro Plex module is anything but. If you ever decide to check out the Synergy amps for yourself, I'd be interested to hear what you think of the Metro Plex.

    The noise from the power amp's fan is already annoying me enough that I've created Kemper profiles of both channels of the Metro Plex module, and I've switched to those for just noodling through. It isn't just how loud it is. The fan noise is quite high pitched, and perfect for setting off tinnitus in us old folk.

    Putting it in a rack isn't quite as straight-forward as it should be. The power amp shouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, some of the SYN-1 controls are on the back - including the on/off switch. Once the SYN-1 is sat in a rack, it's going to be awkward to reach those controls. It's going to have to go on a shelf anyway. Might look at mounting it on a reverse-fitted drawer to work around that.
     
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  20. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    I wonder if the power unit fan is defective?
     
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