Bass players really do get a tough run in the grand scheme of band things. Their rig is almost always the heaviest, their parts the least showy and they get the least attention from the audience, Geddy Lee notwithstanding. Truly, the keepers of the rumble deserve more affection, surely those responsible for making the lower half of the frequency spectrum full and rich deserve to have some of the heavy lifting replaced by sheer tonal satisfaction. Laney Amplification sure think so, and in response offer up one of the simplest yet most effective 500-watt combos available, the Nexus SLS112.
There are a few things that have become essential tools of the bass trade over time. Things like DI outs, EQ shaping and compression are vital to keeping the wild, wooly underworld in check. Suffice to say Laney has ticked off just about every box on this list and then some; the back plate alone houses enough exemplary items without even venturing into the extras bag. The inbuilt DI can be switched between pre, post and right at the output end of the amplification stage depending on application. There is a ground lift, Speakon connection for optional external speaker, aux in, tuner out, headphone out with attenuation dial, effects send/return with dedicated level, 5-pin remote footswitch and the piece de resistance, the option of using your amp as an interface via USB compatibility. On the top side are all the usual suspects, three-band EQ with sweepable mids, input gain that pulls up to control the compression rate, master volume and hi and lo impedance inputs. Add to this a handy sampling of effects like reverb, chorus and octave down/5th interval up and they truly have just about every base covered, pun intended.
Two things particularly impressed me about the tone shaping stage of the ECC83 tube driven preamp. First, the switch controlling four mid-range humps, incredibly handy for tempering some of the So Cal plonk in your Stingray or boosting the warmth and natural feel of active pick-ups. Centered around 100-600hz, these presets played right into the hands of the midrange dials allowing me to contour even the cheapest, knock off bass I had into a refined and charismatic sonic fingerprint. The second was the ‘Tilt’ control, a totally unique feature to Laney’s newest design. Essentially the idea here is that you pitch the entire picture of your EQ either towards the low or high end of the frequency spectrum in order to finish off what you have going on like a coat of varnish. With this I was able to dial in an incredible amount of rumble underneath what was already a mighty sounding tone.
Laney Amplification has a reputation for battle ready builds. Where other companies load up their designs with standard features they have a habit of cutting out a fair amount of fat in favour of absolutely essential ingredients necessary to define your voice. The Nexus SLS112 is packed to the gills with options; every one of them lifting their own corner of the payload and the result is a surprisingly great sounding rig in an unassuming yet powerful package.
Hits and Misses
Almost endless tonal potential via absolutely essential controls and functions