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Author Topic: NMD - Synergy 800  (Read 576 times)

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Zilthy

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NMD - Synergy 800
« on: Time Format »

So I have had this Syn-30 head and Soldano SLO module for over a year now and I love it.  I fire it up to play through it more often than any amp I have had in a long time, and I am fairly certain I am getting the best live and recorded tone I have ever had.  To be fair some of that is just experience and being better at playing and recording:  I think I would do a lot better now with my ADA rack or H&K TriAmp if I still had those now than I did back when I had them.  It would be more fair to say, the Synergy holds up against the best of the amps I have ever played or owned.

I had gone the modeling route for awhile, around 10 years or so.  While it was very convenient for recording, and especially for awhile when I was traveling and having to carry gear around a floor unit beats the hell out of lugging around a 4x12 and head or rack or both, I was never really happy with the sound.  Acceptable, yes.  For me, inspiring?  Not so much.  Recorded sound - I honestly cannot tell the difference modeling has gotten that good.  But, the convenience comes at a price which just plain made my teeth itch.

But, this is background for just why the Synergy 800 was my next module after the SLO. From my start in modeling with the Line 6 Pod to more recently even trying and owning Axe FX and Helix for awhile, my favorite models were:   Soldano SLO, JCM 800 and Mesa Boogie Recto.  Don't get me wrong, the Axe FX III and Helix SLO models sounded great, but my Synergy SYN-30 with SLO module just brings this absolutely chewy *feel* than I never quite got with the modelers, even in to a tube power amp  feeding a 4x12.  And there was endless tweaking with those for me too, especially when changing volumes.  Turn it up, and they would get harsh or something.   The Synergy, well, being a real tube amp, just seems to sound better as I turn it up.

So I recently got a new job and now could afford a *real* SLO.  But, I decided instead, to give this modular pre-amp system a real try first and try another module.  I am not the kind of player who thinks I need 30 different patches to do a night of cover gigs or even originals, but sometimes a little variety is nice.  And the obvious choice for me was something JCM 800 like.

Enter the Synergy 800 module which is a JCM 800 pre-amp circuit designed by Dave Friedman.

I could have gone with one of Dave's actual modules like the BE or HBE, but I really wanted the 800.   NOTE: I am sure some of Friedman's modules are going to end up in my collection someday.

After a few days, I can say the 800 does not disappoint.  It's been a year since I played through a real Marshall, and much much longer since I've played through an 800, but wow, it really captures it.  And like the SLO, it captures that feel and interaction I was missing in the modelers.  Puts a big smile on my face plugging in and even just playing a chord.

And like an 800, at least for what I am going for, it *needs* an OD or EQ boost in front to shine.  And I like that.

The intangible point is there though.  What I've dialed in on the 800 sounds similar to the SLO.  Sure, the dials look different.  The gain on the 800 is a lot higher to get same gain levels, etc.  Bass and Treble sound in similar ranges, not boomy / piercing.  Even though they have difference in tone, especially in midrange focus and bite, I doubt my brother or mother would be able to tell the difference.

But for me, it is absolutely there, as well as the feel, and inspires different nuances and playing.  I am really looking forward to doing some recording soon, using the SLO on one side and 800 on the other, and seeing what comes of that.

For today though, I am just going to step away a bit, plug in, and enjoy the inspiration.
« Last Edit: Time Format by Zilthy »
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MarshallJMP

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #1 on: Time Format »

Let us know when you have the recording done, I'm curious about that 800 module.
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Zilthy

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #2 on: Time Format »

So, looks like NMD turned in to NAD/NMW. (New amp day and new module week).   I recently got a new job and a nice little sign on bonus.   I thought about getting a SLO-100 but I didn't want to spend quite that much of the bonus on a SLO.  Also, I am liking the variety of the Synergy system.

So what I ended up doing after getting the 800 module and deciding I really liked the flexibility once I tried that out is:

SYN-50 head (so I can run 2 modules at once).   Picked up a used Plexi Module, and just ordered the new IICP module (Mesa Boogie IIC+).   That pretty much gives me the variety of every module I would want, other than an MP-1. And I am apparently not the only one who'd like that, I should start a write in campaign.  :D

Anyway, I am pretty stocked.   This is going to give me some nice amp combos to plug in and mix and match for any recordings or gigs.   Already thinking my favorite combos are going to be:

Plexi + JCM800.   Pure Marshall goodness
IIC + SLO.   Need say anymore?
800 + SLO.   Oooh, I feel good about this!  Yeah, I am a huge Mick Mars fan.  :D

Waiting on the IIC and Plexi to arrive in next couple of days between them, tonight I have been rocking the 800 and SLO in together and not disappointed at all.

I think the only other modules I could see in the future would be the Friedman ones, if I could build a combo that comes out to the Steve Stevens Friedman signature amp.  Or an ADA.  :D
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rnolan

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #3 on: Time Format »

Hey Zilthy, sounds like lots of fun  :thumb-up: .  I just looked at AUD pricing (as I didn't know these things even existed), a Syn-50 head is $3320 without any modules or speakers. And the modules are around $629 each.  So while very interesting idea, way expensive (so $4578 plus a cab ~$5500).  So they say you can control it with midi, does that just mean you can only switch between the module channels, not change settings on the modules i.e. the Syn-50 holds 2 modules so you can basically switch between 4 sounds.
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Studio Rig: MP2/MB1 > Eurorack UB2442FX-Pro > TC M-One XL > Behringer Truths (with Truth Sub) / QUAD ESL 63s
Live Rig: MP2/MB1 > Alesis Quadverb > Alesis Midiverb 4 > Yamaha AM802 > B200s/Carvin TS100/DCM200L > ADA Split Stacks/Mesa P112s

MarshallJMP

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #4 on: Time Format »

It looks like these are quite expensive in Australia, here a head goes for 1590 euro and the modules range between 380 and 400 euro depending on the module. Now this is still expenisve IMO.
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Zilthy

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #5 on: Time Format »

Yeah, way more expensive in Australia from sounds of it.   Still not 'cheap' in the US at $1599 USD new but I picked up a demo model for a decent deal at Sweetwater.

Most of the modules I have bought used for $250 USD - $300 USD range each.

As far as switching you are correct, the modules are not programable.   The head uses MIDI for switching but it's only program changes 1 - 4 OR CC changes 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60 for mute (I could be a little off but that's the idea).  You can also reassign them if you want if you want to re-arrange them.   But as far as the tones WYSIWYG.   It's where the dials are at.  And personally, I prefer that.  I am out of the programming game when it comes to amps and effects.

Back to expense:  It's really not any cheaper to start with.  But... here in the US for example, a head and a SYN-30 head and SLO module is still a good bit cheaper than a SLO-30 (about $1000 cheaper) and the SYN-50 with 2 modules will be about $200 less than the SLO-30.  Let's say I want a SLO AND a JCM 800.  Now to add the JCM800 I need at least $1k for the mini studio version or $3k and up for a full head.  But now I just add a module $400 new (or like I picked up for < $300).   And now I have in my head both the JCM800 and SLO.

Basically, unless outrageously overpriced like it is in a few places apparently, it's no more than any other good tube head.

And for me, it's perfect.  I have the 4 amps I really want that sound and even better, feel great, but don't take up a lot of room since I don't have much space.  And for the most part, the modules (most of them) really nail the vibe.  There's also a rack mount (2 module) version and a desktop top/amp top 1 module version that's pretty neat if your amp has a series effects loop - that one can actually work with your amp and just 'add 2 channels' to it when set up.   That's pretty slick.

And now for a couple of tones.  I've used the SLO in earlier recordings this year, but here's the new IICP module based off of some famous amp. (Also designed by Steve Fryette, who really, really knows those amps)

Both same riff, still working on dialing it in.  The IICP is a versatile beast, very minor changes on the EQ make a huge difference.   Though, the EQ is tiny and needs a Smurf to operate it.

https://soundcloud.com/user-485788768/iicp-tone-test/s-3Sk9buekLL8?si=e662352ebfa842bb99991a5e47716007

https://soundcloud.com/user-485788768/iicp-tone-test-ii-more-mids/s-q5UhkwFvr8u?si=4b4be061c6c54284958f7afae7a072da
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rnolan

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #6 on: Time Format »

I thought about that (amp vs module setup price) after I posted.  You are correct, to buy any one of those amps would cost the same or more. I haven't looked at amp prices for a long time as I have used MP-1 rig then MP-2 and developed my own tones ages ago.  I compared my '73 Marshall 50 with one of the 2 MP-1s I bought a while ago and the MP-1 made the Marshall seem like a toy (which it isn't).  A MP-1 synergy module would be great.  Anyway, you have piqued my interest  ;) .
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Studio Rig: MP2/MB1 > Eurorack UB2442FX-Pro > TC M-One XL > Behringer Truths (with Truth Sub) / QUAD ESL 63s
Live Rig: MP2/MB1 > Alesis Quadverb > Alesis Midiverb 4 > Yamaha AM802 > B200s/Carvin TS100/DCM200L > ADA Split Stacks/Mesa P112s

Zilthy

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #7 on: Time Format »

So, I feel like a complete idiot, getting a couple more modules and the SYN-50 did not kill the SLO itch.   I think that itch has been there too long, and finally needs to be scratched.  So I returned the SYN-50 and IICP module and ordered a Soldano SLO.

Even if I sell the SYN-30 head, I may end up keeping the Plexi module and get a SYN-1 or SYN-2 chasis to run with it.  I *really* liked how the Plexi sounded and felt.

But GAS be GAS, and that itch just wasn't going away.   It's weird, this is the first time I think I am migrating to something *not* because I think it will sound better (though I expect it will sound great).  I really love the tone I am getting.

And it all feels so stupid, I am sitting here plugged in to the SYN-30 head and SLO module, big smile on my face, enjoying the sound.   Heck, it's even made in the same place the SLO is!  Am I the only one who ever feels this way?
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rnolan

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Re: NMD - Synergy 800
« Reply #8 on: Time Format »

Am I the only one who ever feels this way? No  :facepalm: ::)
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Studio Rig: MP2/MB1 > Eurorack UB2442FX-Pro > TC M-One XL > Behringer Truths (with Truth Sub) / QUAD ESL 63s
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