I am a HUGE fan of pretty much anything modular. The technology behind the modular tube guitar preamp was originally developed by amp designer Bruce Egnater, and then licensed to Randall amps for a time. When that license wasn’t renewed, Synergy amps took over the concept and has taken the technology and moved forward with it in a pretty exciting and cool new way.
About 7 or so years ago, I had a full rack system centered around the Randall version of the modular preamp system, and it was pretty cool. But the shortcoming of the Randall and Egnater versions was that they had to use either their own original amp designs or generic clones of other brands. This meant that if you wanted authentic tones of those other amps, you had to send your modules out to these tinkerer guys on the internet who would modify them to the right specs, which was expensive and time-consuming.
The advantage that Synergy has is that they have been working directly with the companies who have the amp designs you want to develop officially licensed versions of the real deal for their line. For example, their HBE module isn’t some half-assed clone of a Friedman HBE, it’s actually designed and approved by Friedman, as you can see by the logo.
This is a huge step forward for a technology that isn’t exactly new, but also isn’t that old. It’s a VERY refreshed presentation with some new sounds available, and they’re only going to be adding more as time goes on. I focused on high gain modules for this review, but they also make a number of mid gain and clean modules as well. I demo’d the Diezel VH4, Soldano SLO, Friedman HBE and Synergy 800 (a Marshall JCM800 clone, I guess Marshall didn’t want in on the wave?) modules.
So let’s take a look at what exactly we’re dealing with here: it’s a 50 watt head, with 2 slots for modules, Density and Presence controls for the power amp section, and a master volume. On the back we have an effects loop, an XLR balanced direct output with an optional cab sim sound, two speaker outs that can be set to 4, 8, or 16 ohms depending on your cab, and then a MIDI in and thru with some dip switches to set different things you can change via MIDI.
Each module has 2 channels that you can switch between with the included 4 button footswitch or via MIDI, with independent gain and volume controls, and some modules, like the VH4, have independent EQ controls for each channel. The modules are also hot-swappable, which means you can switch them out without turning the amp off or even putting it on standby.
This means you can set up two basic sounds per module, for a total of 4 distinct tones, and with MIDI integration and some kind of effects processor, you can open up a world of sounds with a single amp, which I’ll be showing you how to do in a later video.
The Synergy amps SYN-50 is a killer way to get a harem of legendary tube amps for a fraction of the price without going digital. It’s got a ton of flexibility with genuine tones from heavy hitters of the amp world, with more to come.
Thanks so much for watching guys, Patreon subscribers this week get access to the raw mix tracks for the demo song as well as a download of the track, behind the scenes videos and other exclusives that you can check out right here. If you haven’t already, mash that subscribe button and smack the bell for more reviews and original content, and I’ll see you real soon.