Price paid: £ 299
Purchased from: Andertons
Sound — 9
Our bassist tends to use passive pickups but we have one active bass that suits certain styles better. The Nexus handles them both well but it does require some tweaking when you mess with the input stage. The amp is amazingly quiet. There's a fan that accelerates depending on the heat generation but even at full blast it's barely noticeable. As it is mostly a MOSFET powered amp it is very clean and quiet, though the tube stage can add a lot of dirt. It doesn't hiss or growl even at the higher gains - though we still use a noise gate on it as we have some gain pedals running through it. As a FET amp, with 650 watts you can turn it up to full (only tried once though as I value my hearing) and it will not distort at all. The tube pathway will distort after about 4, though it just adds a touch of warmth before that. It can get quite brutal if you turn the tube up - like an Ampeg pushed to grind, but as it's still a FET powerstage there isn't the same grunt or dynamics as a full tube amp - but we mainly use pedals if we need insane distortion levels. The compressor and various EQ stages mean this isn't a one-trick pony - you can twist it to pretty much any style you like. It's very open and everything is laid out on the 24 front controls, so you can see what's on, what's off and what level everything is.
Overall Impression — 10
Initially we were looking at various modern rack amps - even considering modelling amps - with the bass a classic tube sound was less of a requirement given our band sound, and the digital options seemed okay. But the NEXUS FET came up cheap, it had a lot more EQ and tone options, it was a lot more powerful and all the other reviews I managed to find suggested it was built like a tank and could pretty much adapt to any tone you like. So that was the selling point. Obviously it doesn't do modelling tones - but it can be tweaked so much it can sound pretty much like any sort of amp you need, especially if you use outboard and pedal fx. Our bassist loves it - she likes the two different pathways that you can blend in and out, the fact that you can switch both pathways off and have a hard mute on the output that doesn't affect the tuning output. There are red LEDs on all the controls including the graphic equaliser stalks so you can see where everything is and it's Status even on a darker stage. The sound is enormous and powerful but can stay perfectly clean at high volume if needed. Everything on it from the grill to the switches to the control knobs, to the footswitch are made of tough metal, so nothing is likely to break (even the LED switches are metal bearings so they don't get smashed, even the volume control is a giant steel rotary knob - there's hardly any plastic anywhere!) We've never really tried any Laney equipment before but this is definitely made to tour and tour hard. The best feature is probably the sheer number of EQ options - and the fact that you can switch them in and out with the footswitch. We'd probably still choose the NEXUS FET over the NEXUS TUBE - although the tube can probably sound incredible, I doubt it can manage the same high headroom, clean but booming sounds from a FET 650w and the tube pathway still let's you get sufficient warmth and dirt as required. Perhaps the only downsides are 1. The weight - if you are carrying it around a lot, it's not easy for everyone, especially as you need to bring a big cab or two along to sit with it and 2. The FET and TUBE pathways combine but they sum the volume of each stage, so you can't switch like on a channel amp, you'd have to switch one on and the other off, or you get a combined volume boost. This is the only slightly tricky thing, our bassist mentioned - as if she wants to go from clean FET to grinding TUBE, she has to switch one on and then the other off and inbetween there is either silence (both off) or multi-decibel blast of volume! I suppose that's a small price to pay for the versatility. If I could mod it I'd possibly have an A/B option between the pathways as well as independent summed channels - but it's a tiny concern when the amp has so many great options on it. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 10
The NEXUS also comes as a full tube amp. I'm sure that's got an awesome sound, but I don't think I'd like to tour with something that has 12 tubes in it and this FET powered version is a lot more solid and dependable. The whole thing is loaded into a solid wooden and metal chassis - with a terminator style grille on the front. If you open it up you'll find the biggest power generators and heat shield you've ever seen. It looks more like a muscle car engine block than an amp. It's very heavy - which is a downpoint for some - but it has the handles built into the chassis so it never feels like you're pulling at something that could break. It's even tougher built than my Engl amps so it's very trustworthy. We've never had it go down since being bought from second hand. We've replaced the tubes before a tour, but they hadn't blown, it was just a precaution. It certainly puts a lot of the rackmount bass heads to shame. Even the footswitch is folded plate steel so it's roadie proof.
Features — 9
This is a 2010 made Nexus FET amp. I bought this for my bass player after her Ashdown proved to be a bit weak at larger shows we started to get. We play in an electronic rock band and there's a lot of bass-heavy songs and bass effects, so we wanted something that was powerful, had a lot of headroom for clean or fx tones, but could also get very punchy. It didn't really need a classic rock tube tone, but that would be welcome if it didn't override the clean power. The Nexus FET comes with two pathways - a pure FET stage and a tube stage powered by 1 x 12AX7 and 1 x 12B7 tubes. I say pathways rather than channels as you can activate both at the same time, and have settings for both including independent drive, inputs and volumes. It has a built in compressor, fx loop, multiple speaker outs, tuner out, DI out, ground lift and a serious array of EQ stages. These are all controllable from the footpedal. You can activate the FET pathway which is very clean, modern and doesn't really overdrive even at high volumes and/or the tube pathway which adds a warm, tube overdrive sound - this goes from a slight touch of warmth, through dirt and up to something close to a distorted Ampeg level. It's not quite a bass distortion but it could do the trick if you didn't want to use pedals. It's EQ stages are complex - there's the usual treble/bass boost at the input stage, then there's a para-mids stage with hi and low mids (this is footswitched in or out), then there's a graphic EQ (again can be footswitched in or out), then there's an additional stage with sub bass, deep level, presence and other post gain tone shaping. These are great for setting up very distinct solo/chorus/alternative sounds - we tend to have the para-mids to scoop out the tone a bit for a very electronic/metal kind of song, and then the graphic offers a nicely boosted punchy tone when the bass needs to come forward. This is a 650 watt amp so it has more than enough power. If we ever got to playing stadiums I guess you could daisy chain a bunch of these, but other than that it drives 2 lots of 4 x 10s plus a Direct Out for the bigger stages and can still get a lot of blast from a single 4 x 10 at smaller ones. There's also a high and low gain input for active or passive basses. Basically it has more options than most people would ever need.