Barnes and Mullins

Barnes and Mullins

Introducing the LIONHEART FOUNDRY Combo Range

“Before we dive in, let’s cut to the chase with a short disclaimer. We’ve been designing and building tube amps since 1967 and since then we’ve developed various ranges that have become cherished by rock, metal and all kinds of players. That will never change. That mission will continue and we will always have musicians needs at the heart of what we do. In short…We aren’t planning on trying to sell fridges any time soon, but we recognise that the weight and price tag of a tube amp isn’t right for every player.” LANEY

So with that in mind, we’ve recently been pondering the question…

“But what if you could distil all that raw tube tone and dynamism into affordable, portable analogue designs packed with great tones and useful features? “

Would it be possible to create combos that sound as inspiring as their tube-derived family members?

Digital Detox

To start with, we knew what we didn’t want and that was another generic black box filled with thousands of tones that are of no practical use. The problem we all face when trying use those personality-less digital boxes is that when you take them out of a home practice environment they just don’t cut through on stage. Additionally, they force us to spend way too much time squinting at screens or messing about with yet another App just to get a basic useable tone. All of that time could have been spent playing guitar and actually making music, right? We wanted to deliver something easy to use, with great tube-like tone and response along with some super practical features to help every type of player.

We needed to develop something that was – as Laney CEO, James Laney, succinctly put it – “Everything you need, nothing you don’t”.

That was the challenge laid before Laney’s engineering team with the new LIONHEART Foundry series of combos. Before we pull back the curtains on our design process here are a few more words from James, to describe them.

“The FOUNDRY Series takes the power, dynamism and response of our acclaimed tube amp ranges and forges them into creative, affordable, high-quality analogue amplifiers that are practical, feature-laden, portable and a lot of fun! Following the huge success of our award-winning IRONHEART FOUNDRY amps, we worked hard to develop a range of LIONHEART FOUNDRY Guitar combos. We’ve delivered three 60-Watt all analogue amplifiers, that have mapped the topology of the all tube-circuitry of our much-loved LIONHEART tube amp range and packed them full of additional no-nonsense features, like built-in modulation effects and powerful output options. The SUPER60s feature LAIR -Laney Advance Impulse Response technology – that uses 56 bit FIR filters to provide stunning cabinet emulation. These beautiful 1×12 and 4×12 IRs are derived from our legendary Laney GS112 and GS412 cabinets, captured in house by our UK design team. All three amps feature tailor-made drivers, designed and engineered by HH Audio to deliver the pristine cleans, tubey drive tones and seriously hot lead tones that these twin channel combos produce. These captivating combos are perfect for home practice, studio sessions, rehearsals and live performance and to top it all off -just like their tube-driven cousins – they look classy too.”  – James Laney.

So here’s a peek behind the scenes to learn about the design, development, and real-world testing that went into forging these unique all-analogue solid-state offerings.

Mapping the Lionheart Tone

“The starting point was mapping the complete all-tube topology of our award-winning LIONHEART range into these analogue amp designs,” explains Laney design engineer James Morrell. “It’s not just about mimicking specific tones like some of the modeller amp products out there, but replicating the truly dynamic interactive feel and touch sensitivity that makes a great tube amp so expressive and addictive to play.”

The critical sections like the tone stack, EQ circuits, and gain stage were faithfully converted using discrete analogue components precisely tuned to match the response characteristics.

“We used several geeky methods to map the LIONHEARTs natural compression and harmonics and the feel of real tubes being overdriven,” adds Morrell – being all secretive about the specifics.

The Power to Cut Through

While designing the preamp for feel was paramount, just as crucial was achieving powerful, full-ranged tone from power section. “We settled on a potent 60-watt output because it gives you ample clean headroom, everyone loves the clean tones of the tube LIONHEARTs so we wanted to preserve that, whilst adding the potential for very hot lead tones too” says product manager, Simon Fraser-Clark. “60 watts gives you plenty of power to gig with too”.

The power and speaker sections use meticulously crafted driver and output topologies to avoid harsh clipping or compression when cranked. “We worked closely with the speaker gurus at HH Audio to design custom drivers that could authentically translate the expressive nuances and harmonic complexity coming from the amps, just like a finely balanced tube amp into a quality cab would.”

Ready to Record and Perform

The LF60-112’s FX loop also doubles as a cabinet emulated line out for recording and on the two Super60 models, we employed our cutting-edge LA⋅IR impulse response technology to nail both a 1×12 and 4×12 cabinets. These bespoke Built-In IRs allow you to send the perfect cabinet output option direct to the PA without the need to mic, all via the XLR DI OUT.  This makes it an ideal recording amp too, of course.

“Our team literally wheeled a Laney GS412 into the lab and captured it in our state-of-the-art IR rig,” explains Simon. “We used remarkably high resolution 56-bit FIR filters to ensure all the complex dynamics, low-end punch, and chiselled highs translated with zero compromises.” While the IR modelling provides stunning authentic tones, Simon emphasises they are not solely dependent on it. “The amp circuitry itself captures the core voicing and signature of those all-tube Lionhearts. The IRs just enhance the tangible realism and three-dimensionality you’d expect from a great cab”.

Boosting the LIONHEART

For the first time ever in a LIONHEART amp, the Foundry Series features a built-in, footswitchable BOOST. This provides almost a 3rd channel, allowing you to push a clean tone into slight overdrive, or an overdriven tone into a searing lead.

Magical Modulation

We love effects here at Laney and in recent years we’ve been busy creating some cool pedals like our SECRET PATH reverb – from which the spring algorithm was duly stolen and used in the LIONHEART Foundry combos – and our gorgeous triple-mode chorus, the SPIRAL ARRAY. It made sense to incorporate some effects into this new range which now comes equipped with some beautiful and very practical fx. Over to Simon for the low down.

“We obviously chose our Steelpark boost and Secret Path reverb to match the whole LIONHEART FOUNDRY range. Additionally, when it came to designing the effects compliment for the SUPER60’s it was a case of deciding what type of effects typically suited the LIONHEART FOUNDRYS sound and vibe.  MODULATION was top of the list.  MODULATION is such an evocative sound, and we knew that the “vintage analogue” chorus from the BCC-SPIRAL ARRAY would suit the character of the amp down to the ground.  The warmth and character of the vintage chorus really shines through – set the rate and depth to approx. 12 o’clock and you have the classic warm chewy chorus sound whilst adjust the rate and depth independently lets you dial in some intriguing variations – ranging from swooping flanging to Hammond organ style warbles. Tremolo was the other effect we picked to include in the SUPER60’s.  Tremolo is an often overlooked but super creative effect – the rhythmic pulse of the effect when used correctly creates a super inspirational sound.  For the player we have put everything you need at your fingertips, everything from a slow mesmerising pulse to blink of an eye stutter effects.”

Real-World Torture Testing

Before production, the Foundry amps went through Laney’s merciless torture testing regimen by Simon (our resident tone-wizard). “We have rigs specifically mocked up to push these amps to their limits across every usage scenario – home practice, direct recording, gigging through massive cab rigs, you name it.”

Simon used all types of guitars, pedals, and instruments to evaluate the amps’ response and feel. “You can instantly hear it when a solid-state design has even the slightest bit of harshness or unnatural clipping when you really dig in. These amps just breathe and comp like a well-rounded tube amp, no matter what you throw at them.”

Special attention was also paid to the built-in modulation effects “We went through exhaustive iterations with the engineers to ensure the effects integrated seamlessly with the core tones rather than sounding tacked on,” Simon adds.

Finally, we asked LIONHEART fan and guitar legend, Tom Quayle to take a listen too, to be certain we had nailed the LIONHEART’s ability to deliver a full range of dynamics.

Practicality Meets Musicality

While capturing inspiring tones was the core objective, the Foundry amps also pack a raft of practical features. They are lightweight but rock solid in construction to stand up to abuse at gigs, they have power attenuation to rein in the 60 watts down 1 watt for home practice and the Super60s boast XLR outputs for recording or front of house duties

“These amps need to be able to handle gigs, but also rehearsals and recording and practice scenarios just as easily,” remarks Simon “We also wanted to build in maximum flexibility and capture world-class Laney tone, while avoiding the hassles and maintenance of a tube amp.”

For Simon and all of us here at Laney, the Foundry amps represent the culmination of capturing the magic that makes our tube amps so revered while providing modern utility and affordability ideal for today’s players. In his Simon’s view, “These amps essentially let you forge the primal rock tones and feel that made Laney legendary into practical designs that just work incredibly well for creative players in any scenario. As James put it – they are everything you need and nothing you don’t”

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