A powerful personal PA for acoustic instruments.
by Teja Gerken
June 22, 2017
L.R. Baggs is well-known as a manufacturer of pickups and preamps for acoustic instruments, and now the company is completing the signal chain by introducing a personal PA system, the Synapse, which combines a powered speaker with a two-channel mixer, digital reverb, and 500 watts of class-D power. We recently had a chance to check out a Synapse in the Peghead Nation video studio.
About as big as a medium-size guitar amp and weighing a manageable 38 pounds, the Synapse is designed to suit the needs of acoustic performers in a variety of venues, from small indoor spaces to larger halls and outdoor settings. The unit is designed around a complex horn arrangement placed in front of a compression woofer and tweeter, giving it 180 degrees of full-frequency sound dispersion. This means that a single Synapse could easily fill a large room or small hall. A speaker stand mount allows you to raise the unit off the floor, further helping distribute the sound evenly. The Synapse’s mixer includes two identical channels with combined XLR/¼-inch inputs, three-band EQ, and controls for gain and reverb. Small push-buttons are used to activate phase-reversal, mute, pad, and 48 volts of phantom power. The unit’s digital reverb was specially designed by L.R. Baggs’ engineers, who included a clever push-button for selecting long, medium, or short reverb times. The Synapse’s controls are completed by a master volume, an auxiliary channel with ¼-inch and mini-jack inputs and volume control, and XLR inputs, labeled “Mix In” and “Mix Out.” These XLR connections can either be used to daisy-chain multiple Synapses, send a signal to a larger PA, or connect a larger mixing board.
We checked the Synapse out in the Peghead Nation video studio using a Lowden O-10 guitar with an L.R. Baggs Anthem SL pickup system, as well as a Mario DeSio baritone with an L.R. Baggs M80 pickup. We ran both instruments through an L.R. Baggs Session DI and used an XLR cable to connect the Session DI to the Synapse. In addition, I used the unit at a solo guitar gig in a 100-seat auditorium. In both settings, the Synapse impressed with its full and natural sound reproduction, and the low-tuned baritone guitar posed no challenge to the unit’s ability to reproduce low-end frequencies. In the auditorium, the Synapse didn’t sound like a typical single-source speaker, but filled the room with a consistent volume level and tone no matter where the listener was seated.
Musicians looking for an amplification solution somewhere between an acoustic amp and a full PA should definitely check out the Synapse. With its great sound, intuitive operation, and ease of transportation, the Baggs Synapse will surely become a favorite of acoustic performers.
SPECS: Personal PA system. 500 Watts of Class-D power. 65Hz–18kHz frequency response. All-horn design with compression woofer and tweeter. 180-degree full-range sound dispersion. Two channel mixer with XLR/¼-inch inputs, three-band EQ, gain, and reverb controls. Push-buttons for phase-reversal, mute, 20 dB pad, and 48-volt phantom power. Digital reverb. Auxiliary channel with ¼-inch and mini-jack inputs and volume control. Master volume. XLR Mix Out and Mix In connections. 100–240 volt operation. 38 lbs. 15.25 x 21.75 x 24 inches. Designed in USA, assembled in China. $1,999. lrbaggs.com
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