During this year’s NAMM show, Laney grabbed attention with its Ironheart Loudpedal pedal amp – the first offering from its newly launched Ironheart Foundry Series.
Both new units are seemingly geared towards giving players a comprehensive all-rounder operation, with the humbly proportioned heads seeking to satisfy all home practice, recording, rehearsal and gigging requirements.
As newly anointed members of Laney’s Foundry Series, both the IRF-LeadTop and IRF-DualTop nod to the science behind their Loudpedal predecessor, and are said (as per the brand) to harness “the sheer power and dynamism of our Ironheart tube amps… to deliver monstrous power and incredible versatility in an ultra-compact form”.
Although both amp heads share a 60-watt maximum power output – and while they are effectively siblings – there are a few key specs that set the two compact amps apart.
Starting small, the IRF-LeadTop is a single-channel head with onboard EQ controls for Bass, Middle and Treble, as well as a red Boost parameter for setting the desired amount of additional switchable pre-boost.
That boost can be engaged via the front-mounted toggle switch (or a third party pedal via the rear Remote output), with a secondary switch serving to move between Clean and Lead modes. A final toggle for navigating Bright, Natural and Dark lead voices caps off the control panel.
Flip it around, and the IRF-LeadTop offers a cabinet-emulated headphone output, and Aux for playing backing tracks, an FX Loop and a Loudspeaker output with high- and low-power modes.
It seems to be an admirable attempt from Laney to squeeze top notch practicality and tonal versatility out of its IRF-LeadTop, which looks like it’s got just enough about it to compete with the desktop amp market leaders.
It’s very reasonably priced, too, weighing in at $299, and though it might not have the versatility of some other modern amp heads – reverb would've been nice, if we're being picky – we imagine it will prove to be a sure-fire hit among fans of Laney's Ironheart tube amp range.
The above is joined by the larger, better-equipped IRF-DualTop. Here, the head offers two channels – which each have their own Gain and Volume controls – as well as a universal three-band EQ comprising Bass, Middle and Treble.
Each channel also has its own specific soundsets. In practice, Channel 1 has selectable Asym, Clean and Sym modes, which each determine the clipping nature of the gain. The second channel, meanwhile, has the familiar Bright, Flat and Dark options.
Again, the red Boost parameter is recruited for switchable pre-boost power – both boost and channel switching can be delegated to a footswitch – though the IRF-DualTop also drafts in a sole do-it-all Reverb control.
The rear panel also offers some extra functionality: an XLR DI output comes loaded with two switchable Laney IR cabs: 1x12 and 4x12. This can also be turned off in favor of using custom IRs within a DAW.
Elsewhere, it’s worth noting the cab-emulated headphone out, Aux for playing tracks, FX Loop and high/low power switch for less-than-one-watt operation.
Unsurprisingly, the IRF-DualTop is more expensive than its “baby brother”, but not drastically so – it’s got a price tag of $429, which in our book looks like a pretty decent deal for a two-channel, IR-loaded amp head.
As an added bonus, both heads have also been launched as part of limited-edition rigs that come accompanied by IRF-Cab212 cabinets with custom designed drivers. For the LeadTop and DualTop, these rigs are priced at $579 and $799, respectively.
To find out more, head over to Laney.