Pros: Too many to list - read review...
Cons: Your mother will hate it ;-)
I recently decided to retire my old faithful Marshall JCM900 Amp Head. It served me well for over twenty years on stage and in the studio, but for the last year it has slowly been showing signs of age. In truth, I could have had it refurbished to like new status for a couple hundred dollars. It needed a new reverb tank, all the pots needed cleaning or replacing and it could have used a new set of tubes and fuses. I was also looking for a new sound because my stage sound has become stale, I still love the sound of the Marshall but I wanted something that could do more than just kick out a great British Rock sound. I looked at several models of Amplifiers from several different makers including MesaBoogie, Fender, Behringer and other Marshall Amps. I even looked at a couple of Peaveys although I have never really liked the Peavey sound. I narrowed it down to the MesaBoogie Triple Rectifier and the Fender Cyber Twin SE. The Fender won me over with its diversity of sound and its overall scalability.
Fender Cyber Twin SE guitar amplifier
The Cyber Twin SE is the second edition of the Cyber Twin amplifier and it is the flagship amplifier from Fender as of this writing. It is a 2x12 tube preamp combo with reconfigurable analog and digital circuitry, motorized knobs and a 2x65-watt power amp. It looks very similar to the original Cyber Twin and does everything the original model does plus some. It has a digital readout that displays all setting information and is controlled by a data wheel and clearly marked buttons on the front of the amp. It comes with a four button footswitch for accessing four presets quickly and another footswitch for turning on and off the effects. There is an expression pedal for the amp that is sold separately and I will be purchasing or ordering that on my next visit to the music store.
Respectfully obtained from http://www.fender.com
* 250 Amplifier Design Presets:
* 100 Custom Shop (including FX; permanent)
* 50 Your Amp Collection (permanent)
* 100 Players Lounge (rewritable)
* 2 "Groove Tubes" Vacuum Tubes (12AX7WA)
* 130 Watts of Stereo Output, (65 watts per channel)
* 2 Celestion Speakers
* Onboard Guitar Tuner
* 1/4" Headphone Jack
* Effects Loop (Mono Send /Stereo Return)
* SPDIF Line-Out RCA Jack
* In, Out and Thru MIDI Jacks
* 42 individual effects selections to choose from (each with 4 or 5 adjustable parameters)
* 11 Reverb types (each with 4 adjustable parameters)
* 6 Tone Stacks (each with 2 Location parameters, before or after the Distortion Circuitry)
* 3 Noise Gate level settings (with 1 adjustable depth parameter)
* 8 Timbre types (for room acoustics or tone boosts)
* 4 Line/Speaker Polarity selections (all possible combinations)
* 8 Bypass Reverb/Effects selections (all possible combinations)
* 4 Quick Access Keys provide assignment and recall of favorite Amp Design Presets
* 4 Button Footswitch
* 1 Expression Pedal Jack
Display & Control Panel:
* 40 Character, 2-line display presents menu options, prompts and general information
* 1 Dynamic Data Wheel
* 8 Motorized Knobs Drive Circuitry:
* 16 selections: 12 Tube types 4 Solid State types MIDI
* 24 Continuous Controllers for auto-control by external
MIDI equipment (sequencer/computer)
* 1 Assignable Continuous Controller for remote control of a dynamic parameter
* 4 System Exclusive functions for transferring Amp Design Presets and system updates
* 2 Speaker Jacks
* 1 Stereo Digital Line Output, RCA SPDIF jack for connection to digital sound equipment
* 2 Stereo XLR Line Output, impedance balanced jacks, with 2 mono/stereo settings
* 3 Effects Loop jacks, mono out, mono or stereo in, with 2 switchable pre-amp levels
* 18.25 H x 26.125 W x 12.125 D
* Weight: 55lbs.
Second Edition Upgrades
SE Upgrades include:
* All-new, tasteful cosmetics - Black control panel with blue jewel, white LEDs, silver buttons and trim; dark black/silver grille cloth
* Many useful, fun new effects including Auto Pan Delay, Fuzz, "Lo-Fi" Resolver, Pedal Pitcher, "Green" Stompbox Overdrive, "Blackie" Mid Boost, and Alienator
* New effect combinations like Delay + Pedal Wah, Fuzz + Touch Wah, Octaver + Tape Echo, etc.
* 250 Total Presets - 100 Fender? Custom Shop, 100 Player's Lounge, 50 Amp Collection - including artist authored presets from Greg Koch and Gary Hoey
* New "Level 4" drive circuitry for more extreme distortion tones
* 2 new Tone Stacks: NeoBritish and Dirty Dyna-Touch
* Improved amp filtering for more natural, airy highs on some presets; 4 new timbre filters including Metal Drop Scoop, Mid Squawk, Super Bright, and Acoustic Scoop
* New patented Hum Reduction with automatic 50/60 Hz discrimination, selectable with front panel button & LED
* Externally accessible tubes (two 12AX7's) with tube rattle prevention system
* External speaker jacks allowing experimentation with other speaker cabinets
* Nearly instantaneous preset changes with footswitch
* Cyber-Twin I MIDI preset dumps will work with the Cyber-Twin SE (not the other way)
This amp has everything a guitar player would ever need for live performance and studio work. The stereo XLR direct outs give you an excellent noise free output for recording or running through a soundboard for live shows. It is a well thought out and well designed amplifier geared toward professionals and guitar enthusiasts alike.
Ease of use
I am the kind of person who hates to read manuals. If I have to read a book in order to make something work, I usually walk away from it. This amp comes with a very hefty manual, but I found that most of the controls are clearly marked and were pretty easy to figure out even before I picked up the inch thick manual.
Most of the features were easy for me to figure out including finding an amp model and then tweaking it to fit my desired sound. It was also really easy to add an effect and then change the parameters with the three parameter knobs under the digital readout. Hit the save button and it shows your rewritable Players Lounge and you can choose which one to overwrite. The Players Lounge comes with all the slots already preset to different amps and effects, but all 100 slots can be overwritten. The preset slots in the Custom Shop and Your Amp Collection are not rewritable but several of these settings were programmed by professional musicians Greg Koch and Gary Hoey.
When saving a preset model, the amp saves everything including the position of the EQ knobs and when you call up that model again it will automatically readjust the knobs to the correct position. It is a little strange to see the knobs turning themselves at first but you get used to it quickly. The only knobs that are not motorized are the Trim and the Master Volume. You set the trim so that the green LEDs are all lit while you play and the red LED only occasionally flashes at the peak. Then you can turn the Master volume all the way up without any unwanted distortion from overloading the preamp. The amp also has a separate volume knob that is motorized and it's position memorized by the amp model when saved.
Overall, the amp is a piece of cake to use and after reading the manual once through (which only took about 30 minutes by the way) I was familiar with all aspects of the amp. The manual was not as thick as it appeared to be because it includes several languages. You can immediately use the amp and quickly find a tone with the presets already available.
This is the most important part of the review. What did it sound like? An amplifier that turns it own knobs and has pretty flashy lights and a nice digital readout is really a piece of crap if it doesnt deliver on the sound. The Fender Cyber Twin SE doesnt let you down. The sound from the amplifier is excellent. The amplifier is a stereo amplifier and stereo effects are amazing.
I was able to reproduce the exact tone of my old Marshall using the British Stack and tweaking the EQ. Aside from that, there is an unlimited amount of sounds that you can extract from this amplifier. Everything from super clean to the nastiest grunge your ears can stand. One of the presets in the Custom Shop is called Ear Candy. It is a super clean with thick bass, hefty mids and distinguished high end. I fell in love with this tone immediately. Think Boston More Than A Feeling yeah, it is that kind of clean.
The level of distortion depends on the amp model you are using, but I found that the British Stack models give some of the best heavy metal distortion while the Blackface settings give a more hard rock crunch. Aside from the amp distortions there is an effect called Fuzz that gives you even more control over the power of distortion. Think Neil Young Live Farmer John, Im in love with your daughter the kind of distortion that sounds like blown speakers catching on fire and crackling. Well, some people actually like that sound, but me, I prefer the British Stack metal distortion for most of my hard rock.
There are 42 different effects with many adjustable parameters and 11 types of reverb which are all also adjustable. I easily found 20 presets that I liked right off the bat in the Custom Shop and have added several of my own to the Players Lounge already. No matter what type of music you play, you will be able to get the tone and effects you want pretty painlessly.
The Celestion speakers are the same G12T-100/1887, 8-ohm Speakers that are in my half stack. They are very good speakers and sound incredible. I have even plugged my half stack into the amps left channel and run the right channel trough the amps internal speakers for a wide spread stereo effect I was totally blown away by the sound. With the half stack on one side of the room and the amp on the other, stereo effects like pan-delay and chorus are just mind blowing. Playing heavy rock and metal leads with that setup give the impression of playing in a stadium or a very large amphitheatre. Now I know what Steppenwolf meant by right between the sound machine .
I sent the stereo signal to my PC and recorded a few minutes of senseless screaming lead at 24-bit 48000 Hz and burned it to CD (at 16-bit 44000 Hz) to play in my stereo and the recording was undeterminable from the original sound when I played along with it at the same volume. The line outs work beautifully with no noise and very little amp hum.
This brings me to another big feature of the amp; built in noise and hum reduction. There is a small button on the front panel marked Hum Redux and a small blue LED that tells you when it is on. I leave it on all the time. This feature seriously reduces the amp hum associated with high gain distortion and makes the sound of the guitar extremely clear even with mega distortion. When this is on, you can turn the amp all the way up with no guitar plugged in and you can just barely (and I do mean just barely) hear the amp hum/hiss if you put your ear right next to the speakers.
The amp even has a built in compressor for that excessive sustain used in many metal genres. You can pump up the compression and hit a note that lasts several minutes to infinity. The amp will feedback as well, but only when you make it do so by putting the guitar pretty close to the speakers. I have yet to have it feedback unwontedly.
I have mainly used this amp in the studio, but I fully intend to take it out to some live shows this summer. So far I have used it on several recordings with my band, which has mostly been hard rock, southern rock and blues rock. I have also used it to record my own songs which are more in the lines of classic rock, folk rock and psycadelic. I have yet to find a genre that this amp wouldnt easily accommodate. It has several awesome country tones and numerous metal tones and even these can be adjusted to any number of ranges.
For me it was pretty easy to decide on this amp after playing through it at the store. I took my Gibson SG along to the store when I was testing amps so I could hear what My guitar would sound like through them. Since then I have used my Fender Stratocaster American Standard Plus, my Ibanez RG320DX and my Oscar Schmidt OE30DL through the amp and all of them sound absolutely awesome with their respective uses. You can buy a MesaBoogie with the same features for about $2500 or you can get this Fender for about $1299 which, in my opinion, is just as good and just as powerful.
Personally, I paid $950 and traded-in a 20 year old Marshall head at Lynchburg Music Center in Lynchburg, VA and got myself an absolutely fabulous amplifier that does everything I need an amp to do and much more.
Thanks for reading,