State of the art of amp sims in 2021?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by ogon, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. ogon

    ogon SS.org Regular

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    Wondering what are regarded as the best amp sims at this point in time? There are so many it's hard to sort through and it's also hard to know if you're finding everything relevant with just a websearch. I'm sure there's disagreement on the absolute best but I would guess there are at least a handful that are generally the most well liked. I guess it also might break down by style - best cleans, best crunch, best leads, best high gain / djent / brutal.

    Anyway, all opinions welcome.
     
  2. DC23

    DC23 SS.org Regular

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    NeuralDSP (mostly metal), Helix Native (whatever you can do with a Helix), Scuffham (older but still solid for not-so-metal), ML Sound Labs (rock / metal). Those are ones I would check out if I were looking right now.
     
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  3. broangiel

    broangiel SS.org Regular

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    I’d add Mercuriall to the list too. Reaxis is great.
     
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  4. Bentaycanada

    Bentaycanada SS.org Regular

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    The Audio Assault Sigma and RVXX are among the best available, and they're super cheap compared to the others.
     
  5. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    Nalex are my favorites, and are fantastic. Also, they're free.

    They don't model extra controls, tone stacks, etc. but their tube emulation is more accurate than most other VSTs. Dynamics feel better, crunch tones are better, and hey they're $0 so why not
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  6. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    I'm sort of an amp sim hoarder. From my experience the expensive sims aren't really worth the money. The cheap and free ones are your best bet. Beyond that, the sim itself doesn't really matter, the IR is the real make or break to your overall sound. You can make any good high gain sim sound like pretty much any other high gain amp with enough eq and mixing.

    Different sims have different feels and options and whatnot. Some are less hassle, some you have to work a bit to make sit well, some are bass heavy, some are already boosted so they don't need one. Those little differences make each one unique and better suited for one thing or another. To me that's the reason to have a bunch of different ones. You have a sim for any situation and it's more about utility than getting different tones.

    I've posted it before but I made Google drive folders of all my boosts, amp sims, and IRs. All of the amp sims are the free ones you'll find looking around on the internet. I didn't add any of my paid ones (SSO anti-piracy and all that). If anyone's wanting to try a bunch of different amp sims, hopefully this makes it easier for you:

    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1aZf5V_UFAnR0_EXxRNe_DEfxKlVPx-0s?usp=sharing


    I couldn't add them to the folder but I highly recommend the Tourmafrost (Omega Obsidian VST) and the Slowrunner (Soldano SLO). They're as little as 12 bucks each and they are definitely worth the money
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
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  7. ogon

    ogon SS.org Regular

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    Really appreciate all the contributions so far. Thanks everyone.

    Looks like a lot of the sims mentioned so far are geared toward higher gain sounds. Are there any plugins that stick out for cleans and crunchy tones?
     
  8. Spinedriver

    Spinedriver SS.org Regular

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    The people that use vsts over on The Gear Page forum seem to really like the Scuffham S gear for rock/blues like tones.
     
  9. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    I really like the Brainworx Diezel amps and the BE-100. Crunchy stuff and cleans sound great with them. I wanted them for high gain situations but honestly they're versatile.

    I did a goth song with those amps and it's the lowest gain settings I think I've ever used. Clean to crunch and nothing high gain at all

    https://soundcloud.com/helveteinc/spukschloss/s-MA5VKTVMOgn
     
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  10. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    On the topic of brainworx and crunchy amps - their Engl Retro Tube model is awesome for that. Engl RT 765.

    Used that on this low-fi synthwave concept album I did for pretty much everything. It's a really cool and unique sounding amp, makes me wanna try the real deal. Like a retro 5150, almost.

    I like the brainworx VSTs a lot. The guy who codes them, Igor Nembrini, has his own site where he releases his VSTs but I find his pricing pretty high and the quality isn't quite as good. But at least he doesn't load it up with 500 garbage IRs like the brainworx models have - I never use those.
     
  11. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    So you gon tease me by mentioning synthwave and not post it? GIMMEE.
     
  12. Emperoff

    Emperoff Not using 5150s Contributor

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    Whichever you choose, just don't buy Scuffham's S-Gear.

    I did, and it's been abandoned since 2012. Any question about it in their forum gets you flamed by their zealots that populate every single gear forum on the internet (except metal ones-oriented ones, obviously). Which is also why is praised on TGP.

    Mercuriall plugins sound very good, but they suffer the same problem. I'm still waiting for them to update the ENGL E530 plugin. That's why stopped buying them. I won't spend a dime on companies that keep on releasing products and abandoning older ones. The lack of unified framework/suite to exchange cabs/FX, etc is also VERY annoying and a workflow killer. I don't want to save my presets in each plugin and/or stack them to combine their features. That's just bullshit.

    I've tried pretty much every ampsim under the sun, and the only ones that kept me away from my TriAxis were Neural DSP stuff. They're just super easy to get good tones with. The downside is that their business model plain sucks as much as Mercuriall, which is why I haven't bought any either. If I had to choose one I'd get Nolly as it's the best bang for the buck of all their so-called "suites".

    Line6 Helix Native is still the best value of them all, as it's continuously updated and has all the amps and FX you'd ever need.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
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  13. viifox

    viifox SS.org Regular

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    I've been combining Nolly with Omega, and they compliment eachother extemely well!

    Been using Plini for the clean tones. Excellent stuff.
     
  14. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    I tried the Neural nameless, Cali, and gramophone and hated all of them. Nothing about those amps justified the price tag to me and I wouldn't have wanted them even if they were free. Not to mention that whole setup you have to do just for a demo was lame. Everyone else likes their stuff so I dunno. I've never heard anything impressive from them
     
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  15. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    I'd have spammed the link a lot more but it's an uneven effort. I'm such a part timer in this project they don't even have me on the Spotify profile yet, but here ye be
     
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  16. TimSE

    TimSE Tone Chasr Contributor

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    I have 4 of the Neural DSP Archetype plugins and they are amazing. That being said, I had to get 4 of them to get everything I wanted and go out of my way to find a system that lets me play all 4 at once.
     
  17. Emperoff

    Emperoff Not using 5150s Contributor

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    Yeah, you basically tried their Fortin army cashgrab plugins. Single amp, no FX. Let's charge 100€ for the fanboys. Terrible value. I don't even know why they're called "suite".

    Now, the Archetypes are just 20€ more and have three amps and FX (35€ for the Nolly as it has four amps). Waaaay better value on those.
     
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  18. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    I do hate Fortin so that's probably why. I'll have to check out the others
     
  19. eclecto-acoustic

    eclecto-acoustic "That" guy.

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    This isn't quite right. You'll see in my explanation why I'm not an apologist, but the record ought to be set straight.

    The last major update was to v2.9 a little less than a year ago, and while there weren't any shiny new toys to play with, the update was to lay the groundwork for further development and ostensibly v3.0 and beyond. v2.97 for Windows users was released 4 months ago, and 2.98 for Mac users running Big Sur, with a footnote from November 2020 stating that they were actively working on M1 native compatibility. As of NAMM 2020, S-Gear 2.9 also comes bundled with the new(er) RME Babyface Pro FS.

    The core functionality and availability of amps/effects hasn't changed much over time, and the developer is not very vocal about what (if anything) is coming down the pipe. Those things combined can definitely make you feel like nothing is happening. From my point of view as a guy who REALLY digs S-Gear from a sonic and workflow standpoint, my only concern is in longevity. I'd love it if Mike would communicate more proactively and tell his users what is being worked on, even though I dig the product exactly as it is. The amp and effect models are rock solid, super flexible, and not fussy to use.

    One should look elsewhere if they want any of the following:

    Modern metal sounds
    Bass amp options
    Variety of effects
    Vocal dev team

    But abandoned it certainly is not.

    Setting aside S-Gear, I'm having quite the love affair with Neural DSP plugs. Archetype: Abasi in particular is one of those plugins that continually surprises me with how flexible and inspiring it is. That "Blend" control for a faux piezo sound is amazingly useful.
     
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  20. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    The ones I use are Helix Native and ML Sound Labs ML5 (Mesa Mark V). ML5 alone would cover most tones I need and comes with great IRs.

    I run those into ML Sound Lab MIKKO cab sim plugin using the Essentials and VX30 packs. That is then run into the Fractal FAS-FX reverb for room simulation if I am playing with headphones. From there I run into Sonarworks Reference 4 to flatten the frequency response of my headphones or apply room correction if using my Genelecs. The Sonarworks plugin is not part of the recording chain.
     

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