I’ve been playing guitar for 35 years. During that time I’ve had Marshalls, Laneys, combos, practice amps, and solid state setups with processors and poweramps (starting with the Roland GP8, back in the day). Naturally, guitar amp modeling has been an interest of mine ever since Amplitube came out, demonstrating that software modeling is a force to be reckoned with. Being a gear hog, I’ve played Guitar Rig, various Line 6 products, including X3 live through Gearbox, various incarnations of Amplitube, and others, always searching for that perfect tone (and one I can record with at 2 in the morning). I’ve also experimented with reamping and cabinet impulses. While each manufacturer and approach offered something unique and interesting, a good simple metal sound always seemed elusive. It was always a little abrasive, farty, or plastic sounding. I thought, instead of modeling a zillion different heads, cabinets and mics, why not a single amp and a program to control the environment in which it was placed? I wanted something simple, that sounded good, and didn’t take ages to learn. Something, in short, that was like micing an amp in a studio room without the hassles of mic setup and acoustics.
Then I discovered a product from Softube, a Swedish development team, called Metal Amp Room. The concept is simple: a single amp, a choice between two cabinets, and the ability to mix and sum the output of two mics at various distances in a room. Friends, this software does exactly what it advertises: "the most brutal, evil and aggressive sound that is possible to squeeze out of your DAW." There are no fancy effects. No chains to mess around with. In fact, the beauty of the product is its simplicity. You choose the cabinet for your head, choose the locations of the mics by moving around visual representations of mic stands, then blend the mics in mono or stereo with a mic blend slider and a knob for width.
The amp itself is very straightfoward. It has a gain knob, three knobs for bass, middle and treble, two shaping knobs for depth and presence, a gate, and selectable buttons for lead, deep and scoop. The knobs all do exactly what they say. The button for lead adds additional distortion, the button for deep emphasizes lower frequencies, and the button for scoop creates a scoop in the mid-range. All very straightforward. Two minutes after installation I had the program basically figured out and was messing with the vast sound-shaping capability of such a simple setup. One of the things I love about this plug is that it is hard to not get a good sound. And the sound itself ranges from hard-rock to all-out blistering metal; best of all, it does not crap out on the low end and become muddy. Thank god there is a company that understands what metal is.
Having said this, there are a few things that bug me about this product. One, it doesn't have an onboard tuner. In this day and age, when you are working and recording, it doesn't make sense to have to unplug your guitar to manually tune it when most software has this feature on board. Two, it uses the standard VST preset management system rather than an onboard save and load feature. This is not a huge deal, but if you use more than one host, you'll want to be sure that you save all presets to the same location or the sound you painstakingly create will be lost in the structure of a host-specific location. With an onboard preset management system, you'd never have to think about where to store the patch.
Overall Rating: 8. I'd love to give this a nine just for the sound of it, but the price and the lack of a tuner or good preset management system, to me, set this back a bit. Still, if you are looking for "that" metal sound, this is a great program to have in your arsenal.
Formats: Native VST/AU/RTAS
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