In the realm of music production, amplifier simulator plugins are essential assets that can infuse character and authenticity into your tracks, aiding in the creation of distinctive and captivating sounds. Whether you're aiming for a gentle tube warmth or a powerful high-gain roar, the right amplifier simulator plugin can revolutionize your mix. While there are countless amplifier simulator plugins out there, not all of them require a hefty investment.
In fact, there are numerous top-notch, free options available that can deliver remarkable results.
In this article, we'll explore some of the best free amplifier simulator plugins available today, delving into their unique features and functionalities that can add that much-desired depth to your music. Let's get started!
Analog Obsession Amper
Amper is a guitar amp plugin designed for metal, offering mid to high gain. What sets Amper apart from other metal amps is its two different drive sections, which are not parallel but connected in series.
The Volume 1 control manages pre-gain tube distortion before the main pre-amp, which is controlled by Volume 2. This setup is akin to having a distortion pedal before your amp, but the drive, in this case, is modeled from tube amp distortion in the mid-gain range to boost the main pre-amp.
The tone control section is based on Soldano amps, and there is a pre-tone shaper before the preamp. This shaper is carefully designed for metal guitar to keep the amp from producing annoying frequencies.
Audiority's L12X is a solid-state amplifier plugin that is an analog simulation inspired by the Marshall Lead 12 solid-state amplifier from the late '80s. The original head was an op-amp based amplifier, which could provide a significant amount of gain with minimal distortion. The Marshall engineers used this to create a great sounding amplifier with very few components.
The L12X plugin is capable of pushing cabinets up to 4x12 and can easily sound like a JCM. The plugin modifies the original circuit by adding a Contour knob for a more scooped tone and an additional Boost overdrive stage. It also includes an integrated Cab Simulator, loaded with a Marshall cabinet IR featuring Celestion V30 cones.
The plugin offers three analog modeled amplifiers: a standard solid-state amplifier and two tube amplifiers (clean and metal). It features two channels (clean/boost), a three-band tone stack, and a contour control. The user interface is resizable, and the plugin includes a standalone version.
Black Rooster Audio Cypress TT-15
Black Rooster Audio's Cypress TT-15 is a guitar amp head emulation meticulously modeled after a uniquely sounding low wattage amplifier. It's designed with a no-nonsense approach and only six intuitive controls, making it easy to achieve a range of tones, from clean through crunchy to biting, distorted lead sounds.
The Cypress TT-15 is noted for its authentic circuit emulation, with every crucial part of the head, including pre- and power amp tube stages, the tone filter, and the output transformer, faithfully modeled and matched. This real-time SPICE type component-based circuit simulation approach allows the plugin to capture the sound and feel of the analog counterpart in all nuances.
The plugin features SSE2-optimized code, ensuring the highest possible performance operation despite very complex computations. It also offers auto-adjusted oversampling for maximum audio transparency, efficiently attenuating aliasing artifacts using a low latency linear phase Dolph-Chebyshev poly-phase design. The oversampling is auto-adjusted to your session's sample rate to save valuable CPU power while offering the most transparent sound possible.
The Cypress TT-15 also includes a simple 2x12 cabinet simulation that can be bypassed if you prefer other solutions or if you're feeding into an external power amp/cabinet stage. It supports high pixel density on Mac OSX and Windows for the most enjoyable user experience on high DPI displays.
Blue Cat Audio Free Amp
Blue Cat's Free Amp is a free guitar amp simulation plug-in that offers three amp models created with the acclaimed Blue Cat's Destructor amp simulation modeler. The plug-in is inspired by legendary guitar amplifiers from the real world. The included "classic clean", "classic drive", and "modern drive" amp models cover a wide range of guitar amp tones, from clean vintage sounds from the early days of electric guitar to modern high gain metal tones.
The plug-in features 3 amp models, no latency, and native DSP code for optimal performance. It also supports full MIDI control and automation with silent, zipper-free parameters update, advanced response control, and MIDI Learn. The plug-in optimizes CPU usage by shutting down processing when fed with silence. It also features a customizable user interface with transparency management and zoom, smooth bypass, undo/redo functionality, a full-featured integrated presets manager, and supports any sample rate.
IK Multimedia Amplitube 5 CS
IK Multimedia's AmpliTube 5 is a significant upgrade from its predecessors, offering a more intuitive user interface and a wealth of new features. The software now includes five new amp models, two new stompboxes, 19 new rack effects, two room emulations, and over 100 new cabinets.
A key feature of AmpliTube 5 is the V.I.R. (Volumetric Impulse Response) technology, which allows users to customize their sound with precision. This technology was developed using robotic arms to place microphones on speaker cabinets, resulting in highly accurate impulse responses. Users can adjust the microphone placement in multiple dimensions, allowing for a wide range of tonal variations.
AmpliTube 5 is available in four versions: CS, SE, Standard, and Max, each offering a different number of gear models. The Max version includes 11 official artist and brand add-on packs, totaling over 400 gear models.
These guys are just too good, here’s a list of free stuff they offer:
- Libra: An 8 channel Impulse Response (IR) convolver, designed to be used as a cabinet simulator for guitar and bass preamplifiers.
- Emissary: A digital emulation of a custom dual channel guitar tube amplifier.
- NadIR: A zero latency, dual Impulse Response (IR) convolver, designed to be used as a cabinet simulator for guitar and bass preamplifiers.
- ProF.E.T.: A digital emulation of a high gain distortion preamp/stomp-box for guitar.
- NRR-1: A digital emulation of a three channels tube preamplifier for guitar.
- The Anvil: A digital emulation of a three channels tube preamplifier for guitar.
- TPA-1: A digital emulation of a class AB tube power amplifier for guitar.
- SHB-1: Based on the real SHB-1 "Extreme Bass Head", built by Ignite Amps for Federico Fulceri, a bass player of the Italian thrashers Subhuman, featuring 6 triode stages and a 1300W Class D power-amp.
Kuassa Amplifikation Lite
Kuassa's Amplifikation Lite is a free guitar amp software that provides high-quality guitar tracks with a simple interface and non-obstructive workflow.
The software features three channels: Clean, Rhythm, and Lead.
It has nine parameters: Input, Channel selector, Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence, Volume, and Cabinet On/Off. It also includes a built-in Cabinet Impulse Response Loader and supports sample rates of up to 96 kHz.
The internal Cabinet Simulation is appreciated, and the software allows for loading external Cabinet Impulse Responses.
Another passionate developer with some sweet plugins!
- HyBrit: This simulator offers two Marshall amps in one: The MCJ channel emulates a JCM800, and the PLS channel emulates a Plexi Super Lead 100.
- LE456: This simulator emulates the Engl Powerball amplifier.
- Lecto: Lecto emulates channels 2 and 3 of a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier.
- Legion: Legion isn't based on a real amplifier. The purpose of its creator was to make a powerful simulation.
- Lextac: This simulator is based on the Bogner Ecstasy XTC amplifier.
- SoloC: LePou's very first amplifier simulation. This is an emulation of a Soldano SLO-100 amplifier.
Please note that these plugins are "donationware", so they are free, but you are encouraged to make a donation to their creator from his official website.
ML Sound Lab Amped Roots Free
The plugin is designed to let everyone experience the company's amp modeling quality and plug'n'play design. It's made in collaboration with Ryan "Fluff" Bruce, and the sims featured are the best amps from Fluff's personal collection.
The Amped Roots Free comes with one amp, the "5034 Fluff", which is designed for modern metal chugs and doesn't require an overdrive.
Amped Roots also features a 3D cabinet simulator that allows you to mix and match cabinets to dial in your tone. You can move the mics, angle them, and choose from three cabinets or load in your own IRs. The plugin also includes a pedalboard with studio-quality effects pedals: Noise Gate, Compressor, Drive Pedal, Chorus, Analog Delay, and Reverb.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig Player
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 is available in two versions: Pro and Player. The Pro version is a premium offering, while the Player version is ideal for beginners.
Guitar Rig 6 is acclaimed for its exceptional sound quality, closely mimicking real instruments. It offers a wide range of plugins, including modern, vintage, and boutique amps, as well as effects from both Native Instruments and Softube. A unique feature is the Intelligent Circuit Modelling, which accurately replicates each component in the circuits of amps, pedals, and effects.
The software stands out for its versatility, catering not only to guitarists but also to musicians of all genres. It provides digital replicas of popular amps and allows users to create a unique blend of sounds. Additionally, it includes unconventional noise effects for more innovative production.
Nembrini Audio Crunck V2 Guitar Amplifier
The Crunck V2 Guitar Amplifier is a free one-channel plugin designed by Nembrini Audio for a wide range of music genres. This plugin is the second version of the first plugin designed by Igor Nembrini at the beginning of his career in DSP development more than ten years ago. His work on Crunck V1 led to his hiring by one of the most important companies in audio DSP development, Brainworx, where he developed some of the most famous guitar and bass amp plugins on the market.
The Crunck V2 Guitar Amplifier plugin offers a variety of tones, from metal to fusion, rock to blues, simply by adjusting the Gain knob. The plugin also allows you to choose to use the built-in cabinet, a 4x12 loaded with Vintage 30 speakers, or bypass the cabinet section.
Nick Crow Lab 8505 Lead
Nick Crow 8505 Lead is a tube guitar amp VST plug-in that offers a range of controls for creating your desired sound. It features controls for gain, tone stack (low, mid, sweep, high), power amp, and volume. The plug-in also includes an oversampling option for higher-quality sound.
Users who have tried the plug-in have shared positive feedback. They appreciate its suitability for various styles, particularly metal-style guitars. One user even compared it favorably to Ignite Emissary, another popular amp plug-in. The plug-in is also praised for its ease of use and the range of control it offers.
Some users noted that it provides a sound more akin to a solid-state amp than a tube sound, making it great for alternative rock to all spectrums of metal. It's also recommended for both rhythm and lead parts. However, it's suggested to use a cab emulator after it to prevent excessive fuzziness and to set the volume low before starting to avoid feedback.
Overall, Nick Crow 8505 Lead is highly regarded for its sound quality, control, and ease of use, making it a valuable addition to any musician's toolkit.
Plugin Alliance bx_rockrack V3 Player
The bx_rockrack V3 Player is a free guitar amp plugin from Plugin Alliance, renowned for their 1:1 emulations of high-end guitar amplifiers. The plugin offers eight famous amp models in a single plugin, including the bx_metal 666, an original creation of Brainworx founder Dirk Ulrich and Senior DSP Engineer Igor Nembrini.
The plugin features 26 presets and allows you to select predesigned tones from a wide array of professionally recorded cabinet responses from famous studios around the world. It also includes an onboard FX rack with a noise gate, vintage delay, and shaping filter for customizing your sound.
Boogex is a versatile guitar amplifier plugin with various sound-shaping features. It can produce a heavy distorted sound and a slight "jazzy" saturation sound. Boogex can also apply any speaker cabinet impulse response, with a selection of built-in impulses available. The processing latency is close to zero, making it possible to use Boogex for real-time guitar processing. It also includes a reverberation module derived from Voxengo OldSkoolVerb reverb.
Boogex features include:
- Emphasis EQ
- 2 amplifier types
- 14 amplifier modes
- 61 built-in cabinet impulse responses
- DynaCab processing
- Stereo convolution processing
- Gate module
- Built-in reverb
- 64-bit floating point processing
- Undo/redo history
- Zero processing latency
In conclusion, this carefully selected collection of premier free amplifier simulator plugins is your ultimate guide for music production, presenting a broad range of choices for adding depth, warmth, and authenticity to your tracks. Whether you're after a subtle tube warmth or a full-blown, high-gain roar, these plugins are ready for the challenge. They enable you to capture the tonal essence that best aligns with your production style. As you explore these tools, you'll discover new realms of creativity and enhance the overall sound of your mixes.