One of the mics is outlined in red to show that it’s being moved. You can click-anddrag to reach the corner of the room where the other cab resides.
Quality metal modeling
Softube amp sims haven’t really gotten the attention they deserve, perhaps because they follow a very different sim philosophy: Instead of opting for a huge variety of amps and effects, Softube models setting up a couple mics with an amp, in a studio—there are zero effects.
Softube claims quality and simplicity over quantity; their plug-ins aren’t designed to make pre-produced guitar sounds, but give an amp/room/mic toolset. How good are these tools? Let’s load Metal Amp Room and find out.
Get A (Metal) Room
The metal-optimized amp has an Engl Powerball-inspired lead channel, a hybrid Engl/Marshall JCM800 rhythm channel, and two different 4x12 cabs (England Marshall-like), each with a dynamic and condenser mic. You can move the mics along an imaginary track that extends about 4–5 feet away from the amp and moves inward, curving as it gets closer to provide off -axis and on-axis placement. A balance and width control (basically two complementary panpots) simplifies setting up a blend; you can also throw one mic out of phase.
Because of the potentially high gain, there’s a clever, programdependent noise gate whose decay tracks string decay. But one of my favorite features is Softube’s “super-normalize,” which keeps the output within rational levels regardless of the preamp and master control settings.
Softube downplays switching off the lead setting and using the “Marshall” cabinet, but I obtained some muscular, defined hard rock timbres—even Syd Barrett’s early Pink Floyd guitar sound, which was a real surprise. Metal Amp Room is far more versatile than the name implies.
Compared to other sims, the probability of dialing in a really appropriate sound within seconds using Metal Amp Room is very high—given Softube’s philosophy, that makes sense. But you don’t even have to do that, as the presets present a good mix of tones.
But here’s where it gets really interesting. Some of my favorite sounds were feeding AmpliTube amps (cabinet bypassed) through the Softube cabs, with the Softube amps bypassed. I also liked combining the Softube amps with Waves G|T|R cabinets—although the sound was quite different than the Softube cabinets. Perhaps not surprisingly, mixing and matching with Softube’s Vintage Room produced excellent results. POD Farm and Guitar Rig seemed most dependent on matching their amps and cabs, so separating them produced mixed results—from “turn it off !” to “wow.”
My takeaway: The Softube cabinet/room models are outstanding—whether used with Softube amps, or ones from other modelers. The Softube amps are excellent too, but the other modelers provide more amp variations that work extremely well with the Softube cabinets, thus offering a wider range of possible tones.
Metal Amp Room seems ideal for those who want to get a hard rock/metal/heavy sound quickly, with “can’t-go-wrong” customization possibilities. And Softube is right: This is a helluva toolset. Try the mix and match shuffle with other sims, and you’ll hear what I mean.
SOFTUBE METAL AMP ROOM VST/VST3/AU/ RTAS, ILOK REQUIRED
Outstanding cabinet, miking, and room modeling. Easy to create good sounds. Useful presets for the terminally lazy. Sophisticated noise gate. Consistent levels. Don’t overlook the rhythm settings—this is more versatile than the name indicates.
Designed to perform one specific task, albeit very well. Relatively expensive.
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