Editor’s Note: In this article, we’ll go into the best amp simulator VST plugins in the market as of 2020. If you’re looking for the summarised version, check out the table below, for a full breakdown, read on:
|Positive Grid Bias FX 2||Over 100. Check full list here||Under 100$CHECK PRICE|
|Overloud TH3||Over 200. Check full list here||200$ to 300$CHECK PRICE|
|IK Multimedia Amplitube 4||145 different amp sims. Full list here||200$ to 300$CHECK PRICE|
|Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5||7 amps, 27 cabinets, 54 effects. Full list here||100$ to 200$CHECK PRICE|
Whatever musical direction you’re taking, there’s a high chance you’ll be using at least some distortion.
This effect was popularized back in the old days by blues and rock ‘n’ roll guitar players, who sometimes even damaged their equipment to get this tone.
Luckily for us today, achieving distortion is not that hard, and there are plenty of safe and affordable ways of doing it.
Of course, the first association is often the guitar-oriented music, but great-sounding distortion can be found even in electronic music.
Even EDM musicians resort to using guitar effects, actual distortion pedals or guitar amp sims.
But if we’re talking about music production, mixing, and working in any DAW, it’s definitely easier and way more practical to rely on plugins.
Sometimes, you can get some pretty great guitar tones, for whatever purposes, by using some great amplifier simulation plugins.
Whether you’re a guitar player, bassist, DJ, instrumentalist, or even a vocalist – here are the best amp sims for you to check out.
Although mostly focused on guitar-oriented music, you’re always free to experiment and use them for other purposes as well. Here it goes.
Positive Grid – Bias FX 2– Our Overall Choice
A new amp simulator by Positive Grid, the Bias FX 2 amp sim brings a whole universe of options in creating one’s tone.
It’s not a product focused on limited types of tones and musicians.
The newest in the Bias amp series brings an abundance of different amps, cabinet simulations, pedals, and microphones, all extremely realistically representing the respective models that they’re imitating.
There’s a wide variety of high gain amps for our metalhead readers, as well as a bunch of experimental effects to get your creative juices flowing.
Talking about amps and cabinets, Positive Grid teamed up with Celestion to bring digital replicas of the legendary speakers found in many of the prestigious cabinets. You can check the full list of amps here.
Overall, the Bias FX 2 brings some pretty advanced stuff with a surprisingly simple operation, making our favorite amp sim in the market right now.
It comes as a great option for any level of playing and musicianship. Even beginners will find it easy to use, and the Bias amp can be a great way for them to get acquainted with the world of guitar amps and pedals.
It’s also one of the most affordable VST plugins in this list, and includes a free demo.
Check out the video review below:
Overloud – TH3– Simple but Effective.
Overloud’s TH3 amp simulator and plugin works in a similar way compared to the Bias, with a bunch of amp, cabinet, pedal, and mic models.
When it comes to guitars, there are 89 different amps, as well as 50 cabinets. Bass players, however, don’t have that many options, since there are only 4 bass amplifier models and 2 bass cabinet models.
Going over to the pedals and other effects, there are 77 different emulations to choose from. The choice of microphones is decent, with 18 different models and the possibility to choose up to 4 mics per one cabinet.
In total, there are 1000 different presets that will help you get great amp simulations right out of the box.
What’s more, Overloud collaborated with some of the famous amp brands, including Randall, to recreate their guitar tones.
Ignite Amps – Emissary– Our Free Choice
Ignite Amps have a few interesting solutions for amp simulators, all of them giving some really solid tones, both for Clean and Distorted situations.
The one we found worth mentioning on this list is the Emissary plugin, a super fun high gain amp.
Although focusing on just one amp model, it still provides a solid amount of possibilities and great tube-oriented modern metal tones.
The physical amp that it replicates is also called Emissary and was made by Ignite for Ryan Huthnance.
It may not be as versatile as some of the other plugins here, but its strength lies in a very realistic representation of this tube amp.
It has two channels, Clean and Drive, along with standard controls and some additional switches for additional EQ shaping.
And the best part?
IK Multimedia – AmpliTube 4– Our Mic Amp Simulator Choice
Made by IK Multimedia, AmpliTube has been around for quite some time now.
The fourth installment in the series takes things to a whole new level, with some of the modern guitar heroes expressing their admiration for this plugin.
An abundance of great amps of all the different eras of modern music, stompbox models, cabinet models, mic models, as well as possibilities to create intricate and non-linear signal chains.
Things get pretty interesting with the virtual microphone and cabinet placement, providing some very realistic-sounding amplifier tones. You can place microphones in virtual 3D settings, which is a pretty exciting feature.
Universal Audio – Fender 55 Tweed Deluxe
Now, this plugin is a little different. First off, it focuses on just one amp which, expectedly, limits its versatility and leaves you with not many options. However, this was actually Universal Audio’s intention, to have just one amp and recreate it as realistically as possible.
The piece in question is Fender’s good old vintage gem, the ’55 Tweed Deluxe. This plugin was done in collaboration with Fender, who helped them out in digitally recreating this amp’s legendary circuitry.
It may have somewhat of a narrow use, mostly those who are looking for those sparkly vintage-oriented blues tone.
But the recreation is just astoundingly realistic, coming very close to the original. Take the good old Tweed Deluxe and mic it up with different microphone simulations.
Studio Devil – Amp Modeler Pro
Although intended for guitars, the Amp Modeler Pro by Studio Devil will also give great amp models, distortions, and other effects for electronic music makers as well.
There are about 15 different preamps that come with it, 32 cabinets, plenty of different pedals and rack-mounted effects, as well as different controls and elaborate EQs.
It’s a somewhat cheaper option compared to the other entries on this list, although it definitely manages to convincingly reproduce classic and modern amplifier tones.
Native Instruments – Guitar Rig 6– Our Overall #2 Choice
October 2020 update: Native Instruments just announced the new version of Guitar Rig- V6.
Guitar Rig 6 comes with a new interface, pictured below, more effects, and new AI tech.
It’s been almost 5 years since the latest update to guitar rig, so the expectations were high within the music production community, and in our opinion, the new version lives up to the hype.
The first thing you’ll notice with Guitar Rig 6 is it’s brand new interface. It’s looking way cleaner and simpler to use.
In addition, 16 new effects were added, including the following softube amps: RC24, RC48, CV2A, VC2A, VC76, and CC160.
All in all, Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 is one of the most diverse guitar amp sims at the moment.
At the same time, it’s very accessible and is one of the best options for beginners who want to learn more about amplifiers, cabinets, pedals, and other effects and units.
Comparable to AmpliTube and Bias products, there’s a fair amount of amp and cabinet simulations with more than 50 effects and an option to use up to 8 different microphone models on one cabinet at the same time.
This is one of the Native Instrument’s most popular products.
Line 6- Helix Native- Our High End Choice
Last but not least, we have the Line 6’s Helix Native.
This is a great model to get that vintage rock sound, perhaps even the best amp simulator on this list. It’s priced on the high-end though and not exactly beginner friendly, so unless you have some experience under your belt, we’d recommend trying out an easier to use guitar amplifier simulator such as the Bias FX 2.
However, if you do know what you’re doing, the Line 6 is a great piece of software.
It includes over 100 effects and 60 amps, including some of the legendary amps used by Hendrix et al (Mesa Boogie, etc).
If you’d like to have a go at the Helix Native, Line 6 does offer a 15 day free version.
Final Thoughts and Overall Winner
And there you have it, the very best amp simulator available for purchase right now.
Combined, they represent thousands of amps, cabinets, and stompboxes.
So take your time, read about the amps offered by each, and make your decision. If you’re looking for an expert opinion- We’d go with the Positive Grid Bias FX 2