Arturia Chorus Dimension D (Roland Chorus Clone) Review and Deal

Wow, we live in such interesting times. VSTs are getting better and better, and now they can almost, and we really mean almost emulate the hardware sound. No wonder Arturia delayed emulating the Roland Chorus Dimension-D (aka Roland SSD-320). I am guessing they wanted to do it just right, because wow! – this thing is a killer tool to have in your arsenal. They done it, we think they did a good job, and you can get a nice discount right now here.

And if you are looking for a VST Synth to get along with this massive VST effect, we have compiled and reviewed the best VST synths in the market right now here.

The original Roland Dimension D – what is it?

Ok so this one is pretty simple, it is a chorus effect. Chorus makes a single, simple sound sound much more complex. If it is mono, it expands it in stereo. If it is stereo already, it widens the stereo image and makes it much more complex.

Think of chorus as in a church context, or when multiple human voices sing to the same tune. Basically, they all sing the same musical note, but each voice has its own timbre, which actually makes the same note sound much more complex than if just a single voice would sing it.

Sure, sometimes you want just a single voice, but sometimes you want to add depth, which is precisely why you need a chorus – to add depth.

Chorus gets your sound source, multiplies it creating clones, detunes the clones and shifts them in the stereo field. It can sound drastic, it can sound fulfilling. It can also sound heavy and imprecise, so always be sure to set just how much chorus you want by ear.

How I use the Roland Dimension D

So basically I am not a fan of stereo chorus. I don’t think that a chorus is meant to just widen the stereo field, if you want that, you can find simpler tools to do it, because chorus can have an impact on the overall sound as well as the stereo image, in some cases for stereo material, making it muddy.

Here is my processing rack, with the Dimension D on top position

That does not mean you are not allowed to do it, just make sure that your stereo sound retains it’s original precision and presence after you treat it with chorus.

I think that the Dimension D chorus (both Roland and Arturia) works best for mono signals, and is excellent for bass sounds.

Sometimes you have to work in mono. Your favourite synths do not work in stereo, and if they do, it’s mostly because they have onboard stereo effects like delay and reverb. Sometimes you are recording your guitar and there is no point in doing it in stereo. Most bass sounds are recommended to be used in mono, and you mostly have a mono source.

The Dimension D expands this in stereo, but in a very subtle way. There are four settings on the VST (and multiple settings on the hardware because you can have more than one button pressed), each representing the degree of chorus being applied and also the level of stereo expansion. But believe me when I say this, the stereo expansion is subtle, even on the red (four) setting.

So what I usually do is take my bass sound which is always coming from a mono synth, and run it in parallel from the mixer to the Roland Dimension D adjusting how much I send (main channel is going in the box via the Empirical Labs FATSO compressor and tape emulator – excellent piece of gear, review coming soon). The chorus gives my bass much more presence because of the stereo field and a degree of extra complexity. It makes it stand in the mix, and I would be lost without this treatment to be honest.

  • Using the Dimension D on the bass is the first and best use case in my oppinion and is a good reason for you to buy the Arturia Dimension D chorus right now.
  • Using the Dimension D on synths in general on the lowest setting, just to get a bit of saturation as an alternative to compression.
  • Other use cases are of course for polyphonic sounds like pads and piano which has been recorded in mono, just make sure you do it with moderation as the chorus will load your sound with a “swirly” effect and can make you feel a bit dizzy.
  • Last use case for me would be on stereo material, mostly because I feel that the Roland hardware lacks a dry/wet knob and can be too much, even on the lowest setting. Arturia has included a dry/wet knob so you can use it on stereo sounds just make sure you use your ears and don’t overdo it.

Arturia VST versus Roland hardware

So of course, having your tools in software has some advantages and disadvantages. What you get with the VST has been summed in the list below:

  1. Dry/wet knob for parallel use
  2. Presets
  3. Color (saturation) ajustment
  4. Chorus Oscillator Shape (Chorus has an internal LFO that modulates the pitch of the clones)
  5. Stereo widening ajustment
  6. Price (Roland gear can be expensive, we paid 1200 EUR for the hardware unit)
  7. Reliability (VSTs do not break down and do not require maintenance)
  8. Total Recall, each DAW project has it’s own Arturia Chorus Dimension D settings
  9. More than one instance of the chorus effect in the project

Of course what you don’t get with the Arturia Dimension D VST clone is the stellar sound that the Roland hardware is known for.

Yes guys it’s time to discuss sound. Do I like Arturia’s chorus sound? Yes, I do. Is it similar to Roland’s? Not really. They did a good job emulating the sound and the feel of the effect, and the use cases are there, but the sound is just a bit different. Enough for me to notice, and enough for me to keep the hardware with the obvious limitations. But this is just me, you can decide it’s not worth buying the hardware just for the sound alone. It is vintage so you have to maintain and service it. You can spill beer on it. You can have an electrical issue and loose it. Not to mention that you don’t have any control over it, you just select the algorythm.

The best part of the Roland hardware, after sound of course, is the fact that you can have a combination of algorithms by pressing more than one button.

Still, it is 2021 and you have options. Obviously if you want to start collecting hardware, source gear like synths are more important than processing, so we only recommend getting a vintage Roland Dimension D chorus at the end of your gear collection effort, if the space and budget allows. If not, you can get the VST for the obvious ease of use and maintenance boost. Just keep in mind that while the Arturia Chorus sounds great, the hardware sounds much better.

And if you are fast enough, you can get the Arturia VST at a special introductory price here.

Modular Synth workflow for beginners – Visualise patch cable voltage values

Building and having a modular synth can be a bit of a hassle. And when I say a bit, I mean a lot. Not being able to see any modulation values is one thing. Then, there is the fact that you will never be able to save a general patch due to the flexible nature of the synth. Also, another drawback is that stereo is close to non existent (unless you want to buy two of the same modules), not to mention polyphony (unless you want to buy six of the same modules to get a six voice synth).

But programming, or should we say patching a modular synth is so much fun. And you get a wonderful sense of freedom.

Still this alone does not make modular so attractive, especially if you are new to synths all along. Today, I will show you one product that makes entering this very distinct domain much more easy.

Yes, I am talking about Producertools’ new product, their Patchcables with Bi-color LED built in. This is a long time coming guys, for sure somebody would have done this by now. Now there is basically no excuse for you to not build that eurorack system that you wanted. This a pre-order program for now, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, shipping is supposed to be in March 2021.

So basically with these patch cables you will be able to see the polarity of the voltage and a rough estimation of its value. The built in LEDs will glow red or green depending if the voltage is plus or minus, so if the envelope or LFO is basically negative sloped or positive sloped. Also, the light the LEDs emit varies in intensity. You can see how it looks in the video below:

There are of course drawbacks for now, but the manufacturer said that there is minimal interference with the Eurorack Control Voltage that passes through. They even had to design their own LEDs for this.

Still, a bit of voltage does get used by the LEDs so will not reach the source.

So don’t use it with signals that require precision, like controling the pitch of oscillators with 1v/Oct signals. Best use is for non random (S&H) LFOs and Envelopes, where you can just offset/increase send voltage in order to compensate for LED consumption.

Get your own set of Patchcables with Bi-color LEDs on the Producertools website here.

Mixing vocals tutorial & cheat sheet – FREE PDF

Hey friends, good to talk to you again! For those of you that are not subscribed to the iDesignSound.com newsletter, you may have missed this very interesting document in regards to mixing or should I say, fitting, vocals into tracks.

It would be so not like you to miss out on this very important information so we would suggest that you sign-up for the iDesignSound.com newsletter. We will not spam you, but provide very important and relevant information in the field. Our subscribers got this information ahead of time but we figured it is too good to miss so we are providing it to you as well, at the bottom of the article.

Please find the newsletter register form below:

Now, Slate Digital, the company know for very very good emulation of hardware outboard unit, have released this very good pdf booklet about mixing vocals.

Vocals are extremely tricky to get right given the dynamic nature of the human voice, the broad range of frequencies it covers and the somewhat hard to obtain sweet spot of modern music mixing.

And if you plan to record your own voice and process it with this guide, we have written a very extensive comparrison and review for the best microphone arm on the market right now.

Slate Academy, the tutorial side of Slate Digital’s business, has got this covered with six parts, following the signal path and the natural way of sound treatment:

  1. Corrective Eq
  2. Compression
  3. Tone shaping
  4. De-essing
  5. Air
  6. Stereo processing (Reverb/Delay)

We found this list very handy, from the perspective of information contained as well as structuring, so without further ado, here is the download link for the PDF:

Very interesting free VST – Lyra 8 recreation

For those that know and for those that don’t, Lyra-8 is a very interesting synth with a very interesting sound engine and layout.

I know, because I own it (the orange sunset colorway of course) and I can say that it is nothing short of incredible.

Lyra 8 is all about cross modulation and finding atmospheric chords

Yes, that’s right, there is no keyboard you don’t really get to play standard notes (western division into notes and semitones). There is also no MIDI so the VST version is interesting because you can get to play standard chords very easily. I got it mostly for that.

On the hardware unit you close the circuit and play the note with the two buttons on the bottom, by putting your finger or any conductive material on both for each oscillator. You only have knob tuning to select the note/pitch that each oscillator plays.

There is a also external processing on the hardware.

So having both the hardware unit and the VST makes sense if you plan to use the hardware for the BBD style delay and distortion on external sounds only.

Be sure to check also our list of 400+ free VSTs (regularly updated, we just added the Lyra 8 VST here as well).

Here is a video demonstrating the hardware, it is advised you check it first to see what to expect from the VST:

To be honest, it does not really matter what you plan to do because the VST is free. I fully recommend you test it out as I am sure you will find a place for it in your sound design pallettte.

The free VST can be downloaded here.

PPG Wave 3.V Plugin Review

Wavetable synthesis in a VERY convenient and affordable virtual instrument + X-MAS GIFT FOR YOU!

I guess we can’t really consider this a vacation, because it’s either that we are sad, struggling with the global situation in our inner circle or we are just so bored with 2020 that we can’t wait to get it over with. Still, it’s been a great year for musicians, as the companies behind our beloved instruments have helped us with good deals, new product and just more and more stuff for us as musicians to do.

Today I will be listening to some brilliant piece of music making nostalgia. Yes out with the SQUARE SAW SINE waves and in with the WEIRDOS. It’s time for some wavetable virtual goodness, so bring out your mulled wine and your slight holiday cheer and let’s get ready for the review of the PPG WAVE 3.V

And since it is that time of the year (no matter what year it is and how hard it was), I will give you 5 sounds that I designed on this plugin, in sample form, free of charge. There will only be one C note played, so you can load them in your favourite sampler and fit chromatically into your own tracks.

What is the PPG Wave?

This interesting piece of software is simulating one of the most sought-after poly synth of all time. If you know Waldorf, if you know or love german music instruments, you know the PPG Wave. A real legend. An inspirational piece of kit and let’s face it, a VERY good investment if you have the money, the space, and the storage conditions for the real thing. At it’s heart, it is like a regular analog subtractive synth. The original 80s beast even had analog filters (faithfully recreated in the VST). But the waves that generate the sound are not just created digitally with 0s and 1s (so extremely stable), but also much more interesting (in my opinion) than the classic geometric shapes that we are used to. So the sonic capabilities are extreme, even to this day. Just imagine how it sounded back in the day, when everybody was so used to those saw waves. The effects on it sound good, but the best part is that they are surprisingly customisable. I mean you can have a delay clock to 28/128. Don’t see this division very often on synths

What it’s not.

Sure, it is wavetable synthesis, but it’s a very very initial form of it. It is NOT competing with the likes of the Arturia Pigments in terms of modulation. No, there is no waveshaping. No, there is no Mod Matrix and of course there is only one LFO. This is not a tinker’s tool. People who want to play with the miracle of wavetable should buy a VIRUS C like I did and for me it is a dream come true. Sure, the Virus is limited to arround 60 waves, no wavefolding, but it is gear and not software (although it is digital) and it sounds much better than the Arturia VST can.

If you just want to go for the Wave’s authentic sound (and the “authentic” user interface), you are going to be extremely pleased with this VST. Plus you can load your own waves, which is always cool.

PPG Wave 3.v features

Feature list from the Waldorf website:

General

  • Up to 256 voices per instance (depending on available CPU power)
  • 8 part Multimode
  • 8 Stereo Outputs
  • Host automation of most parameters
  • MIDI Controller automation of most parameters
  • More than 100 new Wavetables created by Wolfgang Palm
  • Original Waveterm B Factory Sample Library
  • Original PPG Wave Factory Sounds

Per Voice

  • 2 Wavetable Oscillators
  • Sample Playback with 8 bit, 12 bit or up to 32 bit
  • Authentic Aliasing Emulation of the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3/2.V or no aliasing
  • 12dB / 24 dB Low Pass Filter
  • Authentic Filter Emulation of the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3
  • Overdrive behind Filter
  • 1 LFO
  • 3 Envelopes
  • Authentic Emulation of the modulation graininess (switchable with True PPG)


Per Part (up to 8 parts available)

  • Poly, Dual, Quad and Mono (8 voices) mode with 8 different semitone offsets to create chords or melodic lines
  • Arpeggiator with Up, Down, Alternate and Cascade (PPG special) mode
  • True PPG Mode switchable between PPG Wave 2.2, Wave 2.3 and Wave 2.V
  • 4-Band EQ
  • Overdrive with various types
  • Phaser with up to 12 stages
  • Chorus with up to 6 stages
  • Flanger
  • Stereo Delay
  • Reverb

Other Features

  • Sample loading via drag&drop or load file dialog
  • Multisample playback by using the 8 part Multimode
  • 8 adjustable Cutoff / Resonance deviations to simulate analog inexactness
  • Finer adjustments of several values in Fine Modulatione mode

How it feels

It feels extremely outdated, but nostalgic. The VST really captured the interface style, and we all know how important interfacing with our electronic music instruments is. It has these buttons to access parts of the interface labeled “Digi”, “Graph”, “Tune”, so retro, but after that you just click on the imitation screen on the parameter and use your mouse to change values pretty easily (to be honest I was expecting to click on left/right arrows all the time, so this is a relief). Browser is ok-ish, more cool than useful, but there is a simple windows explorer or mac finder option aswell.

To create big sounds you go to the right side of the “screen” where you can just assign multitimbral parts to the same midi channel, I found that to be the most interesting way to create complex stuff (mostly because like I said I own the Virus C which is a multi-timbral diamond). When you first play with it you feel overwhelmed, there is the illusion of infinite modulation, but for me at least it seems pretty limited by today’s VST standards (and pretty counter-intuitive).

How it sounds

It sounds great. Excellent for long pads, and hollow/weird sounds. Sub oscillator is really nice, but this is not going to be a fat synth. The filter does not self-resonate, nor is it smooth by any means. It gets very weird when resonance is up but i like that. There is a certain buzz about it that makes me understand just how complex the waves are, when compared to traditional analog subtractive. The filter shines well on mid frequencies, and with some modulation it will sound very profane, almost perverse.

I would not use the drive option on the filter, and for sure I would not expect a proper tube emulation, but the features are there if there is a place in your soundscape.

The envelopes are very snappy, they sometimes click pretty hard, but again, there can be space for this as well so tune it to taste. They are of course mostly suited for pads and slow cooked sound design. The Chorus effect is pretty decent, but as with most VSTs, you will not have a very realistic stereo image so don’t get your hopes that up. Still, sound design wise, it is impressive and interesting to play with, and the guys at the “factory” packed a lot of wavetables along, so you have a lot of source material to modulate, filter and arpeggiate. Some of these waves are actually design by the Wave’s daddy Wolfgang Palm.

As promised, here are five samples from the VST. They don’t do it justice because they are monophonic (only the C note), but I think they are both representative and also useful.

Key differences between Chorus, Flanger & Phaser Explained

If guitars were rifles, pedal effects would be ammunition.

There’s only so much you can achieve with a clean guitar sound, and it’s more than safe to say that effects such as Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are capable of completely shifting and changing your tone, for better or worse.

Now, skilled guitar players instinctively know the differences between various pedal effects, but most of the time people are more concerned about where and when they can use a certain type of sound rather than wreck their heads trying to explain ‘how and why’.

Today we are going to attempt to thoroughly examine some of the key differences between chorus, flanger, and phaser effects, so buckle up and stay for a while.

Chorus in a nutshell

The ‘chorus effect’ is easily one of the most iconic pedal effects among guitar players.

We could go as far as to call it ‘choir-us’ mainly because it’s supposed to make the guitar sound much bigger than it actually is.

It’s ideal for single-guitar bands, troupes, and performers who want to duplicate (or triplicate) their sound in a live setting and for studio musicians who don’t particularly like laying down numerous tracks where they can achieve the same effects with a pedal as simple as this.

How it works

The Chorus effect modulates the pitch of your tone ever so slightly; it basically reproduces the exact signal of your guitar’s vibrations but at a slightly different pitch and time.

The potential of the chorus effect is vast, which means that it can subtly enhance the depth of your tone or it can simulate another live guitar, depending on how you set its parameters.

In a bit more technical terms, the chorus effect is achieved when the pedal takes the signal before melding it with pitch-modulated copies of the original signal.

Depending on the model and parameters, the post-produced signal copy can be singular or there could be numerous. The more ‘layers’ the pedal makes, the bigger your tone will become. 

How to use it properly

Essentially, it’s a straightforward effect that doesn’t exactly require much skill and experience to be used, although it’s kind of addictive in the sense that it may leave you with the feeling that you always need ‘more’.

It’s a modulation pedal, which basically means that it’s supposed to sit at the back end of the signal chain, right after wah-wahs, compressors, overdrives, or distortions.

Due to the fact that chorus pedals aren’t necessarily the most intricate contraptions and feature only a handful of control knobs, you’ll typically only have depth and rate to worry about.

Set these parameters low to enrich your sound in a subtle, delicate way; when set at halfway you’ll add plenty of character to your tone while going anywhere beyond this point is not recommended if your signal chain is encumbered as it is.

Flanger in a nutshell

The flanger effect is one of the most enigmatic guitar gizmos to this day; it was artificially created (by accident) in old-school studios back in the tape-recording days (4-track and 8-track machines) by touching the flange (the rim of the tape), although nowadays the process of ‘flanging’ has been tamed and digitalized.

The ‘flanger’ effect sports characteristics of numerous other pedal effects – it’s based on delay pedals, but its unpredictability often leads it towards phasers, overdrives, and distortions, obviously depending on its parameters.

Furthermore, this effect was created by playing two tracks at the same time, which further means that it also shares some similarities with choruses to some extent. As we’ve already discussed, chorus pedals modulate and blend the altered signal with the original one, which is partially what happens with the ‘flanging’ effect too.

How it works

Flanger works in the same way as most modulation pedals do; this pedal splits the signal in 2 identical paths where the original is untouched and the second one is just slightly delayed (measured in milliseconds).

The tweaked signal is then modulated both by speeding it and slowing it cyclically. The ‘modulated’ signal is then blended with the original signal.

What’s most important to understand about flangers is that their altered signal is actually tweaked at ‘random’ unpredictable intervals whereas other modulation pedals offer more control and precision.

The randomness of this effect is the reason why some people use it as their go-to pedal and other guitarists avoid it.

How to use it properly

Flanger pedals are by default wild and pretty hard to tame, but there are more ways than one by which you can gap the small obstacles they present.

The most intimidating parameter of typical flangers is the ‘manual control’, which basically allows guitarists to pick and choose which frequencies they want to alter.

When untouched, the pedal will automatically calculate compatible frequencies and reinforce them (incompatible frequencies will always nullify each other), leading to a slightly clearer tone without sacrificing the punchy feel.

Most flangers typically feature ‘resonance’ or ‘intensity’, both of which relate to the same thing. This parameter affects the effect’s intensity by clipping or feeding a portion of the delay straight back to the original input.

By increasing the ‘intensity’ you’ll add more grit to your tone and achieve a more distorted high-gain sound.

Phaser in a nutshell

Phaser pedals sound almost identical to laymen and beginner guitarists, but in actuality, they share more differences than similarities.

This effect can potentially be used to achieve a mild flanging effect only if its parameters are basically untouched and set on ultra-low settings.

A well-known fact among veteran guitar players is that the phaser effect was introduced to the scene around the same time when flangers came to be. This is probably the reason why new-school players typically don’t make a clear distinction between the two.

In a nutshell, Phasers create a swirling-like sound, much akin to a plane taking off with the only difference being that it is constantly circulating in the fashion of stereo speakers.

One of the most notable benefits of Phaser pedals is that it allows guitar players to create a much bigger atmosphere and ambient, even with smallish amps and relatively mediocre gear. 

How it works

Flangers and phasers operate on similar principles; the original signal is divided into two paths, one path is modulated and the other is completely untouched.

The modulated signal path passes through a series of all-pass filters, which shift the signal’s phase revolving around a variety of (pre-calculated) frequencies. In this regard, the Phaser is not as unpredictable as the flanger, but it’s not as controllable as the chorus.

The modulated signal path is later mixed with the untouched signal path, which results in the ‘swooping’ circular tone.

How to use it properly

The Flanger effect is significantly less punishing towards beginner players; its parameters are not as sensitive, and it’s a bit more versatile altogether.

As far as we’re talking about the signal chain, most people don’t use both flanger and phaser pedals, so you should ideally place either of the two near the end of the chain (after distortion, equalizers, compressors, delays, and choruses).

Typical phaser pedals (such as MXR’s Phase 100) feature simplistic tone controls like Intensity and Speed. The ‘intensity’ basically governs the number of phased stages whereas the ‘speed’ affects the rapidity of signal shifts.

In simpler words, the ‘intensity’ knobs allow you to create different ‘geometric’ signal patterns while the ‘speed’ knobs are there for you to finalize and shape them in more concrete ways.

Similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger

Essentially, Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger pedals belong to the ‘modulation effect’ category.

Aside from this little formality, they’re also meant to be used in similar ways and operate under similar principles.

All three of these effects divide the original guitar signal path in two after which they alter it in different ways. Although the outcomes are vastly different, these split signals all utilize delays to modulate the frequencies.

From a more practical side, all of these effects have been made available in both pedal and plug-in formats.

The initial modes of achieving chorus, flanger, and phaser (particularly the last two) were almost unwieldy and required a dose of technical expertise, whereas today these effects are beginner-friendly and suitable for use by immediate beginner players.

In technical terms, these pedal effects always leave one signal path completely untouched, which means that at least ‘half’ of your tone will remain exactly the same as it originally was, even though this is not entirely a quantifiable matter.

Even though there are numerous minor other similarities, the most crucial and highlighted ones are:

  1. Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger effects all belong to the ‘modulation’ category
  2. The same method of operation and functional principles
  3. The unfiltered signal path is always non-modulated and identical to the original
  4. All three effects utilize delays to affect the filtered signal path
  5. Modern-day pedals have made these effects more accessible to beginner guitar players

Differences between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger

Now that we’ve touched upon the similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger it’s time to dig into the main course – the key differences that separate them.

Though there are many dissimilarities between them, we’ve plucked out the most notable ones and grouped them in the appropriate categories, starting with…

Sonic differences

The Chorus effect is, essentially, much different from Phaser and Flanger, at least sound-wise. It’s ‘mellow’ tonally whereas Phaser and Flanger are closer to overdriven types of sounds.

Even when the parameters of a Chorus pedal are set to their extremes the end result still boasts clarity when isolated. However, choruses are seldom used as standalone effects.

This pedal effect is more of an ‘adhesive’ type in the sense that it extends itself across the spectrum of other effects used in the chain. Phasers and Flangers tend to dominate the chain with their grit.

Differences in application

Distortion effects are commonly associated with rock & heavy metal while chorus, phaser, and flanger effects can be used in pretty much any music genre and can fit into any playing style.

These effects are as versatile as the player’s creativity; in that regard, they can be used in almost any song or performance piece, although exceptions should be obvious.

Since phasers and flangers affect the frequencies of the guitar’s signal in a relatively similar way, they almost cross each other out.

In simpler words, most guitar players use either a phaser pedal or a flanger; rarely both.

Differences in versatility

In this particular scenario, ‘versatility’ refers to the flexibility and freedom as far as tweaking with control knobs and parameters are in question.

Tuning up all the knobs to their extreme would make any sound muddy, but especially so in the case of phasers and flangers.

As mentioned before, these effect types tend to dominate the signal chain, which oftentimes diminishes the presence of other pedals and effects.

In that regard, Phasers and Flangers are slightly less versatile than choruses.

Obviously, Phase and Flange pedals are fairly different between themselves too. Phasers are slightly easier to control, but more importantly, they offer a more calculated and more predictable approach to tone-tweaking.

 On the opposite end of the spectrum, Flangers don’t affect the tone so drastically and can be used for extended periods of time without compromising the tone’s integrity.

The swirling of Phasers makes them ideal for song parts that need to be accentuated (particularly solo sections) whereas Flange pedals can easily substitute for overdrive and distortion when need be.

Conclusion

Every pedal effect type is different. Moreover, every model is different from another; two different pedals that belong to the same category can be so strikingly different that some people would assume they serve different purposes.

Even so, the contrasts between Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are undeniable and to a certain extent obvious.

From the variance in sound, over dissimilarities in application to differences in application, by now we hope that we’ve helped you make a distinction between these pedal effects.

Amplitube vs Guitar Rig – a detailed comparison

As any guitar player knows, Guitar Rig and Amplitube are undoubtedly two of the most famous and popular guitar emulators available. They’re the best at what they do, but which one is actually better?

We have updated our article in light of the recent Amplitube 5 release, available on IK Multimedia’s website. Comparing to Amplitube 4, this one has been upgraded user experience department, being by far much more user friendly. It now suports Retina-displays and the GUI is fully-scalable. Also, in the new department you now have the option to do parallel effects, with the addition of the dry/wet control and a lot more devices to play with.

For those interested in an upgrade path from Amplitube 4 to 5, here is a sheet from IK Multimedia, explaining the differences and also listing the contents of the Amplitube 5 package.

And if you are interested in a music production laptop as well, we have an updated comparison article right here for you.

Today we’re going to talk at length about the differences and similarities between Amplitube and Guitar Rig, their pros and cons, features, specs, and ultimately decide which platform offers bigger and better benefits, so let’s begin with the most recent price, avaialble by clicking these buttons:

To be fair, we will compare Amplitube 5 to the “PRO” version of Guitar Rig – because the free version is in a league of it’s own. Sadly there is no free entry point to Amplitube, so we have to have an apples-to-apples comparison.

Guitar Rig 6 Amps

For the lack of better words, the selection of amps, cabinets, and effects stacked into the Guitar rig is absolutely incredible. Of course, its eclecticism and versatility mainly depends on which package you’ve opted for, but even the factory Guitar Rig 6 Player is better-rounded than the vast majority if boutique guitar emulators.

You’ll be able to choose between some of the iconic amps, such as Hot Plex, Citrus, Tweed Delight, Jazz Amp, Hot Solo+, and many others, although the bulk of these presets are reserved for Guitar Rig 6 Pro users.

The newest additions (in comparison to the Guitar Rig 5 Pro) are the Chicago, Bass Invader, and the Fire Breather amps, all of which bring brand-new and highly unique features to the table.

Overall, Guitar Rig offers surprisingly authentic, great-sounding amps.

Amplitube 5 Amps

Amplitube’s selection of amps is perfect for literally all kinds of music styles and subgenres. The Standard Amplitube 5 package has 34 devices while the MAX version has a whopping 107 items.

You’ll be able to use five British Stack amps, including Brit 8000 and Brit 9000, the Red Pig, Brit Valve, the Brit Silver, two American Tube amps, as well as a solid-state Bass preamp. The standard edition of Amplitube 5

If you want the full list of devices available, IK Multimedia has created this sheet, which also compares Amplitube 5 with the previous version.

These amps work wonders regardless of whether you’re looking for a poppy sound, a fuzzed jazzy tone, or a heavily distorted metal timbre. However, Guitar Rig’s selection of amps is just slightly broader.

Guitar Rig 6 Cabinets

Guitar Rig 6 offers matched cabinets for their amps, which is generally pretty great. Furthermore, you’ll be able to make great use of the Control room cabinets & mics features if you’ve upgraded to Guitar Rig 6 Pro.

However, the downside here is that you won’t be able to mix and match ‘unmatched’ cabinets like you would with Amplitube.

Amplitube Cabinets

As far as cabinets go, Amplitube 5 offers 27 models, while the MAX version comes equipped with a HUGE ARRAY of 101, including six 4 by 12s (matching the amps), one 1 by 12 Open Vintage cab, a 2 by 12 Closed Vintage cab, and a 1 by 15 Bass Vintage cabinet.

While Guitar Rig had the upper hand in terms of the amp selection, Amplitube does a bit better job in the realm of cabinets, offering more than twice as many models and presets.

In a nutshell, this is more than you’ll need to capture the sonic essence of the recognizable sounds of guitar heroes with ease.

Guitar Rig 6 Effects

There are almost more guitar effects aboard the Guitar Rig 6 platform than can be counted, starting with five delays (Twin, Delay Man, Psyche Delay, Quad Delay and Tape Echo), 12 Distortions (Fuzz, MeZone, Sledgehammer, Gain & Treble boosters, Cat, Demon, Skreamer and more), 10 Dynamic effects, 5 EQs, 7 filters, 8 modulation effects, 3 Pitch effects, 9 reverbs, and three ‘Special’ effects (Resochord, Ring Modulator and Grain Delay).

Barely a dozen of these effects are available as factory presets, though, which means that more than half of aforementioned guitar effect models are only available with the Guitar Rig 6 Pro package.

Amplitube Effects

The Amplitube simulator offers 10 different stompbox models, including choruses, flangers, delays, wahs, diode overdrives, volume pedals, graphic equalizers, compressors, tremolos, and acoustic simulators. With the new Amplitube 5 version you can run them in paralel with the dry/wet setting.

All of these effects are taken from actual analogue effect pedals and sound as original and authentic as can be. The same list of items contains an inventory of all the stomp effects contained.

The good and the bad of Guitar Rig 6

Basically, Guitar Rig 6 is free to download, which is a massive benefit in itself. However, the factory presets selection is modest, to say the very least, which means that it’s a pretty basic software with relatively poor versatility if you don’t upgrade to the ‘Pro’ version at some point.

Let’s discuss the positives and negatives of Guitar Rig 6 PRO:

Pros:

  • Decently affordable upgrade to Guitar Rig 6 free
  • Exceptional range of guitar amps
  • Quality analogue bass amp
  • Authentic sounding tools, models and presets
  • Unparalleled selection of effects
  • Decently easy to use, even by beginners

Cons:

  • The basic (free) package is not overly versatile
  • Difficult to mix and match cabinets
  • Almost no effect pedals and stompboxes to speak of in the free package

The good and the bad of Amplitube

Amplitube is decently approachable guitar software that packs a hefty selection of stompboxes, amplifiers, cabinets, speakers, microphones, effects, and rack units. With the new update to Amplitube 5, the user interface is extremely well built, scalable and looks great on Apple devices.

Obviously, it’s more expensive than the (free) Guitar Rig 6, but it is well worth the buck considering how beginner-friendly and eclectic it is. Some of the highlighted advantages and disadvantages of Amplitube are:

Pros:

  • Highly intuitive interface
  • Excellent selection of stompbox effects, amplifiers, cabinets and microphones
  • Several rack effects and speakers
  • Onboard tuners
  • Constantly expanding roster of amps and effects
  • Great for beginners and seasoned veterans alike

Cons:

  • Not available for free, although demo can be downloaded free of charge

Conclusion

The specs, features, and UI were some of the most notable parameters we took into consideration when comparing the performance of Amplitube and Guitar Rig.

Even though these guitar simulator programs are completely different, they actually do have a lot in common. Both programs are laden with a myriad of top-quality amps and effects, and both actually sound extraordinarily great.

Be it as it may, Guitar Rig tends to do a bit better only because there is a free version to which Amplitube cannot compete.

Without cutting Amplitube’s worth short, it’s amazing software that has enormous potential to usurp Guitar Rig’s throne in near future.

Bass Amp Simulator

A good bass amp is big, weighs a ton, and usually costs a fortune.

Given that most people can’t afford hauling a 100-pound metal-plated chunk of wood from their rehearsal space every time a gig is on the horizon, finding a good bass amp simulator might save you a bit of troubles.

However, there are numerous plugins and programs on the market, so finding the adequate simulator isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

That’s why we’ve taken the liberty of handpicking the finest bass amp simulators for your convenience, so let’s start with:

Amplitube 4

Amplitube is incredible software that offers much in terms of convenience while boasting remarkable versatility and beginner-friendliness.

It’s pricey, but it’s not overly expensive, and the fact that it’s available in various formats justifies the price tag.

The Amplitube rocks a wide selection of premium-quality modelled amplifiers for both guitars & basses, and it also sports numerous stompboxes, reverbs, modulators, fuzzes, distortions, delays, and a myriad of similar effects.

While its rack effect selection is pretty modest to say the least, Amplitube 4 sports excellent visuals, a highly intuitive interface, a built-in tuner, as well as a comprehensive recording suite.

There are a couple of drawbacks to this bass simulator, though. Aside from the fact that it’s pretty expensive, it does not support 32-bit systems, which is quite a downfall for people who have older (but functional) setups.

Amplitube offers a couple of pricing options, with the most affordable one (base version) still being more than versatile enough to cater to your performing, playing, practicing, and recording needs.

Helix Native

Now, most people would rather buy a boutique bass amp than invest in a boutique bass amp simulator; Line 6’s Helix Native begs to differ.

The Helix Native is a beautifully designed bass amp sim that packs 60 amps in total, 13 of which are dedicated bass simulators, 30 cabinets, and more than 100 effects that you can utilize in your rig.

It also sports a variety of distortions, equalizers, modulators, pitch shifters, synths, and numerous other goodies along the same lines.

Obviously, the biggest disadvantage of Helix Native is its price tag, but that’s not what dissuades most people from trying it out. Namely, the vast majority of amp sims in this software are guitar simulators. 

Even though there are substantially simpler and more cost-effective alternatives, Helix Native remains one of the most exquisite, most powerful and versatile bass amp simulators available on the market.

Amp Room

The Amp Room takes ‘quality over quantity’ to another level, compromising for the modest selection of bass amps and bass effects with a sheer, raw quality and function.

Its simplicity is its forte – the Amp Room features a single bass amp simulator and three bass cabinets only, all of which were recorded in real-time with authentic microphones by professional players.

If you’re more concerned about your actual tone and sound rather than the ability to toy around with different presets and timbres, then the Amp Room might be the perfect solution for you.

As far as tone-shaping capabilities are of concern, this bass amp sim features a dedicated head equalizer, click & drag method of microphone placement, DI equalizer controls, and a variety of tone-blending features.

It is, sadly, not available in a standalone format, and its eclecticism is obviously not something to boast about.

However, it’s decently affordable and a no-brainer pick for serious bass players who want to get the most out of their bass in an analog yet digital way.

GTR 3

Cheap and authentic would be the words that best describe Wave’s GTR 3 amp simulator.

This is one of the cheapest multi-bass sims that is available in both standalone and plug-in format, but just like some of our previous picks it only supports 64-bit operating systems.

It packs seven dedicated bass amps, 26 effects, and a digital pedalboard that can ‘fit’ six stompboxes simultaneously.

Obviously, this is not necessarily the most versatile bass amp simulator on the market, but it is among those that are the easiest to use. Its beginner-friendliness is a huge bonus considering that it’s also remarkably cheap, but that’s about everything this simulator has to provide.

 GK-Amplification 2 Pro

Here’s yet another cheap bass amp simulator that offers authentic bass tones, effects and timbres alongside a variety of unique bass amps. In terms of convenience, the GK-Amplification 2 Pro is available in both standalone and plug-in format.

This bass amp simulator features three Gaillain & Kruker amps, three bass heads (MB150, 800RB and 2001RB), and two speaker cabinets.

Even though this doesn’t really reflect the versatility of GK-Amplification 2 Pro, the fact that all of these analog components are manufactured by the same brand and put into a digital format speaks volumes about their quality.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to tweak and adjust a number of tonal parameters, such as bass head equalizers, boosts, voicing filters, types, angles and positions of microphones, and blending of the cabinets.

The brand also provides the opportunity to download a free demo so you can get acquainted with its features before deciding whether you want to buy it or not.

There are no stompboxes onboard, and there are only three amps for you to choose from, but considering that this is a fairly inexpensive bass amp simulator, it’s quite obvious that it’s well worth the buck.

IgniteAmps SHB-1

Let’s wrap things up with SHB-1, which is a free bass amp for Windows and Mac. It does have a single amp preset, but it’s built after real, authentic amp components and features an exact replica of the original SHB 1 bass head.

The SHB-1 offers a simple, straightforward interface, an exceptionally great sound, and it supports both 32 and 64-bit operating systems.

It’s idiosyncratic in a lot of ways, and you’ll need your own cabinet plugin in order to actually utilize it, but it’s easily one of the finest bass amp simulators for hard rock and metal music out there.

Tube Amp Emulators- Vintage Tube Amp Sound Without All The Hardware

Tube amps sound better, bigger and grittier than digital amps, and that’s a well-known fact among seasoned veteran guitarists.

However, they’re also fairly expensive and fairly demanding in terms of maintenance.

Luckily, we live in the age of technology, and one of the numerous wonders that it brought to us is the combination of both worlds – tube amp emulators.

Essentially, emulators are digitalized, substantially more convenient software versions of tube amps, and today we’re going to talk about some of the best ones that the market has to offer. Without any further ado, let’s review the best tube amp emulators in 2020:

Bias FX2

Let’s start off with Bias FX2, which is arguably one of the most comprehensive tube amp emulators out there.

Basically, it’s up to you to decide how much versatility you want to get out of it by choosing between three different subscription packages – Standard, Professional, and Elite.

First things first, even the essential standard pack is pretty eclectic, and all future upgrades contain all of the features that their predecessors are equipped with.

The basic ‘standard’ pack features 30 amplifiers, 43 effect units, 70 factory presets and four different guitar models; furthermore, this package offers a looper track player, a well-rounded DSP engine, a highly intuitive UI, dual digital signal paths, and downloadable presets and modes from the ToneCloud.

The ‘professional’ pack is easily twice as great, offering 60 amplifier settings, 115 effects, 130 presets, eight guitar models, 14 rack units, improved MIDI functionality, and a myriad of artist presets.

If you don’t mind paying a couple of bucks extra, the Bias FX2 Elite package may be everything you need.

It sports 100 amplifier settings, 122 effects, 210 presets, 20 guitar tone models, 18 rack units, new fuzzes and time modellers, harmonizers, and complementary Bias pedal programs.

Overall, this tube amp emulator is extraordinarily versatile and well-suited for both beginners and professional players, studio engineers, and producers, so it might be worth your while to check it out.

Ignite Amps Emissary

The Emissary is next on our list, and it’s been one of the most heavily acclaimed guitar programs for a couple of years now.

In short, it sports IA’s 3rd-gen triode-modelling engine, dynamic EL34, 6L6GC and KT88 pentodes and tetrodes analog modelling modes, two selectable channels, selectable oversampling, customizable controls, and a plethora of selectable modes, effects, timbres, and tones.

The software offers a highly authentic UI, which basically represents an actual tube amp, along with input loops, tone control knobs, split channels, and such.

However, the digitalized convenience features also on board, allowing you to have a drastically higher amount of control over your amp emulator.

In a nutshell, it may not be as eclectic as Bias FX2, but it’s considerably cheaper and more rewarding to beginner guitarists. 

Kuassa Matchlock

The Matchlock may not be the most eclectic tube amp emulator on the market, but it’s certainly one of the most authentic Fender simulators.

It offers classic, iconic sounds sampled from one of the biggest guitar brands, boasting characteristics of Fender’s Twin Reverb, Super Reverb, and the Custom Vibrolux Reverb.

Some of its highlight features include two channels (boost & clean), five cabinets, high and low-pass filters, 7 different types of microphones from Shure, Sennheiser, Neumann and AKG, fully adjustable microphone positions and placements, built-in noise gates, and a remarkably simple user interface.

You can download the demo for free and try it out, or you can download it at a very attractive price from the brand’s official page.

Destructor

Blue Cat Audio’s Destructor is basically a compilation of dozens of amp simulators, including hundreds of factory presets, models, cabinets, compressors, effect pedals, and even tape machines.

This is basically an analog tube amp emulator that offers exquisite distortion modelling tools, excellent cleans, hundreds of fully customizable presets, tone maps, adjustable MIDI controls, and exceptional compatibility with pretty much every popular OS and software.

The only downside of the Destructor is that it’s pretty hard to nail its learning curve, especially if you’re a beginner.

There are so many features and modes for you to use (most of which are meant to be utilized simultaneously), so it’s not the most intuitive software by all means.

However, it’s still among the most eclectic tube amp emulators that the current market has to offer.  

S-Gear

S-gear is, in plain words, an amazingly advanced guitar amp emulator that is completely stacked with top-shelf features, both digital and analog.

It sports a variety of EQs, compressors, delays, reverbs, tone-shaping features, a plethora of guitar timbres, and much, much more.

The S-Gear is a well-rounded amp emulator that possesses top-quality tube amp settings, although the bulk of its settings and controls are primarily digitalized.

Even though it’s pretty pricey, S-gear’s free 10-day trial can be downloaded, allowing you to experience its features and functionalities before you decide whether or not you want to invest in it.

TH-U Full

TH-U Full is comprehensive, well-rounded, and absolutely unequalled in terms of versatility.

This software is packed with 89 different guitar amps, four bass amps, 50 cabinets for guitars, 2 bass cabs, 77 combined pedal & rack effects, a variety of microphones, and over a thousand factory presets.

You’ll be able to emulate tones from amps made by Randall, DV Mark, Brunetti or THD, or combine them all for a wild, exquisite timbre.

For a tube amp emulator, TH-U Full offers 3D, fully immersive modes and methods of finding tones and utilizing different rigs into your own.

It’s laden with dozens of effects and equalizers, which means that you should have no trouble attaining the most unique tone with it.

The only thing that you probably won’t like about TH-U Full software is the fact that it’s fairly expensive.

Even still, it offers superior versatility and a remarkably eclectic selection of guitar models, amps and cabinets, so it’s more than safe to say that it is worth every cent of it.

Best FM Synth VST- All budgets included

Frequency modulators (FM) synths are rapidly gaining popularity among musicians, DJs, and producers alike.

These little software-based gadgets are devices that can be used to bridge various sonic gaps and obstacles, creating analogue-like sounds from scratch.

It’s only natural for aspiring players and performers to search for the best synths to use, and if so, we’ve got you covered.

Today we’re going to discuss some of the best FM synths on the market, starting with:

FM8

Native Instruments are among the biggest names in department of software electronics, so it’s quite obvious why we’ve decided to go with their flagship FM8 as our opener pick.

Although pricey, this FM synth program is by far one of the most versatile all-encompassing plugins that this brand has released so far, casting a long shade over its predecessors.

This is a fully digital VST that offers a total of 960 presets, each boasting crystal clear and remarkably authentic FM sounds. Furthermore, this software also packs a robust matrix platform, a dedicated arpeggiator, and well-rounded envelopes.

Although FM8 has its own patches (and downloadable upgrades), it’s also fully compatible with most external FM hardware devices, allowing you to mix and match different setups into a complete, well-rounded one.

The interface of FM8 is straightforward and plain, characterized by slightly oversized knobs and faders, and a 6-octave configurable keyboard.

While it may appear as a beginner producing program, NI’s FM8 is made by professionals for professionals.

Ableton Operator

The Operator is an integral component of the acclaimed Ableton Suite, and luckily for anyone who’s not using this platform specifically it’s a standalone VST that has only one requirement – Live9 Lite.

It’s substantially cheaper than most VSTs in this category, and it’s also significantly easier to use, mainly because it doesn’t have as many features.

Even though this could be perceived as a con, Operator’s forte is its simplicity.

It features petite, highly customizable sections and is meant as a background plugin that will help you orchestrate different tunes and timbres while working on the tracks simultaneously.

The neat little display takes the centrepiece of the Operator, showing you details regarding the most relevant and important parameters of its performance, such as attack, decay, release, peak, sustain, loop, velocity, waveshape, key, and such.

LFOs and filter sections are modest, to say the very least, but they feature everything you need to come up with unique sonic shapes and tones.

As a matter of fact, these sections can be cut off from the mix in order to preserve some extra CPU and RAM.

Speaking of which, Ableton’s Operator is not as spec-starved as some of its ‘bulkier’ counterparts. It’s not as hard on your computer/laptop’s memory, and you don’t need a fancy, super-strong setup to run it smoothly.

Needless to say, it works best with Ableton’s proprietary gear, but the fact that it’s compatible with external equipment speaks volumes about its versatility.

Bazille

U-He’s Bazille is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the strongest performing modular synthesizer VSTs out there.

Before we delve into its capabilities and specs, it’s important to note that it’s compatible with macOS, Linux, and Windows, which is not something many FM synth tools can boast about.

First things first, the versatility of Bazille is practically unparalleled. It boasts two individual LFOs and four separate oscillators, each boasting their own set of configurable parameters and settings.

The oscillators sport multiple gate and semitone modulation knobs, as well as a dedicated ‘Fractalize’ section that you can use to carve out fresh, new tones and sounds.

You’ll also be able to utilize numerous pink & white noise slots, a simplified (and highly responsive) sequencer, four envelopes, and a huge array of highly customizable filters, including gain, spread, resonance, and many others. On top of everything, it’s actually pretty affordable.

Image-Line Sytrus

If you’re mainly working in Fruity Loops Studio (FL Studio), you may want to take a look at Sytrus. This FM synth was developed by Imagine-Line, the same brand that’s ‘responsible’ for one of the finest beginner-friendly DAWs on the market, and it’s actually available for a free preview via your FL software.

Sytrus is an excellent choice even if you’re using other studio tools and platforms.

It’s based on a wonderfully-designed sound engine and sports six user customizable and fully independent operators, frequency modulators, ring modulators, partial-harmonic editors, a massive array of EQ sliders and knobs, and more importantly, a comprehensive Matrix that provides a clear overview of active and passive features.

Furthermore, this VST offers three fully independent filters; speaking of which, there are thirteen types of filters as well as five cutoff-slope features.

Another remarkably interesting feature of the Sytrus is the built-in waveshaper, although most people will probably be more thrilled to utilize the shapes provided by the enormous sample library.

There are a couple of things we didn’t like as much about it, though; namely, it’s slightly harder to use than an average FM synth VST, and some of its features are available exclusively via FL Studio.

Even so, you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time to find a better-rounded frequency modulator for the buck.

Nemesis

Nemesis is Tone2’s creation, and its performance is far beyond formidable.

One of the main reasons why we’ve decided to pull down the curtains with this plugin is that it offers a completely unique NeoFM feature that takes frequency modulation to a completely different level.

A huge number of tones, sounds, and timbres that Nemesis can create are literally unattainable via different software.

Apart from its uniqueness, we also liked most of its more traditional features, such as thousands of patches, top-shelf sound quality, a very intuitive interface, and the sheer fact that it’s incredibly easy to use.

In essence, this VST is wild, exquisite, and much different in comparison to similar plugins. Even though it’s beginner-friendly, you’ll still need some time to get accustomed to the features it comes supplied with.