Last Updated on December 22, 2020 by IDS Team
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.