SimulAnalog Guitar Suite Review

Ok, I have a confession to make - I'm a total tonewhore when it comes down to guitar tone... I can literally spend hours tweaking and adjusting the tone of my guitar through various means - and I believe that's quite frequent among us guitarists... often we'll notice that in the end our new tone isn't even an improvement from the "starting point". But sometimes we manage to surprise ourselves with further improvement. As you probably know, mic placement and other recording techniques can be really time-consuming, and often capturing the tone isn't as easy as one would like - fortunately enough there are fairly authentic sounding plugin processors on the market today (and you can actually achieve authentic tones with them).

Nowadays, with digital recording facilities, changing the way recorded guitars sound without recording them again becomes even easier than ever before... there are quite a few commercial solutions to use as virtual amplifiers, and they are quite handy (but some of us don't believe one can achieve natural sounds with them). Probably because they often haven't heard good enough samples or haven't actually heard them in production use (after all, a lot can be achieved through professional mastering and mixing).

Today, I'm going to review a free plugin that helps guitarists get closer to achieving that tone, they're so lustfully looking after. It's called SimulAnalog Guitar Suite, which is actually a result of academic research project that studies numerical and DSP techniques applied to computer music (especially focusing on the digital simulation of analog instruments and processors).

Basically it is a suite of VST-plugins of amplifiers and analog processors that simulate the following

- Boss DS-1 (distortion stompbox)
- Boss SD-1 (super overdrive stompbox)
- Tube Screamer (overdrive stompbox)
- Oberheim PS-1 (phaser stompbox)
- Univox Univibe (modulations stompbox)
- Fender Twin 1969 (guitar amplifier)
- Marshall JCM900 Dual Reverb (guitar amplifier)

I actually found out this useful plugin suite almost two years ago, and ever since I've been quite keen to use it. Especially the stompboxes have been modeled quite precisely (and they provide great means for achieving a good tone). That's actually the very reason why I still have those stompboxes incorporated into my signal chain - they just remarkably add depth to the sound. Nonetheless, the modeled amplifiers aren't as good (at least not with distorted sounds). Currently there are better commercial guitar amp modeling plugins on the market, which can also handle the distorted tones and sound assertive and natural enough. However, SimulAnalog's stompboxes are rather good, and I recommend using them together with the guitar amp plugin of your choice.

- Markus (April 10th, 2006)

Samples: Upcoming

Link to SimulAnalog's Site