(Version reviewed: 1.0)
This is another situation where I saw something on sale at Plugin Alliance and snapped it up in a blur. I had seen videos on the amps and I like Victor Smolski’s tone on the Almanac albums so it was a no brainer. I was expecting a high gain amp but not expecting everything else it brought along with it.
It’s a sure-fire lock that the looks and GUI in general are going to be top-notch with any Brainworx product and this one is not an exception to the rule. This is a four-channel amp sim with a nearly endless supply of ways to alter and enhance the tone. Users have the ability to dial in a truly great tone for just about anything with the versatility across the four channels.
Starting with the clean tone, we have a nice, clear, articulate clean with warmth that you just don’t find in a lot of higher gain amps/sims. The clean tone is straight magic. I used it for a ska EP right after I bought it and the results were exactly what I was looking for. Add some modulation and reverb to create some really nice atmospheric tones. You can also give the clean some bite which is very useful when you just need your clean tone to cut just a bit more.
The crunch is our next stop. This isn’t a warm AC/DC or straight rock type crunch but more of a modern crunch. It’s a little cold on the crunch side of things but I like that in this case because the Engl crunch is sort of cold by design. Think more like modern day radio rock. I had an idea to team the 646 crunch with a warmer amp sim like the Brainworx Megadual and they offset each other perfectly with a little processing. Boosting the crunch channel creates skate punk or hard rock gold.
Ok, so now we step into the part of the review I was actually expecting and that is the signature gains/distortion/saturation Engl amps are known for. You get a pair of lead channels, the second basically starts where the first one ends gain wise. Both lead channels have mountains of available gain that are useful from 1-10 on the knob which many amp sims cannot do. You have a ton of gain on tap and I doubt even the high gain guys will need it all.
Lead tones are also readily on tap. You can get a Yngwie Malmsteen-ish tone without a lot of effort. That shreddy, cutting, bold tone is so good you get that tingly feeling when you hold a long note. The lead tone doesn’t even need processing but shaving the low end off a bit is always a good idea with leads. I would keep the gain down when playing leads/solos and boost with a TS instead to stay in the tight lead pocket.
Brainworx always includes a bypassable gate, delay, filtering options and cabinet section with a nice selection of impulses. With four very different channels it must have been difficult to find a selection of impulses to go with it but they did a nice job. The Brainworx sims really could use a one click bypass for the cab section but it can be done by simply selecting the last option in the cabs list.
UPS / DOWNS:
The 646 is incredible to say the least. It may in fact be one of the most versatile single amp sims on the market right now. It really seems like four different amps in one. This could easily be a go to amp for literally any genre or style and I suggest you keep your eyes open for this one.
The down side here is more of a warning than anything. This amp sim does take some time to dial in and it’s not really a “set it and forget it” type deal. It’s more of a tweaker / gearhead amp where I just advise going slow and taking the proper time rather than expecting something mix-ready in seconds.
See more – ENGL TV demo of the E646 VS plugin