Rating: 9.5 / 10
(version reviewed: 1.0.0)
When Neural released the Nameless Suite plugin, they got an extraordinary amount of attention and it was well deserved. Many people including a few of us at HASR saw the NTS coming in advance but I sure didn’t see it coming as quick as it did.
The Fortin NTS is the plugin version of the Fortin Natas which is an amp that raised the bar in the hi-gain universe with it’s unique gain and tone shaping controls. The amp was also the inspiration for a Mike Fortin designed Randall amp called the Satan which you may know as Ola Englund’s signature amp. This is another sim modeled from a bucket list type amp for me. It’s been on my list of amps to try for some time.
The GUI is really sharp and crisp just like the other Neural DSP plugins. The textures in the graphics are really nice and the layout is the same as their other plugins with panels for pedals, the amp and the cab. It’s simple, easy to navigate and everything you need is laid out nicely. A smooth workflow is always appreciated and this one has just that. Any user from beginner to advanced can jump right in no problem.
For pedals you get the Fortin Zuul which is a very simple but incredibly effective noise gate. Next is a new Fortin pedal called the Hexdrive which is a fairly standard but great sounding tube screamer and lastly the Fortin Grind pedal. Watch how much of the Grind pedal you use with the 6rind control on the amp because they can add a similar effect. The Hexdrive’s settings or really any boost used with the NTS should be used with some caution given the NTS’s already very bright and mid focused attributes.
Channel one is the meat and lead channel of the NTS. It can go from a brilliant crunch to a hi-gain beast but there’s more to it. Sure, you can get a good setting and use just the 6ain knob to go from crunch to hi-gain but the NTS features a huge amount of additional ways to alter channel one. The tone possibilities inside channel one are vast and very high quality. I spent hours on just the first channel alone and it really can do a ton of different things. This is where you can easily acquire the “Ola tone” and there’s even an included assortment of Ola presets. I also managed to get some of the best Thrash, Death Metal and Skate Punk tones that I have ever put together in a plugin. There was no weak side to this channel. You want crushing? This will get you all kinds of it and then some.
The second channel is the Clean and Rhythm channel depending on how you decide to set the gain. The channel has it’s own controls which are standard in comparison to channel one but since every knob and switch across the control plate of the NTS has a significant impact on the tone, the channel two controls still create a lot of versatility. I found some fantastic Rock and Punk tones but I was surprised to find Country, Blues, Southern Rock and Classic Rock tones as well. Talk about versatile! The bass control on this channel has a lot of value. When I wanted a tighter tone, I had to drop the bass back to about 2 and tweak the universal depth control a little. Overall, channel two is very useful and makes the plugin’s versatility even more of a strength.
The lead and solo tones that you can pull from both channels of the NTS Suite are also pretty awesome. It’s really easy to find a nice cutting tone with this plugin but it’s also easy to create something that cuts a little too much. Watch your highs and mids and you will absolutely find the great shredding tones you seek. Add a little verb and delay for lead flavor. Dial back the gain and add a warmer boost like a blues driver for some tones you likely won’t expect to come from an amp named after the dark lord himself.
The NTS also features a meticulously developed cabinet section from ML Sound Lab. It’s a 412 cab with a ton of options included such as a full arsenal of industry standard mics and controls and the ability to load your own impulses. The cab and mics are very high quality and it all just adds even more quality to the plugin. When I wanted to try the NTS with my own impulses, it was easy to load them in the onboard loader or bypass the cab section for my own. I found an endless amount of impulses that matched with the NTS very nicely. My favorites outside of the included cabinet were a mixture of Zilla, Marshall, Friedman and notably the Dime Pack from ValhallIR. Several oversized cab impulses also matched up well with NTS suite.
UPS / DOWNS:
The NTS is a huge hit for me and everyone at HASR that had the chance to give it a go. It’s a lot more versatile than I had anticipated it would be. The ton of tone shaping options actually have real value due to the meticulous hard work done here. It’s best tones come at mid to hi-gain but it has a lot of additional value outside of those uses.
Neural DSP are making some of the best stuff in the game right now. This is their second extremely high quality addition to the guitar amp sim market and they also have one of the best bass plugins ever developed. It’s become clear that when you buy Neural DSP products, you get high end tones.
Going back to update this review, I looked at the quality of the Fortin plugins vs. the newer Archetype series and there’s just no comparison for me. The NTS and Nameless suites have identity, feel and cause real joy in players that the Archetype series is missing. I would love to see more Fortin designed products on the market.
If you already use the plugin – check our NTS presets in the Preset Vault