Ignite Amps is the top freeware developer today and have been so for a while now. Everything they make compares with and even beats out a lot of paid plugins. They have also joined forces with STL Tones to create the Tonality series of plugins as well as Libra, the Revenant hardware pedal and more.
The first version of the Emissary was great and it was one of the best free amp sims on the market. Like every Ignite Amps product, the first Emissary also competed with and out performed some high quality paid plugins. Personally, I loved it but there were things about it that I felt held it back as well. Many people don’t know that this plugin like all of their plugins is based on a real life piece of hardware in-house by Ignite Amps.
Version two; which will be available in Feb, has been improved in so many ways. Developer Federico Berti explained the specific updates for version 2.0:
“Sound wise the “only” update is the use of our 3rd generation tube modeling engine, which has a big impact on the feel and responsiveness of the amp when playing. The tube simulation code is completely rewritten compared to the previous version. If you check the official video we did for version 1, in the AB comparison, the model is pretty much indistinguishable from the real amp, so the focus was mainly in the playing feel and our new engine address this (cpu usage is obviously higher, but the code has been carefully optimized compared to NRR-1 and The Anvil v3, or it would have needed more than 2 times the actual cpu). The cool thing is that there is still room for improvement in the future, as computers get more powerful.
Feature wise, there are some minor GUI changes in the back panel (the power amp status is now controllable through a toggle switch rather than a combo box) and our preset management system has been integrated like in all our latest releases (see the GUI header, which wasn’t there in v1).”
Federico Berti 2019
The plugin’ looks haven’t changed much but they didn’t need to. It looks clean, realistic, bright and you can tell they put work into it. Ignite Amps plugins are based on real products they have designed and built in hardware form and the looks are always authentic. The GUI is simple, effective and the controls while simplistic, all have huge impact on the tone. The GUI has a few upgrades with the new preset management system.
The first channel is your clean to gritty channel. To my ears, this channel has very much improved. There’s a warmth to things that wasn’t there before and the note response feels better as well. The first channel was a weakness for me in the first version of the plugin. It felt a little cold at times whereas the first channel in the Emissary 2.0 floors me. The gain is more useful and more versatile.
There’s not really a clean tone in the Emissary that I like a whole lot but that’s not really the plugin’s strength. The cleans definitely improved from V1 but they still aren’t really something I would track a lot with given the other clean options out there. Adding gain to the cleans on the first channel to add some grit however can provide some pleasing results for lower gain needs. The clean channel can also provide some nice smooth lead tones with some delay and verb.
Switch the channel to unleash a mid to hi-gain channel capable of a nice range of gainy tones that go from crunch to devastation in only a few turns. Djent, metalcore, thrash, hard rock, tech-death and a barrage of absolutely shredding lead tones are all easy to dial in but that has always been the case. Version two adds more punch and better response to your chugeda-chugeda-chugs while also giving your brutality a warmth and depth that will feel like a big hug. Yes, I just said a metal tone could feel like a hug. When you find just the right tone, it does feel that good.
All of the controls on the panel provide a nice amount of freedom inside the heavier side of playing. The EQ
Everything good about the first Emissary is there but it’s like you hit an HD switch and are just now hearing so much more of the character of the real amp. I’ll be honest, hearing 2.0 really makes me want to own the real deal to run through a 412. The new Emissary gives you more of what you’d feel if you were standing beside it’s hardware counterpart with your teeth rattling.
I boosted the original Emissary to town and back with a bunch of different TS plugins and it was never hard to find a match. It just so happens that Ignite Amps also offer two great FREE OD/TS plugins. It sounds killer without a boost but the amp goes to another place when boosted.
The Emissary requires an impulse loader and wouldn’t you know it, it comes with one of the best in the game; NadIR 2.0. Ignite Amps work very hard on the update to the very popular NadIR v1. The Emissary worked really well with the majority of the impulses I threw at it. I tried many 112, 212, and 412 options from a variety of companies with a lot of success. No real favorite this time but I was really pleased with just how many different impulses sounded great with it. There’s a small number included but the world of impulse offers a universe of options.
UPS / DOWNS
There are no weak spots in the armor, no thermal exhaust vents to exploit on this deathstar and no openings in this viking shield wall. This is the new king of freeware amp sims and it claims the throne on our best freeware list but this is also a game changing moment.
As mentioned, the Ignite Amps plugins have always kept up with or out performed paid software but this is different. This is the first freeware amp sim that can sit at the big boy table and be at home. This is the best hi-gain tone I have ever heard in a free amp sim period. Ignite Amps are now operating on a whole new level and the success is well deserved.
All hail the Emissary 2.0 – King of the freeware amp sims
See more – Ignite Amps demo of the Emissary
If you already use the plugin – check our Emissary presets in the Preset Vault