The X50 got started as a well-loved freeware amp sim. A ways later V2 came out as a paid product surrounded by a really nice suite of features. Some time after it came out, the X50 V2 got a massive update that turned it from incredible to godlike. This would also be one of the first plugins to really nail the suite-style format that became so popular.
Being that it came out before two years ago, the boom of new high gain plugin users that have come into the picture in recent years are seemingly unaware of the X50 Legend. I rarely see it mentioned with the “best high gain” plugins. Let’s change that shall we?
The X50 features two amps, pre-FX pedals, post-FX, a great impulse response collection and really everything needed for a start to finish mix ready metal guitar tone.
The GUI looks and operates really nicely. Everything you use, looks close to the real thing which I appreciate. The layout is a few panels that feature pedals and pre-FX, the amp, the loader (Impulsive) and post-FX. It’s really easy to figure everything out quick.It takes almost no time at all to get a good tone with the X50 V2 which is the same with both the amps featured inside.
The suite features a ton of really nice gear and usable gear. First there’s a pedal section with pedals based on the popular 808 Screamer, RAT, Boss HM2 as well as a great gate, phaser and a very cool pedal called Pandora’s box that to me kind of sounds like a Way Huge Green Rhino. All of these pedals are great without question. There’s literally not a single thing wrong with any of the included stomps, the pre-FX section is top shelf.
Moving onto the amp section some might be surprised to see that there’s a whole second amp included in the suite. While the suite is based around the main X50 amp sim, there’s also the X30, which is a sim inspired by the immensely popular Engl E530 preamp.
The X50 is the most detailed version of the iconic Peavey / Eddie Van Halen creation that you will find anywhere on the market currently. It includes the “Green” channel which engages the nicely modeled bright and crunch switches. The red channel is actually two red channels from the 5150 and 5150 II. Simply hit the mod switch located in the controls.
Both of these amps can provide high quality tones for really any genre that requires distortion. From low gain crunch, punchy mid gain and topped off with some of the best hi-gain tones in any amp sim ever made. You can absolutely find some solid cleans in the X50 suite, especially with a great open back impulse but the E530 and older 5150 amps weren’t really designed with shimmery cleans in mind.
The power-amp section is equally impressive. Users have the ability to switch between the traditional 6L6 to the EL34. While Peavey never made an EL34 version of the 5150, they did make the 6534 so fans of that amp (LIKE ME!! subtle eh?) can get at least a good look at that tone. For lead work, I love switching the X50 to EL34 to get a little more “brit” to the tone. There are also other tone shaping controls in the power section for all the gearheads.
Next is their IR Loader (FIRE) which TSE AUDIO later developed into a modified standalone version for 3 Sigma Audio called Impulsive. TSE also includes a massive high quality selection of impulses from 3SA, Fat & Lazy cabs, Chop Tones, Sinmix and many others but if they aren’t for you, the loader can be used to add whatever impulse you like from your collection. My personal favorite impulses included with the suite are from 3SA and SinMix. There’s a few small things about the IR loader that I don’t care for but overall it’s effective and easy to use.
The post effects section includes delay, verb and more. I will rarely use their onboard delay and verb because amp sims need processing and I prefer not to put processing after delays and verbs. (Remember, watch your signal chains, especially when using effects built into amp sims or suites.) I love the delay for solos, TSE makes it real easy to chase down those mountain-top leads when needed.
The X50 sounds like a 5150 and the realism, picking response and note articulation are all very much on point here. This plugin should really be in every guitarist’s collection wit. Many people think it’s a strictly high gain amp sim but it’s capable of so much more.
The X30 is the Engl E530 modeled preamp available in the suite. The E530 is one of the most modeled amps in the game but yet I always seem to be happy to see them when they come up. The X30 is solid though I don’t find it to be quite as accurate as the X50. The cleans are usable but the crunch tones are where the amp starts to shine.
UPS / DOWNS:
The 5150 and 5150 II are iconic amps that have been used by a list of guitarists that would make even the most skilled shredder would deem completely insane. The amps are popular because they are reliable, affordable, easy to dial in and really good at everything gain related. TSE has done a stellar job of recreating this high gain legend in plugin form.
The X50 has been around in various forms for some time now and it absolutely holds up to today’s standards. With expectations higher than ever in the plugin world, the TSE X50 2.0 is not the slightest bit out of place beside beside even the newest amp sims. To me, only truly special plugins can stand the test of time and while details are not known on V3 or if V3 will happen, if it does, I will once again be there to buy day one.
If you already use the plugin – check our TSE X50 presets in the Preset Vault