The Marshall JCM800 has been one of the industry’s best selling amps since 1981. There are many reasons for the amp’s popularity but my personal favorite thing about the amp is its versatility. It truly is an amp that can do anything with a nice legacy of users and albums under its belt.
Many developers have put out products either completely based on the JCM800 or had it as a feature in a multi-amp or full-amp suite. I know some of you are thinking right now “Why God, WHY do we need another JCM800 amp sim??” and to that I have three answers.
- The amp sim world advances almost monthly it seems and with next-gen tech comes the need for next-gen versions of the classics. There will always be a market for JCM800 plugins for a reason.
- The amps that have been modeled for every other JCM800 amp sim have been the 2203 and 2204 but this plugin involves the more rare 2210 that has two channels and a reverb tank.
- Igor Nembrini is responsible for all of the Brainworx amp sims and he’s been doing “next-gen” work longer than most. His work is on another level.
NOTE: V1 is still on the market but Nembrini Audio has since released the MRH810 V2 with even more impressive results. See the V2 review HERE. We recommend buying V2 over buying V1.
The looks are textured, detailed and nicely designed. The entire GUI is excellent overall, it really makes it easy to get great tone fast. The one button sort of drop-down menu for the cab section is super handy and the workflow is smooth.
One thing you may want to know for Marshall amps and amp sims as well as many other amps is how to use your channel volume, gain and master volume together. When it comes to driving a Marshall amp I usually like to crank the channel volume and use the master to control the overall volume. Experiment but be careful not to crank your master and channel volumes without first adjusting your output volume.
Starting with the clean channel, I am consistently amazed at what this very simple channel can do. I am not at all familiar with this channel as I have never tried the 2210 version of the 800 but I can say that this channel is far from an afterthought.
You can go from a literally perfect clean tone to a nice, raw mid-gain type rock tone on one dial. I felt the best way to work this channel is to put the bass on about 4, the treble at around 6 and then use the channel volume as a gain knob while using the master to control your actual volume. The bass and treble settings stayed the same and responded so nicely as I messed around with gain and volume.
Moving to the lead channel, you really get a channel that can be tweaked to do anything requiring any amount of gain. Classic rock to modern death metal, you name it, it resides in this channel just waiting to be called upon. The 2210 also had more gain on tap as far as the research turned up and that would be evident with the plugin as well.
The JCM800 has always been a versatile amp and with the 2210 version having a clean channel, it becomes even more of a Swiss Army Amp type solution. That said, one of the things that added to it’s ability to do many things is how many very different pedals work well with the amp. Overdrive, tube screamers, distortion, fuzz, HM2 and other boost/gain/over/dist options can be used so well to shape and sculpt the tone. I put quite literally all of this to work with the MRH810 and it meshed well with every pedal plugin I threw at it.
The clarity in the lead channel even with the channel volume and gain dimed to oblivion is excellent. The picking response is just so damn nice in every possible way. I have sat with the MRH810 plugin for many multi-hour sessions and it fools me considerably worse than any Marshall sim before it. The tone throughout the both channels is so authentic that this plugin has had me sitting in my chair with my jaw dropped or in disbelief that I am playing through a plugin on multiple occasions.
I dialed in some really authentic Zakk Wylde tones using two of Igor Nembrini’s plugins with Brainworx. The bluechorus and yellowdrive made it possible to get pretty close to Wylde’s signature tones without much effort. Loading up Ownhammer’s MAR-CB-EVM will get you even closer. Redwirez also has an EVM12L cab for the Wylde fans out there.
After that I went for everything from Slash’s lead to old school punk to old Sepultura and Metallica. There’s a lot of flexibility in the JCM800, you really can get it to do just about anything. I spent hours using different pedal plugins, impulses and settings while attempting to re-create some of my favorite guitar tones in guitar history. It was really easy to dial in and quite smooth across all of the controls. Every single switch and knob does worlds to alter and perfect the tone you are searching for.
Boosts, tube screamers, overdrives, distortion pedals, the HM2, modulation, delay, reverb, you name it, the MRH810 meshed well with every pedal plugin or pedal suite I threw at it. So while there are no pedals included in the plugin, they aren’t hard to find out there for anywhere from FREE to affordable for those wanting even more versatility.
The cabinet section is awesome to say the least. The first thing I enjoy about it is how simple it’s laid out for how complex it is. You get the internal cabinet selection complete with 5 cabinets, a nice collection of mics, mic positions and a nice three-channel mixer with the addition of a room reverb. If that wasn’t enough, you also get an impulse loader complete with a selection of Choptones impulses that enables you to also load your own. Lastly there’s a complete bypass of the cab section for when you’d like to use your own loader. I had success with almost every impulse pack I tried so feel free to throw your own impulses at the MRH810.
UPS / DOWNS:
Igor Nembrini has really done a great job in getting his own company not only started but also spreading like wildfire and the MRH810 is another giant step in the right direction. This is quite simply a perfect plugin for me. I couldn’t find even one small thing wrong with it. The MSRP does put the plugin into the higher price bracket for a single amp sim but Nembrini also do sales often. If you are reading this in June 2019, you can get the MRH810 for the insanely low intro price of $29USD!!!
There’s nothing even slightly negative to say here, amazing work and a high-five for Nembrini Audio!!
If you already use the plugin – check our MRH810 presets in the Preset Vault