Italy has been known worldwide for its high quality exports for generations. The Made-in-Italy branding has existed since 1980 and has represented the best in Italian fashion, food, furniture and mechanical engineering. Let’s add guitar / bass software development to the party today shall we?
The more research I did, the more high quality developers I found were located in Italy. I thought it would be a lot of fun to focus on just how many incredible products are coming out of this relatively small region.
The country is home to some of the top music software companies in the world as well as some of the best musicians on the planet which is no coincidence.
The companies are listed in alphabetical order, starting with..
Audiority is a smaller company with an absolutely stellar line of processing plugins and one of the highest quality collections of pedal / stomp plugins for guitar/bass on the market. I was actually quite surprised when I heard the realism in their stomps for the first time. It’s exceedingly difficult to tell the real thing from the plugin with any of these plugins.
Meticulously detailed plugin versions of the Boss HM2, Dunlop Fuzz Face, EHX Big Muff have helped Audiority get a serious buzz going but for me. Luca’s talents really shine with plugins that require that extra mile like his take on the classic Echoplex called the Plexitape.
Then I have to mention the ingenuity and the unique traits that go into plugins like the Compander, Pre X7, Tube Modulator and many others. There are many things in every plugin that truly show Audiority is onto something great. The company has been very productive and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
Federico Berti and Carlo Costabile of Ignite Amps have been providing some of the absolute highest quality freeware ever made for a good while now. Their crown jewel and current flagship product is the Emissary 2.0. This is, in the opinion of many including myself, the best freeware amp sim ever made. The Emissary along with a nice collection of amp sims and other plugins have helped to create a very loyal and appreciative fanbase.
What some may or may not know however is that Ignite Amps has also been developing paid amp sims and other plugins for a variety of other companies for some time. While the products may not carry the Ignite Amps name, they do carry the quality these guys have become known and well respected for.
Federico and Carlo are some of the nicest and most accommodating people we have had the chance to connect with since we started HASR. They have put hundreds if not thousands of hours into products they then gave away for free and I raise my glass to them for that. The sky is the limit for these guys and we couldn’t be happier for all of their successes past, present and future!
Many guitarists started their trek down plugin lane with some version or variation of Amplitube. It’s a plugin that catches the eye and interest with great graphics, fully licensed products from Orange, Fender, Mesa Boogie and expansion packs for any style of playing. IK Multimedia is fully responsible for pulling many new players into amp sims.
In addition to Amplitube, IKM have a huge line of hardware like mics, interfaces, speakers and a full series of products designed for playing and recording on the go. The iRig series of products provides an interface for just about every purpose. This company really does provide guitarists with a ton of handy and convenient products.
Back to the software side of things guitarists and bass players may also find T-Racks, Syntronik, Miroslav Philharmonik 2 and many other IK Multimedia products extremely useful as a quality solution for a variety of needs. Every time I have tried a newer version of an IKM plugin, there are always noticeable improvements across the board and I am very excited for the next version of Amplitube.
It’s hard not to acknowledge the hard work this company puts into their products and they have been providing guitarists with a convenient, easy to use and fun way to experience plugins for a long time. IK Multimedia has also created many ways for musicians to record their songs, ideas, riffs, demos and more while providing them at reasonable prices.
Igor Nembrini is a name that might seem new in the industry for some but that is definitely not the case. Igor has in fact been building amp sims for Brainworx for a long time. Almost all of the top quality amp sims, pedal plugins and other guitar/bass related gear under the Brainworx name had everything to do with Igor so it was great to see him start his own company.
Nembrini Audio has only just begun but in a very short time, the company has released amp sims and processing tools of the highest quality. The MRH810 and BST100 are quite literally perfect amp sims so the future is unmistakably bright for the company.
When you walk in the door and drop two very high quality amp sims, it’s going to make a little noise. The BST100 is the first really high quality plugin based on the Soldano SLO100 and the MRH810 Lead Series came out to instantly become my new favorite Marshall JCM800 plugin.
One thing is for sure, Nembrini Audio will be providing many very high quality amp sims for guitarists and bass players alike for years to come.
Overloud is a recognizable and trusted name that many have come to rely on for quality. These guys have been putting out incredible products for a very long time which has built them a loyal customer base. A following that buys products with absolute trust in the quality and customer service.
The current flagship for their guitar/bass line of products is TH-U. This plugin was preceded by TH1, TH2 and TH3 so the evidence of how much development has gone into TH-U is right in the history. This plugin has so many uses for literally any style or type of guitarist in any genre. The component count is incredibly high but all of the components have tremendous value. Add in the new Kemper style Rig Player and really, TH-U is one of the most impressive full-amp suites ever developed.
For bass players, Overloud has the popular Mark Studio 2 plugin that models a very nice selection of licensed amps from Mark Bass. It’s a full suite with a number of components that can be used to make strong tones for any style of bass.
Overloud’s product line also includes a wealth of processing plugins with tremendous quality and value. Their Gem series of plugins like Dopamine, Tapedesk, Echoson and many others all have value, quality, ease of use and versatility on their side.
I see no reason to believe that Overloud will be slowing down any time soon as the amp sim and plugin markets only seem to move faster and get more competitive all the time.
Another newer company to me as of 2018. Sknote is a smaller operation based in Sicily making huge strides in the industry is while living near the base of a Volcano (Etna). I’m not kidding and that’s not a metaphor.
When the company released their Deluxe1 and TwinR plugins, they set the bar considerably higher for clean tones and Fender inspired amp sims. In my personal opinion, the TwinR plugin provides the best clean tone available on today’s amp sim market. Both amp sims deliver a warm and truly incredible experience that I promise even the tube purists will enjoy.
Sknote also provide a very nice selection of vintage style stomp plugins in their pedalbench series. These are some of the best sounding stomps I have used but the top of the heap for me are the UV-Vibe and P90 plugins. I have spent hours using the pedalbench series plugins on a lot of mixes and there’s never been even a moment of disappointment.
The processing plugins offered in Sknote’s huge product line are also mostly aimed at fans of vintage and classic tones & mixes. Many companies have put a lot of time, effort and money into emulating vintage tones in hopes of converting people to the digital world and many great products have been created. Sknote on the other hand are doing it in a much more organic way.
One thing is for sure, Italy has a long standing love for music that goes back centuries and as technology becomes more and more prevalent in the making or recording of it, Italian developers continue to evolve. Italian musicians are always a huge part of these development teams and often times even the most advanced techs working on the plugins are also musicians. This ensures that the products are being made by musicians for musicians and their highest needs.
You might need to be a millionaire to enjoy the finest in Italian-made cars, clothing and other luxuries but that’s not so with the best in Italian music software. The majority of it is very reasonably priced considering the quality involved. Check out all of these companies and their products ASAP!!