Rating: 10 / 10
Plini’s skill, songwriting and guitar tone are quickly grabbing the attention of guitar lovers everywhere. His music requires a number of different tones that involve a variety of gear to nail down so I am sure versatility was a huge goal with this plugin.
When this plugin came out, it silenced everyone that may have thought Neural DSP was only going to be releasing hi-gain aimed products. It’s a three-amp suite with pre-effects, post-effects, EQ, a cabinet section and everything you’ll need for a variety of mix ready tones.
Everything looks classy, professional, streamlined and all out perfect in the GUI department. The various components are laid out in a way that makes for a very nice workflow. When I am working, it never feels like anything is going against me with this plugin. All of Neural DSP’s plugins have a strong attention paid to the GUI to ensure that everything is smooth and for that, I am grateful. The ease of use factor is also great for users that are new to amp sims. Beginners can feel comfortable buying this plugin without too much of a learning curve.
The pre-effects panel has a very useful compressor and a killer overdrive that both really push the amps and pull things together nicely. The compressor is amazing for clean tones and leads while the OD pedal can be used to boost or drive all three amps quite nicely. It’s a very simple section with two simple pedals that can either be used together or separately to
Archetype: Plini is all built around three very nice amps that can take you from beautiful shimmering clean tones to vicious hi-gain with a ton of tone coverage in between. I’ve read plenty of opinions on which amps these amps are based on and it’s tough to tell with the graphics not being based on any specific amp.
Amp #1, the clean amp almost looks like one of those $5,000 all tube home stereos. To me this amp has a lot of Fender-like tone characteristics, which I am certainly not angry about. I really love using this amp with the onboard compressor for country! Yes, twangy, quacky, chicken picking goodness is easy to come by with this suite and with a couple tweaks and clicks, giant sized atmospheric tones with warmth are right there. Turn up the drive and it can easily do crunch and more.
BASS ALERT: Set the plugin up on amp one and use the internal loader to load up your favorite bass cabinet impulses. Now hit that compressor and jam away! I found this to actually be a pretty good bass tone. I recorded a track using it for just this and you’d never have known I was using a guitar amp sim.
Amp #2 or “the white amp” really has a Friedman vibe to it and it’s by far my favorite amp of the three. I have the most time on this amp recording-wise because it really does just about anything all on it’s own. With the OD pedal, it’s easy to make it a metal amp but with the drive back, it can do southern rock with no issue. For me, the white amp is the crown jewel of this suite.
For Amp #3, the hi-gain selection, Neural DSP seem to have reached for what sounds like a 5150/6505 or some other EVH inspired amp but at times I hear a little Engl. This amp completely rips, it’s mid to hi-gain heaven. I recorded some modern hard rock with it one day and then death metal at 240bpm the next day using literally the same two presets for both with only a gain adjustment. That says worlds about what that amp is capable of.
One thing that I really liked across all three amps is the power that can be unleashed by backing the main output down and the volume on each amp up. Even the “clean” amp can be turned into a rock machine with only a few tweaks. Take you time and see how everything works and responds.
The EQ can be used to shape things either subtly or drastically if you’d like. It would be cool if there was an option to change the order of where in the signal chain this part of the plugin could be placed because it could be helpful in a few different spots but as is, it really does help to either cut or boost certain things to find that perfect spot in the mix to fit into.
As with the other Neural DSP offerings, the cabinet section is by ML Sound Labs. You get one cab, a great selection of mics and the ability to tweak the mic position by clicking and dragging them or by using the position controls on the side. Using this feature does require a little bit of mic placement knowledge but there’s plenty of info out there that can teach you the basics in minutes.
For the white crunch amp and the black hi-gain amp, the internal cabinet works as good or better than most impulse responses. It truly brings the best out of both of those amps but when it comes to the clean / silver amp, I found adding my own open back 212 impulses captured closer to what I like with a Fender style tone. I tried a ton of VOX 212 and Fender 212 options from various companies that produced some gorgeous tones.
Choosing a single cabinet for three very different amps couldn’t have been easy and it really does pull it all off but if you want to give the first amp a bit more of a vintage feel, give my suggestion a shot.
The post-effects section is something I would imagine was important to Plini during the design of the plugin being that he uses effects to create some huge atmospheres. This section adds a delay and reverb pedal to an already very impressive plugin suite. Atmospheric leads with amp 2 and 3, massive ambience with amp 1, any type of delay you could need for everything from soaring leads to scrappy slapback brit pop tones. Verb and delay junkies will have a lot of fun in this section with all the options and ways to set the pedals up.
Both of the pedals are insanely flexible and tweakable to once again maximize the versatility of the plugin. The verb pedal can do a nice smaller room reverb but it seems better geared to more robust reverb applications. The delay has nearly infinite
UPS / DOWNS:
What can I say that I haven’t already said, this is quite simply one of the most versatile and high quality suites out there. While Archetype Plini is in the higher price range, I can promise you that it’s worth every penny and a great investment for home recording given the ground it covers.
Neural DSP have created what is easily one of my favorite plugins made to this point and I would recommend it with confidence to pretty well any guitarist.
See more: Neural DSP Archetype: Plini release video