(Version reviewed: 1.0)
Brainworx’ quality is beyond incredible so whenever they release something, I take notice. One thing the market has been lacking for some time now is a high quality, professional grade Ampeg plugin. There’s a few in full-amp suites that are for all intents and purposes on the recreational side and Universal Audio has had a few behind their closed doors for a little whole but this one is different.
The Ampeg V-4B came out in 1971 with the same preamp as the already popular SVT series but with a different power section. Bass players that wanted a kick-ass all-tube bass tone for any style or genre have reached for the V-4B for nearly 50 years because it’s long list of stylistic abilities.
With the plugin version you get the amp, a cabinet section with impulses and a number of other handy features onboard.
Brainworx amp sims are always a lock to look awesome. The GUI looks like a real amp. Navigating is as simple as hitting the FX RACK button, do that and poof, that’s it. There’s no road map needed to find your way around this one, it’s just a front panel and a little bottom panel. Everything you need is laid out nicely for you.
To help with the pursuit of the perfect mix-ready tone, Brainworx give users a few extra tools. High and low pass filters, a noise gate, horn bypass, a power soak control and more features provide a complete signal chain that doesn’t require many if any other plugins to provide a top quality bass tone.
The V-4B is warm, punchy and capable of so many tones. I have been tracking with it pretty much steady since it came out and there’s never been a time where I was beat and needed to switch amps for something to fit a mic better. The V-4B is a tank of options ranging from smooth slightly driven cleans to gritty, snotty and dirty options that only an all-tube Ampeg can deliver. Jazz, blues, funk for days, punk and death metal are just a handful of the stops I made with a smile on my face for all.
For me, the key controls tone-wise on the amp are the midrange control and the 3-way switch directly above it. Set your gain, bass and treble where you want them and then utilize the midrange knob and switch to really shape things fully. These controls came in use a number of times when I was looking for just the right place for the bass in a mix.
The cabinet section is full of awesome impulse responses. Brainworx do their own in-house and they have included a real nice selection of stellar 410, 810 and 115 options. All of the included impulses sound really good and it’s easy to find something for every need. I would love to be able to mix the files because I could just tell there would be some great 410+115 combos. For cabinet information like speaker, mic and more, click the RC button for any file.
Brainworx has never put a quick bypass on any of their amp sims which I’ve always found a bit odd being that every other included component has a big silver toggle switch. If you want to bypass the cabinet to use your own impulse response selections, go to the list of cabinets, go all the way to the bottom and select “NO REC CHAIN”. It’s the same for all Brainworx sims though the wording can differ, it’s always in all caps at the bottom of the list. For me, rather than do this each time, I made a preset with the section bypassed.
For some people, the lack of a bypass isn’t a big deal and by all means this is not a plugin with a bad cab section but it would be nice to see the bypass or a more elaborate loader that can mix internal impulse files or load your own.
UPS / DOWNS:
I love this plugin, it’s a gold mine for so many uses and I am really happy to see bass plugins coming from Brainworx that aren’t Universal Audio exclusives.
This is a 5 / 5 plugin but I feel every amp sim should have an easy cabinet loader bypass. That’s the only flaw in this plugin and for some it wouldn’t be an issue but for my workflow, I need it.
See more: Plugin Alliance V-4B teaser video