I have to hand it to Neural DSP, they always find new ways to surprise everyone. If you’ve never experienced a Neural DSP release, they do these very cool silhouettes of the amps involved. When these come out, their social media turns into a feeding frenzy of “this amp has to be this and that”. I can’t imagine how much fun it must be for the folks at Neural DSP.
Adam “Nolly” Getgood has been collaborating with companies on a variety of software products for years. He has also released a number of killer product under his own GGD brand name. The product in question here is Archetype Nolly and it’s a suite packed full of gear. Pre-FX, Post-FX, four one-channel amps, four cabs and more.
The one thing that puzzled me a little bit is that Nolly isn’t really a full-time guitarist. True, his production skills are top shelf but I felt it was kind of an odd choice all things considered. I was also a little surprised that there wasn’t a bass amp included being that Nolly was the bass player for Periphery for a time.
The GUI is laid out great as always. The ease of use is really great which is why I feel amp sim users of any level can use any Neural DSP plugin. Beginners will not have to endure too much of a learning curve to get great tone. On the other side, even the most experienced guitarists all get every bit of gear they need. The pre-FX/pedal section looks a bit “boxy” and could benefit from a bolder font but overall it’s very well done.
Presets are very important to navigating a plugin fully when you first get it or for when you are looking for something different and Neural DSP always ensure there are many. I do however always caution users of really any plugin out there to not rely and become dependent on presets. I see a ton of talk and emphasis put on presets across social media but with the ease of use here, it’s really easy to dial things in for your own preferences. Remember presets are made with someone else’s mind, ears, hands, pick, monitors, guitar, pickups, strings, room and other variables.
The Pre-FX/pedal section has four pedals to help chase down the tones you might be after. I can’t say enough good things about each and every one of the stomps in this plugin. Not a damn clue what any of them are but not knowing for sure means there’s not really a basis for realism / authenticity. What I can say however is that they all sound and respond really nicely.
The compressor has a very nice switch that allows the user to go with a smoother and more organic compression to a snappy clamp that with Amp One can provide some really nice country and blues tones. It’s a simple but very effective way to even things out and create more sustain.
The first OD responds like your average tube screamer, the delay was truly nice for adding some slap back type effects before the amp. The second OD provides more gain if you need it and additional controls to shape the amount of treble and bass before the signal hits the amp. I suggest watching how much bass you dial in with the pedal as all four amps have plenty of low-end to spare. This one doesn’t dial in with the “standard” tube screamer settings so you’ll need to go by ear and personal taste. The OD2 pedal absolutely slays with Amp #4 but I’ll get to that.
The post effects section is comparable to Archetype: Plini. The delay and reverb pedals are useful on so many levels. No matter what applications I threw at the delay pedal, it came through for me. On more than several occasions I found myself getting lost in this section with all the soaring leads, delay soaked atmospheres and beyond.
AMP #1 sounds like a few different amps so I’m not really sure on this one. The closest I came to a decision was the clean section of a Carvin Legacy but really who knows? What I do know is that it can provide some incredible cleans as well as dirty tones that surprised me quite a bit. Kick the post effects into the clean tones for a crazy assortment of soundscapes ranging from way past overly lush to small and subtle. When I turned the gain up a bit and kicked in the OD1 pedal, the dirt was just so right for rock tones. There’s a load of applications in this one, I was able to get some smokin’ country tones with the compressor and OD1, killer blues tones and generally, a lot of things that I was surprised to hear.
AMP #2 is the mid crunch option of the four-pack and there’s a lot to suggest this one is based on a Marshall. While I don’t believe it’s based on a Marshall, Amp Two is a stellar amp for low gain to mid crunch. With the addition of the OD1 or OD2, Amp #2 can pump out some mean thrash tones. Rock and punk rock tones are accessible without a lot of effort or dialing and the lead tones available cut very nicely without being too aggressive. I don’t really have a guess but if I had to, maybe Soldano or Friedman? This amp is not bad at all but if it is a Marshall, it’s seriously lacking the EL34 tube qualities that the amps are known for.
AMP #3 looks and sounds like a 5150 so it doesn’t require the same amount of time to get used to the controls. I am familiar with all of the amps in the EVH / 5150 legacy and to me this feels like the red / lead channel of a 5150 II but either way, I love what it provides. It would have been nice to get the green channel as well for this one as I think they would have knocked it out of the park but that’s more of a wish than a complaint. It’s a demon but it’s capable of some nice mid gain crunch as well. Rhythm or lead, take your pick! Blend in the OD pedals for more punch in the chugs or add some nice delay for some mountain top type solos. Sick amp!
AMP #4 took a while to get used to. I’ve listened to a lot of Victory Kraken clips and the tones seem like they could match up but I have no experience with the amp. It’s a very mid-scooped sounding amp even with the mids up. The biggest factor with this amp is the master knob. Set it below 5 for a more mid scooped tone and turn it above 5 to give the tone more body. Watch your mid control as you do this. I didn’t really care for the lead/solo tones I pulled from it but when I finally got in sync with the amp I was able to pull out some kick ass death metal tones. It’s particularly good at summoning old school style death metal tones like those of the early Florida / Morrisound studios tones. The OD2 really meshes with Amp #4 when the two are dialed in just right. This one can also do a number of other high gain tones but I preferred Amp #3 as far as high gain, leads and solos go.
If you are a player that uses mostly high gain tones, I would suggest purchasing Fortin Nameless Suite or NTS Suite before either of the Archetype plugins. The high gain tones and applications in Archetype Nolly are solid but don’t provide the same depth as the Neural DSP Fortin plugins.
The cab / impulse response section is done very well. The plugin features four cabinets modeled by Nolly with great detail. This is the first plugin Neural DSP has released without a cab section from ML Sound Lab but Nolly’s worlds of experience in this field provided some really great cabs.
The plugin gives the user the ability to have each amp locked to it’s corresponding matched cabinet or unlink them to mix and match. Neural DSP always make this section easy to use and easy to understand for even newer amp sim users but tweakable enough for the gearheads.
Every single cabinet impulse was done by Nolly himself! Each cab sounds great with every amp and the industry standard mics are all there. Many cab sections can be the weakest link in a plugin but that’s not the case with any of the Neural DSP offerings. I feel so many more plugins could benefit from having top shelf cabinet sections. You can even try other plugins through the Neural cab sections if you bypass the amps and pre-FX.
You can also bypass this section in favor of your own loader and impulse selection. I found all four amps matched up nicely with a number of impulse responses across a bunch of developers. It was a lot of fun to run through some of my favorite IRs. Just remember to consider your signal chain as your post-FX will now be before the cabinet in the chain.
UPS / DOWNS
It’s a wonderful well-rounded plugin capable of being a one-plugin solution for most modern tones and a few other styles as well. Overall I really liked it and it’s definitely another great product with a ton of professional quality studio applications. This one doesn’t really stray too far away from Archetype Plini but they are definitely different plugins that I would recommend to any modern player. I am often asked which is better; Plini or Nolly and the answer really depends on you but overall they are very much equal across most aspects.
Archetype Nolly impresses on multiple levels but there is a slightly lack of warmth and tube character at times. If you want a plugin that you can really immerse yourself in for long sessions in a wide range of styles, grab this one and get started!
See more: Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly release video
If you already use the plugin – check our Nolly presets in the Preset Vault (there’s over 160 presets available!)