(Version reviewed: 1.0.0)
The SVT 3 PRO is a part of a group of Brainworx plugins dedicated to recreating some of the most iconic Ampeg tones of all time. Originally most of them were available only for the UA accelerators/interfaces and their users but lately the entire package was converted to native along side many others.
The SVT 3 Pro was first introduced in the late 80’s to give players a more modern sound in a more compact package, with a solid state 450 watt power amp and with a different tube preamp design from the highly acclaimed all tube series, the head is without any doubt one of the most popular ever for a lot of reasons but mainly for its capability to translate the sound of any bass in the most accurate yet musical way.
I have personally owned the SVT 3 PRO for almost 8 years and I have played many different basses I had through it. I have used the hardware version in every way possible with so many pedal configurations and cabinets so I have to say that I know the real deal very well. Having this experience is invaluable when reviewing the plugin.
The GUI is amazing, it feels like being in front of the real thing, the control layout is exactly the same and the attention for graphic details is simply outstanding. For those who aren’t familiar with the amp, the 3 Pro has a lot of controls / parameters but the great thing is that its circuit is very forgiving unless you go completely crazy, so it’s easy to dial in the desired tones. The famous ultra hi and ultra lo bring in the classic Ampeg scooped pre shape that can be used as a starting point to sculpt the main tone. When paired with the bright switch, this creates a very powerful mixing tool.
For example; when doing the split ’n’ grit (parallell distortion) technique you can quickly have the clean ( or copied ) DI ready to fill in the subs and the crisp highs just by pressing those two switches, working its way around the main distorted track where you have all the “note” and definition ( hint: if you want to load another Ampeg instance in the overdriven track I highly recommend you using the Ampeg V4 or the VR models / plugins, as they bring a more “singing” midrange, even though the 3 Pro has a very nice yet versatile midrange as well ).
Another great feature that is perfectly recreated in this amp sim is the tube gain circuit. It gives the user access to the two extra driver tubes. I used to drive the preamp pretty hard while setting the tube gain to the max for a little bit more compression and definition and I was shocked by how close the feeling was to the real thing, even turning the tube gain off at the same gain level, sending more voltage to the preamp tubes and evoking that famous all tube SVT sag and grind.The frequency points in the eq feel almost identical, the graphic is maybe a little bit more selective as far as bandwidth but it’s a very very subtle difference.
Like in all of the Brainworx by pressing the fx rack icon you have access to some other features that are really handy like a noise gate, input gain and power soak to control the gain staging and tight/smooth controls that are essentially highpass and lowpass filters to cut the rumble and tame some highs pre or post ( so you can also cut some frequencies on the way into the plugin if your instrument is too boomy or too harsh ) to fit the bass better in the mix right in the plugin without using external EQs, very useful!
To top it off there is also a cabinet section with horn ( tweeter ) bypass that has a very cool array of cabs, mic blends and recording chain presets to go through, you can bypass the cab with the option all the way to the bottom of the cab list. The auto mode gives you access to the bar selection, so you can automatically audition all the recording chains synched to the bpm of your project every bar that you selected to help you decide quickly what sounds best in a full mix context for example
UPS / DOWNS
Definitely no weak points for this gem of a plugin, a true all in one tone machine with a ton of true Ampeg vibe and flexibility. This is an amp sim every bass player should own because it’s able to get great tones for any style or genre. In its hardware form it’s been used famously for metal, jazz, blues, country, punk and every other use and the plugin provides the same wide range of applications.
– Giacomo Gastaldi
See more: Brainworx release video for the Ampeg SVT-3 Pro