NOTE: this review covers the TH-U FULL version
Overloud has a long history of making some of the best plugins in the game. For me, Overloud is a name I trust and when I see the name, I trust the product based on my past experiences with the company.
Full amp suite products are always a lot of fun for me. I love opening them up and just spending a day or two just going through all the fun components and things that have been included. TH-U is essentially just an update to TH3 rather than an entirely new plugin. The TH-U upgrade from TH3 is however massive. It adds new amps, cabs, pedals, the Rig Player, an impulse response loader and a lot more.
The Full TH-U package provides the user with such an insane amount of gear. I thought TH3 had an insane bunch of gear but TH-U took it much further. There is just a seemingly endless amount of cool stuff to work with but I am a quality over quantity guy when it comes to full amp suites. This plugin has both.
The GUI looks fantastic. I really like everything about the graphics but the layout did involve some adjustment for me to get fast with. It wasn’t a huge learning curve but the side scrolling with components isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The components all look pretty nice overall which I will admit does make the selection process more enjoyable at times. No empty box or fake shells in this one, these components come with realism and authenticity.
It’s a lot of fun building the chains inside the plugin. The drag and drop system with the whole rig laid out nicely is just a fun way to navigate the plugin but as previously mentioned, I’ve read the layout is not everyone’s cup of tea. You can control the zoom and general layout of things to customize your workflow a bit for different uses but if you zoom out too much, the text on the components can be tough to read.
TH-U features presets and more presets, most of which are pretty useful. They add a lot of their own processing inside the plugin for those not wanting to mess with too much of it on their own. The presets help showcase the variety of components in the package which is really great for learning the ins and outs of the plugin and how to dial things in. Learning what the components are, how they work and where to use them is fairly important if you want to fully enjoy TH-U or any other full-amp suite.
Even with a simple Gate-Boost-Amp-Cab signal chain can easily provide a wealth of nearly mix ready tones.
TH-U Full has a very impressive selection of amps ranging from vintage cleans to hi-gain monsters. I started with the licensed products and immediately I was surprised by the quality.
I hadn’t really heard much about Brunetti amps before trying TH-U but I sure know about them now and all that Brunetti love is carried over nicely. It makes sense given that both Overloud and Brunetti are Italian based companies. The Brunetti models are truly nice amp sims and you can tell a lot of work went into them. The controls have a lot of value and the Brunetti amps included cover just about any genre or style imaginable. Sparkling cleans to relentless hi-gain shred and everything in between. Try them out!
The Randall amps are my next stop and again I am greeted by quality. TH-U includes a whole bunch of Lynch Box amps that like the Brunetti series, cover a lot of ground. These amps are all labeled in a way that you kind of get what tones they are focused on like SSL, Plexi and so on. The Lynch Box sims sound truthfully great and they are a ton of fun to go through. These amps cover everything from really warm country / blues tones to djent, hard rock, shred, thrash, prog and really anything I could think of throwing at the Lynch Box gear. These are by far my favorite amps in the entire plugin, I find myself leaning to the Ultra+, Holy Grail and others often.
The other Randall amp is the solid-state T2. This is another Randall amp that Overloud nails down really nicely. The amp is very detailed for a full suite component. Sometimes the amps in full suites are like shells that only give you about 50% or less of the real character but TH-U gives you a much higher quality than you see in many full-suite plugins. The T2 gives you so many useful tones from clean to hi-gain while not being hard to dial in.
The DVMark amps were not really my thing but I did manage some very musical and resonant jazz tones with a couple of them. After that I hit the Overloud branded amps which are a combination of Overloud’s own creations and amps inspired by legendary and cult followed amps.
The Overloud branded creations are mostly pretty fun to rip on. I was about 70/30 like to dislike with my favorites being the Marcus II, Lab 5 Clean, Lab 5 Dist, Prog, Rhythm, Plexi and Darkface 65. Even with the amps I didn’t care for, the ones I did more than made up for it. Inside the Overloud amps you will find Marshall, 5150, Mesa Boogie and many other well known brand inspired amps. The quality is pretty good and the controls have value across all the components.
THE RIG PLAYER
The main new TH-U feature that has caught the most attention is the Rig Player. It looks like a Kemper and it actually plays Kemper profiles. The only profiles that users can use in the Rig Player are the ones being sold by Overloud. Some are made in house, some are being made by ChopTones and for the most part they sound pretty good. Does it sound and operate like a Kemper? No not really, but it’s pretty cool. This is simply a $300 plugins vs. a $2000+ piece of world class hardware.
My main question about the Rig Player is the cost of the rig packs. In the short time TH-U has been out, Overloud has put out a ton of them so far. With prices from $22-34USD it could get pricey very quickly. I’m not suggesting that the packs aren’t worth buying but they can add up fast if you want to own more than a few. For example 5-6 rig packs = the cost of a high level amp sim suite. I think Overloud could benefit from making these packs $10-15 or perhaps offer discounts that increase with the number of cabs the customer purchases.
The controls on the Rig Player enable the user to edit and shape the tone of the profiles from the Rig Packs to a reasonable degree. The tones are for the most part crisp and edit fairly nicely across the board. I found that when I turned knobs too far right or left from the center point, the quality would suffer a little bit which does show a possible limitation for some regarding the Rig Player feature. Users can edit the preamp, poweramp and cabinets involved with each profile or bypass the cabinet to use either internal TH-U cabinets or third party impulse responses. The impulses are pretty nice but I had better luck loading my own impulses into TH-U.
My final thought on the Rig Player is that it’s very cool, practical and convenient but the amps inside TH-U are much better and more useful. I would suggest users interested in the Rig Packs just buy the ones that really interest you. I also hope with confidence that all of these Rig Packs will be backwards compatible when the next version of TH-U comes out down the road just as Toontrack did for Superior Drummer 2 users when SD3 came out. The profiles are fun but not necessary to get great tones from TH-U.
The pedals and processing components included in TH-U are also very high quality for a full amp suite like this. I am used to the pedals providing only some of the usual characteristics of the real deal but Overloud ensures that there’s a ton of high quality stomps and processing to choose from. There’s a bit of everything in the arsenal provided within. No matter which component I put to the test, it passed the test. Some of the pedals could use a bit of a graphic touch up but the quality is definitely there.
Boost, OD, distortion, delay, reverb, modulation and a crazy long list of very useful components are readily available to drag and drop right into any signal chain at any time. Feel like adding a pinch of phaser, no problem! How about a massive wall of delay and reverb? Yup, get your Cardigan sweater warmed up! No matter what tone you are after, it’s attainable inside TH-U within minutes. The convenience factor is through the damn roof but unlike some products that sacrifice quality for it, TH-U is not one of them. Every component carries it’s weight without needing outside processing to provide useful tones.
The selection of boost pedals could be a bit larger given the modern day reliance on them. The Brunetti pedals are awesome but including a few more recognizable boost/drive options would likely up the profile even more.
TH-U Full includes a very nice selection of cabs that ranges from tiny to giant as you’d expect with such a haul of amps. Overloud also give the user a ton of mic and mic placement options inside each impulse with a manual way to move things around. This amazing update also added a very necessary impulse response loader for users to load any impulse response of their choosing inside their TH-U signal chain. The loader is easy to use and provides a nice way to load third party products with quality. Load the file up, shape a bit, control the quality and more. I was so happy to see this.
When I loaded IRs from my own collection into the new TH-U loader, there was a noticeable difference. It brought more clarity and I had a ton of luck matching impulses to the amps inside TH-U Full. Not discounting their inclusions at all because they are by all means solid but I did like the tone better with my own impulses. TH-U’s internal cabs have been improved from TH3 but still not to the point that outside products don’t give the plugin a little more shine and depth in a few spots.
No matter what tone I threw at TH-U, I either nailed it or at least got in the ballpark. The options and possibilities are so immense that you really just have no excuse for missing your mark. It’s a plugin that makes chasing down the specific tone for every job easy for any user.
TH3 didn’t involve any bass gear to my knowledge but TH-U offers a few very effective components that ensure TH-U can be a real all-in-one solution. Many of TH-U’s components outside of the amps and cabs will work for both guitar and bass but they weren’t necessarily designed with bass in mind. I used the drive and modulation pedals to help create some effective bass tones. The cab section has a small but nice selection of options or you can use the impulse response loader to fire up your favorite bass IRs. I had a lot of success with a nice variety of 810, 410, 115, 210 and 215 options. I would say the quality went up a bit but the provided cabs are very strong.
UPS / DOWNS
TH-U is packed full of great features that seem to get better and better every time they do an update. There’s no question that TH-U FULL is worth every single dime and more but the Rig Pack expansions can add up to a point where I might start to question the value vs. other plugins or areas it may be better spent. This is not a slight on the feature, I just wanted to put that factor out there to create another angle for those trying to find the best plugin for their needs.
There’s isn’t a single negative thing that I can say about TH-U Full. It’s incredibly versatile to almost a limitless degree, there’s a long list of high quality components for every style and attention to detail across every single part of the plugin. It really is money well spent for anyone looking for a huge variety of professional studio quality tones in one plugin. The CPU is also INSANELY low all things considered. I was amazed at how little it was using even with a longer signal chain that utilized more components.
If you are a TH3 user, I would enthusiastically suggest the upgrade. Sure, there’s a good bunch of components that cross over from one to the other but TH-U is vastly superior to it’s predecessor. I’d actually say that not upgrading is doing yourself a disservice.
TH-U comes in at #2 in our favorite full amp suites of all time (with the Line 6 Helix Native taking the first spot).