Rating: 8 / 10
Ampire is a large multi-amp suite that offers 5 amps, a bunch of pre/post effects, a cabinet section and more in a compact package. It’s almost enough to be considered a smaller full-suite but fits better in the multi-amp suite category in my opinion.
Initally, this software was exclusively available for users of the PreSonus Studio One DAW but after a little time, a fully native version is now available for all DAWs / Interfaces. Many people seem to still be under the impression that Ampire is still exclusive so we wanted to note that this review is for the NATIVE VERSION of the plugin.
**It’s important to note that while the plugin is available for all DAWs, if you are a Presonus Studio One Professional user, Ampire is absolutely FREE. Studio One Professional users will also get the native version free to use with other DAWs.**
The GUI looks nice and it’s laid out in a pretty unique way that keeps everything in one frame. I really like new layouts that I haven’t seen before if they are done right, Presonus did a great job of making something different that functions nicely. Nothing looks hyper realistic but nothing looks bad in the slightest either. Users can also choose to hide various parts of the GUI when not in use. It took me a few mins to figure out where everything was since it is a unique layout but I found a lot of comfort in the workflow after learning the area,
The amp selection covers literally all genres and styles across the bunch, it even has the low end covered with a bass amp to make it a real all-in-one solution. I really like that the amp selection is thorough without being too big. The amps selected are all modeled with detail and authenticity in mind. All of the channels and control parameters are represented pretty well across the selection provided so users get the full flexibility of each product.
The MCM 800 (1982 JCM 800 2203) is purely awesome. I am always a fan of a good 800 sim and I am extremely familiar with its analog brethren. The one delivered with Ampire is a lot of fun to play on. I have put it through a lot of my usual “Marshall tests” with pleasing results. The high and low sensitivity inputs are a huge plus for me because the feature provides the ability to switch between a more stock and straight ahead rock amp to more of a modded / hot-rodded and gainier Marshall tones.
Next up is a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier they have named “The Dual Amplifier”. The recto/rectifier is an amp that I am always a little hesitant to get excited about when I see it in a plugin because so often, there’s just something missing. However, Ampire’s version of the diamond-plate armored beast is quite enjoyable on all levels. The controls are represented authentically, the tones are very realistic and in general, it’s one of the better Rectifier sims I have used. From warm sawing punk rock tones to all-out-war level high gain tones that are saturated to perfection. NoUseForAName to Cannibal Corpse, jump into this one.
There just isn’t enough VOX representation on the plugin market these days so was pretty happy to also see the VC30 amp at the Ampire party for the tones that only an AC30 can deliver. This looks like a 70s model of the famed British-made legend but the sound for me is tough to tell. Most of my experience with the analog AC30 comes with country style playing. The plugin version soars pretty high when I use it for modern and vintage country, blues, jazz and classic rock tones. The snap and spank I normally look for was pretty easy to attain and overall, the “VC30” sounds really great.
The other “cleaner” amp included is the oft-seen Fender Twin which in this case is the blackface version of the famed Fender creation. There are many Fender sims out there, it may be the most modeled amp out there in Pluginland but there’s a good reason for it. Fender amps are arguably some of the best and most reliable clean ever designed so when developers look for a clean selection in a multi/full amp plugin, they are often the go-to.
Ampire’s “Blackface Twin” is so much fun to play on, in fact the first time I laid into it, I was grinning ear to ear. The tones are warm, cozy, bright and realistic. This amp is just so good for the modulation, verb, delay and other internal effects included with Ampire. Cleans and lightly driven cleans with the Blackface Twin are awesome for a number of applications.
In the interest of providing a more all-in-one experience, Presonus has also included the “Amp STV” (Ampeg SVT). The SVT line of amps from Ampeg provide some of the most iconic and high quality bass tones in the business so I really always love seeing one in a suite. What this addition provides is the ability for users to buy one plugin and have it cover all the guitar and bass needs most folks would need. The beefy and very recognizable Ampeg tone characteristics are absolutely in play here. There’s a very nice musical mid range to it without being abrasive. Dialing in a great bass tone with the STV amp is quick, easy and to the point.
The pedal selection also provides quality over quantity just like the amp section. There’s a generous but intimate selection of solid quality effects/stomps that have been modeled very effectively. Nothing too crazy in here but Presonus has provided more than enough to get the tones you need. Chorus, flanger, delay, fuzz, tube screamer, RAT box and a bunch more are included which with the amps included creates a monstrous vault of tones. I didn’t find any effects that I didn’t like or that I thought were lesser in quality.
This is a very good example of how this is done properly because there are no “empty boxes” or “shell components”. This is a small but well done group of stomps that have loads of applications. They focused on realism rather than a high level of components. Some plugins focus on having a “shock and awe” number of boxes to offer but I always fail to see the point when the components have no resemblance to it’s analog doppelganger. However here in the land of Ampire, the developers have clearly gone the extra mile to ensure that every component offered up has real merit and use.
The cabinet section provides a matched cabinet for each amp in the suite. A very simplistic mixer is provided to create just the right blend of IRs. The mixer has three faders that control what seems to be a 57, some sort of ribbon mic and what looks like a Neumann room mic setup. The IRs included are pretty average and can definitely do a good job but I found the level of quality took a jump up when I used the included bypass to fire up my own IR collection in my own loader.
A head scratcher in the cab section is that the faders used for blending create a split second of silence when they are moved. This creates a bit of a challenge given that when in the cab mixer, users are normally listening for slight differences in the tone as things are changed. I was able to get some killer tones with the internal mixer but in general, it would be better and easier to dial in without the silence. The silence is caused by the IRs changing with the movement of the faders but nonetheless, it does affect the enjoyment of the plugin at times.
HIGH DENSITY EXPANSION – 6.5 / 10
The stock Ampire plugin offered a nice selection of amps and gear for everything from country to metal but the higher gain side of the base version begins and ends with the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier model. With the demand for high quality high gain tones being high industry-wide, Presonus opted to add more high gain components via an expansion known as the High Density Pack! The expansion features three amps; A Peavey 6505+, Diezel Einstein and Orange Tiny Terror, matched cabs for the amp and a few stomps to round out the arsenal. All components become “unlocked” in the sense that users can mix and match components from the regular plugin and the expansion.
The Metal Machine+ is based on what I gather is a Peavey 6505+. It’s a killer choice given the real deal amp’s ability to do so many different types of “heavy” so well. I am a huge 5150-related amp fan and I really gave this one a really good solid go but it just didn’t deliver anything authentic or particularly useful. The controls didn’t seem to dial in anything solid which is strange given the analog amp’s ease of operation. With so many incredible plugins already out there doing a stellar job of the 6505+ type tones, any new plugin modeling the amp has to be up to par. This re-imagining of the legendary 2-channel beast falls short in a number of areas but it’s definitely not the worst option out there for heavy tones.
Next up is the Painapple #4! The Painapple portion could be the best name I have seen for a modeled component, maybe ever. Bravo to whomever decided on this name for what appears to be an Orange Jim Root Tiny Terror. Unlike the 6505, this one doesn’t have a ton of plugin representation but the amp itself is pretty popular so it’s a good call. The real amp is based on the dirty channel of Root’s signature Rockerverb and Presonus did a pretty decent job recreating it. This amp can do classic rock to high gain pretty well but it’s designed to be a bit stripped down and semi-limited.
Diezel’s flagship amps took a while to really make their way into the plugin universe but eventually several showed up. One amp in the Diezel selection that hasn’t been a big focus for plugin developers is the Einstein. This was a great choice in general to me because the aptly named Gazoline Emc2 adds something new to the market but it’s really not limited to high gain. The analog version can take different tube types but the version modeled in this case was loaded with the Brit-voiced EL34 power tubes. The amp has two channels with channel one having three modes (Clean, Texas and Mega). Channel one’s modes really give it a lot of versatility between a nice true clean, gainier brit-sounding grit and raw distorted rhythms. Channel two is all gain, all the way through with a lot of size and nice cut to things. The modeling is pretty strong but ultimately, I liked the clean and gritty sounds from Channel one more than the high gain tones produced by the Emc2.
Included in the pedal section is what seems to be a very loose representation of the Horizon Devices Precision Drive (Demolition Drive), the Zakk Wylde Overdrive (Wildrive) along with a dual compressor, space reverb, whammy / pitcher shifter, EQ pedal and more. All of the pedal operates clean and easy without a lot of messing around. None of these pedals really floored me to be honest but the pitch shifter tracked notes pretty authentically and provided a lot of great sounds.
Once again, I am just really underwhelmed by the cabs included. The main downside to the entire Ampire plugin is the IR section and the expansion only perpetuates that further. I don’t know if it’s the loader itself or the IRs that were included but overall, the sound of the cab section is quite below average. I find the tones in the High Density pack improve a great deal with the use of my own loader and premium IRs just as they do with the stock plugin. A bit of an overhaul to the cab section would bring a better user experience on a number of levels.
UPS / DOWNS
It’s very affordably / modestly priced for what comes in the full package so the value mark is very much earned here. I’d fully recommend it for beginners and advanced users alike as I believe it’s simplistic enough for any player to jump into but it also has a level of quality that professionals will find useful. Any genre from pillowy soft to extreme metal aggression is available here for a great price isn’t something seen often so pick this plugin up if you have a chance!
The cabinet section has a few things that I think could be improved upon but that’s really the only part of the Ampire plugin that I was completely onboard with. Apart from that, this is a real deal Swiss Army Knife type plugin that puts QUALITY over QUANTITY even though the amount of components included is by all means not tiny.
See more: Presonus Ampire release video