The L12X is the first amp sim from Italian-based developer, Audiority. The company has decided to take a different approach to amp sims with a line of plugins modeled from solid-state amps. While the others are modeled from some truly legendary solid state gems, this one is based on the slightly more pedestrian Marshall Lead 12. It’s a pint-sized amp that usually sits on top of this novelty-sized Marshall stack with two little cabs.
Why do this amp? Why do I want a plugin based on a tiny cheap little amp? These are completely valid questions that are quickly forgotten when the pick hits the strings to unveil the sound.
The GUI is a little boxy looking but overall, it looks great and functions with ease. There’s not a whole lot to it but there doesn’t need to be with the extra-simple controls on the analog version. Users get access to a simple EQ, boost mod, cabinet bypass and more ways to shape the tone but my favorite control has to be the contour. The contour knob has a ton of impact on the overall tone but when turning it to the right, be aware that your mid EQ control may need to be adjusted in the process.
It kinda sounds like a Valvestate, in fact it sounds a lot like a Valvestate in some areas. I was really surprised the first few times I had a chance to fire it up because there just didn’t seem to be many limits tonally. The tones and styles covered by the L12X are quite impressive. With only the stock controls and maybe a tube screamer, the amp covers clean, crunch and more. The added gain boost helps the versatility extend into the high gain realm but to really get chugging properly, I find a boost pedal of some sort is important.
The L12X is a great blank canvas type of amp sim because it plays so incredibly well with boost, OD, TS, Distortion, Fuzz, Modulation and really just about any effect imaginable. I created death metal tones, brit pop, driven blues, rock, punk, washed out atmospheric cleans and soaring delayed leads. I always consider it a bonus when amp sims work well with outside plugins and this plugin does just that which adds more worth to the versatility factor.
Like a few other freeware amps, there is a single impulse response file to represent the cabinet. The file is a blend of a couple 412 files from the Seacow Cabs Signture cab pack though which files are a mystery. The funny thing about the included IR file is it’s versatility. No matter what I used the L12X for, the IR played right along without a hitch. It’s rare and hard to find one IR blend that can do so well in so many areas but Audiority did so.
The cabinet can be bypassed easily with the touch of a button and the amp matches up so well with so many different IRs. With any amp, the cabinet has a huge impact on the tone. When it comes to an amp with a very small amount of controls to shape the tone, using different cabinets can really open up more tones. In the case of the L12X, I have used everything from 110, 112, 212, 410, 412 and 215 with a lot of success. The amp meshes so well with such a wide range of IRs and it really helps the amp pull off a lot of different styles convincingly.
UPS / DOWNS
The upsides and uses for this tiny little titan in analog form may be fairly limited but in plugin form, it becomes invariably more useful. The 412 impulse response and added gain boost really help to create a larger sound and profile for an amp that is predominantly used as a practice amp in it’s hardware form. Another upside is the fact that the amp can be a very effective “chameleon” type amp so when you add that factor to the FREE price tag, it should be in many plugin tool boxes out there.
I would put this amp up against a ton of paid gear and if this is a sign of what’s to come from Audiority, consider me very excited. The amp does a have a lot of uses and things it does really well but for many of those things, outside plugins are needed so the score must reflect. If it was part of a small suite with a few tools, this would be a 10/10 plugin. Using boosts, IRs, modulation and other plugins is not difficult so anyone out there should be able to get any tone that I did and then some without much effort!
Leon Todd demo of the L12X