Mercuriall Audio has built a loyal and dedicated following through years of hard work and top level products. The company went nearly a year without a release to design not only a new amp sim but a new GUI style as well.
The first amp chosen for the company’s new GUI was the Bogner Ecstasy. It’s a great EL34-fueled, multi-channel amp that has become quite popular over the years but when I first heard about it, I will admit I was a little confused. After all, with the way the market works like a high gain arms race, a straight rock amp isn’t going to command the same amount of interest. However, it’s plugins like Euphoria that are going to bring a lot more rock players into the plugin realm to even things out in time.
That said, for now, do not fret, Mercuriall Audio made sure that this plugin had more than enough high gain fire power to hit the market with immediate interest from all sides.
The new GUI is another world compared to Mercuriall’s previous neat and tidy way of laying everything out. The industry standard has changed due to the user demand for suite style plugins. I understand that developers are feeling pressure to go this route but in this case, I felt Mercuriall Audio had one of the easiest and most efficient GUIs in the game.
I really don’t much like the pop-up pedals, they make the GUI feel somewhat cluttered. When opening a pedal, it appears in the middle of the GUI and then has to be moved if you’d like it elsewhere. A nice spot to leave them would be over the cabinet graphic but there’s not enough space so the pedal either cuts off the amp controls or the bottom of the pedal has to be tucked out of sight.
When I look at this scenario, I can’t help but notice the wasted space above the amp. If the amp was moved up, there would be room for a pedalboard section to place the pedals in similar to Mercuriall’s other plugin; ReAxis. I also question why more panels weren’t used if the GUI was going to change to a suite style layout. This could have made things a lot more streamlined while still allowing for the component graphics newer users seek.
Mercuriall Audio users will be very familiar with the pedals available in the pre and post FX department as most of them have been reliably available free or in their plugins in the past. The tube screamer, yellow drive and the always awesome Greed Smasher drive the amp very nicely but the Metal Area/Zone pedal really doesn’t fit in. The stereo reverb, chorus and delay now have pedal graphics and do a great job creating some very nice lead and atmospheric tones.
The amp itself is perfect in every shape and form. It’s truly the most versatility in any single amp sim that I have used to date. There’s no area the amp is even slightly weak in and there are no faults to mention in the sound whatsoever. Gorgeous cleans, snotty driven cleans, crunch, rock, lead tones, scorching high gain and well.. really, it’s all up to the person holding the guitar.
Getting those sounds on the other hand involves taking the proper time to really get to know what does what in the amp’s very elaborate control layout. This is where things can get a bit tricky but the presets provide a very nice overview of the amp’s capabilities. From preset to preset, listen for the changes and then look at the GUI to see what has changed. Make notes on how things function and which switches / knobs unlock the areas of the amp you enjoy most. After that, it’s all experimentation.
The line of switches available above the knobs holds the power to customize the amp’s various sections in a multitude of ways. Going over what every single switch does in the manual is a plus but ideally, they need to be heard and felt by the player to be fully understood. Sometimes that’s just the only way.
The switches represent different types of drive, frequency bumps and cuts, boosts, mod activation and other features. My favorites of the bunch are the Cameron mod (CH3 Mod), boost and Plexi switches but ideally there’s something for everyone in there. It was tough to make sure all of the switches were accurately represented but from the ones I could research fully, the plugin seemed to nail them down.
To elaborate on the Cameron mod a little; it’s a “boutique” mod that makes the Esctasy punchier and more articulate. The mod can add more overall definition to make the amp more lively by removing a pinch of compression to my ears. As if the mod doesn’t already do enough, I also noticed a tighter bass response and an improved response in the gain knob. This one is definitely going to be a big hit with those looking to Euphoria for high gain creations. I’ve read many in the analog world like this mod so much they have it installed without a switch. I have to agree that CH3 is much better with the mod engaged.
The ground covered by Euphoria is staggering. If this was a blindfold test, I would think I was testing 3-4 different amps with multiple channels. There’s simply nothing it can’t do tone wise which is why they call it the tone machine. Not only can it do everything but it can do everything in more than one way. For example, there isn’t just 2-3 high gain tones, there are about 20+. No matter what your preferred style or genre is, Euphoria will give you a number of different approaches to it. Going over every genre Euphoria can be used for would be like listing the uses for a Swiss Army Knife.
The 2D cab section features IRs from Redwirez as several Mercuriall Audio plugins have in the past. There’s a nice selection of cabs that includes 412 Bogner, Mesa Boogie and Marshall options plus a variety of mics and positions to give users a lot of control of how the cab voices the amp. It’s worth noting that they chose to go with the more expensive Sennheiser MD441 over the MD421. Some may consider this either a pro or a con depending on taste. I personally prefer the 421 but the 441 still blends great with a 57 all the same.
The included 412 options are really handy but when I used my own IR collection, I found it just continued to create new tones with Euphoria. Using open back 112, 212 and 410 IRs with the clean channel or with a pinch of dirt really turned in some stellar tones for genres that require clean, driven clean and slightly dirty tones.
My go-to high gain IRs also sounded great across the board which didn’t surprise me by that point. Go ahead, unleash the Tone Machine loose in your IR collection with confidence, it makes friends quickly. Use their internal loader or bypass it for your own (remember to bypass post-FX if you use your own).
To add to the the plugin’s versatility even further (is that possible?), Mercuriall Audio could perhaps consider a few 112 and 212 options in a future update. The ability to blend two of their cabinets in the loader would be nice to see moving into the new GUI as it’s likely to become the industry standard in the coming years.
UPS / DOWNS
It was worth the wait, Euphoria is definitely a tone machine of epic proportions. The versatility of the amp is beyond impressive and the components that surround only add to that. I enjoyed every moment with the amp after taking a good amount of time to really get to know how it worked. After that, tones were effortless.
Euphoria’s ease of use really depends on the user. This might not be a plugin I would suggest for a brand new amp sim user but Mercuriall Audio does have several plugins that could work to get started easy and bridge that gap. Even experienced users may face a bit of a learning curve as I did but it’s more than worth the result.
I believe this plugin is definitely going to attract some new users to plugins / amp sims. It’s not the first and only great sounding Bogner plugin out there but it is the one of the most realistic and authentic plugins I have heard to date. Euphoria’s quality will go a very long way to breaking ground for amp sim tech with new demographics.
On the downside for me, the GUI really took some getting used to and I think it could use a few tweaks before being applied to their other plugins as planned. The CPU usage is also still quite high which is something that I had really hoped they’d addressed. Even in x2 oversampling, the plugin is a bit of a hog. Not the highest I have seen but those with slower or slightly older computers may struggle with multiple instances of Euphoria at the higher quality settings. It sure would be great if they could bring this down even a little. Computers will catch up eventually but currently, it’s a bit of a hit to the score.
(Reminder:Always make sure you view the minimal specs required to use any plugin effectively before you purchase.)
See more: Euphoria demo by Pete Thorn