ML Sound Lab has come on the amp sim scene fairly quickly with their AMPED series after a very successful beginning on the premium IR market. Amped Super Duper is the company’s third offering to the amp sim market and it’s been inspired by a cool amp called the Dover DA-50.
The Dover DA-50 is a relatively lesser known but unique and well reviewed 50w amp fueled by a brit-voiced EL34 power section. **Initially we misread some information about the Dover that eluded to it being a solid state amp, it has since been corrected to EL34 and updated with this in mind**
The Dover DA-50 is a versatile amp that can do everything from gorgeous shimmering and crisp cleans all the way to a British-sounding version of high gain. Amped Super Duper delivers the amp (separated into two channels) along with FX both pre and post for a very reasonable price.
The GUI is terrific. It’s simplistic, it navigates very easily and there’s very little work involved. So easy that I would recommend the entire Amped line to even the newest of amp sim users. Everything is laid out nicely on one panel with a pop-up FX section. The pop up FX section is nice in comparison to previous layouts and the GUIs have really improved since the funny moving bolts of Amped Roots.
The clean tones are pretty nice and they do sound a bit like the DA-50 clean tones I encountered in my research but it feels like something is missing. I’ll admit I do not have hands on experience with the analog Dover, I don’t hear the same overall tone traits that seemed to show up in every video and clip I checked out regardless of the cab in use. Authenticity aside, I found the cleans and driven cleans to be pretty solid for most related applications. The best use for it seemed to be layering on some delay and reverb for atmospheric cleans but it didn’t really do much for me when it came to country, blues etc.
Getting to the gainier side of the amp, the “booster” setting becomes more useful and necessary. When using the amp in a mid-gain hard rock type way, everything sounded really great for rhythm or lead but as I increased the gain, the lead tones became more of my focus. I wouldn’t say the higher gain rhythm tones are no good, they just feel a little sterile. The fizz factor also starts to creep in when the gain comes up for rhythm tones, especially with the boost pedal on. Being an EL34 powered amp, it’s warmer by design and a little bit more “round” than the 6L6, KT88 and other more common tubes in high gain amps. Getting a good metal tone was no problem but it’s not the first plugin I would use for high gain applications.
The lead tones on the other hand were quite enjoyable from low to a higher amount of gain. The gain knob sort of starts to create muddiness around 2:30 on the gain control but keeping the bass EQ control down a bit lower can help make the gain a little more manageable when turning it up. I found the amp’s EL34 nature can really help to create some absolutely warm and enjoyable lead tones with the gain up to 2:00 or so on the dial and the delay set just right. In a mix, the lead tones sounded better than just jamming in solo but admittedly I needed to change to my own IRs or the MIKKO plugin.
The plugin does not have a cabinet section but instead a single file for the two amps. The files are perfectly matched and really do showcase the best in the amp’s traits. However, it is beyond puzzling to me why a company like ML Sound Lab doesn’t provide more of a cabinet section for a product meant to compete with the top of the market. The company has a huge selection of premium IR packs in their product line as well as a cab sim plugin like MIKKO. Adding even a small selection of files would really add an extra step to the Amped plugins. Users can also choose to load their own file in a very limited internal IR loader or bypass for their own loader and IR selection. I had a ton of luck with various 212 nd 412 IRs from a number of developers.
The FX section is modest but effective. Users get access to a compressor, screamer type pedal, delay and reverb. All of the pedals have worth and usefulness but the screamer can definitely aggravate the fizzy touches to the amp at higher gain so use it in moderation. When using your own loader / IRs / MIKKO etc, remember that the post FX are no longer in proper signal chain order and need to be bypassed.
UPS / DOWNS
Amped Super Duper is an overall decent plugin with some very workable tones inside. It’s the first plugin representation for the Dover DA-50 and it’s nice to have on the plugin market. Everything is laid out nicely for beginners to experienced users alike. The plugin is really easy to dial in no matter what style you are after and it’s also easy to get the amp to cut a mix nicely. Fans of Brit tones will enjoy the rhythm and lead capabilities of the amp for a variety of playing.
On the downside, apart from the name being a real head scratcher, the plugin doesn’t really have the same level of sound quality as the ARK or Roots products. The plugins are designed to compete but when up against the top plugins on the market, the Amped plugins are a little over matched at times. The overall tones are good but there’s always something slightly fizzy going on. Nothing that I would say is at all bad but when put up against the top stuff on the market, every factor has to be considered.
One thing that would definitely help the plugin fit in with the heavyweights would be a more elaborate cabinet section. For developers to purchase and license IRs from an IR developer can be a fairly notable expense. ML Sound Lab however has an in-house library of premium IRs to choose from free of additional development expenses and the plugin’s quality would definitely go up with even 25+ IR files to choose from. Having a way to somehow use the MIKKO plugin inside the Amped plugins would also be a huge plus since using it now involves bypassing the post-FX.
Overall, it’s a solid plugin based on a pretty cool amp but there wasn’t a lot of “wow factor” involved. Amped Super Duper wouldn’t be my first or second recommendation inside the Amped series but instead more of a plugin I would buy on sale to provide some nice lead tones as a specialty tool. Try out the restricted trial today to see if it’s a tool for you.
See more: ML Sound Labs launch video