Genres: Metal, Rock, Blues, Country
Uses: Rhythm, Lead, Crunch, Clean
SCORE: 7.5 / 10
Kuassa has been around since the early days of amp sim plugins. Most of their products are original creations that don’t adhere to any one amp. Usually their plugins are made to be versatile, affordable and good quality.
It took me a while to get to these plugins. I only picked them up about a year ago but they have both been around 5+ years or so. I had no idea they were so cheap! I saw a couple videos that sounded good and when I checked out the page, the plugins were only $20 give or take. They may be even cheaper now.
This review is for Kuassa’s Amplifikation Creme. It’s a multi-amp suite that gives you three amps with three channels a piece, three boost pedals, a gate and a selection of impulses all built into one plugin. More specifically, built into one amp.
The looks of this plugin are deceiving. To look at it, if I had to predict the tone based on the looks, I would gather it to be a lower gain vintage amp of some sort. The name of the plugin is Creme and the color of it is also creme which sort of shrouds the sim’s modern hi-gain capabilities but the looks and layout are both decent regardless. You have the boost section built into the amp, the amp itself, the impulse loader and some pre-post controls strewn about. All in all Kuassa plugins are always laid out very neatly.
There’s a lot to this plugin. A lot to explore and figure out as you go. I am going to try and go slowly while being as in depth as I can be. To do that we have to split the amps and channels up a bit in the review. I am always meticulous when I use a product for the first time so this one will be a bit drawn out. It was actually kind of difficult to find a way to get this review across due to the options onboard.
Now, factor in the EQ, impulses and each of the amps having three different channels featuring varying amounts of gain, there’s just an insane amount of ways to alter and shape tones. The possibilities are plentiful.
The three channels to each amp are basically laid out the same across the amps. 1 is clean, 2 is rhythm or crunch and 3 is lead or hi-gain. Across the three channels, the amps really seem to change a lot more than I would have thought. It’s like the switch doesn’t just switch channels but it also adds or subtracts to the tone with little boosts or scoops across the low to high mids. It’s not a bad thing but it does make choosing the right boost and impulse a bit of a hike but I will get to that in a minute.
With this many amps and channels, I had to contact Kuassa for some additional information on the ideas behind the amps and pedals inside Amplifikation Creme and Kuassa gave me a lot of great information to work with for the reviews of all of their stuff. Our appreciation goes out to Kuassa.
AMP I –
This one is based on a mixture of British amps most notably Marshall and Orange products. The first channel is a really warm clean tone that needed almost no work to get a great sound. I had promising starts on tones for blues, country, southern rock and jazz in no time. Amp one sounded as I thought the plugin might overall before I owned it.
The next channel in amp one is thick and crunchy without a boost even needed but with a boost, it came alive. With the Kuassa Efektor OD I was getting some really nice tones for everything from thrash to modern metal and even a sort of Swedish / Abyss Studios tone. The cut to the solo and lead tones I came up with really had me enjoying the plugin’s classic rock capabilities as well.
The third channel for amp one is similar to the second channel but it’s beefier and has a pant-load more gain. The crunch is present but I went to the fuzz and muff plugins and it paid off huge. The Kuassa Efektor Fuzz helped me create some keeper type tones. The “trans” option on the FZ blew my mind a little. It’s stoner/doom heaven
AMP II –
Moving on, amp two I was told was inspired by Mesa Boogie and Ampeg amps. Seeing Ampeg guitar amps mentioned in the amp sim universe is a rare occurrence so it caught my attention. Ampeg guitar amps have been used sparingly across metal and rock for a long time. There was also a fairly notorious solid state hi-gain guitar amp made by Ampeg.
The clean channel here wasn’t great at first but with some brightening it showed up to shimmer. The second channel on amp two is kind of a modern sounding hi-gain tone. There’s a lot of gain and a whole lot of brightness. Once you tame the amp a bit with the EQ or processing, it’s easy to get a nice 80s or 90s thrash tone. I fell on a tone really close to Megadeth’s Rust In Peace and proceeded to riff out for about an hour.
The third / lead channel for amp two is similar to the second channel but beefier and a pinch looser around the edges. This channel responded very well to a bunch of fuzz and muff pedals which include the Kuassa Efektor FZ and the Kazrog Ram Fuzz. You can get some truly large sounding stoner/doom tones with this combination.
AMP III –
The aim for amp three was a mix of vintage and modern hi-gain tones including Soldano and Engl.
The clean channel is ok but it’s not the strongest tone in the plugin. I prefer the clean tone in amp one. The second channel was a bit loose and tubby and it didn’t really work when I tried hitting it with a boost. It was hard to find the spot between too thin and too thick for the overall clean tone.
Channel two is a crunchy but kind of thin channel. So far amp three is not giving me as much enjoyment as the first two. The third channel in amp three saved the day. It’s a really nice saturated gain that pulls off a number of higher gain genres reasonably. You really need to watch the settings on this channel, a few wrong tweaks can make a bit of a mess of the tone.
The boost section of the amp is included ideally so you don’t have to boost the amp. Kuassa added tube screamer, crunchbox and OCD inspired boosts to Amplifikation Creme. I didn’t find the boosts overly useful as they mostly seem to add harshness and unwanted hi-mids to the tone. Give them a shot, they may be for you but I opted to bypass for my own.
The boost section can be bypassed quickly and easily but with so many different tones inside Amplifikation Creme, you may find yourself reaching for a variety of boosts, distortions, fuzz and muff pedals to match things up nicely.
The impulses included are pretty reasonable and if you want to use your own you can either use the Kuassa loader or bypass it in favor of your own. Creme was very difficult to find a consistent match for across the board. With three amps and three channels per amp plus everything else that impacts the tone in this plugin, you may have to try a few options for every channel of every amp to get where you need to go.
While using this plugin you really need to watch everything from the mids to the highs. There’s a ton of brightness and hi-mids in Amp Creme even at pedestrian levels. When you start adding boosts or distortion etc, watch your levels and take your time. You will also want to universally avoid anything above 5-6 on any of the gains across all amps and channels. I found the digital break up started to happen when I challenged the amp’s hi-gain abilities. I preferred it either clean and boosted or crunchy and boosted. Amp one was my favorite.
UPS / DOWNS:
Amplifikation Creme can give you a lot of tones with it’s multitude of options but to get the tones I was looking for, it took a significant amount of tweaking and processing. If you take your time and align everything right, you can get good tones for everything from country to Cannibal Corpse.
That said, this plugin is one of the better plugins out there that’s regularly available under $20. I would say this plugin is showing signs of age but still does a good job. Pick it up and give it a rip.
Posted Dec 23rd 2018