**TOP FREEWARE AMP SIM**
Genres: Hard rock, Metal, Djent, Thrash, Punk and more
Uses: Rhythm, Lead, Crunch, Clean
SCORE: 10 / 10
Ignite Amps are one of the top freeware developers today and have been so for a while now. Everything they make compares with and beats out a lot of paid plugins.
The first version of the Emissary was amazing and it was one of the best free amp sims on the market. Like every Ignite Amps product, the first Emissary also competed with and out performed some high quality paid plugins. Personally, I loved it but there were things about it that I felt held it back as well.
Version two; which will be available in Feb, has been improved in so many ways. Developer Federico Berti explained the specific updates for version 2.0.
“Sound wise the “only” update is the use of our 3rd generation tube modeling engine, which has a big impact on the feel and responsiveness of the amp when playing. The tube simulation code is completely rewritten compared to the previous version. If you check the official video we did for version 1, in the AB comparison, the model is pretty much indistinguishable from the real amp, so the focus was mainly in the playing feel and our new engine address this (cpu usage is obviously higher, but the code has been carefully optimized compared to NRR-1 and The Anvil v3, or it would have needed more than 2 times the actual cpu). The cool thing is that there is still room for improvement in the future, as computers get more powerful. Feature wise, there are some minor GUI changes in the back panel (the power amp status is now controllable through a toggle switch rather than a combo box) and our preset management system has been integrated like in all our latest releases (see the GUI header, which wasn’t there in v1).” Federico Berti 2019
The plugin’ looks haven’t changed but they didn’t need to. They look amazing. It’s clean, realistic, bright and you can tell they put work into it. Ignite Amps plugins are based on real products they have designed and built in hardware form and the looks are always authentic. The GUI is simple, effective and the controls while simplistic, all have huge impact on the tone. The GUI has a few upgrades with the new preset management system.
The first channel is your clean to gritty channel. To my ears, this channel has very much improved. There’s a warmth to things that wasn’t there before and the note response feels better as well. The first channel was a weakness for me in the first version of the plugin. It felt a little cold at times whereas the first channel in the Emissary 2.0 floors me. The gain is more useful and more versatile.
The cleans are more vibrant and more useful to me. I managed a really slick blues tone with reverb, a nice dry southern rock and a deep country tone with a telecaster. The first channel also went nicely with an HM2 plugin. Perhaps Ignite will give us their take on the HM2 someday 🙂
Switch the channel to unleash a mid to hi-gain channel capable of a very wide range of gainy tones that go from crunch to devastation in only a few turns. Djent, metalcore, thrash, hard rock, tech-death and a barrage of absolutely shredding lead tones are all easy to dial in but that has always been the case. Version two adds more punch and better response to your chugeda-chugeda-chugs while also giving your brutality a warmth and depth that will feel like a big hug. Yes, I just said a metal tone could feel like a hug. When you find just the right tone, it does feel that good.
Everything good about the first Emissary is there but it’s like you hit an HD switch and are just now hearing so much more of the character of the real amp. I’ll be honest, hearing 2.0 really makes me want to own the real deal to run through a 412. The new Emissary gives you more of what you’d feel if you were standing beside it’s hardware counterpart with your teeth rattling.
I boosted the original Emissary to town and back with a bunch of different TS plugins and it was never hard to find a match. It just so happens that Ignite Amps also offer two of the best TS pedal plugins ever made but they are also free. The Mercuriall Audio Greed Smasher and Cytomic The Scream also really brought out the best in the Emissary. It really sounds killer without a boost at all but the amp also goes to another place when boosted.
The Emissary requires an impulse loader and impulses. It worked really well with the majority of the impulses I threw at it. I tried many 112, 212, and 412 options from a variety of companies with a lot of success. No real favorite this time but I was really pleased with just how many different impulses sounded great with it.
I used the NADIR 2.0 for the entire review and I will be reviewing it separately but for now I will say it’s incredible. I was also in impulse heaven with the Emissary 2.0 after it matched up so well with library after library of my favorite cab impulses and blends. It took a while but I would say my favorites would be the new 412 multi cab Zilla from ownhammer, the Wolverine from Valhallir and for free cabs, the Seacow Cabs Studio collection had a ton of great matches for the Emissary.
UPS / DOWNS:
There are no weak spots in the armor, no thermal exhaust vents to exploit on this deathstar and no openings in this viking shield wall. This is the new king of freeware amp sims and it claims the throne on our best freeware list but this is also a game changing moment. As mentioned, the Ignite Amps plugins have always kept up with or out performed paid software but this is different. This is the first freeware amp sim that not only competes, it destroys. This is the best hi-gain tone I have ever heard in an amp sim period. Ignite Amps are now operating on a whole new level and the success is well deserved.
All hail the Emissary 2.0
Posted Jan 31st 2019