JST TONEFORGE MISHA MANSOOR
**HASR TOP PICK**
**FINALIST FOR AMP SIM OF THE YEAR 2018**
Genres: Fairly unlimited
Uses: Lead, Rhythm, Crunch, Clean
SCORE: 10 / 10
Honestly, I feel like Misha Mansoor has kind of become the Kool Aid man. He’s in my email, all over social media and he is almost always trying to sell me something or tell me about a piece of gear he’s promoting. Will he come through the wall next?
There’s no doubt that the man is extremely smart and talented, as is Joey Sturgis so I was very curious about this sim from the first mention of it. Both guys in this scenario are known for great sounding gear which made this one a must-have for me.
The controls are laid out nicely which is cool because by the video demos I saw initially, I thought we were gonna get another Jason Richardson Tone Forge type deal with an overly elaborate layout.
The looks are high res well put together. Everything is laid out impeccably which I kind of anticipated being that both guys involved routinely talk about how important your workflow is when recording.
It’s been labeled a “djent” sim and there’s a lot out there showcasing its djent abilities so I want to find out what else it can do. (Spoiler alert, it does everything). It’s not that we at HASR don’t care for or support djent tones, it’s quite the opposite. That said, with so many YouTubers and bloggers making djent and modern metal their main focus, we like to branch out a bit more.
Off the hop it’s sounding great. What you get when you open this amp is a great starting point, which I love because it’s a big part of the first impression. A selling feature for me is the precision drive, I enjoyed the hardware version of it and the VST version is really cool. If you aren’t familiar with the Horizon Devices Precision Drive, there’s a metric ton of YouTube videos on it, it’s basically a modded tube screamer with a built in gate. They didn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s a cool pedal capable of seriously tightening up your tone.
Moving on to the amp itself, I would say it sounds like a 5153 at times, the “infinity drive” gives you basically three stages per channel which makes it extremely versatile. I was able to dial in perfect tones for death metal, thrash, hard rock and really anything. The clean tones available in the Misha Tone Forge are also incredible. I was able to get haunting cleans with the onboard reverb and chorus, chicken picking cleans with compression, up the clean gain a little and hit the precision drive, poof, blues. It really does everything you need. Versatility earns huge points with us because getting a lot out of one sim is great for the wallet or when the sim is a touch more expensive.
We have standard Low/Mid/High type settings and then we have addition settings for the gear-heads out there. So basically, it’s really easy to dial in but if you require more things to turn and push, JST provides all sorts of ways to alter the tone to perfection. Compression, harmonics, saturation and more up front as well as a selection of modulation effects and post effects to really customize things on the back end. As with all Toneforge offerings, everything including the amp itself can be bypassed which adds even more to the versatility. I used a selection of my own plugins, boosts, EQ, saturation, impulses and so on with really great results.
The included impulses have a matched cab feature that provides the “perfect match” for the various tones but you can also use a number of included impulses or the included JST impulse packs. As I mentioned, you can bypass everything to use your own loader and impulses. Another sign of a great sim for me is something that sounds awesome with a number of impulses and that’s just what I did here. I must have tested this with 100 impulses and it didn’t run into many that didn’t mesh.
I spent a few days with this one and it’s become part of my personal family of go-to plugins so I continue to use it often. I have used it to record ska clean tones, thrash rhythms, soaring leads, skate punk, death metal and grind-core all with great sounds.
UPS / DOWNS:
The verdict is obvious from me and it’s carried through our ranks. Musicians of various styles can benefit from Misha’s products, I for one really don’t care for djent or Periphery but I have used and enjoyed several of his products. Even though it’s a fantastic sim, the price is a wee bit north of where I figure it should be though developers always have sales and price drops so if it’s too pricey for you, be patient and subscribe to the JST newsletters.
Great work to everyone involved in making this plugin.
Posted Dec 1st 2018