The 10 Best Guitar Amp Simulator Plugins (2022)

Amps are a significant financial commitment for people who aren’t sure if they want to play guitar professionally or casually. This is where amp plugins shine. You don’t have to commit to an amp just yet, instead, you can use an amp plugin to emulate your favorite amp.

Guitar amplifiers today are vastly different from those of the 1970s and 1980s. The majority of amps available back then were tube amps. These were far more expensive for a novice to buy, and they can be a large investment for folks who aren’t sure if they want to play guitar professionally or casually.

Everything nowadays is more focused on digital audio and in-box functionality. Guitar amps are no exception, and there are a variety of amp simulator plugins available.

1. IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 Max

Screenshot of www.ikmultimedia.com

Amplitube 5 Max is my top pick among the many amp simulator plugins on the market. The main benefit of this plugin, as well as a few others, is that it can be used for electric, acoustic, and bass guitar. As a result, this plugin is extremely versatile.

Amplitube 5 Max is compatible with both Mac and PC. It is available in a standalone format as well as VST/AU/AAX plugin options.

The plugin comes with a complete signal chain that you may tailor to your preferences. It includes stompboxes, amplifiers, cabinets, rack effects, and mics, among other things, that can be mixed and matched while also modifying or altering the signal flow if necessary.

The user interface is also well-designed, with smooth drag-and-drop functionality, series, parallel rotating, and direct input mixing.

The plugin’s standalone version also includes an 8-multitrack recorder and looper, which is a useful feature for artists and songwriters who don’t have access to a digital audio workstation. This is useful for live performances as well. Custom impulse responses are also supported, so you can quickly load your tones and sound profile from another amp or plugin into this and record.

2. Nembrini Audio – MRH810 v2

Screenshot of www.nembriniaudio.com

The main objective of the Nembrini Audio MRH810 v2 is to emulate the Marshall JCM800. And it does an excellent job of simulating the amp. The sound and user interface are particularly great. It is available on Mac as well as PC. It comes in VST/AU/AAX plugin options.

The plugin includes an emulated tube sound that includes four 12AX7 and four EL34 virtual tubes, making the sound extremely similar to that of a Marshall JCM80. It also includes a clean and lead channel, which is a wonderful touch.

The MRH810 includes a 6 amp cabinet as well as 4 mic emulations. This can provide you with a variety of sounds based on your preferences. It also contains a noise gate and cleaner for fine-tuning the tone with the additional impulse loader that you can use to blend and produce a more distinct sound by loading your custom impulse response or some other commercially available ones.

The Nembrini Audio MRH810 v2 is a true testament to what an amp simulator is capable of. With many crisp tone emulations ranging from creamy clean to dirty blues, versatility is a given, and quality is guaranteed.

3. Line 6 Helix Native

Screenshot of line6.com

Line 6 Helix Native is a commercial program that is essentially a plugin format emulation of Line 6’s Helix hardware unit, which can be used alone or in conjunction with the hardware unit to create bespoke tones and sounds for your guitar.

Almost every major amp and cabinet type is included in the plugin. The plugin goes above and beyond by including all of the different effects and pedals. Some of the more well-known ones are featured as well. It has a variety of amp tones to pick from, as well as cabinets and mic models. You can also experiment with mic positioning and other finer details.

Although the software user interface is not as good as some of the others on this list, it is relatively simple to use and learn. If that’s not enough, the plugin offers impulse responses as well.

Helix Native is available on Mac as well as PC and comes in VST/AU/AAX plugin formats.

4. Positive Grid Bias Amp 2

If you’re looking for a low-cost but high-quality plugin, Bias Amp 2 is a no-brainer. It is excellent considering the value for money and accomplishes far more than one may expect for the price. Bias Amp 2 is available for both Mac and PC. It is available in a standalone format as well as VST/AU/AAX plugin formats, making it extremely versatile.

It includes all of the standard components, such as cabinets and microphones, as well as a variety of amp models. It also has a nice user interface and a great signal chain for putting all of the effects to fine-tune your favorite sound.

Bias Amp 2 takes tone design to the next level by allowing you to create your own amp, complete with preamp and power amp sections, which is unlike any other plugin on the market. This means you can get down to business and create your own amplifier from the ground up.

This amp simulator offers so much at an affordable price, making it an excellent choice for any musician. From bass packs to blues packs, along with reverb, RTA EQ, tone stacking, and many more features.

5. Audiority L12X

Screenshot of www.audiority.com

Audiority’s L12X may come as an unexpected entry this high up on the list for many because it’s freeware software. One of the reasons for this plugin to be included in this list is because it sounds very good and is free for anyone to use.

L12X is available on Mac as well as PC. It comes in a standalone format along with VST/AU/AAX plugin options which make this very versatile.

This plugin is intended to be a Marshall Lead 12 emulation. The Marshall Lead 12 is a solid-state amp designed to sound like the JCM series with its high gain sound. As a result, L12X is a JCM series simulation in a plugin format that is completely free.

The plugin’s signal chain differs slightly from that of a Lead 12, although aesthetically, it looks nearly identical. When compared to other free options, the quality of this plugin is excellent, and you can get great tones using the included Celestion V30 cab sim or your Custom Impulse responses.

Despite being free, this amp simulator comes with a 2-channel design, and 3-band tone stack, and offers a huge gain for a little box.

6. Nalex – Amplex 4/5

The Nalex Amplex 4/5, like the previous entry, is a free program, making it an excellent choice for casual artists and newcomers. It’s hard to comprehend how many different sounds you can generate with this plugin.

It is more of a do-it-all plugin than a plugin that is designed to replicate an amp. It comes with a text document that must be loaded for the plugin to recognize different tones and sounds. It only comes as an amp simulator, which can be a problem because you’ll need to add custom impulse responses and effects to obtain the tone you desire.

It has a power section, low-end, and presence control in addition to the standard 3-band EQ, which is a nice bonus to assist in getting a more realistic sound.

In the realm of free software, Nalex Amplex is one of the greatest options for getting high-quality sounds.

7. SoftAmp – PSA

Screenshot of www.soft-amp.com

SoftAmp PSA is a virtual analog guitar preamp that is completely free to use and offers a lot for the price. Unfortunately, it is only accessible for Windows users and in VST plugin formats.

It has 5 stages of distortion, as well as a compressor and noise gate, which makes the creation process a little easier. The first three are op-amps with Zener diodes in the feedback chain, while the latter two are overdriven op-amps. All of these produce distinct sounds that can be combined to create the exact sound you desire.

It was created as a free alternative to the well-known SansAmp, so if you’re searching for tones in that area, then this is a great choice for you to learn and use in your compositions.

8. EXE Consulting – Classic

Classic by EXE Consulting is a collection of amp simulator plugins that are all free-to-use and may be used to get iconic amp sounds. They are excellent emulations of well-known guitar amplifiers such as the AC30, JCM800, and others, and they are entirely free.

Unfortunately, it is only accessible for Windows users and in VST plugin formats.

The series includes five separate plugins, each of which is free-to-use and emulates a different amp. All of these plugins also provide a slew of other capabilities, like effects and EQ, which seems too wonderful to be true for a plugin that costs nothing.

All of these plugins, in my opinion, do a decent job at emulating their original versions, and with the addition of effects and other features, they are a fantastic upgrade to your library.

9. Overloud TH-U Full

Screenshot of www.overloud.com

The massive variety of amp models and presets accessible for use with a single click is the biggest selling point of Overloud’s TH-U. This is a wonderful plugin to use if you’re recording a demo or laying down ideas and want a faster process.

This plugin is available for Mac and PC as a standalone application as well as a plugin that supports VST and AU formats.

If the plugin’s bewildering array of possibilities isn’t enough for you, it has a recording feature that lets you record any real-world sound or amplifier for use in your sound design. It features 89 guitar amp models, 4 bass amp models, 50 guitar cabs, 2 bass cabs, 79 effects, and 18 microphone models.

The sheer array of possibilities here is endless. With a state-of-the-art AMP tweak function, a rig player, built-in convolver, and customizable MIDI control, this plugin has it all!

10. GuitarML – Chameleon

Interested in delving into the smallest details? Then Chameleon is the plugin for you, as the developer has made the plugin’s source code available for anybody to use and tweak on their website. This is also a completely free program that is ideal for those who enjoy getting their hands dirty.

This plugin is available for Mac and PC as a standalone application as well as a plugin that supports VST and AU formats.

It’s a straightforward plugin with a classic tone and three channels for creating various sounds. This is the easiest to use and quick plugin with decent sounds when paired with a 3-band EQ. Although, to get them finished and polished sound you may have to use custom impulse responses and effects.

If you’re after that vintage sound with ease of use in mind, the GuitarML Chameleon is a great choice to consider.

Conclusion

As you can see from the list above, even the free plugins have improved significantly and match their expensive counterparts in terms of sound and tone. Furthermore, almost all plugins accept configurable impulse responses, allowing for even greater customization.

There are many more plugins on the market than these, therefore, I would recommend that you try them before making a selection. This post will act as a guide to help you figure out what to look for and how to compare plugins.

Your plugin preferences may be influenced by the type of sound or genre you play, so I recommend downloading the free versions of all of these plugins and experimenting.

Dhruv Patel is a guitarist, producer, engineer, composer, arranger, and writer. He has been playing and making music for over 8 years. He also has an Engineering background and understands the technical aspects of music gear and audio plugins. He also works as a music engineer on his own projects as well as for other artists.

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