Jul 20, 2010

You know how sometimes your amp simulation plugin doesn’t really sound like your awesome tube amp?  Even though a lot of software can be pretty cool with options and built-in effects, they sometimes don’t quite get the job done.  And then you end up recording your real amp anyway.  That happens to me all the time.  I think amp modeling has come a long way in the last few years, but there’s still something about tube emulation that hasn’t really quite cut it – until now.

Wave Arts just put out a really great tube amp emulator called Tube Saturator ($99.95) that actually cuts the mustard.  How did they do it?  Without getting crazy technical I’ll just say that they meticulously modeled every nuance of an analog circuit using complicated mathematical equations that are solved on the fly – that is, in real time.  The result is a very convincing tube amp sound.

Here’s the downside (or the upside, depending on how you look at it) – it’s very simple.  It doesn’t model fifty different amps, it only does one model of tube amp and it does it very well.  That’s partly because it’s pretty CPU-intensive.  Also because of its heavy processing, it is only a tube amp emulator – there is no cabinet and mic emulation happening in this software.  But I actually used it with Cabinet from Audio Ease (only $60), which only does the cabinet and mic part of the job, and it was a knockout combination.

So, it’s not a Swiss Army knife, but it does what it does extremely well.  To me, that’s even better than having a million less-than-amazing options, and when you consider the price ($99.95) it’s really fantastic.  This is the best software emulation of an analog tube amp that I’ve ever heard – it has great warmth and true-to-life tube growl if you push it.  The controls are simple – there’s control over drive, output, a unique Baxandall 3-band EQ, and a “Fat” switch that changes the emulation to a thicker, punchier sound.

Check out www.wavearts.com for more info.  Although, I should warn you that the sound examples on the site don’t reflect what Tube Saturator sounds like coupled with a good speaker cabinet software.  I highly recommend demo’ing it along with Cabinet from Audio Ease, which is a great convolution cabinet software.  You can check out Cabinet at www.audioease.com.  Try the free demo of both and use them together – you won’t be disappointed!

by Michael Vecchio

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