With a range of impressive presets there should something here for everyone. But if there isn’t? Well, you can build pretty much any amp or distortion pedal you want!
There are many modelled guitar amps on today’s market but Melda’s MTurboAmp, available through UnitedPlugins, takes a rather different approach from most of them: effectively it allows the user to get inside the modelled amps and redesign them. In fact, if you’re feeling more adventurous you can even choose to build amps from scratch! Unusually, there’s no dedicated speaker simulator built into the amp, and that’s because this plug‑in was designed to be used with Melda’s separate MCabinet plug‑in. You could also pair it with any third‑party cab simulator, of course, but it is also possible to load impulse responses directly into the modules that make up the amplifiers. MTurboAmp supports AAX, AU, VST, and VST3 plug‑in hosts on Mac (64‑bit only) and Windows (32‑bit and 64‑bit). A 15‑day demo is available, and MTurboAmp can be run on as many machines as required (no dongles necessary!).
At the time of writing (we’re told that new amps and pedals will be added in future updates), MTurboAmp comes with almost 30 amp heads and a dozen distortion pedals, and each has several different presets. Rather than modelling specific amplifiers, the infrastructure of MTurboAmp comprises a series of up to nine identical multi‑function modules plus comprehensive input and output 10‑band EQs. Each module has a three‑band, variable‑frequency EQ too, and a choice of several distortion types, categorised as soft, clip or wave‑folding. So, by cascading modules, it is possible to create amplifiers with just about any character imaginable, from super clean to uber‑filth.
It is possible to create amplifiers with just about any character imaginable, from super clean to uber‑filth.
There’s detailed control over the balance of added harmonics with separate horizontal sliders for second, third, fourth and fifth harmonic generation. As these modules also include a convolution engine, an ambience or reverb IR can be loaded, or even a speaker IR, and individual module settings can also be saved as presets to help in future amp‑building projects. There’s also an option to put modules in parallel rather than the default serial configuration. A button on each module inverts the polarity of its output.
When Edit is clicked a new view appears with three tabs for Input EQ, Distortion and Output EQ, with the I/O gain, mix and volume controls along the top. The in and out EQs, which are fully parametric, are shown with familiar draggable curves while the Distortion tab shows the nine slots available for the distortion/EQ modules.
Small changes can make a big difference, so rather than dive in by building your own amps from the outset, it probably makes better sense first to explore some of the existing amps. You can do this by hitting the Edit button — you’ll then see the individual module settings and can experiment by adjusting them. For those who haven’t got a screen large enough to see all nine module spaces at the same time, the rows of modules can be collapsed, enabling you to view the rows below.
If (or when!) you do decide to design your own amp, you’ll need to choose what controls you wish to put on the front panel, since adding a knob for every EQ stage in every module would be impractical — it could leave you with something resembling a mixing console! Normally, one module would be designated as the tone stack for the amp, and you’ll probably want a drive control and a volume control somewhere too. Then you can think about knobs for special functions, such as reverb. Once these decisions have been made, a custom GUI Designer lets you create your own style of panel, right down to the choice of knobs, faders, buttons and LEDs. If you don’t like any of the options that are offered, you can also import your own graphical elements. Some will love that, I’m sure, but for me that’s getting a bit to close to the ‘life is too short’ end of the spectrum!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this approach to amplifier design but I have to say that this plug‑in is capable of some really impressive results, and capturing not only a wide range of authentic valve amp sounds but also the right kind of dynamic feel. It’s also easy to cook up your own drive pedals, something which often requires just a couple of modules. The final sound is obviously also affected to a significant extent by the type of speaker emulator that you use with MTurboAmp, so there are plenty of options for tonal exploration.
If you want to dive down the rabbit hole and start building your amp from scratch, you’ll find plenty of wonders down there. But the included amplifier models are great examples of what can be built, and most users will undoubtedly be able to get the sound they want simply by fine‑tuning the closest‑sounding preset. Just change the frequencies of the tone stacks or the balance of overdrive between stages and the amp takes on a new character, as it does if you choose to move the tone stack before/after the main drive stage.
The more I played around with MTurboAmp, the more I liked it. And with this sort of tonal versatility, it’s by no means limited to use on guitars. It can really enhance synth sounds too, and could be used in mixing anywhere that you want supremely controllable distortion and saturation.
- Extremely flexible.
- Intuitive user interface.
- Authentic sound and feel.
- You could find yourself spending more time designing amps than playing your guitar!
Offering a unique approach to designing or tweaking guitar amplifiers and overdrive pedals, MTurboAmp is both versatile and cable of delivering convincing sounds.
£83. Discounted to £29 when going to press. MTurboAmp is also included in MTotalFXBundle and MCreativeFXBundle, and v16, which includes MTurboAmp, is a free upgrade for those who already own those bundles.