Thomas McRocklin’s first foray into the world of guitar rig emulations treads a slightly different path from the competition.
Thomas McRocklin might not be a familiar name for those outside the niche genre of instrumental guitar music. However, having done an opening slot in his hometown of Newcastle for Ozzy Osbourne at the tender age of eight, and then being taken under the wing of guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, his musical career started early in life. More recently, Thomas has created a YouTube presence and an online musical education programme, established relationships with guitar brands such as Kiesel and Fishman, and released original music as part of McRocklin & Hutch. His latest venture is a software‑based guitar rig modelling system that’s developed under his own PolyChrome DSP brand.
As a virtual guitar rig, McRocklin Suite’s role is a familiar one, but there are a number of unique aspects to the design. First, with a couple of notable exceptions, the range of virtual gear included here means it makes a good case for being your ‘all‑in‑one’ amp modeller — it caters for a very wide spectrum of potential tones, from acoustic all the way through to high‑gain. Second, the UI is not obsessively skeuomorphic and the plug‑in doesn’t attempt obvious virtual recreations of specific amps, cabs or pedals. It does, however, remain very intuitive in use, even for more traditionally minded guitar players. Third, it offers ultra‑low latency. Indeed, the documentation claims a latency of 0.045ms and, in my own testing, Cubase Pro 12’s latency monitoring showed a latency of just 2 samples. That’s impressive, making real‑time tracking through this plug‑in a very smooth experience, and suggesting some pretty efficient coding under the hood.
While the GUI doesn’t try to capture the appearance of an amp, cab or pedalboard, the layout of the modern design is instantly familiar. A control strip at the top caters for the input and output levels, access to the extensive preset list, a very usable tuner, a noise gate and the somewhat addictive Wide option. As with any virtual guitar rig software, you need to pay attention to the quality and level of your DI signal, although noise is only really noticeable with higher gain settings and the noise gate itself is very effective.
The rest of the upper half of the GUI provides buttons to toggle between the four different amp models,...