Recto Roundup, Part II: The Cleans
On all of these, I’ve configured the EQ identically. Mids, Bass, Presence at 6ish, Treble at 7-8. Each is using its own built-in delay (ReValver MkIII, Re-Lay 4; Amplitube Metal, Digital Delay; Guitar Rig, Deluxe Memory Man model), set for 352ms, and each is using a built-in reverb and chorus as well. I tried to configure them for the same effects profile to get a better comparison, so the differences you’ll hear are differences in the modeling itself, not in what’s going on in the track.
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First, I’d like to say that Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 3‘s excellent effects really shine here. I have said before that I think that Guitar Rig 3 has generally superb effects, but this is the first chance I’ve had to try to demonstrate that. The delay that I’m using is their model of the EHX Deluxe Memory Man modulated analog delay, dialed in here to have a subtle chorus on repeats that gives the slightest, warm slur to the delayed signal. The chorus I’m using is their “Chorus/Flanger,” which sound fantastic as well. The clean channel of Guitar Rig 3’s Dual Rec model is about like the clean channel should be on a real dual rec. Quite a bit of headroom, but it’ll start overdriving if you crank up the master and preamp gain and/or really dig in to your strings. The cabinet sim which I found a little bit restricting on the high-gain tone had no difficulties rendering the clean. It perhaps doesn’t have the treble sheen of ReValver MkIII’s clean channel, but it’s far from dead, and the great effects make it a real contender if you’re going for a warm clean suitable for a number of musical styles. I’ve always thought that the Mesa clean sound is a very worthwhile tone of its own, and Guitar Rig 3’s model renders it fairly effortlessly. If I had one quibble with the clean channel on their model, it would be that it can become slightly congested around thick chords or quick chord changes, but it is not bothersome and probably has a lot to do with the pickups and guitar in use (in this case, a mahogany-bodied Explorer-style guitar with a high-output rail humbucker).
The other four-channel dual-rec model comes from Peavey’s ReValver MkIII. I initially found its clean channel to be very hot, even considering the guitar and pickups used for the comparison. It wanted to overdrive even with the preamp gain at 3 and the master before noon. Thankfully, ReValver MkIII offers the user unprecedented access to the virtual schematic, and by making a few quick tube character changes in the preamp section I was able to get much more headroom for the clean channel. Taking the time to do so is immediately rewarding, as the clean on the Flathill model is great, very full but very glassy as well. It handles big chords very well, with plenty of definition and separation between the individual strings’ notes. The delay, chorus, and reverb in ReValver are useful effects with a great deal of adjustment range. I like that this modeler gives you a great deal of control over every effect, offering some unique parameters to tweak which can result in new effects tones from familiar types of effects. The “Re-Lay 4” 4-tap delay module gives you precise control over the nature and length of the delay, and the controls on the chorus offer similar precision. I used one of the included “Hall” reverb impulse responses in ReValver’s convolution reverb module, and the resulting sound is both organic and authentic. Every aspect of this patch is “quick,” which is to say that no matter what I’m doing on the fretboard, everything follows the notes evenly and with authority, from the effects to the amp model itself.
The last model in this comparison, the “Metal Clean T” from IK Multimedia’s Amplitube Metal is a bit different; while the others model dual rectifiers throughout, this one models a Triple Rec clean channel. The difference is immediate: plentiful headroom and complete authority. While the others (including ReValver, after the tube tweaks) can be overdriven by really working the strings, this one’s clean is unrelenting. It sounds like you’ve got 150W of power behind everything you play. The difference doesn’t make this better or worse – they are different amps. The others, because they have less headroom by design, begin to generate little touches of overdrive or harmonic distortion at certain dynamic points, while Amplitube Metal’s Triple Rec remains unperturbed. The difference is subtle, mind you, but there. Amplitube Metal’s Triple Rec sounds huge at all times, very natural and quite precise. Its effects are good, too; the chorus module offers a number of waveform adjustments and high-precision parameter controls which let you dial in exactly the chorus tone you want, and the digital delay rack effect also has a variety of delay types available and a very intuitive filter setting to get a more or less “analog” sound. The digital reverb is a bit more generic than the others, but it has all the parameters you need to get a range of reverberations. Together, the effects sound excellent – there was obviously attention paid to how well they work with each other.
That wraps up the Recto Roundup. I’ve enjoyed doing this review, because it’s given me a chance to dig that much deeper into the programs I love to use. I was very impressed with both ReValver MkIII’s Dual Rec and Amplitube Metal’s Triple Rec models. The Amplitube 2 Dual Rec is quite authentic as well, and it responds surprisingly similar to ReValver MkIII’s “Vintage” channel – I guess that’s just a sign that both companies are on top of their game when it comes to modeling authentically. I was less excited about Guitar Rig 3’s high-gain Recto tones – they work, and would probably sound fine with some post production – but its cleans were fantastic, and as usual its effects were top notch. All of the programs did really good Mesa cleans, which was a pleasant surprise, and individual differences there might just come down to personal preference. Of course, all three of these programs have demo versions, so if you’re curious as to how any of them would sound in your own studio, it’s pretty easy to check them out.
As a bonus, here are all the patches I used in the Recto Roundup (parts 1 and 2), including an Amplitube 2 “Modern Tube Lead” (Dual Rec) patch which I dialed in to sound a lot like the Amplitube Metal Triple Rec patch I used for its clip. I’ve included instructions to import the patches into whatever program you’re using. Expect to tweak some parameters (input level, noise gate sensitivity, etc.) for your own setup, of course.