AF’s Weblog

December 19, 2011

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5 Review

Within a few years, Guitar Rig has become a reference in the world of guitar amps and effects simulation. The fourth version, which saw the light of day about two years ago, already brought major sound quality improvements with itself thanks to the new –however limited— Control Room feature… Can the German manufacturer surprise us with this fifth version? Read on…

Guitar Rig Pro is one of the pioneers in the history of guitar amp simulation and thus it is now a pretty mature product. This fifth version doesn’t introduce major improvements but rather fills some gaps in the features list. As usual, this new version includes new amps and effects, an improved Control Room (which first integrated convolution technology into Guitar Rig, see the Guitar Rig 4 Pro review), and some new features that will be useful to certain users…

Let’s start with the two new amps: Van 51 and Hot Solo+.

Two Amps for a Wall of Sound

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5

One thing must be clear: if you don’t like distortion, the two new simulations aren’t for you. The first one is an emulation of the famous Peavey 5150, the amp of Mr. Van Halen, famous for his high-gain sound, palm muting and tapping, and his drop-D tuning. This amp, appropriately named “Van 51,” has two channels. The rhythm channel features two switches: Bright and Crunch, while both channels share a 3-band EQ, a Post Gain control (master volume), a Resonance control (low frequencies), a Presence control (high mids) and a Hi-Gain switch. Even if the amp wasn’t conceived with clean sounds in mind, we tried it out with a 335 and a Telecaster, and the results are quite ok even if not jaw-dropping. With an ESP or an Ibanez in the lead channel, the amp was much more convincing. The tone is accurate but not too artificial. Moreover, both guitars sounded different, meaning that the software stays faithful to the instrument, which is often not the case with amp simulations. The addition of this amp is good news because Guitar Rig was quite convincing with clean and crunch sounds, but distortion was not at the same level.

With our Les Paul the difference between the two channels is pretty evident. The Rhythm channel sounds very heavy, but the sound is nice! With a Telecaster you can hear the twang of the instrument, which is a good point. In short, the Van 51 isn’t limited to heavy metal guitars with high-output pickups. This is a nice surprise that enriches the software’s already comprehensive amp collection.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5

The second amp is the Hot Solo+. Based on the Soldano SLO (Super Lead Overdrive) 100, which is not an amp for dance balls but is considered the ultimate amp by many guitar players. This high-quality boutique amp is eagerly waiting for your high-speed solos! It provides two channels (Normal and Overdrive) with independent gain settings, 3-band EQ, Master, Presence (high mids) and Depth (low frequencies) controls. The good news is that the Hot Solo+ is available with two very different speaker cabinets. We recommend you to combine both cabinets for your guitar recordings because they complement each other very well, allowing you to fatten your sound. We recorded the same takes with the same settings but changing the cabinet so that you can hear the differences. With the 335 and the Telecaster in clean mode, the amp gives better results than the Van 51. The sound is deeper and definitely useful, even if we might prefer some other amps available in Guitar Rig Pro. With the Telecaster and the Les Paul in crunch mode the sound difference between the speaker cabinets is obvious. You’ll notice that the second one is more hollow. In high-gain mode, the Hot Solo+ is very convincing regardless of the guitar (Les Paul, Ibanez RG or ESP).

Check out the sound samples and make your own opinion…

Conclusion

The new Guitar Rig version has more than one trick under its sleeve and is a great tool for users who like to tweak their sound and to make the most of their gear. Containers, side chain and effects like Resochord and Filterbank allow you to get very creative. But Native Instruments didn’t forget standard users: you get a more versatile Control Room Pro and many more speaker cabinets. The two new amps are high-gain specialists, but they sound very good and complement the amp collection precisely where it was lacking the most. If anything, we regret that there are not too many new amps and, as always, bass players will feel neglected with only one amp! The update price is quite affordable considering the new features. And if you are still hesitating about changing to Native Instruments, this new version adds some new arguments to the debate.

Advantages: 
  • More versatile Control Room
  • 23 new speaker cabinets
  • The two new amp models sound good
  • 6 new effects
  • The container is very practical
  • Guitar Rig Pro is still a reference on the market
Drawbacks:
  • Only two additional amps
  • Still only one bass amp
  • Some new effects won’t be of interest for every user

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Guitar Rig Pro 5 Review

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February 24, 2010

Guitar Rig 4 Bends Over Backwards 4 U

Native Instruments’ virtual guitar and bass amp comes back for the fourth time with more amp simulations and effects than ever before and a very promising control room section… New functions in an overview.

The first Guitar Rig was introduced five years ago and immediately became famous among virtual amps thanks to its intuitive interface and its numerous, high-quality simulations. Each new version brought software improvements with it, including new functions and simulations, as well as hardware developments incorporating footboards and audio interfaces conceived for guitar players. So what’s new in this fourth generation?

Well Thought-Out User Interface

Guitar Rig 4 ProFrom the very first version, Guitar Rig distinguished itself from the rest by its nice and intuitive user interface – which isn’t something you can say about other Native Instruments products. A very good point considering the number of functions it offers. The interface is divided into two areas: on the left, the browser allows you to load presets or to visit the virtual store, which offers a comprehensive list of add-ons – from amps to effects, tools and MDF (modifiers). You can actually create your own rig very easily by simply dragging the components from left to right. You can then modify the order of the modules in a few clicks. This is nothing new, but why fix anything if it ain’t broke?

The presets and the search engine are what’s new: Guitar Rig 4 Pro comes with over 250 presets, each of them including several tags like in Kontakt 4. This gives you the possibility to browse according to the guitar amp (for example, to find all presets based on the AC Box amp) or according to the music style (classic rock, metal, pop, blues, funk and soul, country, jazz, alternative rock, and rock ‘n’ surf). You can also browse presets according to songs with evocative names like “Kurt in Bloom”, “Pete won’t explain” or “Prince in the Rain”. Finally, you can also search presets according to effect types: Special FX, animated, colored, distorted, drums, or reverbs and delays. Some of the effects are conceived for drums or keyboards, making Guitar Rig 4 interesting not only for guitar players.

Each preset has several tags, up to five stars and personal notes, so that you can find the preset you are looking for with the search engine; and you can create your own tags to classify them. For people who use Guitar Rig live, it is now possible to create set lists based on your own presets. Nice!

The icing on the cake is that you can find user presets at Native Instruments’ website. The quality is questionable, but you’ll certainly find useful sounds.

Now, let’s take a look at the new amp models…

Conclusion

At first sight, Guitar Rig 4 Pro seems to offer very few new features, but that’s only on the outside… The Control Room module and the new speaker and mic simulations definitely improve the overall sound, expand the possibilities and justify the price of the update. The new amps complement the already comprehensive amp library and the new effects make up for the austerity of the previous effects library. The full version of Guitar Rig 4 Pro sells for $199 which isn’t much for a very comprehensive and great-sounding software. Native Instruments has been washing away the imperfections of its guitar amp simulator to make it a top product in its segment.

Advantages:

  • Control Room module
  • Sound quality of the new speaker simulations
  • Three new amp models
  • Two new delays and two new reverbs
  • Master FX section
  • True stereo mode
  • 250 high-quality presets
  • Well thought-out user interface

Drawbacks:

  • All three new amps are Marshall amps
  • Higher CPU consumption
  • Mic position can’t be changed in the Control Room module
  • We are still waiting for version 4.0.8…

To read the full detailed review see: Guitar Rig 4

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