We all love guitar amps, they’re marvelously enjoyable inventions, but as everything in life they also have their downsides - namely size and volume - and some also cost a small fortune. Despite the fact that the feeling of blasting a guitar amp LOUD can’t ever be replicated inside a computer, plug-ins can more than adequate when it comes to the end result. We asked our users what they are rocking 'in the box', and here are ten of their favourite amp simulation plug-ins (in alphabetical order):

Blue Cat Audio Destructor

Blue Cat Audio’s Destructor doesn’t look like an amp simulator, but let’s not make the mistake of underestimating the immense scope of this plug-in: Destructor is all about distortion in the broadest possible sense, and that includes guitar amplifiers - basically all of them ever! From clean tones to mild overdrive to ultra high-gain, Destructor is equipped with all the tools necessary to deliver tones from across the board. It ships with over a hundred presets which serve as starting points that can be fully tweaked to the user’s taste, and to ease the experience many presets have real-world gear as a reference which should make the tone-finding process much easier. It’s also equipped with an input gate/compressor, input/output filters, a brick wall limiter at the output and visualisation tools including a real time frequency analyser. Destructor is also extremely well optimised and free of any latency, great for playing through it and monitoring the processed signal in real-time while recording. Look no further if you’re after a new and refreshing approach to the amp simulation game.

IK Multimedia Amplitube 5

Amplitube is not just a guitar amp simulator - it simulates literally everything that can possibly go after a guitar cable, offering a plethora of pedals, amp heads, cabinets, effects and many mic options that arguably makes Amplitube one of the most (if not the most) comprehensive guitar rig plug-ins today - and it’s not just a plug-in as IKM also offer it up in mobile and desktop apps. Amplitube brings some of the best gear from recognisable (and licensed) names including Fender, Orange, Fulltone, Soldano, Mesa/Boogie, Seymour Duncan and many others. It also offers different packing and delivery options, with IK Multimedia selling not only the 'regular' plug-in version - but also a 'Deluxe' version which comes with over 20 amps, 25 cabinets and much more - and also making all that virtual gear available through the Amplitube Custom Shop, where users can buy modules a-la-carte according to their tastes and needs. Amplitube is an excellent solution for almost any guitar amplification needs and offers options for "on the go" use at any time with their mobile apps and related products such as the iRig mobile interfaces.

Kazrog Thermionik

Kazrog Thermionik emulates basically any amplifier you can think of, but unlike solutions such as Amplitube which are based on a single “platform” plug-in, Thermionik offers literally dozens of plug-ins, each with its own amp emulation -but all sharing virtually the same interface layout and visual identity. As of right now there are no less than 30 models available ranging from clean to highly distorted and vintage to modern, all fairly priced and also available in discounted bundles. Keep in mind that Thermionik only models the amp head, so it’s meant to be used alongside something like the Recabinet IR loader cabinet emulation plug-in, but it can also be used with your own virtual cabinet solution if you prefer something else. Definitely a great choice if you want total flexibility without burning a hole in your pocket.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 6

Guitar Rig is what we can call a 'veteran' plug-in, with over 10 years of reputable service to producers everywhere, and thanks to Native Instruments’ continued efforts it keeps up with times and manages to stay relevant. Guitar Rig also slots in the “one plug-in to rule them all” category, offering no less than 17 amps & 27 cabinets with many microphone options (that can be blended with each other too), and over 50 effects. With all this, GR should supply more than enough to deliver everything required for sculpting great guitar tones. It’s also highly intuitive to use, with a slick interface that shouldn’t present any obstacles towards achieving the desired result. Also available as a part of the Komplete series bundles. Read our user reviews.

Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_megadual

The bx_megadual brings a fierce virtual amp plug-in largely based the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, a widely used high gain amp that's great for seriously distorted tones and perfect for heavier genres. This plug-in offers three different channels (each one 'heavier' than the previous), two tone modes (bold/spongy) and two signal path options (tube and solid-state), which are more than enough to deliver great rock/metal guitars (or anywhere else you might want high gain). Cabinets are provided through 64 “recording chains”, which bring not only the microphone choices but also some other tricks from producer and Brainworx founder Dirk Ulrich. Moreover, it features an input gate, pre/post filters (HP and LP), virtual 'power-soak' settings for the power amp, a configurable delay and amp/cabinet bypass switches. A classy choice if you’re taking the high gain road.

Positive Grid BIAS Amp 2 Pro

Positive Grid presents an ambitious line of products with the Bias series. Bias Amp presents itself both as an amp “modeler” and a “designer”, relying on its proprietary matching technology to accurately emulate real-world amps but also allowing the user to mix different amp heads, power amps, cabinets and effects to built their own custom virtual guitar amplifier. Bias currently delivers over 30 ready-to-use amps and a myriad of presets, which can be shared with the community through the 'Tone Cloud', a service that allows users to download settings and greatly expands your tone possibilities. If you want the full ticket then Bias also offers the “Pedal”, which deploys the same approach of the amp i.e. model and design your favourite stompbox or use one of the many available models. Bias Amp & Pedal are also available as iOS apps.

Scuffham Amps S-Gear v.3.0

Created by former Marshall Amps product designer Mike Scuffham, S-Gear is arguably the most recommended guitar amp plug-in in the Gearspace community, and with good reason. S-Gear brings five amp simulations to the table, none of which are direct “1:1” emulations, but instead offering Mike’s particular take on famous amp designs (with a few extra tricks to hand) but without sacrificing tonal authenticity. The amps offered here go from vintage to modern and are able to tackle pretty much any style, with the only notable exception being high-gain amps (they simply aren’t yet available - Scuffham has added more amps and other features to S-Gear since its release, so all hope is not lost). Cabinet simulation is handled by a custom impulse response (IR) loader with its own set of tweaks and a great library of IRs are provided to cover the most common/favoured speaker configurations. Additionally, it provides a configurable input gate, an effects rack with reverb, delay and chorus/flanger modulation and last but not least a standalone app for "DAW-less" use. Read our users reviews.

Softube Vintage Amp Room

Softube’s Vintage Amp Room delivers three guitar amps in all their raw and gritty glory. Although the inspiration for the amp models are not disclosed and only named in the software after their colour (brown, green and white), there are strong hints that we’re dealing with a Marshall stack (white), a Fender combo (brown) and a Vox AC30 (green). As the name suggests, this plug-in mimics a studio environment, with the amps presented on the interface for the user to select so it’s just a matter of choosing the desired amp, dial in your settings and then play with the intuitive click-and-drag microphone positioning - finding the desired sounds should be an effortless operation. Amps and cabinets can be bypassed, allowing you to use this plug-in with your other amp/cabinet simulators too. A great choice if you’re classic vibey tones and great ease of use. Also available on the UAD2 platform.

TSE Audio X50

TSE Audio has made an impact with their X50V2 guitar suite, becoming one of the most recommended plug-ins when it comes to high-gain, über-distorted tones. The X50 brings two amp models - the X50 and X30, inspired by the Peavey 5150 and the ENGL E530 respectively. Along with the two mighty amps comes a pedal board with a Tube Screamer, a gate and a fuzz, a two-channel impulse response loader (packed with fine IRs from some of the best IR creators) and two power amp options. To wrap it up the X50V2 provides an easy to use gain-staging system to make sure you’re hitting the sweet spot, an effect rack with delay & reverb, a three-band EQ with HP/LP filters and a handy tuner. It’s also very affordable, which makes it a no-brainer if you’re doing heavier strains of rock and metal. Read our user reviews.

Universal Audio Fender ’55 Tweed Deluxe

Universal Audio brings the classic Fender ‘55 Tweed Deluxe to the UAD2-powered systems with an amazing plug-in that not only gives you one of the greatest amps ever but also three speaker choices - with some common 'mods' available as well. It also offers two mic spots with five great mic choices, on/off-axis positioning and 'panorama' settings, making it easy to deliver mix-ready stereo guitars. Needless to say that Universal Audio plumbed the absolute depths of this amp to model each nuance in painstaking detail. If you have an Apollo audio interface the deal gets even sweeter, as you can record with this plug-in in real time through the latency-free Unison preamps.

Honourable mentions to Ignite Amps Emissary, Kuassa Amplifikation Creme, Mercuriall U530 and Peavey Revalver. We should also mention that many of our users are using custom impulse responses for their cabinet simulations, and in this regard the names of Rosen Digital, Ownhammer and Redwirez are often mentioned as trusted IR providers.

Now it's your turn to tell us about your setup - have you opted for a one-stop solution to handle everything or are you using different plug-ins for each particular situation or even component? Please share your methods!

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