There is tons of tube and solid-state guitar amp modelling hardware on the market today, but if your budget doesn't stretch to buying a brand new amp, then there are plenty of software options available.
Whether you're looking to find licensed, or even un-licensed emulations of well-known branded products, there are plenty of plugins to choose from. Some include full effects chains, cab sims, IR loading capabilities and you'll even find fair few bass emulations too.
Most of the products in this list will work on all platforms, while some are only available in certain formats such as Universal Audio's UAD platform.
Here we have, in no particular order, the 12 best guitar amp and cab sim plugins in the world today.
- Best amp modellers: 10 hi-tech solutions for guitarists
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |$149
This simple package features no manufacturer-endorsed amps or fancy graphics, but the sound is excellent and there’s a selection of tone-tweaking controls and rack processing including chorus, tremolo, reverb, gate and wah-wah.
- Indulge in analog with the best tube amps
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |From $179.99
One of the most established packages available, with a vast array of endorsed amps, pedals and cabs complementing home-grown modules. Flexible routing, twin rigs and speaker cone selection give it plenty of sonic flexibility.
Mac/PC/iOS | VST/AU/AAX |From $99
There are multiple elements to BIAS: Bias Amp simulates amp and cab units, while Bias FX lets you build complex chains of stompboxes, amps and cabs. Bias Pedal, meanwhile, lets you model pedal effects processors at the component level.
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |$129
This bundle comprises several individual plugins – Amps, Stomps and a Tuner – and GTR Tool-Rack, a host for combining up to six pedals, two amps and the tuner. Overall, there are 30 amps, 25 stomps and 30 cabs, all based on classic units.
- For something a bit less in-your-face: the best small guitar amps
Mac/PC | UAD-2 |$199
UAD virtual amps are becoming pretty focused, epitomised by this latest classic Fender offering. With three speaker types, twin micing and Unison support, virtual tweaking is still enjoyable, as is its extremely realistic (and awesome) sound.
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |$99
This one gives you an independent selection of preamp and power amp, output to independent cabinets. An eight-slot pedal board precedes the amp section, and a six-slot effects rack sits after it, just before the cabinets.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 Pro
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |$199
Arranged as a virtual rack interface rather than in an amp, cab and pedalboard configuration, Guitar Rig includes no branded or endorsed components, but it’s a serious contender that sounds great – and can get MIDI CC involved.
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |$299
Features include a scrollable and zoomable drag and drop interface and endorsed amp models alongside proprietary versions of classic gear (over 203 components). An improved and redesigned Cabinet IR module is included in the latest version, along with 14 new cabs and 15 new amp models.
Mac/PC | UAD |$149
Two of ENGL’s amp heads have been exquisitely modelled and are available for UAD either individually or as a bundle. Like other Brainworx virtual amps, cabinet and miking is handled by pre-captured recording chains.
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX/UAD |$149
This plugin covers three classic amp sounds – Fender, Vox and Marshall – with adjustable single mic placement for the cabinet. The sound is very good, but with no pedalboard, tone shaping is limited to the amp controls.
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX/standalone |Free (in app purchases)
Peavey’s hardware know-how has allowed them to develop an incredibly accomplished processor with highly tweakable amp, cabinet, stomp and rack effect capabilities. Its ‘audio profiling system’ can also transform the sound of your source.
Mac/PC | VST/AU/AAX |$99
The intuitive split-screen interface offers drag-and-drop rig construction, preset browsing and component editing across either single or dual signal paths. Opt for the Pro package ($299) and you’ll get over 100 guitar and bass amps.