What is it?
There is no shortage of options when it comes to guitar amp and effects modelling software but few designers have challenged the physical realm of real life hardware as fiercely as Overloud.
Since launching TH1 in 2008, the Italian music software company has presented some of the most realistic software representations of tube amps, cab emulations and effects we have seen, and with the TH-U Full package, it takes a step forward with a formidable array of amplifiers.
There are contemporary amplifiers, old-school classics, boutique curios and all in between. Altogether there are 89 guitar amps, four bass amps, 52 cabinets, 77 pedal and rack effects.
Alternatively, you can buy separate modules that package their amps and effects for whichever genre you are playing. TH-U Metal, for instance, collects 19 guitar amp models, 44 cab emulations and 16 effects, with 80 presets that let you dial in your favourite player's tones with just a click.
It's a similar setup for the Rock and Funk/R&B packages. But here, you've got everything you might need, and maybe just a little bit more.
Complementing the amps, cabs and effects, you've got the choice of 18 microphones and there are more than a thousand presets.
Some of the amp modules you can expect are the usual array of Fender, Marshall, Mesa-Boogie, Hiwatt, Vox and so forth. Of course, there is a Dumble Overdrive Special in there, too.
There are some obscure choices, too, so there's no need to be stuck chasing tones in the holy Fender/Vox/Marshall trinity. As rewarding as that can be, sometimes a track calls out for something different, say, a Polytone Mini Brute for jazz comping or the Bob Moog and Dan Pearce-designed Lab Series L5 for some Holdsworth-esque fusion?
If you need more, you can download thousands of additional amp rigs via the software’s Rig Player feature.
Once you have the amps, what to do with them? Well, you can set 'em up and let 'em rip. But having done that and felt there was something missing with the track, you can mod them via the Amp Tweaks feature.
Switch out the preamp tubes or maybe switch out the power tubes – you'll find a menu with 6L6, 6V6, EL34, EL84, KT88 and 5881 tubes all fresh as a daisy and ready to go.
You can make the amp single-ended Class A, or solid-state. There's even an onboard Variac for switching up voltages.
There is a lot to like about the TH-U Full's flexibility. You can load IRs directly and its MIDI capabilities are well thought-out. There's a multi-track looper onboard as well, should you need it.
Performance and verdict
It is no surprise when we see how many features are stacked in such deluxe guitar amp software packages. It is expected by now that, at first blush, there is a moment's bamboozlement with the tone-seeking potential of any new platform.
Where the TH-U Full gets you, though, is in the quality of those amp models, and in managing to translate the intangible into 1s and 0s, replicating tube-amp response in the digital realm. Which, let's face it, is make or break as to whether the software works for the discerning player.
We want to be able to make a "brownface" Fender react to our picking attack, and the models here do. The dynamics are uncanny. When it comes to our perception of these digital tones, the power of suggestion looms large, that, yes, it's not "the real thing."
• IK Multimedia AmpliTube 4 Deluxe (opens in new tab)
AmpliTube 4 is a worthy update. With the new 3D room, speaker and extended microphone modelling, it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
But if you tell us you have the money, resources and contacts to summon these 89 amplifiers into your rehearsal space, then more power to your elbow. For the rest of us, maybe we can get one great amp, maybe even two, and the rest of our options has to come from software such as Overloud's.
You can zoom in or out and pore over every detail in the rig. Programming presets is easy. And you can even model your own rig using the Rig Player function.
Specialists might prefer the genre-specific TH-U packages, but if you're looking to play the field and seek out now tones, go for the TH-U Full.
MusicRadar verdict: There are so many ways you can shape guitar tone with TH-U Full, with a wealth of high-quality amp and effects models that behave just like the real thing. And, you can mod them, which is very cool.
- TYPE: Guitar amp and effects modeller (VST, AAX or AU plug-in)
- KEY FEATURES: 89 guitar amp models, four bass amp models, 52 cabinet emulations, 77 pedal/rack effects models; Amp Tweak, Rig Library, Rig Player, Looper
- SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.7 Lion and later (Intel Core i3 1.4GHz with 4Gb of RAM, 1280x800 video.Windows Vista and later, (Core i3 1.4GHz with 4Gb of RAM, 1280x800 video)
- CONTACT: Overloud (opens in new tab)