Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Whether you're new or a savvy veteran to the world of amp simulators, it's easy to see that there are a lot of amazing amp simulators for metal out there.
This is great in that there are a lot of choices, but difficult at the same time because... you guessed it—there are lots of choices.
For that reason, I've put together a list of the top 7 amp simulators for metal that I always reach for when I'm doing a metal mix.
However, Before I Continue...
Having every single amp simulator at your disposal doesn't mean much if you don't know how to properly dial them in.
Just as it is in the "real" analog world, gear doesn't gaurantee a great sound.
In fact, there are plenty of people out with there tons of top-of-the-line gear that are still pumping out amateur guitar tones and mixes. (That's why they keep buying new gear and plugins, in hopes they'll get better results.)
How could that be?
This is because they haven't been shown how to properly use the gear at their disposal.
When it comes to amp simulators, it was pretty much sink or swim without much guidance for a long time.
However, the ultimate resource to get you creating monster tones with amp simulators has arrived.
Guitar Tone Mastery was created to help you understand the WHY behind the how.
Get an in-depth look at how you can start creating those massive metal guitar tones you have in your head right now.
All right, let's have a look at some amp sims for metal!
7. Amplitube 4 (ENGL, Mesa/Boogie, Orange)
When it comes to those "big box" amp simulator choices, I'm usually not a big fan.
In general, the cabinet impulses almost always suck and the amps themselves tend to sound quite digital.
That said, I turn to Amplitube 4 when I want the ENGL Powerball, MESA/Boogie Dual Rectifer, and the Orange OR120.
Note: I don't use Amplitube 4 for any other product line.
These officially sanctioned creations are quite nice and when you pair them with quality cabinet impulses from Redwirez, Ownhammer, etc., you'll find that these amps will work quite well for you.
Pretty affordable if purchased through the Custom Shop;
Officially licensed products and sound pretty good;
Can completely bypass the cabinet section.
The cabinet impulse responses need some work;
Are beginning to sound dated.
6. Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite
Yeah, buddy, it's hard to believe this thing is nearly 2 years old already.
I remember the day this came out because I was very curious to see how the mythical Fortin Meshuggah amplifier sounded.
I wasn't disappointed.
When it comes to absolute brutal precision and pumping out the gain, I really find it hard to find a plugin that does this naturally like the Nameless does.
I simply love the way this plugin sounds on Drop A guitars.
Since the release, the plugin has been updated to include more pedals, a tuner, and presets (that I never use anyway.)
This is my personal go-to plugin when I just want to jam some brootz or when I need clarity and brutality with low-tuned guitars.
Exceptionally high quality design and modelling;
Gain for days;
Can still create any range of Marshall tones with the two gain stage knobs.
Pretty much only for brutal metal and drop tuned guitars. Consider thicker strings if you're on a 6-string playing in Drop D or something like that.
5. Ignite Amps Emissary 2.0
What kind of list would this be without Emissary 2.0?
Frankly, I'm a huge fan of Ignite Amps and have a long, great relationship with the developers.
I have often teased them that they'd be doing quite well for themselves if they had at least asked for $5 for the plugin.
The Emissary 2.0 has tons of gain and options that really give you control of your tone, but most importantly, the Emissary 2.0 is free of horrible artifacts and digital harshness that is often found in free amp simulators.
This is, quite literally, a premium amp simulator with a free price tag and you should download it and have it in your arsenal.
Oh, and be sure to get all of their other plugins, too. They are all great.
The new STL Ignite Emissary Bundle comes with NadIR 2.0, a high quality cabinet impulse response loader;
Can do anything you can think of for metal, djent, doom, death, etc;
Except for clean tones, it doesn't really do those.
4. Mercuriall ReAxis
This one is interesting, because the Triaxis itself was always a bit of a unique creature when it came out.
Just think of all of the Mesa amps and then putting them into a single box and that is the Triaxis.
The ReAxis is, obviously, a recreation of that and this was just the second time Mercuriall started to bundle their free plugins straight into the interface, as well as a gate, allowing you to insert a single plugin and do everything you need.
Another unique point of this amp simulator is the tone stack doesn't work like other amps. You are making your EQ moves before it passes through the gain, which is why all off the Mesa Boogie Mark amplifiers had a post-EQ section.
However, with the ReAxis, you have Dynamic Voice (which just exaggerates a "smiley-face" EQ) in place of the post-EQ section.
Anyway, great plugin for Mesa tones, and if you ever wondered how Jari from Wintersun gets such awesome tones, it's because he uses a Triaxis.
Unique sound due to EQ being pre-gain;
Can do practically all types of Mesa tones;
An "all-in-one" plugin with tubescreamer, gate, delay, reverb, etc.
The pre-gain EQ takes some getting used to;
Can easily dial very harsh tones and muddy tones.
3. Nembrini Audio MRH810
This was my first introduction to Nembrini Audio amp simulators and it was a very good impression.
Up until that point, I was struggling to find a JCM800 that I really liked to use, that would fit in both heavier metal situations and black metal.
The reason why the MRH810 sets itself apart from the other 2203 and 2204 simulations is because this one has two channels and a reverb knob.
That means you can get clean tones!
I love to put the Audiority Heavy Pedal in front of this thing and get some really dirty, atmospheric tones... which is nice, because they will be more round than what you'll get with the Nameless, so the MRH810 will round out your tonal palette quite nicely.
Also included is a decent selection of cabinets, and obviously, you can disable it to run your own cabinet impulse response plugin.
Clean tones can be had;
Easy to use, clean interface;
Can be expensive if you don't catch it on a sale.
2. Diezel VH4
So yeah, just like with the Emissary 2.0, what kind of list would this be without a Diezel amp on here?
This is quickly becoming one of my go-to plugins for getting massive metal guitar tones. It's just... so... metal. I am always have to get a nice, thick tone with this plugin.
The other cool thing is that the built-in impulses and effects section is actually useful. You can do basic cuts and add delay as well for solos.
Basically, with 4 different channels, you'll be covered for cleans, growls, high gain and literally everything in-between.
You can't go wrong with this one.
Unique sound that no other amp gives you;
4 channels for maximum versatility;
Tight, juicy low end.
Pricey when not on a sale.
1. Neural DSP Omega Ampworks Granophyre
I mean, come on. This thing is an absolute beast.
When this thing came out, I didn't have any intention on buying it... until I heard it. The demo didn't even finish and I was already in the cart finalizing my purchase.
This amp has a very unique mid-bite that can be tamed where you can scoop mids, but still have tons of mids.
Also, with the "High" and "Low" gain types, you can still dial in crushing tones that have that tight, punchy clarity that is necessary for modern metal.
I also have to say that I enjoy the proprietary Omega Ampworks speaker that is included here, it's a great change from the standard Mesa V30 which you find practically everywhere in metal.
The inclusion of a unique tubescreamer and post-EQ is also another winner for me as it's cool to try out different pedals instead of ye olden TS-9.
All I can say is that when I need a tight, modern, punchy tone that I can scoop and make scream, I go with the Omega Ampworks Granophyre.
Absolutely unique metal monster;
Omega Ampworks proprietary OMEGA VM12-65 is included;
Can switch between three different tube types;
Unique tubescreamer plugin.
I'll let you know when I figure one out!
That'll do it for this one guys, thanks for reading!
Again, if you really want to learn how to dial in these amps to make them sound real and huge like in my YouTube videos, definitely have a look at Guitar Tone Mastery—you won't regret it.
Have a good one,