Is it possible to get a brutal metal tone with amp sims? Technology has indeed come a long way but most amp sims fall short when it comes to metal (what I really mean is most of them completely suck!).
There are only a small handful of amp sims that truly work for metal. And there's two particular sims that stand-out - Neural DSP's Fortin Nameless and NTS amp sims.
In this post, I'm going to share my metal tone settings and give you a full review of both the Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims. I'll also include videos where you can hear these tones (with both 6 and 7 string guitars!). And you'll find several of my hidden recording tips within the post...
Fortin NTS and Nameless Amps and Features
Funny story (intimate background music playing) - I downloaded the demo versions of both NTS and Nameless, and played through each one for about a week.
I was pretty impressed with both, but I didn't want to cough up the money right away for both sims. For my style of playing, NTS seemed to fit me best.
I pulled the trigger and bought the NTS, only to find out I actually bought the Nameless plugin instead by accident! Ahhhh!!! Okay, okay - so it wasn't the end of world...
Sticking to my decision (temporarily) to only buy one, I immediately started digging into Nameless. It took me a little time to really dial in a tone that suited my ears and I began to realize I was getting a particular sound that I've never gotten before. This is something I look for in tones - creating a tone that doesn't sound like everyone else.
***I encourage this philosophy, big time. Too many guitarists waste time trying to dial in a Killswitch Engage tone or a Megadeth tone, or whatever. Why do you want to sound like someone else?? Why not create your own sound instead? - End of rant!
A couple of weeks later I purchased NTS, and here we are today jamming through two killer metal amp sims.
But before we get into my personal settings using these sims, let's break down the differences between Fortin NTS and Fortin Nameless and go over some of the features.
The best way I can describe the Fortin Nameless amp sim is it has this particular bite to it. This gives it a unique tone, and I don't really know what to compare it to other than the actual Fortin amp, which I've never played through (I need to change that!).
Nameless has 2 gain stages, and I think this is where that 'bite' comes from. It also have a dominating presence that allows your guitar to really cut through the mix with clarity.
It's built for metal, but you can also get some cool classic thrash metal and hard rock tones from it. And when you back off the gain, you open up even more possibilities in style. So on that note (no pun intended), Nameless is quite diverse for a metal amp sim.
You can learn more about Fortin Nameless at the Neural DSP website: https://neuraldsp.com/products/fortin-nameless-suite/
Fortin NTS is the most brutal metal amp sim I've ever recorded with. It has this awesome mid-range that gives you that powerful, chunky tone. And talk about gain...it's like going to the gym and 'making gains, bro' (sorry for the pun!).
Although the NTS isn't quite as diverse as Nameless in regards to style, you have more options to shape your tone. To compliment it's gain, you have these extra knobs called 'Girth' and 'Grind.' You can play around with those for days.
The NTS sim also has a second channel. This is more for a cleaner, lighter tone. I haven't messed around with it too much, as it's hard to get away from channel 1.
It's like having craft beer for the first time (channel 1); you just can't go back to the lighter stuff (channel 2). That probably wasn't the best analogy, but you get it, hopefully.
This amp sim is perfect for our extreme genres of metal such as death metal, melodic death metal, and metalcore. You can really pull off any modern metal tone with it.
You can learn more about Fortin NTS at the Neural DSP website: https://neuraldsp.com/products/fortin-nts-suite/
Fortin Cabs and Mics
Now THIS is where most amp sims fail - cabinets and mics. You could flawlessly model the circuitry of a real tube amp but if you're off on the cab and mics, it's going to sound like crap.
It would be like having the most beautiful boyfriend or girlfriend, but they're a complete total jerk (or the 'C' word if you want to go there!) - yeah, it just ruins what could be awesome.
In my opinion, this is one of Neural DSP's strong points. And realistically I think the creators knew that if they were going to model something like Fortin amps, they had to go all the way with the full package.
At first glance you may be wondering why there aren't more cabinet choices. And I wonder if at some point they will add this as an upgrade.
However, I would personally rather have one amazing sounding metal cab than 10 mediocre cabs. You do have several mic choices, and you can get wide range of tonal changes with those.
Jason's Recording Tip:
As I record two rhythm guitar tracks and hard pan each, I'll like to have a slightly different tone for that 2nd guitar.
In this case, I'll just use a different mic set. Having that subtle difference in guitar tones adds so much depth and fullness to your mix. I'll get into the mic combinations more when we talk about my personal settings.
*If you want more tips on recording guitarist, I wrote a full guide for you on this post: Complete Home Recording Studio Guide for Metal Guitarists
Fortin Stomp Boxes
Both Nameless and NTS come equipped with three stomp boxes for more gain and tone shaping: ZUUL, Hexdrive, and Grind.
After messing around with these, I've gotten the best (and tightest) tones using a combination of two. What you see above is the ZUUL and Grind being used together. And that's more than enough to clean up your tone (remember, these amp sims are created to act like real amps).
*I don't mess around with pedals too much. I like to keep things as simple as possible, so my review on these pedals isn't as detailed.
VIDEO: Fortin NTS VS Nameless
Are you ready to hear both the Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims in the same video? Of course you are...
I'm giving you three different metal tones in this video:
- Fortin Nameless
- Fortin NTS
- Both together in the same song!
*If you go to YouTube, click on the description and you'll see the times where each tone starts! And please make the world a better place by sharing my video (and this blog post too!).
My Nameless Tone Settings
Now let's get down to the details of my Nameless amp and EQ settings. What I'm sharing is what you just heard in the video above.
Remember, I record two rhythms tracks. My amps settings are the same. What changes from one track to the other is the mics. And I'll actually cover that below after going through my amp settings for both Nameless and NTS.
Amp and EQ Settings
*For some amp sims I cut the bass some to leave room for my bass guitar and drum tracks. Your bedroom tone is much different from the tone you'll use in the overall mix.
My NTS Amp Settings
My NTS amp and EQ settings aren't much different from my Nameless settings. And that's kind of normal for me. There's just a few adjustments I made, and I'll go over those below.
Amp and EQ Settings
*The Fortin NTS (in my opinion) sounds better with the presence boosted, mids cut, and bass slightly boosted. These are the core differences between my NTS and Nameless metal tones.
My Nameless Cab and Mic Settings
I use the same cab and mic settings for both Fortin NTS and Nameless:
- Rhythm guitar 1 (panned left)
- Rhythm guitar 2 (panned right)
For the sake of simplicity, the screenshots below are using the NTS amp.
Guitar 1: Cab and Mic
I almost always use the Shure SM57 mic sim of pretty everything (and every amp simulator). In fact, if I only have a choice of using just one mic, it's going to be that one, 90% of the time.
I don't know if that's because of my own cognitive bias, or if that mic sim truly sounds better to me!
In this case, I used the 'Ribbon 160' mic sim, which is modeled after the Beyerdynamic M 160 mic (I hope I'm right on this!).
I tested my tone using other combinations and this one was by far the most pleasing to my ears!
Guitar 2: Cab and Mic
For my 2nd guitar track, I just made one slight change. I used the Dynamic 57 (SM57 mic sim) for both speakers!
This tone mixed in with the other guitar just came together beautifully in the mix. And that's what it's all about - what sounds best in the final mix, and for that specific song!
My First Neural DSP Fortin Demos
Now I want to take you back to my original metal tone testing videos I did for NTS and Nameless! There's also some great info about each amp sim, and I share screenshots of my settings within each video (my settings are not much different from what you heard/saw above).
VIDEO: NTS 6 String Demo
This is my very first video demoing the Neural DSP Fortin NTS. I saw that most videos and tone demos were done with either 7 string guitars or downtuned guitars. So I wanted everyone to hear what this amp sounded like using a 6 string in standard tuning!
VIDEO: NTS 7 String Demo
After doing the 6 string demo of the Fortin NTS, I knew I needed to put something out there using my 7 string guitar. So about a week later, I recorded this...
**Read about my tips on transitioning from a 6 string to a 7 string guitar in this post: How to Transition from 6 to 7 String Guitar: 3 Simple Tips
VIDEO: Nameless 6 and 7 String Demo
About a month after recording my first videos for Fortin NTS, I wanted to put something out there featuring the Nameless amp sim metal tones.
And I compiled both 6 and 7 string guitar tones in this video.
**Forgive my voice in this video! I was recovering from a pretty bad cold at the time!
Best Metal Amp Sims?
Over my many years of being a metal guitarist, I've never really been a 'fanboy' of any particular guitar, amp, or gear in general. And making a statement that any product is 'the best' is extremely relative.
But I will say this - Neural DSP filled in a tremendous gap we had in the world of amp simulators. There's never been a true amp sim that was created specifically for metal.
To me, metal is a genre that needs special attention. And this is why most amp sim companies fall short when it comes to metal tones. They try to please the masses by modeling a ton of amps for every genre.
So I admire Neural DSP for focusing not only on creating a true metal amp simulator, but narrowing it down to modeling one of the most brutal sounding metal amp manufacturers around - Fortin.
At this point in time, I've never played through an actual Fortin amp (believe I said this earlier...I need to change that!!). So I can't attest to whether these sims play and feel like the real thing.
But what I do know is that the Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims are pro quality and perfect for any genre of metal. In fact, I wish I had stumbled upon the sims before I had recorded my most recent album. I would have more than likely have used the NTS for my rhythm tracks.
Let me know what you think about NTS and Nameless by leaving a comment below!
Keep it Metal,
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