Virtual amp sims seem to keep getting better and better. In fact, there are almost too many choices now!
That said, whenever you hear about a new virtual amp sim coming out, you’re like, ‘Bleh, okay, another virtual amp…yippie! So what!’
That’s kind of how I felt when I heard about the new Archetype Nolly suite of amps from Neural DSP. And had it not been for my experience with other Neural DSP amp sims (playing through their Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims), I probably would’ve just brushed this off as just another amp sim.
I decided to download the trial version of Archetype Nolly. And here’s what I’m going to share with you in this post:
- Full video demo (so you can hear the tones)
- Breakdown of each of the 4 Archetype Nolly amps
- What style of music each amp is best for (and are any of these amps good for metal tones?)
- Archetype Nolly features (effects, cabinets, mics, stompboxes)
- My personal thoughts on Archetype Nolly
Archetype Nolly Demo – YouTube Video
First, click on the play button below and watch the YouTube video I made for Archetype Nolly. I cover the tone for all 4 amps and I even start out by letting you hear how each amp sounds in the full mix. Why? Because if it doesn’t sound good in a full mix, it’s crap! So judge for yourself.
*I also playing each amp by itself after the full mix.
I recorded this using…
- Ibanez RG1570 for the clean and rock tones
- ESP M-1000 Deluxe for metal tones
- PreSonus Studio One Pro recording software
- ESP D-5 bass (using the Studio Devil Bass Amp Pro plugin)
- EZ Drummer for drums
About Archetype Nolly
Archetype Nolly is a suite of amps and effects created by Neural DSP. Neural DSP is known for its advanced algorithm research, deep machine learning, and augmented reality. In laymen’s terms, that means they make some pretty awesome virtual products for recording musicians.
The concept of this suite of amps is based on specs from Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood. He’s known as Periphary’s bassist and his precision as a studio engineer and producer.
You can learn more about Archetype Nolly and download the free trial version directly from the Neural DSP website here: https://neuraldsp.com/products/archetype-nolly-trial/
Archetype Nolly Amps (4)
Now let’s breakdown each amp in the suite of Archetype Nolly amps. I’ll also let you know what types of music each amp works best for.
Of course, this is based on my own opinion. But I think you’ll find the music styles I’m suggesting for each amp to be fairly accurate.
Also, as you’ll see below I’ve given each amp (tone) a name based on what each amp sounds like.
Clean Amp Tone
This virtual amp can sound like:
- Metallica songs with clean tones like One, Fade to Black and Sanatorium
- Practically any rock or country that needs clean guitar tones
- Any blues or songs that call for a clean guitar sound
As you can see, I’m more of a metal dude and not too savvy with bands that just play clean guitars! Lol…hence Metallica songs are listed first!
Most every clean amp is judged against the king of clean tone amplifiers from Fender. For me, I measure clean (virtual) amps against the Fender Reverb tones.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m looking for the virtual amp to sound exactly like a Fender. But it does mean there are certain characteristics in regards to depth, clarity, and fullness that I’m looking for.
This amp totally hits the mark on all of those. It’s one I’d consider using for my future albums and projects for songs that call for that clean tone, or a tone I can use with ambient effects.
Rock (or Dirty) Amp Tone
This virtual amp can sound like:
- Southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Bad Company
- Radio-friendly rock like Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age
- Hard rock like Dokken or Scorpions (and even the older Judas Priest and Maiden)
- Hair metal like Poison, Warrant, and Winger
This is the most diverse amp in the Archetype Nolly suite. I call this the dirty amp, or just plain ole rock amp. But it can handle a wide array of styles and tones.
One really cool thing about this amp is you can back the gain off and go into a completely different style of music. It also works really well when you dial the volume down on your guitar in that sense.
If you want more of that hard rock tone, just turn on one of the overdrives in front of the amp. This will give you an entirely new world of harder, more edgier tones. It’s almost worth getting Archetype Nolly for this amp alone!
Classic Thrash Metal Amp Tone
This virtual amp can sound like:
- Thrash metal like Testament, Exodus, Keator, Megadeth, and older Metallica
- Classic metal like Black Sabbath and Motorhead
- Hard rock/metal like Queensryche, Saxon and Accept
- Any metal that crosses over to the heavier styles of music from the prior amp we just discussed
- I find this amp to also cover the metal sub-genres that I list for the next amp
This is my favorite amp of the Archetype Nolly suite! Neural DSP really nailed it on this one. Like the rock amp we just talked about, this amp is also extremely diverse meaning that you can dial in pretty much any style of hard rock or metal tone that exists.
What I like most about this amp is the clarity and punchiness. And it’s made for riffing, so it’s perfect for thrash metal or any type of playing where you’re moving those fingers around (not just playing chords). It also sits in the mix better than most virtual amps.
Modern Metal Amp Tone
This virtual amp can sound like:
- Metalcore bands like Trivium, Killswitch Engage, and Parkway Drive
- Prog metal bands like Symphony X and Stratovarius
- Tech-metal bands like Gojira and Meshuggah
- Death metal bands like Amon Amarth and Exmortus
I believe this amp (the last one in this suite) is made more for modern styles of metal ranging from metalcore to progressive and death metal. There’s more gain and it has that modern metal style midrange if that makes sense.
I initially loved the sound of this amp. But then I went back and played it side by side with the classic metal amp (the one we just covered), and found that I preferred that tone.
You may have a different opinion though, and I can see where most metal guitarists will dig this modern metal sounding amp.
Archetype Nolly Cabinets, Mics, and Effects
Now let’s dig into more details of the Archetype Nolly suite of amps. Remember, this is a full-blown suite of amps and effects. So it’s almost like having your own half-stack with effects on your computer.
The Archetype Nolly suite is very similar to the concept of Positive Grid BIAS FX suite of amps and effects (and others like Guitar Rig and Amplitube).
As far as amps go, the Archetype Nolly provides a little better quality (this is just my opinon – I am a fan of Positive Grid and have been using their products for a while now).
Cabinets and Mics
There’s one extremely cool feature with the Neural DSP Archetype Nolly cabinets and mics…
Each amp comes paired with a cabinet. However, you can unlink them (see the little link icon in the image above) and mix and match each amp with different cabinets.
This gives you a TON of variety in your tones! And I actually found myself preferring some of the other cabinets that did not default to the amp I was using over the one it was initially paired with.
So you essentially have 4 different cabinets with each amp you can play around with.
On top of that, you have the expected selection of mic types, both dynamic and condenser. You can also move these mics around just like you would with a real mic.
The stompboxes are a nice-to-have in my case. But I typically only use a simple overdrive in front of the amp, and only with high gain amps. This is just to clean up the tone.
I ended up using the red one, Overdrive 2. I kept the gain down and level at about 7 for my metal tones. This did a great job of giving my tone more clarity and tightness.
I’m not a huge fan of having a delay in front of the amp, and I don’t use compressors. So I can’t really speak for those. But I’m sure it’s a good thing to have these options. Just because I don’t use them doesn’t mean someone else (or many others) won’t.
Post-amp Effects (Delay and Reverb)
This is where MANY virtual amps and effects suites fall short. Reverb and delay, specifically the post-amp reverb and delay effects.
In my opinion, this is Archetype Nolly’s strongest feature right behind the amps themselves.
Many amp/effects suites have delays and reverb that either overpower the tone or just doesn’t sound right and you end up spending hours tweaking the settings trying to make it sound decent.
But the Archetype Nolly post-amp delay and reverb sound crystal clear! And the effects are prominent without taking away from the amp tone.
You can also get a really cool stereo chorus effect that’s built into the delay pedal here.
*I used this on the clean part of the full mix in the video above.
I applaud Neural DSP on this. I just wish I could use this reverb and delay with their Fortin NTS and Nameless amp aims, which I’ll talk about later.
Standalone Rackmount EQ
The amp and effects suite also comes with a standalone EQ (which appears to be similar to what you’d see as a rackmount equalizer).
To be transparent, I rarely use these types of EQs. In fact, I rarely use any EQ other than what’s on the amp. This is simply because I end up screwing up the tone, big time. So for me, I just don’t bother.
*Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a total newbie despite that I’ve been a guitarist since 1990!
But here’s what I’ll tell you. And mentioned this in the video above. Just turning the EQ on gives your tone a little more clarity and a slight boost. It’s almost unnoticeable but it’s there.
Again, I did not mess with the settings at all. I just turned it on, so that’s what you’re hearing in the video mix above.
Is Archetype Nolly the Best Virtual Amp and Effects Suite?
Here’s where we get extremely subjective. And I’ll give you my honest thoughts…
- Archetype Nolly amps have a more authentic sounding tone than most other amp sims.
- The clean and rock amps are quite amazing, and I could possibly deem them as my favorites (although I don’t use these tones often in the music I write).
- The post-amp reverb and delay are clearly amazing. Both of these sound better than the reverb and delays in most other virtual amp and effects suites.
- I do wish there were more options with the reverb for those ambient and spacy sounds.
- The metal amps (the last 2 amps are high gain) are both great sounding amps. As I stated earlier, I prefer the classic thrash metal (third) amp over the modern metal (4th) amp. And I play a mix of melodic power and death metal with major hints of thrash metal.
Is Archetype Nolly Good for Metal?
I truly think that most metal guitar players will like the Archetype Nolly metal amps. However, there’s a different virtual amp that I prefer for metal…
My favorite virtual amp for metal guitar tones is actually another amp sim made by Neural DSP. Their Fortin NTS.
When I had the Archetype Nolly demo I create 2 tracks in my studio software so that I could go back and forth, comparing Archetype Nolly to Fortin NTS. And after playing around with the 2, it was clear that my ear favored the Fortin NTS.
You can read about and listen to my Fortin NTS tones (and I also include the Nameless tones in this post) here: Fortin NTS and Nameless Metal Tones.
I hope you enjoyed listening to the tones in the video above and reading this post!
Keep it Metal,
**Also, make sure you leave any questions about Archetype Nolly as a comment on my YouTube video. And please give the video a thumbs up!