Neural DSP - is it really worth it?

This is something also that hits close to home for me. Although I’m not using the more expensive stuff you guys are referring to and I’m just using my iPad.

I just discovered Bias Fx 2 and was pretty impressed with the sounds you can get. Just using the 15 day free trial. I’m sure it’s not as good as helix/neural/ax fx but it really seemed like a game changer as far as relying on one amp/pedals to get multiple sounds.

I went as far as buying one of those inexpensive headrush frfr speakers. The 108 and I’m pretty impressed. Had to do some finagling in the dark to try and produce any actual sound but I figured it out eventually. Configuring iOS for mono and what not. I have stereo cables on the way.

Curious if anyone else uses that setup(w/iPad) as a live setup and how it works.

I have tried some of the models in trial mode. They sound OK to me. They come in packages and also feature more than just an amp sim.

However, soundwise I haven’t been able to find a competitive edge that would lead me to buy them. I am rather using my good old LePou plugins as well as Ignite Emissary amp which are all free of charge.

I think computer-based amp simulations have matured good enough that the competition gets tougher every day so companies actually release very similar resulting stuff.

I strongly advocate if you want to base your guitar playing on VST amps + IRs, it’s a good idea to invest a mid-segmented audio interface, solid CPU power with complimenting (not conflicting) GPU + RAM that operate in an optimized operating system will yield great playing experience no matter what amp sim you use.



I’ve got Ryzen 5 3600, 16GB of RAM and GTX 1660 Super for GPU along with somewhat old but still working audio interface. The weakest link in my hardware is my stereo setup.

Neural have a 50% sale until 19th April.

ML have a 25% sale until 30th April.

Just noticed STL have a 40% sale as well, but it ends today.

Also note that if you’re interested in the Helix range you can try Native free for 2 weeks.

Some things not mentioned about Neural is the in/out meters are nice to have, the tuner works well and it’s very easy to setup midi control. On the other hand pricing is a bit weird and annoying (I’m trying clean tones now, and like one amp from each plugin), iLok bugs me (will likely never work on Linux) and some people have issues with plugin latency. I’ve also considered Kemper, Fractal, Helix and Iridium. So this isn’t so expensive, depending on your point of view (and you already have a computer setup for it).

I’ve been debating jumping all in and getting a controller (maybe a Tech 21 Mongoose or Blackstar Live Logic). I’d like to try a real amp with dedicated line out though.

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Probably yes. I’m wondering if I’m listening with headphones too loud. I feel there’s a tendency to turn them out louder than I would listening to music.

An amp like a Katana with line-in might work well, if that’s something you’d be interested in buying. Or using the return as I think someone mentioned in the Kemper thread. The Kustom 112 would be tricky as it doesn’t appear to have line-in or send/return.

I’m trying out Neural again due to the sale. I do find Nameless (and what I remember of STL plugins) to be lacking in bass, making it hard to get an amp in the room sound. Is it just me? I like the clean of the Soldano… which of course is the one not on sale!

With the sale going on, I decided to just go with it.

Do you have any recommendation on which plugin in particular to consider?

I currently have an old Dean Vendetta - mahogany body, bolt-on maple neck and Bill Lawrence L500XL pickup; an 8 string Schechter Blackjack - full mahogany, set in neck with SD Blackouts; and Flame LPIV - alder body, maple neck, EMG 81/89.

All the plugins sound decent to me, but picking just one is near impossible.

I’m going to play mostly black metal and other, heavy genres, but I won’t lie that I don’t want decent clean.
Basically I want it to do anything from post black like Sólstafir, Alcest, some atmospheric black, all the way to the extremes such as Behemoth, Ruins of Beverast, Akhlys, Batushka, Mgła but also Opeth,
Mastodon and the likes.
As I said - clean is not optional, but does not have to be flawless.

So far I had Nameless and Granophyre on my radar, but I hear Granophyre is very similar to Audio Assault Sigma and if that’s the case then there is no point buying the same thing twice, is there.
Oh, forgot to mention - only single-amp plugis, no Archetypes, these are a wee bit too expensive still, and I know they are better value for money due to larger amp and cab choice, but I simply do not have enough cash at the moment.

I’m not recommending anything as it’s very personal, but do try Cali. Not sure it’s your sound but the 3 channels plus switches seem as versatile as the 3 amp Archetypes. The Archetypes are a complete package (wah/pitch, 10 band eq, delay, very nice reverb) but the core amps are just different, not better.

I’d forgotten about Audio Assault, they have a sale on too!

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Cali is too much of a 80s thrash machine to my taste.
Nice chugs though, but I wanted something more… evil.

Anyways, I’ve heard rumours that Granophyre and AA Sigma were based off of the same amp, so should be quite similar. I decided to check if that’s true and do a test using the same IR. I did not use that IR before so I had no idea as to what expect, but besides that both amspims were set to all 12 o’clock:

So this is with a Flame LPIV in C#:

My old Vendetta in B

And last but not least, Blackjack:

I did not notice I was clipping hard on that last one until it was too late.
Sorry about that.

The test is blind of course.
Tell me what you think.

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Just a quick note: I think they are slightly different Amps: I vaguely recall from the AA forum that Sigma is based on the (Obsydian? or similar name), which has a bit less gain.

For the record I own the Sigma and love it! But I lean more towards 80’s hard rock tones

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Yup, you are correct. And I had the same feeling playing them both.
Sigma is Obsydian while Granophyre is Iridium (now renamed to Granophyre).
My point is - using external IR there is not much difference in the tone between them.
Granophyre has more than I will be using anyways, so one could easily just bump gain on Sigma and the diffence is negligible.
Granophyre is just a bit more alive, Sigma in comparison feels like it is under a blanket or something, bass response is not the same and the highs are slightly muffled, but it would hardly be noticeable in a mix, at least outside A-B comparison.
In my case, if I decided to go with Granophyre I would be in reality paying for slightly better version of the same tone + some IRs on top. Not a smart move. I mean I like Granophyre a lot and definitely see where my money would be going, but I liked the Nameless just as much and at least it would be a whole new kind of tone in my arsenal.

I am yet to test NTS, but after hearing some samples I can say it’s not my kind of pony. I will give it a try though.

At the moment I am leaning towards Nameless, it was always either this or Granophyre.

You know you want the Nameless.

For me the Archetypes are where its at though. Having multiple amp + cab + effects combos in an all-in-one plugin makes it so much more versatile.

But when you really need that gnarly 8-string rhythm sound, Nameless is hard to beat.

Yeah, I know Archetypes are better value for the money, but I just can’t afford them right now.

It’s really a matter of elimination.
Granophyre is too similar to Sigma to justify spending this much, Cali is too… hairy to my taste, NTS is completely not my kind of thing and I just don’t like it at all.

Gnarly is not the word I’d use but…
I noticed that most ampsims I tend to use are based on Marshall-y amps.
Also - Nameless is the first of NDSP plugins I’ve ever heard and immediately gave me Batushka vibes.
Admittedly, most people don’t use it for black metal, but I can see some potential here. It’s definitely more interesting than NTS and has more “roar” than Cali.

What I look for though is also versatility - which is not Nameless’ domain - but by versatility I don’t necessarily mean what many people mean.
If I can make the Nameless sit tidy in the mix when I want and cut through it like a butter when I want, if I can get it to sound brutal with lots of roar and then make it softer (not clean! more like a gain structure thingy) when I want, then the Nameless is my animal.
If not, then I guess I’m still more leaning towards it by default, through simple elimination.

Bought it.
Now someone please explain to me why do Americans always show prices NOT including VAT?
I was expecting to pay 50 EUR, paid over 60. To make things worse, in my bank’s exchange it would be 280 in my currency - Paypal was showing 290, so I used my actual card, which turned out to be even more (295).
So I basically paid more than 10 EUR / 60 PLN more than I was expecting.
Gues I’ll be eating mashed potatoes with bread for the next week or two (just kidding… only a little).

Probably for the very reason you bought it - sounds like a great price, you make your decision and by the tine you get to pay, its too late as your mind has already bought it… I have no idea really, but the above makes sense to me!

Well yeah, I mean such practices are illegal in whole Europe, but then again I already bought it and there is no reason to cry about it now.
The plugin is good. Maybe not as good as to justify the full price, even at 50% it seems too steep actually, but then again I have one of the best VST amspims on the market now, and there should be no reason to sound bad other than my skills anymore.
I guess I won’t be using free ones anymore as well, maybe except Emissary and Amped Roots, these are good too but I don’t think they could hold a candle to the Nameless, or any other stuff from Neural. They just sound different and I might be needing what they offer.

If there is another sale I’ll definitely get next plugin from Neural, as long as I have enough money. Maybe some Archetype next time.

Neural are in Finland I think, so maybe check with them.

Yeah, I did some diggin and it seems their HQ is in Helsinki so you are right on that one.
However the founder appears to actually come from Chile.
It’s not really relevant in any case.
My point is that I began as a hard sceptic, now I think there is something to Neural DSP’s plugins. I would never buy any of them at a regular price, especially since they are actually 20% more than they appear at first, but 50% off deal begins to make some sense. I only wish they were another 50% cheaper - at this price I wouldn’t even bat an eye, I’d just buy them all one by one, no questions asked.

Look at the samples above - Granophyre in direct comparison with Sigma (and please do ignore sloppy playing).
They sound almost exactly the same - to the point where if used in a mix, I doubt there would be any audible difference at all. One is 100€, the other one I paid 7$ - only a small fraction. I guess Granophyre sounds literally tiny bit better, but not so much as to justify huge price difference.
That is, as long as you’re using the same, external IRs.

Ultimately though, I admit - NDSP plugins are the best ones I ever tried or heard, period.

I have no idea on whether the price is good other than - if you use it every time, because there isn’t a better option in that type of technology, then its money well spent. If you can get better results from another method thats in your price range and practicalities criteria, then its a waste of cash.

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I see your point.
And I can’t say I disagree. As I mentioned - I am yet to find anything better. Certainly my actual amp is not.

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By the way, I know you have already made your decision for the time being, but another ampsim that I am greatly enjoying these days is Aurora DSP Rhino.

I used it for this song, sounds pretty heavy even with my strat with single coils

Perhaps I can help. I am from Finland.

I was sold on Neural Nameless plugin without even knowing they come from my country. Neural DSP was established by a Chilean metal enthusiast Douglas Castro. Finland attracts all kinds of metalheads, so no surprise there.

They started in 2018. First year made 500 k€ turnover and some losses, next year 2,3 M€ and some profits. They have not given public financial statements from 2020 yet, but that year Capman Growth became an investor in Neural. Investment director Heikki Juntti is a music enthusiast and knew the product and people already. Castro said 2020 turnover will be 10 million so I can see the interest to invest in the company.

Heikki looks even nerdier than Troy so I have to trust him completely, even though he is a venture capitalist.

Capman currently has over 3 billion Euros assets under management. They put 5 million to Neural and plan to keep investing for 2-5 years.

I think Neural is worth it.

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