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Amps and effects simulators for guitarists are quite fashionable... Even if there are more and more of them, Amplitube is still the most famous. However, some developers propose a freeware alternative, as Patrick Wurr with his bundle Greenmachine. Let's plug the guitars directly into the soundcard to listen to these green machines!!!
Made with Synthedit, it has its own pretty, cute and easy-to-use interface. A good idea like those we would like to see more often, the default one being often rather not aesthetic (Guitar Suite for example). Note we have the choice between the full machine (GreenMachineAmp) or separate elements for a more specific use.
The GreenMachineAmp has many settings, which can be controlled by MIDI controllers:
An IN gain and a limiter on the two modelizations (with a Clip LED). It works correctly, be careful not to set the limiter too high (as opposed to the gain level ! ;o)
2 tubes with independent Drive and Volume. The sound evolves smoothly, and the different sounds are credible and well respected. You have a switch "x2" to boost the tubes if they are too weak, which is interesting if you want a big sound for a rhythm part or a solo.
A typical Eq with Lo/Mid/Presence/Hi and a small general graphical Eq, in US mode only. Nothing particular to notice, it works but a good external Eq has to be used for more precision. A good point to the Presence parameter in British mode, to enhance a solo in the mix. Less interesting, the graphical Eq in US mode doesn't have enough settings, 80/240/750/2.2k/6k... The frequencies are well chosen, but the sound will be better with an external Eq. Nevertheless, it works!
3 speaker emulations (Vintage, Modern, Lead) which can be bypassed and an LP setting. The sound is good, with a big preference for the Modern cab. You can go from the narrowed, twanging sound to the large and powerful sound with the LP button. Once again, it sounds fairly well.
A gate, useful but to my opinion not essential. You have to open up your ears, which is more interesting than the eyes for a musician, uh ? ;o)
A Master Clip led, the Output gain in fact. In the red zone, in the red !
A Reverb (Size/Width) and a synchronizable delay (Feedback/Width). This little FX section improves the sound, but there are not enough settings to allow a subtle work.
An Auto-Wah(only available independently). You will probably find a use for it, I keep my Cry-Baby...
The general impression of this first review is fairly good, this plug-in sounds well. At use, there is no doubt it will have the sound in
the mix. Basses (real ones and synth) and drums can be processed through it, with obviously better low frequencies. It has been a good tool to give more agressivity to a fat synth.
Note that the plug needs high CPU resources on my PIII 733... (about 20%). A recent PC is necessary if you want to insert it on many tracks of a mix, or you will have to estimate your needs and use the separate versions.
As it is freeware, you don't risk anything at trying it and keeping it near the Guitar Suite. Especially because it sounds better, and has many functions which make it more professional (full automation, for example).
Bundled with some presets that can be used immediately, no doubt it will make your guitar sounds, if you take a little time to refine the settings. Roll on the updates!
Download it at: http://www.greenmachine.opuscases.de/html/download.html
with audio demos. Price : free, minimum configuration : about mine, i.e. PIII 733, ASIO2 Soundcard to play it live.
Cédric, on the 26-09-2003
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