Best Free Amp Simultors For Mac

Posted By admin On 16.02.22
  • Software >Processor

Also bear in mind that, like the real-world gear that they are modelled on, none of these plugins are perfect, they all have their strengths and weaknesses – better high-gain amp sound emulations, or better racks of effects, for example. Browse, Download and Buy our selection of Amp Simulator Plugins, Effects and Instruments online today. Generally for use with guitars, amplifiers were used to amplify or increase the volume of guitars for use in live or recording environments. Let this roundup be your guide to finding the best amp simulator. With amp sims, you always get what you pay for. So, paying top-dollar for a new amp simulator will pay off and give the best results (at least that’s true with the selection of plugins I have hand-picked).

With so many software amp simulators to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Here's our selection of current options, with links to the SOS review where available.

Brainworx BX Rockrack Pro $249$249

If you want to take to the skies without leaving your Mac, we’ve taken a look at the most realistic flight simulators for Mac in 2018. Although the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator for Mac has never been released and the choice on macOS is limited, there are some incredibly good flight sims available nowadays on Mac. VST/AU for Mac & PC, available in 32 and 64-bit versions. With a simple philosophy (that brings Softube to mind), Kuassa offers two amp simulations – Creme and Vermillon – that provide a breathtaking sound quality considering their ridiculous price.

Brainworx BX RockRack

Brainworx's BX Rockrack Pro favours quality over quantity, offering just a handful of simulations that Brainworx have developed in conjunction with a range of big-name rock and metal producers. As such, it favours heavier guitar styles, but there are models available for other genres too. You can also use the recording-chain side of the models (mics, preamps, processors and so on) independently, and apply them to other plug-ins, or even your own real guitar amps.

Studio Devil Virtual Guitar Amp II $79$79

Studio Devil Virtual Guitar Amp II

Virtual Guitar Amp II's 18 preamp and 18 cabinet models cover a wide range of musical styles, and though it doesn't have the variety of effects that some other amp-sim plug-ins do, its included tremolo, chorus, delay and reverb sound very authentic. In our review, we praised it for its ability to make guitar sounds that sit very well in a mix.

Review: /sos/mar11/articles/vgaii.htm

Peavey ReValver MkIII.V £209$199

Peavey Revalver

Peavey's ReValver offers arguably the most detailed editing options of any software amp simulator. As you'd expect, you can mix and match different amps, speaker cabinets and effects; but if you want too, you can alter the internal design of the amps themselves, even to the extent of swapping out individual electrical components such as capacitors and resistors!

Free online guitar amp simulator

Review: /sos/may09/articles/revalver.htm

Peavey + 601 483 5365

Softube Amp Room $159-$219$159 - $219

Softube Amp Room

The Amp Room suite comes in three different flavours: Bass Amp Room ($159), Metal Amp Room ($159) and Vintage Amp Room ($219). The photo-realistic UIs show pictures of the amp models you're using, and let you move virtual mics around relative to the amps to get the sound you're after. The Amp Room plug-ins have also recently been ported to the UAD2 DSP platform.

Review: /sos/nov07/articles/vintageamproom.htm

MV Pro Audio +1 877 784 7383

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro €199$199

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro

Guitar Rig Pro features a wealth of emulations, with 17 amps, 27 cabinets and 54 effects to choose from. The Control Room section also includes models of mics and their positions relative to the modelled speaker, and NI also make a dedicated controller pedalboard called the Rig Kontrol.

Review: /sos/may10/articles/nigr4.htm

Native Instruments +49 30 61 10 35 1300

Native Instruments +49 30 61 10 35 1300

Line 6 Pod Farm 2.5 Platinum $299$299

Line 6 Pod Farm

From Line 6, the pioneers of guitar-amp modelling, comes Pod Farm, which brings the sound of the company's ubiquitous hardware processors to the software world. As well as having over 250 amp and cabinet models, Pod Farm also includes an extensive selection of effects, with free routing between its many stomp-box models.

Line 6 +1 818 575 3600

Waves GTR3 £119$140

Waves GTR3

Waves have brought their usual high plug-in coding standard to the software amp-sim world, offering 32 amps, 29 cabinets and a choice of 26 stompbox effects. A dedicated foot controller called the GTR Ground is also available, and features 11 footswitches and two expression pedals for control over GTR3's amp and effect parameters.

Review: /sos/jun09/articles/gtr3.htm

Free Guitar Amp Simulator Software

Sonic Distribution +44 (0)8455 002500

IK Multimedia Amplitube 3 €159$199

IK Multimedia Amplitube 3

IK pride themselves on offering a vast array of models suitable for all genres of music. Not only are a great number of classic amps and effects available, but IK's range also includes versions based on the rigs of famous guitarists, including Slash and Jimi Hendrix. An iOS version of Amplitube is also available, as are hardware accessories and interfaces for iPods, iPhones, iPads and computers.

Review: /sos/jun10/articles/amplitube3.htm

IK Multimedia +44 (0)8000 934066

IK Multimedia US +1 954 846 9101

Avid Eleven £394$499

Avid Eleven

Avid's Eleven gravitates towards emulating classic amps of yesteryear, including coveted models by Vox and Fender from the '60s, though some more modern, high-gain designs are included too. Specific mic models from the likes of Shure, AKG and Royer are also provided, including on-axis and off-axis mic placements. Eleven requires a Pro Tools system to run, and comes in RTAS, AudioSuite, TDM and AAX formats.

Avid +1 650 731 6300

Scuffham S-Gear £83$118

Scuffham S-Gear

Rather than slavishly modelling specific amplifiers, Scuffham S-Gear provides models loosely based on hardware designs, but with the flexibility to create sounds not available from any existing amp. In our review, we praised it for not only sounding good, but for 'feeling' like a real amp too, thanks to its ability to capture phenomena like rectifier sag and speaker loading.

Review: /sos/aug12/articles/s-gear.htm

Magix Vandal £169$199

Magix Vandal

Unusually, Magix's Vandal has only two amp models: one for guitar, and one for bass. However, these models can be tweaked in great detail to achieve pretty much any sound you need, and as such, Vandal is a very flexible amp sim. Since it works with physical modelling, rather than using any convolution processing, it's also CPU-light, yet it sounds exremely good and is very responsive to playing dynamics.

Review: /sos/aug10/articles/vandal.htm

DACS Audio +44 (0)1914 382500

Overloud TH2 €147$197

Overloud TH2

With 45 amp and 29 cabinet models on offer, TH2 certainly looks versatile. In addition to the 'inspired by' models that most amp sims include, Overloud's suite comes with licensed models from Randall, Brunetti and THD, which the company claim 'cannot be distinguished from the real ones”. What's more, TH2's reverbs are derived from Overloud's highly regarded Breverb and SpringAge plug-ins.

Software amp sims have come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Can your computer fulfil the next stage of your tonequest?

If your interface has an instrument jack input, like this one, then a bit of software could be all you need to get the perfect guitar tone from your computer.

It's not just software versions of studio outboard that have proliferated in recent years: there are now more plug-in emulations of guitar amplifiers and speaker cabinets on the market than you can shake a stick at! The quality of many of them is very good indeed, and the prospect of getting your computer to take the place of an amp stack and pedalboard, at a fraction of the price (and size!) of equivalent hardware, is indubitably enticing. To get the best out of such software, though, there are a few things you need to consider...

Socket To Me

Firstly, you'll need something to plug your guitar into. Many audio interfaces already have such a facility: a quarter-inch jack socket that presents a high input impedance (sometimes known as 'Hi-Z'). If you have such an interface, you're pretty much good to go! Some interfaces, however, have only mic or line inputs, in which case you'll need either a DI box (for mic inputs) or a guitar preamp (for line inputs) before you can start jamming.

If you have no interface at all, the simplest option is probably to go for one of the many USB devices available. There are countless models around that allow you to plug in a guitar, and many that will also accept microphone signals, which would be ideal for recording basic demos. And if you only want to use your computer as a software guitar rig, things get even easier: for under £20$20, you can get a guitar-to-USB cable — essentially a compact audio interface built into a cable — which will have you up and running in no time.

For more advice on choosing an audio interface, you can read our in-article feature on the matter at /sos/sep08/articles/audiointerfaces.htm.

Monitoring Latency

Most readers will be familiar with the problem of latency — the delay you hear when monitoring a signal as you're record it. When recording vocals, people often get around this using 'direct monitoring', whereby the unprocessed input signal is tapped off before it goes into the computer, for latency-free listening. For guitarists, however, it's not quite so simple. The sound has to go into the computer, be processed via the software, and pass back out again before you can hear the sound of your guitar as if it were running through an amp. The reason direct monitoring is of little use to guitarists is that listening to a direct guitar signal just isn't the same as playing through an amp, as you don't get any feel for the sound of the guitar-and-amp combination as you're playing it (try shredding along to a heavy metal track without distortion, or playing U2 licks without a delay pedal!), and the performance often suffers as a result.

The first step to mitigating latency is to set your software's buffer size as low as you can while tracking, without introducing unwanted clicks, pops and the like. This places a greater load on your computer's CPU, but will reduce the latency, and in many cases this is the only step you'll have to take.

If the delay between what you play and what you hear is still unacceptably long, though, there are other ways to get around the issue. For example, you could use a DI box with a 'Thru' output to split the guitar signal, with one side going to a small practice amp for monitoring, and the other going to your audio interface's mic input for recording purposes. You might not get to hear the actual sound you'll eventually settle on, but it's much better than listening to a DI'd signal, and you can always tweak your amp-sim's settings after you've recorded it a part.


As with soft-synths, guitar-amp software often comes with an arsenal of complex, effects-laden preset sounds based on famous guitar tones. While these might catch your attention while you're searching for the sound you want, they can end up sounding awful when you're trying to use the guitar sound in a mix! It's a good idea to peel back those effects and optimise the amp and speaker emulation settings first, before relying on complex effects chains to get the tone you're after.

Published April 2013

The guitar gets the last freebie laugh, with five amp- and instrument-based plug-ins. It’s the best freeware guitar software to download now. Check out our record a track for free feature for more great freeware.

The Best Freeware Guitar Software

Amplesound AGm Lite II – Guitar Emulator

It’s very much the ‘lite’ version of AmpleSound’s Ample Guitar M, which is a Martin Guitar emulator. The full version is a mighty 6GB instrument, but this version lacks over 5GB of that content, some of the articulations and is 16-bit as opposed to 24-bit.

However, it does give you a good flavour of the Martin and is a very playable plug-in, one of the best ways to see proper guitar emulation in action without paying for it. There are tab and effects options and a keyboard for playing it (we’ll assume if you can play a guitar, you’ll opt for the real thing, anyway). While it is free, we think you’ll be sorely tempted to upgrade, which will set you back $169.

Platform: Mac, PC


Lepou Amp Sim Suite – Guitar-Amp Simulators

This is a suite of five plug-ins – yes, we said this was a Top 50, so now it’s a Top 55 – which are all amp simulators.

There’s no fuss, no bother, just download and boot up five great little plug-ins that you can feed your guitar audio through. Better still, experiment by feeding your synths through them for even wilder results…

Platform: Mac, PC


Ignite Amps Suite – Stompboxes to Amp Sims

Right at the end of our roundup, we’re spoiling you with suites of freeware. Here’s another. We’ve already included Ignite’s EQ in our effects listing, but the developer’s list of guitar effects is impressive enough to include all.

We’ve highlighted the TS-999 overdrive stompbox but The Anvil is equally as impressive, as is the Emissary tube amp.

Platform: Mac, PC

VB-1 – Virtual Bass Instrument

One of two guitar plug-ins that we’ve carried over from last year, VB-1 is one of the older plug-ins that Steinberg once sold and, along with the fantastic Model-E synth, is still available for download. As you might expect from the picture and the name, it emulates a proper bass guitar – not the easiest instrument to properly reproduce electronically.

However, this makes a pretty good stab at it with four-voice polyphony, a damper, pickup position, pick position and wave-morph controls as well as a randomiser. It’s among the best freeware guitar software

Platform: Mac, PC

NI Guitar Rig Player Free – Guitar Processing Suite

This version of NI’s Guitar Rig is a free giveaway, expandable with the free Guitar Rig Factory selection. You get an amp and cab, distortion, modulation, reverb, delay, EQ and dynamic effects, all for free! Like NI’s Kontakt Player, it’s well worth checking out.

Best Free Amp Simulators For Mac

Platform: Mac, PC

Free Bass Amp Simulator Software