Mercurriall SS11X Review

Mercuriall Audio SS-11X Review

Mercuriall Audio are probably best known for their Reaxis and Spark plugins, now they’ve turned their attention to recreating the AMT SS-11 preamp pedal. The AMT-SS11 has developed a strong reputation for providing great amp tones in a stompbox format. Have Mercuriall managed to capture that magic in VST form? Let’s find out.

Mercuriall SS-11X

Upon opening the SS-11X in your DAW, you’re greeted with a digital version of the AMT pedal along with a side panel containing some extra options. The pedal section has all of the original pedal’s features so if you are familiar with the hardware you’ll feel right at home. Mercuriall have also included an easy to use noise gate, a collection of overdrive pedals, cabinet IR loader, reverb IR loader, stereo/mono switch and an extra setting button. This opens up the panel on the pedal and lets you change between model A and B of the hardware SS11 pedals, change tubes from 12AX7 to 6N2P-EV and you can also change the oversample settings.

The pedal section is split between clean and drive. The clean channel features a level control, bass, middle and treble setting, gain and a bright switch. The drive channel has individual level and gain controls for the crunch and lead sections, and shares the EQ settings. You also get individual tone shift switches and a bright switch for the crunch section.

As you can see, there are plenty of options for changing your tone. Mercuriall have managed to keep the layout as simple and easy to understand as possible.

Mercurriall SS11X Review

 

Time To Plug In

The clean channel is described as a Fender style. It doesn’t disappoint. Everything from warm jazz tones through to country twang is available. Turn up the gain knob and your tone starts to change from totally clean through to lightly driven. Along the way, there are some really nice clean but biting tones available and they all respond in a very natural way. My prefered setting was to dial in a lightly driven tone and then clean it up with my Strat’s volume control. This allowed me to go quickly from a clean rhythm sound to a lead tone with the turn of a knob. The reverb IR loader shows it’s value with the clean section too. Anything from a subtle room reverb to a huge ambient wash is available and being able to add your own reverb IRs gives you unlimited possibilities. The thoughtful addition of the overdrive pedals makes the clean channel incredibly versatile. In fact, some people would never need to switch to the drive section on the preamp at all because the clean channel has so much choice. The overdrive pedals provide a good range of sounds to take the clean channel into driven blues and rock territory.

Switch to the crunch channel and you’re greeted with a slightly different tone to the clean channel. Starting off with the drive down low and slowly turning through its range takes you from slightly dirty through to more gain than many people would ever need. This can be increased again with the help of the overdrive pedals. They also provide a way to tighten up your rhythm guitar tone or alter it’s character. Switching from A to B in the extra settings alters the tone to a more modern sound. It’s not a huge shift in sound but it’s certainly a nice option to have. I found myself using the B setting the most but found the sound great together for double tracking rhythm guitars. They sit really well together in a mix and can sound huge.

The cabinet IR loader is where you should spend some time once you have a good basic tone dialled in. The plugin comes with a wide range of IRs to get you started but if, like me, you have your own collection of IRs then having the ability to use them directly within the plugin is a massive plus point. Cabinet impulse responses have the ability to alter your tone in a huge way. I have a few favourites I tend to use and selecting these gave me a familiar tone but with the character of the SS-11X shining through nicely.

The lead channel takes things to another level and is perfect for setting up your lead guitar tones. Don’t rule it out for rhythm sounds either. I found some of my favourite tones in this section. Creating the perfect lead tone is very easy with the help of the reverb options. It didn’t take long to find a soaring lead tone with the ideal tonality to sit well on top of the rhythm sound I had been using. The overdrive pedals can really help here too. Not for more gain because there is far more available than you’ll need, but for tightening up your sound and giving it a sweet sustain.

Mercurriall SS11X Review

 

Conclusion

Mercuriall’s aim was to recreate the original AMT S11 preamp as closely as possible but also add some extra features to allow you to create all of your basic guitar tones using one plugin. They’ve certainly done a great job in bringing the pedal into the digital realm and the extra options really do make it easy to cover most sounds in one easy to use package. The cabinet and reverb IR loaders are an excellent addition, especially considering the price of the plugin. It retails for $39.99 which is an absolute bargain price considering how much tonal variation is possible. It’s designed to be easy to use but don’t underestimate the SS-11X, it could very well be the only amp plugin you ever need.

Rating – 9/10

The Mercuriall SS-11X is available from https://mercuriall.com for $39.99

There is also a free demo version available so check it out today. You won’t be disappointed.