ML Sound Lab MIKKO Review

ML Sound Lab MIKKO Cab Simulator Review

ML Sound Lab are widely regarded as one of the leading IR producers in the world right now. Their IRs have been used on hit albums and are included in some of the best amp sim plugins. Now they want to reverse the roles and put you in charge. Yes, the MIKKO lets you create your very own IRs! Say goodbye to scrolling through folders of IR files. Now you can create the cab sounds yourself.

ML Sound Lab MIKKO

Fire up the MIKKO plugin and it’s immediately clear you have far more options available than you’d find in the cab sim section of an amp simulator plugin. There is something comforting about seeing a large speaker image dominating the GUI. Instinct makes us grab one of the numbered circles and start moving it around. This is how most people will get started with the MIKKO. It’s simple and it works. Over to the side, there are also controls for fine-tuning the mic placement once you have it just about right. Start a loop and play around with the Angle, Radius and Distance controls and you can really dial in the exact mic placement you’d like with ease. While you are in the Mic Control section, you’ll also find Mix, Pan and Phase controls. These become important when you move to the section above, the Speaker and Mic selection.

ML Sound Lab Mikko Review

Scroll through the lists and you’ll find 9 different speaker cabs with 6 different mic options. These basically give you access to thousands of IR files recorded by ML Sound Lab to their usual high standards. Instead of choosing between the different files in an IR loader, the MIKKO plugin lets you get hands-on and choose sounds in a far more user-friendly way. Take a quick look at the prices of the Cab Packs on the ML Sound Lab website and you can see you’re getting a bit of a bargain by getting 9 cabs in this plugin.

One great feature of this plugin is the ability to add up to 9 mics and place them wherever you want. Let’s be honest, the chances of you using all 9 are pretty remote but it’s always nice to have the option available. Naturally, these 9 mics can all be different models but what I didn’t realise at first is you can also choose a different speaker for each mic. Again, you probably won’t be using 9 different speakers at once but blending 2 or 3 can be a great way to achieve the perfect tone.




Moving over to the Impedance & Cut section, this is where you make the final EQ changes to your sound. The low and high cut controls are pretty essential for fine-tuning the sound. Choose from the Soft, Hard and Steep profiles and simply turn one of the cut knobs to dial out and nasty frequencies. This section really helps you clean up your sound. If you’re using something that only provides preamp tones and doesn’t simulate a power amp section, the impedance controls are a must-have feature. It basically simulates the power amp section for you so the final sound is similar to if you ran a preamp pedal through the effects loop of an amp. Choose from Combo, UK412 or US412 then adjust the low res and high res to suit. These controls can be useful even if you’re using something which does simulate a power amp section so it’s well worth experimenting with.

All of these controls add up to a very powerful tone-shaping package. One of the best features of the plugin is the spectrum analyzer. This allows you to see exactly what’s going on with the sound when you make any adjustments. I’d never tell anyone to dial in a sound based on what they see alone, but having a visual representation on the plugin is the perfect way to make sure you’re making the correct tonal tweaks.

Also included with the plugin are a number of presets to get you started. Not only do they sound great, but they also give you the chance to see how ML Sound Lab create their tones. Any tones you create yourself can also be saved and accessed quickly from the preset menu.

ML Sound Lab Mikko IR Export

Which brings us onto the final part of the plugin and one of the most useful, the IR Export button. Yes, you can dial in the perfect cab simulator tones and export them to use directly within your modeller. So if you use something like a Helix or Axe-FX, you can now create your own IR files to load into them. This is pretty huge! You no longer have to buy IR packs and try out countless IR files until you find one you like. Hook up your modeller so the sound is running through the MIKKO plugin, dial in the perfect cab sim sound, export it and load it up. Now you can take the sound you made with the plugin anywhere you like and instantly recall it on your presets. There are various export options to choose from so you cab select the correct IR Wav format for whichever modeller or plugin you’re using. Yes, you can also save the IRs and use them within your plugins if the have an IR loader if you don’t want to open MIKKO all of the time. One thing to note though, the exported IRs won’t have the same sound quality you get from using the plugin directly. This is because the MIKKO plugin uses higher resolution settings than any of the current modellers support. I can’t say my well used and slightly abused ears could hear a difference but it is something to consider. Either way, I think the exported IRs sounded great when I tried them with my Helix or loaded in Neural DSP’s NTS plugin.

As you can see, the MIKKO plugin has a lot of options available. One thing ML Sound Lab have achieved very well though is making the plugin easy to use. Speaker cabinet sections in hardware or software modellers tend to be pretty basic. Adding in the extra features always carries the risk of making it too complicated for the average person to use but that has been avoided. It’s a very user-friendly package and once you’ve had a quick play around with the different controls, dialling in tones becomes second-nature.

Conclusion

Cab simulators play a huge role in the way a modeller sounds. Now, thanks to the MIKKO plugin, you can take control and create the perfect sounding cab section or export IRs to use within your hardware or plugins. The results I was able to get after just a short amount of time experimenting with the plugin were better than those I’d achieved within the native cab sections of every product I tried it with. Having full control of this vital part of the signal chain is a real game-changer and being able to export those sounds as IR files takes it to a whole new level. This truly is a must-have plugin for any tone tweaker!

Rating 9.5/10

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The ML Sound Lab MIKKO plugin is available from https://ml-sound-lab.com

ML Sound Lab MIKKO Demo Video

ML Sound Lab MIKKO Cab Simulator

9.5

Rating

9.5/10