Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Review

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Review

What do you get when you combine the plugin geniuses at Neural DSP with the super talented musician, mixer, engineer and producer Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood?

The Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly

Neural DSP almost blew up the internet when they announced their latest plugin, but does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly

Fire up the Nolly and you’re greeted with the usual Neural DSP layout. This time we’ve gone back to dark graphics instead of the white used for Plini’s plugin. I’m not going to go into detail with the layout because I’m sure you know what’s included by now. You have all of the controls you need to flick through the various components, set your levels, select presets etc. It’s all familiar if you’ve used a Neural DSP plugin before and logically laid out if you haven’t.

Starting with the pre-amp pedals, you get a solid-state compressor, delay and two different overdrive pedals. Overdrive 1 seems like the usual green overdrive you’d use to give an amp a bit of a boost or tighten up the tone. Overdrive 2 has a thicker, beefier tone and is great for adding some dirt. The delay here is a simple one because you don’t generally want too much going on before you go into the amp. The compressor again is nice and simple and is great for evening out your sound or providing some extra sustain.

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Review

Moving on to the amps, you’ll find four different options here which cover a lot of ground. These are recreations of some of Nolly’s own modified amps which Neural DSP have captured and recreated for us all to enjoy. They have been specifically chosen to give a range of clean, crunch, rhythm and lead tones.

Along with the four amps, you also get four cabinets along with a selection of microphones and mic placement options. Between them, there are 640 impulse responses, all captured by Nolly himself. They sound great and are easy to use. There is also a handy link/unlink button so you can either use the matching cabinet with each amp or mix them up. This gives you a huge range of tonal options.

The included 9-band graphic equalizer is always nice to see. Having an easy way to make EQ changes after the amp can be incredibly useful if certain frequencies need a quick adjustment.

Finally, we get to the post amp effects. Here we find another delay pedal along with multi-dimensional reverb. Nice!

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Review

In Use

This is the fun part. Fire up the plugin, switch to Amp 1 and you’ll find some beautiful clean tones. This isn’t a weak clean amp. The tone is strong and focused. Play with varying dynamics and the amp reacts in kind. This is one of the most realistic amp models I’ve used and I’d be happy to have this as a standalone product. It really is that good. Add some delay and reverb and you can get all kinds of lovely shimmering tones. However, my favourite tones were found by adding Overdrive 2 for some chunky overdriven sounds. It has a real thickness and weight to it which is hard to find in a plugin.

Amp 2 has a modified British vibe. The character is very different to Amp 1 but it’s just as responsive, and again, add either of the overdrive pedals and things get chunky very quickly. Just by using Amp 1, Amp 2 plus the pedals you can get a huge range of tones. I think we can sometimes be too quick to change amps within plugins when we want a different sound. When equipment has been modelled in such detail it’s really worth thinking of it like physical equipment and spending the time to hear exactly what’s possible from it. The first couple of amps in this plugin are very versatile so these alone more than justify the price.

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Review

On to Amp 3. This is my least favourite of the amps in this package. Not because it’s bad, far from it. I have a strong suspicion it’s based on a certain metal amp which has been used on countless albums and the sound has become fairly generic. It’s also a pretty full-on sound and really needs some EQ after it to clean up the low end. A simple cut at 250Hz using the graphic equaliser makes a big difference to how it sits in a mix. The fact that it’s been used so much shows how popular this kind of sound is so it definitely makes sense to include it. It’s likely to be the go-to amp for a lot of people and it’s great for heavy rhythm and lead tones.

Amp 4 is a real beast. It has a very snarly sound and an evil character to it which gives you a great option if Amp 3 isn’t providing the kind of metal tones you’re looking 4. I think providing 2 different metal amps like this is a clever move because, like 1 and 2, they provide so much between them you’ll always be able to find a tone that will work for whatever you’re playing. Amp 4 provides some fantastic tones for low tuned riffage but also works well for leads. It’s full of character and is definitely one of the stars of the show here.

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Review

The cabinet section is always one of the best features within a Neural DSP plugin. They’ve come up with a simple and intuitive way to either fine-tune or radically alter your tone through an easy to use interface. Nolly has gone to great lengths to capture the different IRs so you have everything you need with the plugin but an IR loader is included so you can also use your own.

I feel like I haven’t said too much about the effects but that’s probably because they simply do their job so well. They don’t really stand out on their own, but they add whatever textures you need on top of the basic amp tones in a seamless manner. I think this is actually a bigger compliment. When you have such great sounding amps you don’t really want the effects to be adding too much of their own character. They are simply easy to work with and dial in however much extra sparkle you need. The controls let you add anything from subtle to completely over the top effects.

Conclusion

There is a lot to like inside the Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly plugin. Neural DSP have made some incredible sounding amp models in the past but I actually think they’ve taken another step forward with these ones. There is a certain realism and responsiveness you don’t find with many digital products but Neural DSP have really nailed it here. Honestly, just give me Amp 1 and Overdrive 2 and I’d be happy for a long time. But to get the same kind of qualities on all four amps, a killer cabinet section and a well thought out range of effects makes this package very difficult to beat. This isn’t a “Sound like Nolly” package. This is access to some of the best equipment he’s collected and modified over the years for you to use however you want. And for that, it’s worth every penny.

Rating 9.5/10

Guitar Noodle Top Pick

The Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly is available from https://neuraldsp.com/products/archetype-nolly/

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly Demo Video

Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly

9.5

Rating

9.5/10