Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite Top Pick Award

Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite Review

When news broke about Neural DSP teaming up with Mike Fortin to make an amp simulator, there were more than a few eyebrows raised. Mike Fortin isn’t a fan of amp modelling. He’s even quoted on Neural DSP’s website stating the fact, so could they really deliver a VST worthy of his name? Let’s find out.

Mike Fortin is highly regarded in the amp world and has built some of the most desirable amps around. He also has a range of excellent effects pedals. The Nameless Suite combines the Fortin Grind pedal with the Nameless amp model. Although it’s officially called Nameless, everyone has a pretty good idea which amp it’s based on (Google it if you don’t know).

Before we dive into the main components, let’s quickly run through the extra settings.

In the top right-hand corner, you can quickly change between the Grind, Nameless, and cabinet sections. You can switch each of the three sections on and off so you can also use each individual element with other plugins. Under those sit the controls for input and output levels, noise gate (always essential with a high gain amp), stereo/mono mode, oversampling and the preset list. The noise gate works very well in keeping things clean when you aren’t playing and allows you to really tighten up palm mutes.

Fortin Grind Pedal

The Grind Pedal

A single knob boost pedal might not seem very exciting, but switch it on and you quickly realise one knob is all you need. Turn it up too high and things get out of control but at around half way up it really tightens things up and brings out an extra edge to the amp tone. It’s great for creating a tight rhythm tone but also works well when you need a very precise and articulate lead tone. If they sold it as a standalone plugin I think it would be very popular. I tried it with some other amp plugins with the same great results.

Fortin Nameless

The Fortin Nameless

Next comes the star of the show, the Nameless. If you are looking for a good clean sound then you need to look elsewhere. This amp really doesn’t do clean. I highly doubt anyone buying the Nameless Suite is going to be bothered by that but it is worth mentioning. On it’s lowest gain settings you’ll find a lightly driven tone. I actually really liked this sound and the way it reacted to my playing. It sits well in the mix for those mellower moments while still retaining an edge to the sound. Turn up the gain and things get brutal very quickly. This isn’t a highly polished distortion. It’s rough with a metallic clang and a really sharp edge to the tone. If you want the perfect aggressive modern metal guitar tone then you’re pretty much there right from the start. The default settings are a great starting off point and most people would only need to tweak them slightly to taste.

Two gain controls plus the pull-out MVC (master volume) control let you really dial in the distortion perfectly. It takes a little time to understand how they work together but they allow much more control than a single gain knob would. Presence, bass, middle and treble controls help you to shape your tone once you have set the gain to your liking and they all have a pretty big impact on the sound. They aren’t subtle so they allow very extreme tone shaping.

Fortin Nameless cabinet

The Cabinet

In the cabinet section, Neural DSP could have opted for a basic cabinet simulation but they have taken things much further. The first thing you notice is there are two of everything. You can use it in mono mode but there is also the option of stereo micing the cabinet with totally different setting on each side. You can also pan each section wherever you want them to be in the mix. This creates all kinds of possibilities. Although you can’t change the speakers, you can switch between six different microphones, adjust their position and distance and also set the volume levels. This gives you plenty of ways to massively change your tone. As if this wasn’t enough, you can also load your own impulse responses. They really have tried to give you as many options as possible to fine-tune your tone whilst also keeping the plugin easy to use.

The Sound

All these features would be useless if the sound wasn’t any good, I’m pleased to report it is. After recording a basic track I opened up some of my other amp sim plugins so I could compare the tones. After hours spent trying to get a similar tone from three other plugins, using many different amp models, I gave up. I don’t know how they’ve achieved it but the Nameless Suite has a different tone to everything else I tried. Whenever I thought I had a similar sound I’d switch back to the Nameless and realise there was still something missing from the other amp simulator’s sound. They really nailed the ‘amp in a room’ feel and tone in a way nobody else seems to have managed yet. The tone seems to carry extra weight and body and the distortion sounds far more lively. I’d expect to hear the Nameless being used on some major label recordings because it gives you all the benefits of using a modeller but sounds extremely authentic. I think many people would struggle to get such a good recorded tone from their real amps.

Where the Fortin Nameless really comes into its own is with downtuned riffs. If you use an extended scale guitar or just tune your regular guitar down from standard tuning, you’ll know how difficult it can be to avoid a muddy sound. This is where the Grind pedal and the wide-ranging tone controls come into play. It’s very easy to dial out the mud and make even the lowest tunings sound articulate and cut through the mix. This could be a game changer for a lot of metal guitarists and producers.

The Price

I wouldn’t normally focus on the price of a product but I’ve seen a number of comments on forums saying the Nameless Suite is too expensive for a single amp model. There are other options available where you can buy numerous amp sims in one package. They usually come with a range of effects pedals and cabinet simulations too so I can understand where the comments are coming from. I believe they’re missing the point though. Sure, if you are looking for as wide a range of sounds as possible then you are better off looking elsewhere. What the Nameless Suite offers is one very good boost pedal, an amp model unlike any other which was created with the help of one of the world’s best amp builders, and a cabinet section which gives you plenty of ways to finish shaping the end tone. You might lose out in quantity but the quality more than makes up for it. I’d happily trade any number of ‘almost there’ models for the perfect ‘just right’ single model. Take a look at the price of Mike Fortin’s real amps. They certainly aren’t cheap but those who can afford them and are looking for the tones they achieve will happily pay the price. It should be the same with software. If it gives you the sound you are searching for, then does it matter if it doesn’t also include hundreds of other sounds you don’t need? Personally, I think it’s very good value for money. It allows you to get a great tone very quickly and spend more time playing than tweaking. And when you do want to tweak your sound there are plenty of ways to fine tune it.

Conclusion

If you want a million options or a beautiful clean tone then this isn’t the plugin for you. If you want an insanely brutal metal guitar tone from an easy to use package then look no further. This is the amp plugin all other’s will be striving to match as far as modern metal is concerned. Even if you already own a nice amp, the Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite would make a great addition to your recording rig for ease of use and unmatched modern metal tones in the virtual world. They have put together the ideal package for anyone who uses low tunings and is sick of being buried in a mix, whilst also making it versatile enough for everyone else. Neural DSP and Mike Fortin have just raised the bar and all other plugin manufacturers will have to work hard to try to reach this level.

Rating 9/10

Guitar Noodle Top Pick

The Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite is currently available from Neural DSP for €99 – Please visit them HERE

To save €10 off any Neural DSP plugin, click HERE

 

Read the review of the NTS Suite HERE and Archetype Plini HERE

 

Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite Demo Videos

Neural DSP Fortin Nameless Suite

9

Rating

9.0/10