If you’ve been reading my reviews on DJBooth Pro Audio over the past couple of years, you know I’m a fan of two things: excellent guitar amp simulations, and Swedish plugin developer Softube, who makes some of the best analog-modeled plugins around. Although my music leans heavily electronic/pop and rarely focuses on guitars as the lead instrument, I enjoy using amp/cab/pedal plugins across just about every sound in a mix, whether it’s a distorted vocal double or lead synth or bass patch.
Naturally, when I saw Softube was rolling out a fully-featured guitar amp plugin ecosystem, Amp Room, I was extremely excited to get my hands on the software and give it a try. As I’ve come to expect, Softube once again delivers a stellar-sounding offering with Amp Room, offering a wide range of processors that should appeal to discerning producers in every genre.
Setup & First Impressions
Softube Amp Room is available for $149, installs in all major plugin formats (AU, VST2/3, AAX), and, like all Softube plugins, is protected by iLok (dongle or hard drive) copy protection. Softube deserves kudos for significantly improving the installation workflow since 2018/2019 when you often had to download individual installers from the Softube site or Gobbler. Now, all installations and updates can be managed from the slick Softube Central app for Mac or PC, which checks your iLok for all available licenses and makes sure all of your licensed plugins are installed and up-to-date. Using Softube Central is a breeze, and I much prefer this approach to trying to keep track of updates and individual installers manually.
There are two high level approaches a developer can take when creating a plugin that offers emulations of more than a single analog device: one is to model each device into a discrete VST/AU/AAX plugin, and a second is to build a range of devices and processors into a single plugin ecosystem, enabling the user to mix and match units within one ‘host’ plugin. In the case of Amp Room, Softube has taken the latter approach. Amp Room is a host plugin which supports a range of proprietary Softube models of amps, cabs, pedals, EQ’s, compressors, and much more, but it does not (at this time) allow each processor to be loaded in your session as a standalone plugin. Having used a range of these host plugins from different developers, I do believe Softube has created the best single-plugin processing environment I’ve seen to date. The GUI is beautiful and intuitive, routing is self-explanatory, and the host plugin feels snappy. While I love Amp Room for creating complex signal flows, I do hope Softube opens up each processor as VST/AU plugins later on: sometimes, it’s just quicker to load up a single pedal or amp rather than the larger host plugin.
Amp Room’s main host plugin retails for $149 and includes a wide range of processors. For artists looking to add additional flavors, additional amps are available as a la carte purchases, with Marshall amp models also retailing for $149 each.
Amp Room’s GUI is clear, modern, and intuitive. Branded amps from Marshall will look instantly familiar to any guitar player, and many of the pedals and other processors, while not name-branded, are relatively easy to match to their real-world analog counterparts. Knobs are large and easy to adjust, metering is clear, signal flow follows an intuitive pattern, and the plugin feels incredibly smooth and well-designed.
In my usage, Amp Room proved capable of being whatever I wanted it to be. If I wanted to dial in a complex routing with parallel preamps, discrete amps/cabs for different signal splits, and different FX paths all summing to a single output, it could do that in seconds. If I was after a more traditional preamp→amp—>cab—>pedal—>EQ signal flow, it could accommodate this as well. What comes across after spending any decent amount of time with Amp Room is just how flexible and modular it can be: it’s very much a plugin limited by only your imagination (and maybe your CPU power).
Let’s start with the sound: as with anything Softube makes, it sounds phenomenal. Bright, shimmering (but not harsh) highs, deep lows, and a focused midrange are all a few clicks away here. I’ve tried just about every major amp sim on the market, and Amp Room floored me with its overall sound quality and fidelity, especially at higher input gain settings. Whereas a lot of amp sims sound lifeless and harsh once you crank the gain, Amp Room genuinely feels alive and full of character. A lot of plugin developers have tried to create a guitar studio in a box before, but I’ve never heard one sound this good.
Amp Room’s Amps and Cabs sound incredible, and not just on guitars. Softube’s years of amp modeling for Universal Audio are on full display here, with a recreation of my favorite amp on the UAD platform, the Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555. While many think of this unit as a high gain amp most fit for classic rock, I’ve gotten my favorite pop-friendly picked acoustic guitar sounds from this beast over the years, and seeing it recreated in native form is a dream come true. Many of Marshall’s other classic amps are available in Amp Room as well (all via optional a la carte purchase), including the Bluesbreaker 1962, JMP 2203, and Plexi Super Lead 1959.
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As good as the amps and cabs sound, the real fun, in my opinion, begins when you start mixing in Softube’s unmatched collection of pedals, preamps, and analog EQ , Tape, and Compression. I’ve previously hailed Softube’s work on the API inspired American Class A plugin, and both the EQ and Compressor units are available as individual modules within Amp Room. Similarly, Softube’s magical Tape is on offer here (for Tape owners), along with the best-sounding collection of pedals I’ve heard to date. The JJB Chorus is full of movement and width, the DIS Overdrive and Marshall Guv’nor Distortion are full of character and grit, the Doom Church Reverb will give you unique tones for days, and the Softube Rokstenen distortion pedal may well be my favorite sound processor of any kind at the moment for synths, vocals, and anything needing some extra flavor. Softube says more processors will be added over time, and owners of select Softube plugins (Tube-Tech CL1B, Trident A-Range, and Tape) can use those plugins inside of Amp Room now.
For producers who rarely touch guitars in their tracks, I can’t stress enough how phenomenal these processors are for all types of sounds across almost any genre. One of my favorite hidden gems included in the basic Amp Room plugin is the Softube IR Room Ambiance module, which is one of those magical processors that takes flat, digital sounds and makes them wonderfully weird. Playing around with the Room Ambiance module and its place in the signal flow, especially when paired with pedals, cabs, and amps, is a guaranteed way to get exciting sounds that pop right out of the speakers.
One of my consistent gripes with recent Softube plugins has been a confusing preset system. While Amp Room retains some UI elements from the previous iterations of this system, it is vastly improved here. There’s now a logical, color-coded, and sortable preset browser with support for tags (e.g., Crunch, Extreme), group edit mode, list and tile views, and a powerful search tool. I did find some odd results when using the left and right GUI buttons to browse preset folders—it would seem to jump around to other folders instead of cycling through each preset in the folder I was trying to go through—but I’m hoping this is just a version 1.0 bug and will be sorted in future releases.
It was tough to find fault with Amp Room, especially given its improved preset system. I’ve often found that similar drag and drop all in one plugins from other developers are crash-prone; however, Amp Room was rock solid in my testing on a MacBook Pro running OS X Catalina. My only real request would be the addition of a resizable GUI/window: while the zoom control is great, it can still feel a bit scroll-heavy on a larger monitor, where you might want to take advantage of your extra real estate. Additionally, I do hope to see each module available as a standalone VST/AU plugin in the future.
In Conclusion/Recommended For
I’d recommend Amp Room, without reservation, to producers in any genre of music. It sounds phenomenal, is fun and flexible to use, and offers inspiring results whether you’re using it on guitars, bass, synths, or just about any source material. Amp Room has very much become my go-to vibe box since I started using it, and I find myself reaching for other plugins—amp or other—far less than before. With impeccable sound quality, a growing platform for future expansions/modules, and reasonable CPU usage, Amp Room is my top choice for any artist looking to get some vibe and inspiration in the box.
- Best sounding amp/cab sims I’ve heard to date. All of my favorite UAD amps, now in native form
- Brilliant pedals and ancillary processors
- Flexible, intuitive, drag-and-drop signal flow and routing capabilities
- Expanding list of add-on processors and modules
- Beautiful GUI
- Wide-ranging, well-organized preset system
- Could offer resizable GUI
- Would like to see processors available in DAW’s as individual standalone plugins
DJBooth Pro Audio Rating: 9/10