Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review: Toneforge Menace

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to review a very interesting plugin: a guitar amp simulator designed from one of the most productive rock-metal mix engineers in the scene: Joey Sturgis!

Menace is a guitar amp simulator particularly interesting, which is composed by a signal chain, in which the single elements are bypassable: Pedal (which is a Tube Screamer emulation), Amp, Cab, Magic (which is a post-processing created by the producer), Eq (an emulation of a mixer channel parametric eq to fine tune the tone), Limiter (an emulation of a peak limiter).

The Cab section contains the simulation of four microphones: Condenser, Sennheiser Md421, Shure Sm57 on and off axis), while the parametric equalizer splits the signal in five bands (lows, lower mids, mids, high mids and highs), letting us dial in our tone in a very precise way.
The Limiter module is not very common in an amp modeler, especially with this interface that looks like an emulation of a Teletronix La-2a Leveling Amplifier, since the trend lately is to compress the high gain guitar sound usually only in the low mid area, just to tame the dynamics of the palm muting. The result is that limiting the whole track has also a tone shaping effect, that makes the sound even more aggressive (obviously the risk of overdoing is always behind the corner though, so use it with caution). 

What makes this plugin different from the many other competitors both in the free and paid market?
Well, while the interface of this plugin is pretty common (a simple signal chain with built in overdrive, noise gate, amp and cab section), this "Menace" comes with a few goodies that the others don't have. 
First off the tone is right away very euphonic: the midrange is very musical, and the sound is pretty much mix ready without any tweaking.
The built in parametric equalizer does a good job in filtering out unwanted resonances, avoiding us to load an additional eq on the channel, and the peak limiter keeps the dynamics stable: basically this could be the only plugin you would need for your rhythm guitar insert (unless you need effects).
Interesting also the "Joey's Magic" funcion, which applies some eq and processing made by Joey Sturgis, and that helps the sound poking furthermore through the mix.

This plugin is said to be the first of many others, both for guitar and bass, that will help producers in having an usable, cpu lightweight tone right away, and as a first step from Toneforge  I must say they have pretty much nailed the purpose.
We'll be waiting for a good bass amp simulator and other expansions, keep up with the good work!

Specs taken from the website:

- Built in noise gate

- 5 bands parametric eq

- Built in leveling amplifier

- Cab simulator with 4 microphones modeled

- Fully automatable parameters (Vst3 version)

- Each module is bypassable

- Additional Joey Sturgis processing that can be enabled or disabled

- 32 bit and 64 bit, Vst2 and Vst3 version

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