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This article was originally published in issue #58
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I say “Paul” (the man) rather than “PRS” (the company), because apparently, he himself was responsible for the whole thing.
No bundled “pedal” style effects beyond the boosts
Created in collaboration with Paul Reed Smith, the Waves PRS SuperModels plugins superbly models three high-end and incredibly sought after PRS guitar amps: The legendary PRS Dallas, and the ultra-rare PRS Blue Sierra/V9 and the coveted PRS Archon. Nick Jennison reviews.
While you’d be forgiven for thinking of PRS primarily as makers of beautiful guitars, they’ve been putting out some genuinely stunning amps of late. The new MT15 (featured in GI issue 57) blew our socks off, as did the affordable Sonzera combos. At the other end of the price range, the rare and expensive J-Mod has been an object of desire for many players since it was unveiled at NAMM 2017. So when I found out that Paul had collaborated with plugin giants Waves to produce three amp modelling plugins, I was desperate to take a look.
I say “Paul” (the man) rather than “PRS” (the company), because apparently, he himself was responsible for the whole thing. The amps they modelled (and the included IRs) were captured in Paul’s own studio, under his watchful eye. The end result is pretty stunning.
There are three modelled amps included in the package: the Dallas (think “Fender cleans”), the V9 Sierra (based on a prototype that would eventually become the J-Mod) and the Archon (high gain fury, but also sparking modern cleans). Each has it’s own distinct character, which you can tweak to your heart’s content with the 8 included cab IRs and 6 boosts. Interestingly, PRS and Waves have chosen to give you a “curated selection” with these features - rather than offer you endless choice, you’re given enough carefully chosen options to get straight to the tone you’re after without inducing option anxiety. Another really useful feature is the “Air” control, which adds some subtle, lifelike ambience. If you do want to get deep you can, however, with access to parameters that control the power amp response, the IR blend, speaker excursion and even the option to load your own third-party IRs. Other handy features include input and output gain (including an “auto” mode that’ll set your input level to exactly the level the plugin wants to see) and a very effective gate.
The first model of the bunch is the Dallas. Classic American cleans and breakup tones are some of the hardest tones to accurately recreate with amp modelling, and I’m pleased to say the Dallas excels in this regard. The response is chewy and bubbly with a fat but not domineering low end and tons of sparkle, especially with the bright switch engaged. Crank the volume and things get hairy and grunty in exactly the way you’d expect. It’s a classy and organic sounding take on a timeless sound, and the on-board spring reverb is very sweet.
This amp is fat, fat, fat. The clean sound is warm and all-encompassing, with a compressed feel under the fingers and a throaty midrange that you won’t get from either of the other amps in this package. For me, where it really shines is with the drive circuit engaged. Coming after the tone stack in classic “Dumble” fashion, the treble middle and bass controls feed into the overdrive, so you can use them to influence the feel and character of the breakup, much like running an EQ into a compressor. However you set them, the overdrive sound is rich, chewy and wide with a great midrange character.
The Archon is a much more modern affair than the other two amps in the package, but it sports a lovely clean channel. The character is a little skinnier and sparklier than the Dallas with less inherent compression, making it great for highly effected sounds, or just for sitting pretty on top of a dense mix. The gain channel is all out mayhem, capable of broad and incisive metal rhythms or screaming solo tones. Unlike so many high gain amp sims out there, there’s not a trace of artificial fizziness or harshness.
The Supermodels plugins are a great sounding and easy to use the suite of plugins that every recording guitar player would benefit from owning. Compared to the eye-watering price of owning the real amps (that’s assuming you can even get hold of them!), they’re a no-brainer for the price, especially if you can pick them up in one of Waves’s legendary sales.
Accurate Modeling of the PRS Archon, Dallas and Blue Sierra/V9
8 Speaker Cabinet IRs With Automatic IR Browser