Gi71...Main Reviews....Neural DSP Parallax
Neural DSP Parallax
Vid Count: 1 Native
Guitar Interactive star rating: 5
One plugin covers a huge part of a bassists signal chain.
Endless tweaking available but easy to get a great sound.
Neural are demonstrating they are capable of some incredible products.
You’ll, of course, need some hardware to run this plugin.
Neural DSP Parallax
Available in 64-bit VST / VST3 / AU / AAX & Standalone
Latest OS Compatibility for Windows & Mac
For more information, please visit:
Encompassing over a decade of experience engineering some of the most devastating bass distortions on the planet, Parallax from Neural DSP could very well provide you with everything you need to design the ultimate bass tone. Dan Veall tells us more.
It boggles my mind, readers. It really does. “What Dan?” I hear you all exclaim. What could possibly be surprising me even after over 300 odd reviews for one of the biggest guitar magazines in the world? Well, let me explain.
Twenty years ago (maybe more), I was lugging around a great big 10u rack. I was fortunate to have not only a very healthy back but also a similarly healthy bank balance. (Then I became a professional musician ha ha!) I chose whatever I needed to create some huge bass sounds - and that required some clever crafting from a number of rack gear processors to get the job done. I had multi-band compressors, digital programmable equalisers and the biggest fattest sounding amp to drive two huge and heavy speaker cabinets. I am pleased to say I always enjoyed a big thumbs up from any FOH engineers.
How is it that nearly all of that kit, aside from the “bit that makes me loud” is sat in front of me on a laptop that costs a small fraction of my previous “rig”. Yet, one single plugin can do so much more? I had to sit down and reflect on that for a while!
The answer is in my video demo, so I will expand on my thoughts in this written part of my review.
Bass guitar is an interesting beast when it comes to tone and sound. We can simply plug into any amplifier and know that we’re going to hear something close to our bass. Sure, we have some, ummm “extreme ends of the scale” that are outside of the discussion today, but we’re assuming that plugging into a reasonably modern example will reward us with a good sound, we can step up and gig.
Things get a little more complicated when for example distortion gets involved. Specifically, I am talking about the more aggressive rock tones, but the theory still applies for those mild grit sounds. You know, The ones that people often refer to as “warming up the sound”. Even on a very clean bass sound in a recording, just that edge is enough to make the bass guitar sound more alive, like it was recorded at volume in a real space.
The distorted guitar sound can be split up in to regions of the frequency range: Sub, Bass, Low mid range, High Mid-range and treble. To my ear, distortion in the sub and bass frequencies (20hz up to around 300hz) doesn’t sound as great. It can make anything sound stodgy and incoherent. That could be exactly what you’re looking for, and that’s fine, but I think bass loses it’s depth and punch as transients are compressed by the very nature of the way that distortion “works”.
Ok, let me now critique treble frequency distortion (ha ha) - ok, not really. But for us bassists we need to be careful, especially if we are fans of tweeters or if we are running our bass sounds straight out of the DI output into the front of house set up. There’s lots of energy in the treble frequencies when it comes to high saturation drive sounds. This can sound brittle and harsh if we don’t reign it in. - For our fine guitarist brethren, guitar speakers actually do this naturally as they have a steep attenuation usually above 3Khz. That just leaves our low mid and high mid frequencies cutting through which interestingly is the very range that driven guitar sounds sound the best, especially dropped in a mix with the rest of the band. What would be really great then, back to us bass players, is a way to leave the bottom end alone, punchy and less driven; And a way to tame the top end to keep it sounding smooth rather than tearing our eardrums to pieces. In between both we have a huge amount of important midrange frequencies that we will want to treat carefully. In my video, hopefully, I explained clearly that this is exactly what Parallax offers. It is literally what I was attempting to achieve with my own bass gear all this years ago!
To reiterate my video: Page one of the plugin is I suppose what you could consider your “amplifier sound”, page two offers up the colour and characteristics of a mic’d up speaker cabinet.
Setting up, you can craft your bass sound’s low end for breadth and velocity, then mix in some band specific compression to tighten it up. The mid band, as described, is fixed around 400hz, yet the treble band is, like the bass band, configurable for roll off. (The bass band is a Low Pass Filter, the High band is a High Pass Filter). The high band isn’t fixed and can be pulled down as far as 100hz.! The Low band will come up to 400hz, so, aside from my review, you can really get a big cross over of frequencies if that is your bag (even turn off the mid distortion altogether which also works so well.)
Neural know that having access to a great equaliser section is also very important and with that we have one in the plugin that can be engaged at will to further shape our resulting mix.
The elephant in the room for the more plug-and-play musician is of course that this plugin resides in a computer environment. For the benefit of the review, I plugged my bass directly into a Focusrite 2i2 audio interface, that has proved resilient and reliable. I now have a diminutive set up in which I can turn up to a gig and send “my sound” to the engineer. Monitoring whether or not via wedges on the floor or through an In-Ear system is for another column, but I have enough kit here to get a great ‘amp’d up’ tone without having to lug a fridge with ten speakers and a beautifully crafted back breaking all-valve amplifier head to my next epic show.
Did I mention the save button? - Not only can I save my favourite sounds at home or studio and head out to a gig, I can of course, whilst stood on stage, tweak for a particular show configuration and save as a separate program once my engineer has given it the thumbs up.
If you’re at a total loss where to start, well Neural have teamed up with some of the most amazing bassists, producers and musicians to get you started. Notable credits for me are Or Lubianiker, Nolly Getgood, Jon Stockman and Forrester Saville.
I need to find a way to round up this review as there’s still plenty more to discuss; I am hoping that my video review will at least give you an idea of what the plugin is all about. It is hugely powerful.
At this time though, given the options this plugin offers, It’s endorsement by highly regarded artists and the way that it delivers access to fine adjustment in driven bass tones, it’s a 5/5 for me.