Guitar Rig 5 Pro

Published: Feb 15, 2014 Filed under: Software

Guitar Rig 5 Pro

Company: Native Instruments
Release Date: March 12, 2013

Rating (out of 5):

Superb Guitar Amp Modelling for Every Studio Control Room

Guitar Rig 5 Pro

Native Instruments has been building music software and hardware since 1996, providing musicians, DJ's and studio engineers with an array of tools and virtual instruments of exceptional quality. Probably one of, if not the first to bring high quality and precision guitar amp modelling to the market with "Guitar Rig".

A full significant upgrade from Guitar Rig 4+, Guitar Rig 5 Pro offers a load of new features including:

Two New Amps

Van 51
Perfect for solid rock and metal rhythm crunch and chug

Hot Solo+
For blistering solos that sing while maintaining full body heaviness

Six New Effect Processors

Fast Comp
A vintage styled compressor to smooth out peaks

Vintage Verb
8 diverse plate and spring reverbs to add depth and character

Little Reflektor
Convolution reverb with 8 impulse responses plus decay and low cut control

Stereo Tune
Spreads the stereo image for a fatter sound and detuned effects

Powerful 8-band filter with a global frequency shift and stretch parameter

Six-pole harmonizer creates eerie resonant sci-fi like chorus.

Custom Multi Effects Container
A wonderful and easy way to organize your sounds. The new container allows to create and store multi effects and fx chains in a drag and drop fashion. For greater control, you can assign the 8 macro controls to the key controls on any effects in the chain.

Control Room Pro
The new "Pro" version allows for 8 simultaneous custom setups, for an almost limitless tweaking and tuning of your sound.

Over 130 New Presets
Ready to go, out of the box, hand tweaked by the Native Instruments team. A massive amount of presets for all genres with warm and realistic clean tones, killer distortion presets, to multi layered effects for country, blues, heavy metal, rock jazz and beyond.

Side Chaining
Essential for clearing sonic clutter and allowing for added punch and drive, the side chain inputs to a number of Modifier modules and compressors.

Guitar Rig 5 Pro Video Demo

We've put together a sampling of just a few sounds of Guitar Rig 5 Pro right out of the box.
** Note: no additional mastering processing, such as compression or EQ, has been added, these sounds are the original source of Guitar Rig 5, being played through a standard sound card on a desktop computer.

Guitar Rig 5 Pro is available in all standard formats including a stand alone version to play straight off your desktop or laptop, as a plug-in in your favorite DAW as a VST, RTAS (Pro Tools 9 and 10), AAX Native (Pro Tools 10), 64 bit AAX plug-ins (Pro Tools 11), and more. It will work on both Windows 7 or Windows 8 with Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 chips, and as low as 2GB of RAM, as well as Mac OS X 10.7 or 10.8, with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and a minimum of 2GB RAM, although for multi-tracking NI suggests at least 4GB of RAM on either operating system.

For this review we've tested Guitar Rig 5 Pro as a VST Plug-in on a Windows 7 64bit machine with an Intel 3.4GHz CPU, and 16 Gigs of RAM, plugging a guitar through a standard "plain jane" budget 24 bit USB sound card interface.

After firing up our DAW, and assigning Guitar Rig 5 VST plug-in to the FX chain, right out of the gate the interface loads quickly and we're presented with the main panel.

Very neatly organized and easy on the eyes, the Guitar Rig 5 Pro interface displays all of the presets and various components such as your choice of amplifier, speaker cabinets, equalizers, dynamic processors, distortion stomp boxes, reverbs, delay units and more on the left side panel, which you can drag and drop into the right side panel to build, stack, configurate, and dig deeper into customizing each component of your rig.

To further expand on the left side component and presets panel, Native Instruments presents us with a variety of pre-configured rigs which you can browse by categories via attributes of styles (of music), songs (with sounds crafted to the type of song you may be recording), guitar amps, bass amps, effects, and whats "New in GR5". Once clicking on an attribute, a variety of presets will display just below, which will load a pre-configured rig to the right side panel on a simple double click of the mouse. Also to note, once you have customized your own rig you can create, name and save your preset to a category of your own for easy recall on any future songs/tracks you will record at a later time.

Onto the sounds...

Right off the bat we had to check out what is new in Guitar Rig 5. After clicking on the "new in GR5" preset, we're presented with a total of 143 various styled pre-configged stacks, such as; "94 Rock Solo", "Van 51 Scooped", "Octavia-ish", "Country Grit Clean", "Area 51", "Epic Texture", Thrash Solo+", "Distorted FX 51", "Hot ZZ 70ies Style", "Hit Me on the Filterbank", and "Hot Taver", just to name a few.

We went directly for the 2 new amp heads "VAN 51" and "Hot Solo +". In short, both amp heads are superb!

As with all previous Guitar Rig amp heads, such as Citrus, Cool Plex, Gratifier, Jazz Amp, Tweedman, Ultrasonic and others (which are all available in this latest version), the modelling of the Van 51 and Hot Solo+ are dangerously close to the real thing.

We opened up the Van 51 amp and ran it through the "Matched" (Van 51) speaker cabinet. For easy quick sampling, the Van 51 amp head has 3 preset options in a drop down box; High Gain, Crunch and Clean. The face plate also offers channel selection of high gain, bright and crunch for both rhythm and lead, both with a pre-gain knob. Also on the face plate there is a 3 band equalizer (bass, middle, treble), and power amp with post gain, resonance and presence. The distortion, by way of boosting the gains, has a nice warm harmonic texture with the sound of the tubes heating up giving it a very nice overdriven sound without any any harsh or brittle break up. The EQ's are smooth both in control of the moving the knobs and in sounds quality. They're not drastic in adjusting the frequency ranges but rather offer a nice gradual, wide band, slope, making it easy to tweak the tone.

Switching between the preset options of the Van 51 amp head and selecting "Clean" the amp delivers a nice round clean tone without any harshness. The "Crunch" preset offers a slightly distorted sound perfect for rhythm guitar backing up a vocal song, where you don't want to clutter up the mix too much. It's got a very nice punch but not to overpowering. The "High Gain" option sounds like a perfect over driven tube head, distorted, raunchy but still very well defined; you can hear each note in a chord cluster chime through, without any muddiness. The high gain settings can easily be used for a heavier rock song or a lead solo.

Next up, the "Hot Solo+" amp. And yes, it's hot!

Upon firing up the Hot Solo+ the face plate displays 8 knobs for a 3 band equalizer (bass, middle, treble), master volume, presence, normal, depth and overdrive with a selection toggle switch to flip the pre amp from normal (cleaner) to overdrive.. We matched the Hot Solo+ amp head with the Hot Solo+ speaker cabinet. Just as with the Van 51 amp, the eq's and presence are smooth and pleasing to the ear. What bumps this amp up a notch is the "overdrive" and "depth" controls. For a nice cutting lead solo sound just crank up the overdrive, presence and depth and you've got a lead tone that'll cut through any mix, but again without any harsh or brittle buzz. The tone is powerful, and punchy but very round and well defined in harmonic distortion and clarity. Clicking open the preset drop down box there are 4 pre-configured settings; Crunch, Clean, Almost Clean and Warm Gain. The clean tones are are clear and and a bit brighter, and the crunch and gain presets are punchy.

Although the titles "Van 51" and "Hot Solo+" lend themselves to being designed for hard rock, these amps are very versatile. Both the Van 51 and Hot Solo+ can realistically be placed in prog rock, modern rock, pop, alternative, and doom metal tracks, and with the clean channels chiming through, softer ballads or jazz would fit perfectly. An all in one amp. Impressive!

We are just scratching the surface here. With a quick preview of the various amps, microphone selections, processors, and special effects it's crystal clear how the possibilities are endless in creating not only any kind of guitar tone or texture, but the overall stellar modeling of the mic's, cabinets, and processing can easily be used on vocal, bass and drum tracks, or as a side chain to anything that produces a sound.

Guitar Rig 5 Pro gets "5 out of 5 Picks". A solid upgrade for previous Guitar Rig users, or for new guitar enthusiasts and studio owners journeying into performing and recording.

Native Instruments offers a free trial which can be downloaded from the Native Instruments website linked above. And for the modest price of purchase, its a wise investment. Give it a try!

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