Amplifikation Vermilion - The Healthiest Kind of Hindsight
Some tribes of Native Americans used to believe that taking a picture of someone could possibly be stealing part or all of that persons soul. It’s also been said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Ultimately if you can create a product that leaves an iconic imprint on those who use it, it will at some point be considered a “classic”. Once the product takes on the monikor of being a classic, it is then defined by the unique characteristics that make it often imitated, but never duplicated. To duplicate it, you need to steal its soul.
To quote the Kuassa development team, “The chimey and warm character with a bit of grit from the Clean Channel is great for country, soul, funk, blues, or most older “roots” music style, it even pulls some weight for your indie-pop tracks.” The ability to create thick, singing leads should not be understated for those looking to achieve vintage blues tones of the 50’s and 60’s, creamy jazz tones, or “modern vintage” lead tones. Add in a bit of tremolo for nostalgic vibe or rich atmosphere, and Amplifikation Vermilion becomes a heavy weight contender in the vast landscape of simulators claiming “true” vintage tone.
Amplifikation Vermilion - video review by Tim Carter
Vermilion provides 3 amp types, 2 amp channels: clean and lead, built-in FX: tremolo with BPM sync and spring reverb, 5 types of matching cabinets with 4 microphone types, freely adjustable dualmiking configurations with mono/stereo options (just like an authentic guitar recording session), a built-in noise gate and limiter, photorealistic graphics, a user- friendly interface, and 96000Hz sample rate support.
The team at Kuassa definitely have experience in developing quality amp sims. Their previous releases, Amplifikation One and Amplifikation Creme provide quality and versatility to rival the larger brand name amp sims at a considerably lower cost. Kuassa also develops plugins to assist in the mixing process like basiQ, and the Kratos Maximizer plugin. You can also test out the free amp sim, Amplifikation Lite at their website, www.kuassa.com or read about it in our previous article.
Top left: Amplifikation One; top right: Amplifikation Creme; bottom: Amplifikation Lite
Vermilion is a considerable step forward in providing a very nuanced approach to developing an amp sim that not only emulates classic amps, but I actually found myself cultivating a relationship with Vermilion like a real amplifier. That is to say, the more I focused my playing style to the strengths of Vermilion, the more it “gave back”. This in turn opened up more possibilities in terms of creating music instead of just jamming. Vermilion actually became a very musical tool. If you approach it with a playing or writing style in mind that fits Vermilion’s personality, it’s going to reciprocate with very inspirational and realistic amplifier dynamics. Put simply, you won’t have to wrestle with the plugin for good tone.
The interface is simple, elegant, and effective. It’s like looking at old studio footage of iconic players from the past when you notice a hidden combo in the background, tucked away behind an army of microphones capturing it’s every breath and scream.
One of the most impressive aspects of Vermilion is the gain control. On each of the 3 channels on the clean setting, an increase in gain made the tone authentically rounder and warmer. With the overdrive boost kicked in, the gain became very rich without squelching the amp characteristics. The EQ section is very responsive in its tone shaping capabilities without becoming overwhelming. On channels A and C specifically, Vermillion has a big and warm low end that is complimented by an extremely clean and shimmering top end provided by the presence knob. The mids appropriately and transparently fill in the spectrum for articulation without becoming too honky.
A breakdown of the A, B, and C channels:
Ch A - A well balanced tonal range that is very responsive for shaping. Not too percussive, not too bright, just a good warm starting point that is ready to be shaped to your liking.
Ch B – The low end is rolled off for more mid attack. A more “Vintage” sounding channel reminiscent of Sun Records recordings, surf music, and early Jimmy Page. The reverb compliments this channel tremendously when looking for those Muddy Waters and Elmore James blues tones.
Ch C – A huge, modern sounding channel with robust low end that is great for big jazz chords, creamy leads, and even some rock and metal. This channel with overdrive and cranked gain provided a great 80’s rock and lead tone. This is a very versatile channel that can do almost anything requiring a big sound.
Along with an onboard noise gate, Vermilion has a small effects section with a very rich sounding tremolo that can be time synced to your track, and a very authentic sounding vintage reverb that compliments all channels well. The reverb occasionally provides a road map to some of those “signature” sounds that you hear on a Dick Dale recording or a Johnny Cash classic. With the reverb and tremolo both engaged on channel B, you’re in the land of Link Wray!
The microphone sims provided are a dynamic 57, a condenser, a dynamic 441, and a ribbon mic. These are fully adjustable with 3 dimensional depth and position control along with 45 degree angle control. A cool little detail to help your mic positioning is a small shadow cast by the mic onto the grille telling you where you are in relation to the cabinet. The speaker choices are a 2x12, 1 x 12, two different 1x10s, and a 1x8. You can mix and pan 2 separate speakers in a stereo mode, or if you have a cabinet impulse collection, Kuassa has provided an impulse loader to further personalize your sound.
I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to actually plug in a piece of software that does exactly what it says it’s going to do in a way that not only makes your workflow easier, but almost points you in the direction of the sound you’re after by providing such authentic sounding replications. The terms “classic” and “vintage” get thrown around a lot as they bring up visions of our influences and how we can achieve what they achieved in terms of inspirational sounds. Vermilion provides you with that opportunity, as well as a wide palette to create your own classic vibe.
Check back to the Kuassa website soon as I will be providing them my personal presets used in the making of my video review for Amplifikation Vermilion.