I believe as guitarists, we are living in one of the best times for tone accessibility and recording advancements. One piece of software that is pushing the boundaries of amplification simulation dynamics is Overloud’s TH2. TH2 is an intelligent and nuanced guitar amplification and effects suite that is also very accessible and user friendly. It’s very easy to jump right in and have inspirational tone in minutes no matter the style.
Coming of age as a 20 something guitarist in the early to mid-90’s and trying to acquire gear that offered versatility in tonality and ergonomic portability meant hours of scouring music instrument stores and catalogs. Money was always the crushing variable in my youth. Most of us ended up piecemealing together woefully mediocre rigs with occasional jewels coming in the form of an unmodded 70’s Marshall Super Lead or moderately abused JCM 800 “magically” appearing around tax return time. Recording inevitably became as time-consuming as writing to attain the best sound possible. In those days, guitarists were using computers primarily to play Diablo or Doom.
Using 4th generation analog emulation technology, TH2 present 45 amplifier models including manufacturer authorized models of Brunetti, THD, and Randall amplifiers including the George Lynch signature Lynch Box that has 13 amp modules emulating George’s favorite amps. There are 29 cabinet models enhanced with Respire 2 technology that emulates the sound pressure and punchy percussive dynamic that you feel standing in front of a cabinet. With 18 different microphone models including a rear cabinet and 45 degree angled microphone, you can mix 4 different microphone dynamics while moving the two front side mics in a 3 dimensional virtual environment. Rounding out the tools of tone are 70 stomp boxes, pedals, and rack effects.TH2 can be used in a standalone or plug in mode that can be tempo synced to your host software. With all this and much more, TH2 maintains very low CPU usage.
Workflow and Amplification
The first thing that became addictive about TH2 was the ease of workflow and the intuitive ways that TH2 helps you shape and create tones. Creating a traditional pedal, amp, speaker setup can be done in just a few minuteswith amazing results. Even more rewarding is using the TH2 splitter module to combine two separate amp and cabinet configurations to either a parallel mono or stereo signal. This can also be achieved in a simpler mono setup using the TH2 Amplifier. The TH2 Amplifier has 12 amp models onboard and the ability to create hybrids of 2 amp models by blending the tones using the SLR fader located between the A and B amp selectors. Each of the 12 models has a complimentary cabinet that can be triggered automatically by using the cabinet linking feature on the TH2 amp, or you can bypass and applicate any of the 29 cabinets to your hybrid. If that wasn’t enough, on the right side of the TH2 amp is the VeriFire. Turning the knob upchanges the gain characteristics to a more focused and fat sounding gain that maintains note articulation.
For my tastes, the most satisfying amp sims inside TH2 are the TH2 amp, The Randall T2, the Brunetti Mercury, and the Lynch Box. The Randall T2 and Brunetti Mercury are great for just plugging in and jamming with a great tone without too much tweaking. If you’re in the mood to really dial in the sound in your head, the Lynch Box and TH2 amp have the most nuanced versatility.
Cabinets and Microphones
As mentioned earlier, there are 29 cabinet models with 18 different microphone models. Each cabinet is assigned 4 different microphones. Two front side speaker mics with 3 dimensional placement capability, a rear cabinet and 45 degree angled microphone. I found the cabinets to have the most influential imprint on the overall sound and the most critical component when seeking aspecific tone. In most cases, after choosing an amp I found it beneficial to scroll through cabinets and find the sound closest to what I desired before tweaking amp settings or moving or choosing microphones. Every cabinet sounds unique with my favorites being a the robust sounding 4 x 12 HiPower (UK) and the 2 x 12 OB Green (UK). TH2 also can import 3rd party cabinet impulse responses and can accept them at any sample rate. The microphone collection spans accurate models of popular studio standbys. I found the impact of microphone selection to be very subtle as opposed to actual placement of the microphone. The rear and 45 degree microphones can yield very colorful and useful results as a final touch.
An important element of what makes TH2 a complete guitar recording solution is the quality and wide selection of effects. The results I was able to achieve with the noise gate, compression, reverb, and equalization modules in particular were so effective that no other 3rd party plugins were needed when tracking guitar. The phase, flange, and uni-vibe effects were rich and immediately satisfying without overwhelming the sound of the amplification module. The stomp box and rack effects units can be placed anywhere in the chain and with multiple instances if desired.
One of the most forward thinking aspects of the effects isthat you can create, save, and manage presets on each unit. Double clicking on each unit opens a small preset manager tool that where you can save or recall presets without having to save a whole workflow session.
So many layers of TH2 are completely customizable right down to the aesthetics. If you wish you can even change the color or texture of the virtual floor in which your virtual gear lay on. From midi control to host automation, to smart controls that can assign one virtual knob to control groups of knobs on the virtual gear, TH2 makes it easy to create your ideal workflow environment. You can save your creations in 999 banks that have 12 sound slots each, each with 8 variation slots. This makes it possible to potentially create a sound slot with 8 different variations that can be used during a live set via a midi controlled foot controller. For working in the studio and chasing down a specific tone to work in a mix, you can access the sound browser and cycle through tones while listening to the guitar track by triggering the listen modebutton in the bottom left corner. This allows you to listen to variation changes in real-time as you listen to the recorded track.
Overloud TH2 has found a permanent home in my home studio. It’s becoming easier to get consistent results with virtual amplification software. TH2 is the first software that I’ve worked with that had everything I needed in one application AND provided professional and inspirational sound quality. I wanted to spotlight styles and genres that TH2 is most effective at achieving, butit was ultimately able to produce convincing results in almost every style. I’ll be completely honest, these guys have something special here and I truly look forward to the evolution of this software. My wish list for the development team would be a more convincing sounding cabinet selection. I found some of the cabinets to sound artificial or a bit scratchy. I would also like to hear morenoticeable focus and variation on the microphone models. These issues were very easy to work around with all the available options for shaping tone. I’ll be using TH2 on my commercial and personal work for sure. I encourage any guitarist and studio owner to get on board and spread the word about this secret weapon!
Clean and Metal Mix