Neural DSPs Archetype plugin series has generated quite a buzz among guitarists in the last few years, and with new groundbreaking signature models being released thick and fast, it’s clear to see that this format is here to stay.
Neural recently dropped the latest in the line, Archetype Rabea, in collaboration with UK guitarist Rabea Massaad. If you aren’t familiar with Rabea, he’s a self taught YouTube sensation and vehement promoter of all things digital, modeling, and profiling.
In this KillerGuitarRigs review, we take a deep dive into the Neural DSP Archetype: Rabea. Access to the plugin was provided courtesy of Neural DSP, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.
If you’re a fan of Rabea, or you’re just looking for a new plugin, you won’t want to miss this!
Who is this for?
Much like Rabea’s work with Toska, Dorje and on his YouTube channel, the plugin covers a wide range of tones from Cali cleans all the way up to a high gain, searing lead tone – and everything in between. The package contains 3 separate amp models and virtual speaker cabs, numerous pedal sims, and even a synth, making it a versatile all rounder that can cater to pretty much any musical taste.
The plugin is available in 64-bit VST / AU / AAX formats for use with a DAW and as a standalone app, making it accessible to anyone with an interface, and has a wide range of presets available making it plug and play for just about anyone.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The Archetype: Rabea has an epic user interface – with each amp model taking on an entirely different personality through its aesthetics. The clean amp has a steampunk vibe, the rhythm amp has an ethereal, almost angelic look, perfectly juxtaposed against the dark, demonic design of the lead amp.
Everything is laid out just like a physical amp head, pedal, and cabinet set up, making everything relatively easy for plugin newcomers to adapt. If you can run a combo amp or head, you should have no problem with this.
The 4 pre effect pedals include a Twin Blade dual compressor, a Chaos Bed octaver, a Colossus fuzz unit and a Paragon overdrive. Like the amps, these pedals are laid out and function like actual FX units, so manipulating the settings will be familiar to just about any guitarist. For post FX, the plugin features an “analog style” Atlas stereo delay pedal, and an Aeons reverb unit that includes a Freeze button, much like EHX’s Freeze pedal, but with an additional pitch control.
One of the most highly anticipated features of this plugin was the “Overlord synth”. This is a truly groundbreaking feature that gives guitarists the option of true synth control without the need for pickup modifications or MIDI controllers.
Performance / Sound
We found that the Archetype: Rabea sounded incredible across the board. No matter which amp we played through, the bottom end was tight and well focused. Even without making modifications using the FX and the built in 4 band EQ, the tones were great.
Much like a real amp, we did find that things had the potential to get a little noisy, such as when cranking the lead amp with single coils. Fortunately, the plugin comes with an excellent noise gate that cleans up easily without killing the tone.
The cleans were crisp, and the amp really played well with the overdrive and reverb pedals, easily recreating Rabea’s edge of breakup ambient tones.
With the rhythm amp engaged, we got a wide range of great tube tones, with everything from barely broken up, through to screaming, high octane overdriven tones.
Where it really came into its own was in the lead setting, which delivered searing high gain tones while keeping the bottom end as tight as you’d expect from Rabea. Paired with a drop tuned guitar, we got a modern, guttural chug that retained its clarity.
The plugin also allows you to mix and match some of the finer details to really dial in the tone you want. Along with a range of brand new IRs (and the ability to load your own), the plugin comes with six different room mics, including cabinet matched mics for each cab, all of which can be placed however you like.
The built in FX all added a lot of value, too – particularly the reverb. The aforementioned freeze function allowed for some amazing layering, particularly when paired with its independent pitch control.
One of the most interesting aspects of this rig was, of course, the synth. The Overlord synth is being billed as a world’s first – a true, dual oscillating subtractive synth that uses nothing but your guitar’s electromagnetic pickup input to track. Our biggest concern before getting our hands on the plugin was that the tracking would be inaccurate, but thankfully this wasn’t an issue in the slightest, it in fact, worked perfectly.
The only mildly disappointing thing about the synth was that it was monophonic, so we weren’t able to get the huge space age chords as we’d be able to on a polyphonic synth, but regardless, it still created sonic possibilities beyond what you would expect from a guitar plugin.
Final thoughts on the Neural DSP Archetype: Rabea
Of course, the Neural DSP Archetype: Rabea plugin is so much more than a collection of amps and pedals. It is a true and complete guitar rig, with each component adding value to the entire setup. For casual use the presets provide amazing tones, but for tinkerers, experimenting with the full array of parts will almost certainly result in a tone that exactly suits your needs.
There is almost endless tonal variety in a rig this comprehensive, so your quest for the perfect tone can be as long or short as you wish. Thankfully, we enjoyed playing this plugin so much that it’s become something of a daily driver for the KGR team.
Check out the plugin today at Neural DSP’s website.