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Neural DSP Archetype: Rabea — Product of the Week

Neural DSP’s Archetype: Rabea is a plug-in based on the signature sound of guitarist Rabea Massaad.

Neural DSP’s Archetype: Rabea is a plug-in based on the signature sound of guitarist Rabea Massaad.

Neural DSP’s Archetype plug-in series features emulations of the signature sounds and components of guitarists such as John Petrucci and Tim Henson, among others. Archetype: Rabea is a plug-in based on Rabea Massaad. Though best known for his metal playing, Massaad is a versatile guitarist, and this plug-in offers a broad palette of modeled amp, cabinet and effects sounds.

The sounds are uniformly excellent, but what makes the product especially noteworthy is the inclusion of a two-oscillator monophonic synth called Overlord, which you trigger with your guitar playing. You can blend it with the amp, cabinet, and effects sounds or play it by itself. The synth also includes Filter and Amplifier sections and an Arpeggiator, allowing for quite a bit of sonic manipulation.

Neural DSP’s proprietary technology uses the volume envelope of each guitar note to trigger the synth allowing for extremely precise tracking.

“The challenge was to make a synth that works with any guitar,” says Francisco Cresp, the co-founder and CPO of Neural DSP. “Your guitar signal becomes your ADSR, which triggers real oscillators. After that, your signal is a synthesizer with all the controls and flexibility one would expect from it.”

It’s strictly monophonic, however. If you play more than one note, it can throw off the tracking and create artifacts.

The three amps are named Clean, Rhythm and Lead. As you might expect, they’re designed for clean, crunchy and high-gain sounds, respectively. However, each model offers level, gain and EQ knobs, allowing you plenty of tweaking flexibility.

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“While I wanted a plug-in that was great for contemporary guitar sounds,” Rabea says, “I also wanted to be able to just plug in my Fender Strat and just chill and play the John Mayer-type stuff.”

Check out this video if you want to see and hear Rabea take the plug-in through its paces. It’s worth watching.

Each amp model has a corresponding cabinet model (all appear to be 4×12 cabs, although Neural DSP doesn’t specify the speaker size). You can unlink an amp from its cabinet and mix and match the combinations.

Each cab has two virtual mics, which you can position graphically or with knobs. Choose from six different models for each, including classic dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones. If you’d prefer, you can also load your own IR in place of the built-in cabs.

Effects are plentiful in Archetype: Rabea. The Stompbox section, located before the amp and cab models, includes a compressor, an octaver, a fuzz and an overdrive pedal.

Post the amp and cab, you can open a four-band, semi-parametric EQ for global tone tweaking. Next in the signal chain are the Atlas Delay and Aeons Reverb pedals. The former is a well-featured delay that includes an Icicles effect, which adds pitch-shifted layers above the delayed notes. Aeons Reverb offers plenty of control and adds a Freeze effect that allows you to pitch-shift the “frozen” signal.

In addition to Input and Output knobs, Archetype: Rabea offers some powerful Global processing, including Gate, Transpose and Doubler effects. The Doubler is particularly impressive and features a Spread knob that controls the delay time for the doubled part. You also get a fully featured metronome on the standalone version of Archetype: Rabea.

Archetype: Rabea is available from the Neural DSP website for €139 ($143.13 converted to dollars at the time of this writing). From there, you can also download a free, 14-day trial version.