Review: Marshall Plexi Super Lead 1959 Plug-in for UA UAD-2 and Apollo

Developed by Softube for the UAD-2 and Apollo audio interfaces, this is a serious emulation of the classic EL34-tubed 100 W British monster, heard on countless hit records.
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Developed by Softube for the UAD-2 and Apollo audio interfaces, this is a serious emulation of the classic EL34-tubed 100 W British monster, heard on countless hit records. Based on a 1967 Super Lead from Marshall’s own museum, AC/DC’s own engineer Tony Platt (Back In Black; Highway to Hell) recorded the cabinet and mic simulations on a 1960BHW 4X12 cabinet.

Marshall Plexi Super Lead Like the original amp, one can “jump” the inputs to get a variety of tones, with Channel 1 being the brighter of the two channels. Of course, there are the standard On/Off switch, Presence knob, Bass, Middle, and Treble knobs.

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What makes this plug-in extra flexible is the ability to open up a Channel Strip panel on the right side of the GUI, revealing a handful of extras, including EQ Main Out Low and High, a Main Out volume (up to +12 dB) and a Cabinet Microphone Select between Off, Valve, FET or Dynamic. Valve features two Neumann U67s and an AKG C12 room mic; FET features Josephson e22, Neumann U87 and (oddly the non- FET) Coles 4038 ribbon room mics; and Dynamic features Shure SM57 and Sennheiser e609 room mics.

At the bottom of the Channel Strip, there are three mic choices available; they automatically switch when selecting the Cabinet Microphone Select switch. Mic 1, Mic 2 and Room Mic all have individual Solo and Pan controls as well as fader volume control.

Full disclosure: I’ve used just about every guitar plug-in out there. And this one is one of the best by far. The reason I say that is when I instanciated it for the first time (with a Les Paul Custom), it was right on point; it had the sound. I couldn’t get over it, either; I played for probably 15 minutes without touching anything, just because I loved what I heard. It was thick, nasty and filled with gobs of tone. Turning down the bass, adding some Presence and kicking up Input 1 (the brighter of the two), it turned into something even nastier.

I opened up the Channel Strip panel and experimented with different mic volumes. If you use the mono/stereo, you can make use of the different panning options, for example, moving the close mics to the left and the room mic to the right.

Another small but important detail is that this plug-in has ridiculously low hum on the input. That’s one of my greatest plug-in amp sim pet peeves: the crazy hum you normally get when driving amps (and hey—we all sit near monitors). I then tried a variety of presets (some better than others, of course), and tracked a few cuts right away. I was so impressed I had the other studios I work with buy it right away for use every time I come to record. It’s a must have.

So, Softube, will you make more guitar amps like this for us? Like, say, Fender, Gibson and Magnatone? Please?

Rich Tozzoli is an award-winning, Grammy-nominated producer, engineer and composer for programming such as FOX NFL, Pawn Stars, Duck Dynasty and Oprah & Deepak Chopra. richtozzoli.com