Kuassa Amplifikation Vermilion by Diogo C
Formats: AAX, AU, RE and VST 32/64-bit plug-ins for Mac (10.5+) or Windows (XP+)
DRM: Unique authorization file
Demo: Unlimited to use with noise bursts every 40 seconds.
Price: $39 MSRP
The Scope: Upcoming Indonesian developers at Kuassa have established themselves as one of the most respectable coders when it comes to plug-ins, and they show a particularly great talents when it comes to amp emulations, with the highly successful Amplifikation One, Creme and Cerberus plug-ins. Here we have Vermilion, which is their take on vintage guitar combo amps and lines up nicely with aforementioned plug-ins since it covers ground not yet explored by the company. Vermilion is not a 1:1 or direct emulation of any particular amp, instead it gathers under the same roof different elements from many classic design in order to make a plug-in that feels authentic unique while also feeling unique. This plug-in packs three amp models with two channels (clean/overdrive), five cabinet options from 1x8 to 2x12, four choices of microphones with flexible positioning and on/off axis options. Microphones are the usual dynamic suspects SM57 and MD441, but there’s also an undisclosed “condenser” model and a nameless “ribbon” mic option. Vermilion also comes with a tempo-syncable tremolo, spring reverb, a configurable noise gate, output limiter with activity indicator, input meter for easier gain staging, input/output trims, an impulse response loaded and a highly quality mode for extra realism. One cool aspect of Vermilion (and also of the other Kuassa amps) is that two cabinets can be freely blended, which is a great shortcut for super thick and wide guitars. It’s important to note that the cabinets can be bypassed, so you can freely use your favourite IRs or blend in a dry signal. In terms of character Vermilion will suite rock, blues and jazz mostly, but it can be pushed towards more fuzzy tones if required. Kuassa has done a great job on this plug-in and delivered a very polished product, which is exactly what I expected based on my former experiences with their excellent Cerberus Bass Amp plug-in.
Sound quality: Vermilion definitely belongs amongst the best of its class, and although it faces some stiff competition when it comes to this particular style of emulations it definitely stands out as one of the most realistic sounding amp simulators of today. It’s very responsive, reacts properly to changes in dynamics and presents all the nuances required for a convincing sound, with a tasty “break up” sound that’s highly convincing. A good choice to shape up tones on the production stage, also great for live jamming thanks to its ease of use, and last but not least it’s really good for mixing or re-amping tasks. On all fronts Vermilion is very pleasant to use, and a plug-in that makes you thank yourself for putting those DI boxes to good use - always record a dry signal, because it may come in handy at some point. It doesn’t hurt, costs very little and the potential rewards are just too good to be ignored.
Ease of use: A very simple to use plug-in that should pose no obstacles to tone-greatness. It doesn’t have a ton of controls and there’s nothing under the hood, so it’s only a matter of dialing the desired settings, choosing the cabinet and mic position and that’s it. The only thing that I miss here is a better way to handle impulse responses, the current system feels a bit clunky with a single browser window, so keep your IR folders tidy and organized because that will make life a lot easier if you plan on using them with Vermilion. Performance-wise Vermilion is quite superb, taking very little out of the system even when the high-quality mode is enabled, it also runs with zero added latency which is always great and you should not have a problem running multiple instances if that’s desired. The documentation is also satisfactory and concisely says everything that needs to be said regarding Vermilion’s operation.
Features: As noted above, I would welcome a proper browser with a bookmark or tagging system for my favourite IRs and folders, but besides this there’s nothing to complain and plenty praise. The features are adequate for what it proposes, so they reflect a certain kind of amp which is associated with some specific genres and style-wise Vermilion is more on the classic Vox and Fender territory than anything. It’s a very focused plug-in in this regard, it doesn’t overwhelm the user with limitless controls but offers just enough to make it a very flexible amp that does more than the usual vintage combos.
Bang for buck: Kuassa has priced Vermilion very sensibly, price-wise it edges most of the competition by a substantial margin and outside of the “a-la-carte” solutions (such as Peavey Revalver and IK’s Custom Shop) there aren’t many others options that can deliver this amount bang for those bucks. Tone-wise the closest competitor would be some amps on Scuffham’s S-Gear, which costs more than twice as much as Vermilion although it brings more amp models, speakers and other features, but if we’re strictly considering the vintage combo sound they’re very close and both equally capable, so the choice comes to personal preferences. Regardless of any comparisons Vermillion is totally worth the money.
Recommended for: Producers, mixing engineers and guitarists looking for a vintage combo amp emulation that sounds great, it’s easy to use and does not rip your finances apart.
Very realistic sounding
Straightforward to setup and easy on system resources
Friendly priced and no dongles are required
Hardly any at this price point, but I wouldn’t mind an improved browser for IRs.
Addendum: I think Kuassa might have mixed up the names on their plug-ins and I feel like “Vermilion” sounds much more metal than “Creme”, which to me suggest what Vermilion does in terms of tone i.e. creamy-sounding vintage goodness, as opposed to red-hot modern high-gain. That might because that’s how they sound on my native language (Portuguese), so you might not feel the same!