There are plenty of plexi-mimicking amp simulators, but the new Marshall 1959 emulator from Universal Audio may be the best yet. Produced for UA by Softube (with mic selection, mic placement, and presets overseen by AC/DC engineer Tony Platt), this plug-in nails the iconic amp’s signature sounds.

The core tones are remarkably realistic, capturing the “hollow” quality of a period-correct 4x12 cab and the “stinky” resonance of early Marshall overdrive. (The way distortion accumulates as you advance the volume controls feels particularly authentic.) You can choose from 12 input configurations (through each of the four virtual input jacks, and via every possible jumpered configuration). There’s a built-in submixer to blend, balance, and pan the sounds of various condenser, FET, dynamic, and ribbon mics. Unlike some amp simulators, there’s no way to adjust virtual mic positions. You’re also restricted to three preset mic combinations, and there’s only one virtual cabinet. But hey—better to have limited control over great sounds than great control over limited sounds. (And you can still create countless cool tone variations using the submixer.)

All amp simulators make sonic compromises, and the weak links here are the anemic clean tones. But only sonic perverts give a hoot about clean plexi settings. (Guilty!) Most users come for the crunch, which Softube and UAD deliver in all its thumping and sizzling glory. One big catch, though: Like all Universal Audio plug-ins, this mock Marshall only runs on UAD systems such as Apollo and UAD-2 accelerator cards.

Test Gear: “Parts” Jazzmaster with Fralin P-92s, UAD Apollo Twin interface, Apple Logic Pro


Great-sounding virtual plexi. Twelve input settings. Savvy mic combinations. Built-in submixer.

For UAD systems only. Weak clean tones (like anyone cares).




Ease of Use: