Nembrini Audio’s brand new BG Extasy Boutique Guitar Amplifier plug-in is their take on the classic Reinholdt Bogner-designed Ecstasy high-gain all-tube amp head. They were kind enough to send me a copy to review and I’m going to share my thoughts about this new all-in-one virtual boutique amp setup.
Nembrini Audio BG Extasy
A real-life Bogner Ecstasy 101B EL34 3-Channel 120-Watt head will set you back around three grand, plus a set of cabinets and microphones. This is great if you are gigging frequently, or running a professional recording studio, but it isn’t practical for most of us. Thankfully, Nembrini Audio has done an excellent job of modelling this amp head in software, along with a selection of very useful tools to make it easier to use in your DAW and get great recordings. They have a proven track record for capturing well-known amp heads, so it makes sense that they would want to tackle this classic boutique amp.
The overall installation of the BG Extasy Boutique Guitar Amplifier is dead simple, you authorise the software via an i-Lok account, which you can get for free and then download the main installation software from their website, which you can do from the link at the bottom of this review.
I’m running an Apple MacBook Pro and my main DAW for this review is Logic Pro though it will also run happily on most major DAWs using VST2, VST3, AAX, and Audio Units plug-in formats, either via a Windows or Mac setup, plus they have an iOS version too which uses the AuV3 format. Installation was super quick and zero hassle, which is always appreciated by me, as I’m inpatient and find some software authorisation processes can be very convoluted. Thankfully, this one was very user friendly.
Three Amp Channels
The amp itself is divided into three distinct channels, each with its own voice and they all replicate that Bogner tone, just as you would expect. First up is Channel 1 which has controls for Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, and Volume, along with a three-position pre-EQ plus a useful gain boost.
Next up, you have Channel 2 and Channel 3 both have Gain, Volume, and a three-position pre-EQ setting. These two channels also share the Bass, Middle and Treble settings, along with a shared gain structure, plus Boost and Plexi Mode switches.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, then I would suggest the presets are a useful place to start, as they cover all bases very nicely. You can then use these as a jumping-off point, then tailor them to your specific needs. I really just dived in and got tweaking, and found it was all very amp-like, both in tone and feel, so I felt right at home straight away.
The BG Extasy main window is super clean and very nicely laid out, as a guitar player it makes perfect sense, as it is set out just like a standard real-life amp head. Where it gets interesting, and where you can get to play with how it records, is the virtual cabinets and microphones section.
Virtual cabs, Mics and IRs
This section contains six different guitar cabinets which are all based on some well-known classic amp cabs, along with four microphone emulations each with an on/off-axis position switch, plus continuous position and distance controls for the microphone positioning.
Customise your cabinets
I like that you can blend up to three of your own user Impulse Responses using this setup as well. To blend them you have controls over Volume, Pan, Phase, Solo and Mute, which is really handy for making your own customised cabinets for recording.
It makes a huge difference to your recording, once you try it via your favourite IRs. However, I would also say that the included virtual cabinets are quality, and I would recommend you experiment with these first. You can also completely bypass any virtual cabinet emulation or IRs, which allows you to use your own standalone solutions/plugins etc
The whole amp cabinets section is really well laid out and it is where I found I could really dial in my amp tones, and get them to sit in with my tracks overall. Which, just goes to show how important your speaker cabinet is when it comes to guitar tone.
Keeping things tidy
You get a few handy tools for recording included as well, these include Noise Gate, along with the Cleaner section. Both of these really help you keep it tight and focussed, as the former can tame any hiss, then the latter section allows you to deal with any Rumbling (low) or Harsh (high) frequencies, so you can really tidy up your overall tone.
Overall, I was highly impressed by the wealth of great tones that the BG Extasy offers, I already own a Bogner Ecstasy Red Overdrive pedal, which I use for getting that Red Channel tone that Bogner is famous for. This software recreation of a complete amp setup goes much further than my pedal could ever achieve, and so it is something I would recommend if you are searching for that boutique amp tone.
This is a plug-in geared towards players that are seeking a tight drive tone, and one that has plenty of dynamics for expressive playing. Yes, there are also clean tones on offer, but I suspect you will want this plug-in for those saturated drives. I loved the virtual cabinet section as well, it just really helped me to get the tones I was after, and having control over your own Impulse Responses was a huge bonus too.
When recording I tend to use a mixture of real tube amps, virtual modelling and software, these include a Friedman Pink Taco all-tube amp head, along with a Line 6 Helix LT, and software like IK Multimedia’s Amplitube 5 and Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6. This Nembrini Audio plug-in is right up their tonally with all this gear, though obviously slanted towards that specific Bogner Ecstasy tone.
I really enjoyed the feel of this amp as well, it behaves just as I would expect a decent amp too, and so it made it fun to play through. Then factor in that you can re-amp with the click of a button and try out different amp tones on your performance and it makes for a great tool for getting creative.
For me personally, when I find a good amp tone I tend to play more confidently, which means I can lay down my parts with little to no fuss. Then on playback, you can play around with the tone and dial it in to the track to get it to sit just right. Thankfully, this plugin is so user friendly, that I really did enjoy getting stuck in and just playing, which is exactly what you want when you are trying to create new music.
If you want that Bogner boutique tone, but either can’t justify buying the real thing or couldn’t handle recording it at any real volume, then this plug-in is for you. You can hear the official demo video below, which I think gives a good representation of what is achievable using this software.
Free Trial and Introductory Pricing
You can download a free trial from the link below, and this is a great way to demo the suite on your own system. If you do want to take the plunge and purchase the plug-in outright, then you can save yourself a heap of cash by getting in on their introductory price offer of $39 which runs until 19 September 2021. After this date, it will go up to the standard $137 price point and so you can save a fair chunk if you get in sooner.
Official Demo Video