Arboreal Audio offers STR-X, a FREE digitally orientated guitar amp for macOS and Windows.
STR-X is now in version 1.1, which is good news for Mac users, as it was previously Windows only. It comes in AU, VST, and VST3 formats with M1 Mac support.
One of the things that makes the STR-X amp a little different is that, unlike many others, it isn’t an emulation of a vintage analog amp.
There are three modes to choose from, Thick, Normal, and Open. Each mode represents a different multiband crossover point, which is placed before the preamp. The mode you select affects the intermodulation of the distortion, which to an extent, dictates how you are going to play. Obviously, there are no rules, but with certain distortion, certain harmonic intervals sound terrible.
Thick Mode has the crossover point at 100Hz. At high gain, it will give you the sound and feel of a fuzz pedal. Think along the lines of Jimi Hendrix and his Fuzz Face.
Normal Mode, to keep things simple, isn’t quite so thick. It has a crossover point at 250Hz, so you still get plenty of low-end. The biggest difference is that you can be more expressive, harmonically speaking, without getting overly muddy. It’s good for rhythmic playing where you want to add some nice colors.
Open Mode is very versatile without the low-end of the other modes and has a crossover point at 400Hz. Depending on how high you set the gain, it can handle train-like rhythm, palm-muting a-plenty, and clean playing.
The GUI is straightforward, and the controls are as you’d expect, besides the X knob, that is.
The X knob is inspired by the Ibanez Tube Screamer. Like the Tube Screamer, it focuses on the midrange the more you drive it. At zero, it’s fully bypassed, and it’s introduced smoothly as you turn it up. It’s great for cutting lead tones or controlling the bass in Thick Mode.
Version 1.1 has a few other improvements, as well as being macOS compatible. It features 4X oversampling and a resizable GUI (VST3 only). It also addressed some issues with the previous distortion algorithm to provide more accurate asymmetrical distortion.
The STR-X amp seems very usable, indeed, and it makes me wish I was a better guitarist. On the other hand, freebies like this are ideal for someone like me because I’d never spend a fortune on a real guitar amp.
Good work from Arboreal Audio.
Download: STR-X (1.7 MB download size, ZIP archive, VST2/VST3/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)