HoRNet Plugins has released a new vacuum tube amp simulator, the Valvola, and it’s absolutely FREE! Simply head to their website, create an account, and download the plugin.
As a guitarist myself, I knew I had to take this free amp sim for a spin (and believe me, I’ve tried them all!). And I was pleasantly surprised – pair this with a decent distortion pedal (like this FREE Klone sim) and a good cab sim, and you can get incredibly authentic tube-like tones.
Valvola can emulate any of the most commonly used guitar amplifier vacuum tubes, a total of seven different types. You can emulate both 12AX7 for a preamp and EL84 for a power amp by using multiple instances on the same track, making it possible to try out any mix of preamp and power amp conceivable.
Valvola’s tube emulation boils down to both the individual frequency responses of the different vacuum tubes and their tendency to behave differently for different frequency ranges
Tubes produce more significant distortion with lower frequencies, and Valvola completely nails this effect. The emulation also considers the biasing of the vacuum tubes and the surrounding circuit for a very authentic feel.
The UI in Valvola consists of a minimal number of controls. In fact, there is only one knob. You choose the name of the vacuum tube from a dropdown list, there is a save and load button for presets and an indicator for the ‘Saturation’ attribute that the knob controls.
The ‘Saturation’ attribute controls the distortion but keeps the output level the same. This gives you the option of increasing distortion without increasing the gain. Keeping gain down keeps the aliasing in control. This is achieved by the 4K oversampling and some intelligent software engineering.
The interface is intuitive with its visually appealing color scheme and vector-based graphics for clarity. The outline of a tube is a great touch, and the purple reading for the ‘Saturation’ brings it all together to significant effect.
There’s no mucking about here – just set your tube and saturation, and you’re good to go!
Valvola is currently available in the VST2, VST3, and AAX formats for Windows and macOS, but only 64-bit is supported.
Here’s a quick sound demo of the plugin:
Note that the plugin currently has some issues working on some DAWs, so be advised (VST3 did not work on Reaper for me, but VST2 worked fine), though updates should fix things up in the coming weeks.
The website asks you to ‘share’ the plugin before adding it to your cart and asks for your address when you checkout with this free product, so consider your privacy.
HoRNet has made some great and affordable plugins in the past, like Guitar Kit and Analog Stage, and the new Valvola is an incredible addition to their array of free plugins. But bear in mind, its simplicity may be underwhelming to those looking for an all-in-one guitar amp solution.
Download: HoRNet Valvola (8.56 MB download size, ZIP archive, 64-bit VST2/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & macOS)