Analog Obsession Releases AHEAD A Free Amp Simulator


Analog Obsession released AHEAD, a freeware virtual guitar amplifier for Windows and macOS.

There seems to be just a slew of free amp sims on the market these days, and Analog Obsessions has decided to toss its hat into the mix with the release of AHEAD.

Now, at first blush, AHEAD resembles one of the modeler pedals rather than a dedicated amp sim.

AHEAD features four amp models, with two F-types, a M-type, and a custom design. The F-Types fall more in line with the voicings you’d expect of classic Fender amps, the M-type calls to mind the sound of something like a Plexi from Marshall.

The custom amp I can’t quite place, but it does sound similar to the same sort of topology used by the other amps. Controls are kept fairly simple, the tone stack itself only featuring three knobs for bass, mids, and treble.

A pair of volume knobs act as the input gain and the drive of the amplifier. Below the central controls is the bypass switch, which turns the effect off if needed for the sake of comparison.

To make the most of it, I find AHEAD pairs best with an IR loader of some sort. I use NadIR for amp sims that don’t come with a cabinet module, I believe AuroraDSP also has a decent free IR loader if you want options.

When it comes down to sound, I wouldn’t put this ahead of the likes of NAM or Tonocracy. Even the free amp sims from Mercuriall seem to scratch the itch better for the Marshall sound.

That said, it plays well enough for doodling around. The more curious aspect is the lack of native oversampling for recording.

This is a strange omission from Analog Obsession, which has other tone box plugins with oversampling provided. I could see it turning some heads as a saturation or distortion plugin.

You might have a different experience than I do with the software, as amp sims are highly subjective.

To run AHEAD you’ll need a host capable of hosting VST3, AU, or AAX. Apple Silicon support is provided out of the gate, and it looks like it extends even to the AAX plugins.

If you enjoy the work Analog Obsession is doing, I highly recommend subscribing to their Patreon, as it helps to fund future plugins.

Download: AHEAD (FREE)


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Liam is a producer, mixing engineer, and compressor aficionado. When not mixing, he can be found pretending to play guitar, as he has been doing for the last 20 years.

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