Audio Assault, the plug-in company specializing in everything heavy (and a bunch of other stuff too) has just released a new amp-in, the aptly titled Bulldozer.
That’s good news in and of itself, but get this: as an introductory offer, it’s available for a mere $5. When you see – and hear – what’s inside, you’ll realize that’s kinda amazing.
Here’s our review.
First things first: Installation was via an .exe file, and was a breeze (with Reaper), taking all of 10 seconds. Great format options, by the way – VST 2, VST 3, AAX, all in 32- and 64-bit options, as well as RTAS in 32-bit.
It’s always a great sign when a plug-in sounds great even before you touch a knob and the Bulldozer sure does.
On first sight, Bulldozer gives you a lot to play with. Visible from the opening screen (the amplifier head interface), you can see a single-knob noise gate, stomp box options, cab options, output volume, and preset options.
First stop, presets.
There are a ton! Default (high to mid-rangish gain), Fat (a Tubescreamer-empowered hi-gain tone), Mids (low-mid boost), Pedal Fuzz (a RATish-approximation that I like better than the original), Power (low-mid drive), Thick (more mid drive), Thick 2 (a more driven version of the same), Tough Guy (a mid-scoop), Cleanish and Cleanish 2 (a clean and delayed clean sound).
All the presets are highly usable, with the high-gain options particularly good.
Wait, there’s more though. Pedals a-plenty! A single-knob clean boost, Tube Screamer, four knob compressor, distortion, chorus, tremolo, single-knob doubler, delay, reverb, and an auto-wah. I didn’t spend long with these, but at first glance they sound great, especially the distortion (which I usually don’t care for) and the reverb. There are five pedal spots meaning you can run five at a time.
Next, the two channel amp.
Channel A is clean as clean can be, even with the drive switch turned up a decent amount, and the three EQ knobs are very responsive (a nice change for a high-gain amp).
Channel B is a high gain monster, with three EQs plus a presence knob, a power knob, as well as a drive knob and a switchable ‘MAX’ button. There is some serious gain going on here. Oh yes. And here’s the thing: even when you really open things up – with pedals, buttons and knobs – the flab can always be controlled. With the Bulldozer, things are tight, grunty and far beyond driven. Getcha pull.
It’s just a really well-voiced hi-gain amp. Twist the knobs to get some startling variations in tone, but nothing ever sounds objectively bad.
And just when you think you’ve seen everything, a click onto the cabinet page to reveal a ton more options, including four cabinets (three of which sound amazing) and four mics (including the obligatory 57, Condenser T1, Ribbon 121 and Dynamic 421).
You can move the mic position to your desired spot and – here’s a nice touch – as you move the mic, the dust cloth disappears letting you see exactly where the speakers are located (perfect for nailing that ‘half-on-half-off’ the dust cap thing).
You can adjust the distance of the mic (which essentially just rolls off the high-end) and there’s a high-pass and low-pass filter. The filters work great, although they are a little tricky to use – a slight quiver of your mouse-pointing hand and you’ve adjusted the setting by 10khz. Not really a biggie, just requires a little care.
But wait, there’s even more. Left click the ‘Cabinet’ box, then ‘IR Cabinet’ to reveal 14 more cabinet impulses. A quick check and, yes, you can drag your own impulses into the Bulldozer Impulse Response folder and use your own, seamlessly. Nice.
These days, when there are so many guitar amp sim options that give you absolutely everything – multiple heads, heaps of pedals, endless cabinet options etc – that it’s easy to think that you need absolutely everything from any particular amp head you might use. The Bulldozer proves it just ain’t so. This is only one amp head, but it surely makes up for that fact by doing everything it does exceedingly well. In that, you can’t fault it.
Hey, and you can also save your own presets. What’s not to love?
So how does it sound? Really, really good. I didn’t really care for the tone on the audio-examples on the site so I was quite keen to check it out with my own two hands. I wasn’t disappointed.
Yup, it’s heavy as a bag of hammers, but it’s also got an indefinable ‘open’ sound to it that plug-ins sometimes lack. Yes, you can get a balls-to-the-wall metal tone here easy, but back the gain off and there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. I’m looking forward to finding what it can do with a bit of tweaking and the addition of some of my favorite other processing plugins.
CONS: When scrolling through the presets the gate resets to zero which is a slight inconvenience, knobs can be a little fiddly.
PROS: Everything. Sounds good, looks good, is good. Damn fine unit. And right now this is a $5 package, people. Don’t wait. Get it.