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Neural DSP takes a vintage-voiced turn with new Tone King Imperial MKII amp sim

Neural DSP Tone King Imperial MKII
(Image credit: Neural DSP/YouTube)

Neural DSP has unveiled a new emulation of a vintage-style boutique favorite, the Tone King Imperial MKII. 

The brand can usually be found building guitar plugins for the likes of John Petrucci and Tim Henson, so the move marks a significant step outside of its usual tech-metal territory.

Instead, Neural’s latest amp sim captures the sounds of Maryland manufacturer Tone King’s Imperial MKII, a boutique 1x12”, 20-watt combo renowned for its ’50s-era Fender-style tone – Mateus Asato puts the plugin through its paces below with a typically dazzling display of fretboard prowess.

Alongside the renowned, classic-sounding clean and crunch tones from the Imperial MKII’s lead and rhythm channels, Neural DSP’s “painstakingly modeled” software version also encompasses the amp’s more innovative features.

Most notable among these is the IronMan II reactive attenuator, which allows players to dial in their preferred balance of cranked tone and useable volume. There’s also an HF compensation switch, which can be used to boost the highs when the attenuator is engaged and a Mid Bite dial on the front panel, which moves your tone between a range of classic tweed and more aggressive voicings.

Neural DSP Tone King Imperial MKII

(Image credit: Neural DSP)

On top of the amp model, Neural DSP’s Imperial MKII package also includes a suite of effects including a wah pedal, compressor and two overdrives. There’s also a nine-band graphic EQ, chorus, reverb and BBD (bucket brigade device)-style delay (the classic analog delay sound behind the original Electro-Harmonix Memory Man, et al). 

Neural DSP Tone King Imperial MKII

(Image credit: Neural DSP)

In terms of the cabinet options, Neural DSP has included an extensive cab-sim module, which features hundreds of IRs from 5by5 Studios (you can load your own, too), plus eight virtual mics, including the newly added AKG C414 B ULS and the Sennheiser MD409-U3.

While a physical Tone King Imperial MKII will set you back the best part of $2,600, Neural DSP’s sim is available for €99 (approx. $109), and you can sample it beforehand with a 14-day free trial.

Head to Neural DSP (opens in new tab) for more information.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.