A Review of the Mark Studio 2, Amplifier Modeling Software…
I purposely avoided amplifier modeling software in the past for a few reasons: I was happy with my recording methods and the early versions of modeling software seemed to put too much load on my already stressed out computer based system. A few things have happened since those early days, I’ve upgraded to a faster computer and amplifier emulation software has significantly improved. Another major factor that pushed me into exploring modeling software was my desire for more flexibility when providing bass parts for other artists.
Mark Studio 2 , which is now managed by Overloud, provides the user with six Markbass amp models and nine Markbass modeled speaker cabinets.
Included Markbass amplifier models: TA501, R500, Classic 300, TTE500, Little Mark Tube and MoMark
Included Markbass cabinet models: STD 151HR (rear-ported 1×15″), STD 152HR (rear-ported 2×15″), STD 104HR (rear-ported 1×15″), STD 104HF (front-ported 4×10″), STD 106HF (front-ported 6×10″), Classic 108 (sealed 8×10″), Traveler 121H (front-ported 1×12″), New York 804 (front-ported 4x”) and New York 122 (front-ported 2×12″)
In addition, six virtual microphones – consisting of condenser, dynamic, tube and ribbon are provided to virtually mike the cabinets.
The Mark Studio 2 also includes a tuner and the following virtual stomp boxes: octave, envelope filter, bass chorus, distortion and compressor
The GUI is good looking and logically designed, making for a very intuitive interface. The selected amp model is prominently displayed on the upper left portion of the screen with all of the front panel knobs and switches easily adjusted via mouse. The selected speaker cabinet images are displayed just to the right of the amplifier. Menus containing over 100 preconfigured presets are available via scrollbars located right beneath the amplifier head image. The virtual stomp boxes reside in the lower center of the screen with a tuner and mute button below them. The lower right portion of the screen is devoted to selecting the various models of amp, cabs, and microphones, the placement of the microphones and also for controls over direct signal, tweeter output, room size and microphone placement.
I was able to quickly download and register the product for use. I loaded the plug-in as a 64-bit VST and it readily integrated with my DAW. After selecting a suitable bass guitar audio clip, I then inserted the Mark Studio 2 into the track. From this point on, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The amount of available tonal variation is phenomenal. The array of amplifiers faithfully reproduce the tone, texture and feel of the Markbass lineup – from the all-tube Classic 300 to the hybrid MoMark. I must confess that I have a soft spot for the TA 501 and it’s ability to nail that instantly recognizable Markbass signature sound for slapping. The EQ sections and the VLE and VPF controls respond, as near as I can tell, just like they do in their real world counterparts. Further tonal variation is available through the use and selection of nine different models of Markbass speaker cabinets, or you can opt to just use the amp as a D.I. and bypass the cabinets. After selecting a cabinet, you also have the option of miking it up with a nice assortment of dynamic, condenser, ribbon, or tube microphones and you can vary the location and distance the microphone is placed from the speaker cone. Additionally, some setups allow you to mic the port and/or the rear of the cabinet. The fun doesn’t stop here… additional controls let you mix in your direct signal, attenuate the tweeter, add room ambiance and apply a low frequency boost.
The Mark Studio 2 comes from the factory with 4 banks of presets that offer over 100 different sounds. Many of these are usable as programmed, however you also can edit an existing preset or create your own new presets and save to a pre-existing bank or create new banks. Each bank will hold up to 128 presets.
The Mark Studio 2 also comes with a nice variety of stomp box effects that can be added to your signal for even more variations to your tonal palette. These effects can be dragged into position to accommodate whatever order suits you best. The signal path travels from left to right and each effect can be clicked on or off and is fully adjustable.
The Mark Studio 2 is definitely a keeper. It does so many things so very well. It’s easy to use, places a very light load on my processor, sounds great and provides me with the gift of increased flexibility. When working with other artists remotely , I spend a good deal of time and effort learning their tunes and then crafting my parts. Prior to this point, I would then have to commit to a given tone and print that to the recorded track that was then sent to the artist for review. I can now record the part, audition the track using multiple amp models, and send one or more versions that I feel will best meet their needs without having to re-track my parts. If the artist has certain preferences or suggestions regarding the tone, it will be an easy process to adjust this in post production. On a final note I would also like to recognize the technical support at Overloud. I was having some difficulty trying to lower the latency when using Mark Studio 2 as a live modeling amplifier. Overloud support helped me determine that the needed adjustment resided in my digital interface software – once the adjustment was made I could play the Mark Studio 2 in real time and it performed flawlessly. For more information on the Mark Studio 2 go to: Overloud