Superb amp head modelling, uneven in other guitar chain components
I've been reevaluating a demo of Revalver off and on for several months now-just finished my latest round of running it through it's paces and I think I've finally figured out what I love about it and what leaves me kind of cold. First, the part I love: I'm convinced now that the amp head and other tube-based modeled components in Revalver actually do rival Amplitube for the best on the market, Further, they offer additionaluseful, musical alternatives that I can't get out of Amplitube, despite the huge variety of options available in the range of Amplitube products. Peavey's approach to separately modeling each amp component, and then allowing great tweaking of these components is outstanding. I'm not an electrical engineer (but I work with some) and I think you could actually use this thing for serious virtual prototyping of real amp designs.
There is another great, unadvertised use of their tube models. Under the "utilities" menu, their is an option to insert a single tube of your own choosing into the effects chain. You can customize this virtual tube almost infinitely. Many useful presets, such as "warm", bright', neutral, "bass boost" etc. are included with each basic tube type,so you don't have to be an electronics whiz to tinker usefully with them. However, if you are such a whiz, then you can modify the tubes using parameters described by detailed electronic terminology. Here's the point of all of this: If you use such a tube alone, what you really have is a virtual tube preamp--not the kind that's the first gain stage in a guitar amp, but the kind that one might use as the first stage of a mixer input for any kind of signal. These can sound great and impart all kinds of tube "vibes" to anything that you are running into your mix. There are many products on the market that cost a lot more and are designed to do only this. I haven't worked with many of them, but I really doubt that they have the flexibility or significantly better sound quality than what you can get from using just this one "utility" feature of Revalver.
OK, Now what I think is not so stellar about the product. First, the effects. They're not bad, but they are pretty pedestrian. Usable, but if you have any sort of plug-in collection, you are likely to be reaching for alternatives to most of the modulation and dynamics options. This is especially easy as Revalver allows you to plug other vst effects in as a part of the chain. (Warning, as of 4 09, Waves plug ins do NOT work for this, due to the special VST wrappers that Waves uses.) As for the overdrive/distortion units, I actually experienced crashes using a couple of them. They sound OK, but the overdrive and distortion that you can get from working with the tube controls in the amp head components is much better.
I've finally figured out that the thing that I don't really care for in this product is the general sound of the speaker emulations (convulsion impulses actually). This is highly subjective, many other reviewers love these. However, I think they tend to sound muddy and dull. There are separate bass and treble controls for the speakers, and you can also essentially design your own speakers from scratch. However, when I try to boost the treble features I get more harshness than musical brightening. As I say, this is a subjective area, and I should reveal the biases in my tastes. I'm generally not a big fan of the enclosed 4x12 guitar speaker sound. When such cabinets sound good, they are often described as "thick", "creamy", etc. When they sound bad, adjectives such as "muddy", "dull", and "muffled" come to mind. I like brighter speakers and my tastes tend towards "jangly" or otherwise bright guitar sounds (for everything but traditional jazz.) Having made that disclaimer, I still think that even Revalver's non-4x12 emulations tend towards the more pejorative aspects of a bad enclosed 4x12 sound. I also think that 4x12 emulations by many other manufacturers sound better than those in Revalver.
What finally made me realize how great the amp head simulations were was experimentation where I turned Revalver's speakers off and routed the amp head output to speaker emulations from other products. Presto! a whole new world of VERY pleasing electric guitar sounds opened up to me. Just what combination of products I'm using, I'm going to keep a bit of a trade secret for now, but I'd encourage everyone to experiment who has alternative sources of speaker emulations.
Anyway, for me, discovering this trick was the deal clincher. I now plan on buying Revalver in the near future and integrating it into my regular recording line-up alongside Amplitube. Of course, you may decide that you love the built-in speaker emulations. (Some of the other reviewers here seem to.) Get the demo and decide for yourself. The product is very reasonably priced and most people should be able to find some excellent uses for it in their studio.