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Knowledge base > Getting started

Tips for using your plugin

This guide will help you navigate through the different features of your Neural DSP plugin.

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    Controlling your plugin

    Your plugin has knobs and switches that resemble ones in physical analog hardware. Use your mouse to control them. Double-click on any knob to recall their default values. To fine-adjust the knob values, hold down the “Command” key (macOS) or the “Control” key (Windows) while dragging your mouse. To interact with buttons or switches, just click on them.

    Sections of the plugin interface

    Familiarize yourself with the user interface, which is broken down into different sections accessible by icons at the top and bottom of the plugin window. Click on a section to open it. Right-click any section to disable it.

    Plugin modules 

    1. Stompbox section

    This section consists of three or four pedals in series, which can be used separately or combined. Pedals in this section vary across different plugins, but typically include a compressor, overdrive, distortion, and time-based effects like modulation or pre-delay.

    2. Amplifier section

    This section contains the main amp model(s) included in the plugin. Most plugins follow a progressively hotter gain structure, meaning that the amps move from low gain to high as you move from left to right.

    3. Cabsim section

    A comprehensive cabinet simulation module that features virtual microphones which can be positioned around the speakers. This module also serves as a standard impulse response (IR) loader.

    4. EQ section

    Depending on the plugin, the EQ section includes either a 9-band graphic equalizer or a 4-band semi-parametric equalizer, giving you precise control over different frequency ranges.

    5. Post-effects section

    This section consists of time-based pedals in series, which can either be used separately or combined. Pedals in this section vary across different plugins, but generally include a delay and a reverb.

    Global features (top menu)

    The global features menu has various features and settings that allow you to customize your sound.

    1. Input

    The input knob adjusts the level of the signal being fed into the plugin. If your guitar has a low output, you can increase the input to get a little more level to drive the amp. Alternatively, if your guitar is driving the amp too hard, dial the input down to get a cleaner tone.

    2. Gate

    The noise gate helps to reduce unwanted noise or hum in your audio signal. If you have any hum or hiss in your signal, dial up the noise gate to reduce it. Additionally, you can use the noise gate to tighten up your sound by creating a more defined and articulate tone, especially when playing high-gain tones.

    Please note that if the threshold is set too high, sustained notes may be prematurely cut off, resulting in shorter sustain. The threshold should be set to a level that cuts out the noise you want to eliminate, but doesn’t affect the tone or feel of your playing.

    3. Transpose

    Transposes the signal up or down in pitch by a constant interval (+12/-12 semitones). Use this to easily change the tuning of your instrument.

    4. Input mode

    With the Stereo switch, you are able to process a stereo input signal.

    5. Doubler

    Engages the doubler effect, which projects your signal to a simulated stereo field. The Spread knob determines how many milliseconds the signal copy is delayed. The doubler is disabled in stereo mode.

    6. Presets

    All of our plugins come with presets that have been made by our team and artists, giving you a shortcut to a great sounding tone.

    7. Output

    The output will affect how much signal the plugin will feed out.

    Global features (bottom menu)

    1. Audio settings menu (standalone only)

    You can select the audio interface to use, set the input/output channels, modify sample rate, buffer size and MIDI devices.

    2. MIDI mappings

    Opens the MIDI Mappings window that lets you map any external devices to control the plugin.

    3. Tuner

    Click to activate the built-in tuner.

    4. Metronome (standalone only)

    Opens the metronome interface. Right-click on it to start/stop the metronome playback 

    5. Tap tempo  (standalone only)

    Controls the plugin global tempo by clicking it.

    6. Tempo value

    Adjust the plugin global tempo by clicking the arrows. Double-click on it to enter numerical values.

    Gear selector

    1. Gear selector

    Switch between the different amps and cabinets in the plugin.

    2. Amp / cabinet link button

    The amplifiers in your plugin are linked with their matched cabinets by default. In order to create different combinations, click the unlink icon and switch between amps and cabinets separately.

    Cabsim section

    The cabinet simulation (cabsim) section simulates the sounds of cabinets and microphones by using Impulse Responses (IRs). All Neural DSP plugins feature a comprehensive and intuitive cabsim section that include hundreds of high quality IRs made by industry-leading sound engineers such as Adam "Nolly" Getgood, 5by5 Studios, and our own team at Neural DSP.

    The IRs are embedded in the user interface, making it easy for you to experiment with different cab / mic combinations. A unique feature is the ability to move the virtual microphones around the cab / mic graphic display, allowing you to experiment with different mic placements.

    These features can be used on both mono and stereo configurations. When using a stereo configuration, a second microphone is added giving you ultimate control and endless sonic possibilities.

    In addition to the hundreds of IRs that come with every plugin, you can also load your own external IRs by clicking on the impulse loader selector box and selecting "Load custom IR...". This will bring up a file explorer window, where you can navigate to the location of your IR file and select it. Please note that when loading an external IR, the virtual mic will disappear. This is because the plugin is not able to determine what mic was used in the IR and where it was placed.

    Cabsim section interface

    1. Impulse loader selector box

    Drop down menu for selecting factory microphones, speakers, or loading your own IR

    files. The folder path will be saved, allowing the ability to navigate through your IRs by using the navigation arrows on either side of the menu.

    2. Position knob

    Controls the position of the microphone between the center and the edge of the cone (disabled when loading external IR files).

    3. Distance knob

    Controls the distance between the microphone and the cone (disabled when loading external IR files).

    4. Mic level knob

    Controls the level of the selected impulse.

    5. Pan knob

    Controls the output panning of the selected impulse.

    6. Room on / off button

    Disables or enables the room microphone.

    7. Room level knob

    Controls the level of the room microphone.

    8. IR loader section on / off button

    Disables or enables the respective IR loader Section.

    9. Phase inverter button

    Inverts the phase of the loaded impulse.

    10. Drag to position

    You can also control the microphone position and distance by clicking the microphone and dragging it to the desired spot. The values will be reflected on the Position and Distance knobs and vice versa


    A preset is a saved configuration of settings and parameters that can be instantly loaded. Neural DSP plugins come with tens of presets crafted by some of the world's top musicians and sound engineers. These presets provide an excellent starting point for your tones. After loading a preset, you can fine-tune the parameters of the different sections of your plugin to create a tone that’s perfect for you.

    In addition to the built-in presets, you can also save your own custom presets. Presets can be organized into folders and subfolders, making it easier for you to find and manage them.

    Spend time browsing through the built-in presets, as they showcase the diverse range of tones your plugin can create. The names of presets often provide hints about the characteristics and style of the tone.

    Preset menu

    1. Preset dropdown menu

    Click the box to open the list of presets. Clicking a preset in the menu will load it. Use the arrows to cycle through your presets.

    2. Save button

    Saves your current configuration as a preset. Presets are saved as XML files.

    3. Delete button

    Delete the active preset. If you tweak an existing saved preset and you need to recall the saved version, just load another preset and load back the desired preset. Please note that factory presets can’t be deleted.

    4. Load preset

    Load presets from other locations (XML files). Clicking the button will bring up a file explorer window, where you can navigate to the location of your preset file and select it.

    5. Preset folder shortcut

    Open the Neural DSP preset folder in your file explorer.

    Optimizing your direct input (DI) signal

    Optimizing the quality of your DI signal will ensure that your plugin has the best possible signal to work with, resulting in better sound quality and a more satisfying playing experience.

    Audio Settings

    Be sure that your audio settings are correctly configured:

    Audio Device Type (Windows Only): ASIO

    Audio Input Device: select your audio interface

    Audio Output Device: select your audio interface

    Audio Output Channels: select the output channels that your monitoring device(s) are connected to

    Audio Input Channels: select the input your instrument is plugged into. Make sure to disable all the inputs you're not using

    Sample Rate: 48000 Hz (unless you specifically require a different sample rate)

    Buffer Size: set it to 128 samples or lower. Increase the buffer size to 256 samples if you have an older computer.

    Setting up the input level on your audio interface

    It is important to adjust your input level so that it is not too low, causing a weak or noisy signal, or too high, resulting in clipping and a saturated sound. The easiest way to achieve this is by using the Hi-Z input of your audio interface.

    Step 1 - Check that the input type on your audio interface is set to "instrument" for the input your guitar or bass is connected to.

    Step 2 - Make sure the Hi-Z input gain is at its minimum value. That should be enough to get a good signal level.

    Step 3 - Turn your instrument's volume all the way up and strum or pick the strings as hard as you would when playing. Ensure the signal doesn’t clip, which is typically indicated by a red light on your audio interface.

    Step 4 - Use the global input knob in your plugin to fine-tune your input level if necessary. The meter will show if your input signal is clipping with an indicator on top of the meter.

    An alternative approach to setting up your input level on your audio interface

    If you feel your plugin sounds too digital, soaked, unclear, or just not right, your input gain may be dialed in too high.

    A DI signal that is boosted or “hot” will introduce a higher noise floor, resulting in a less defined and mushy sound, as well as undesired digital artifacts. In addition, the gain controls on your plugin may not respond correctly with a hot DI signal.

    If your DI signal is boosted, it starts to cut out headroom. The more headroom a DI has, the more useful the plugin controls will be as the sonic dynamic range will be more noticeable.

    To address these issues, follow these steps for setting your input level:

    Step 1 - Check that the input type on your audio interface is set to "instrument" for the input your guitar or bass is connected to.

    Step 2 - Make sure the Hi-Z input gain is at its minimum value. That should be enough to get a good signal level.

    Step 3 - Dial up the global input knob on your plugin so that your signal peaks between -14dB to -9 dB. The meter will show if your input signal is clipping with an indicator on top of the meter.

    Step 4 - If you still find your tone sounding too saturated, even with the gain at the zero position, turn on the ‘Pad’ switch on your audio interface to give more headroom to your input signal.

    Additional steps to improve sound quality and minimize unwanted noise

    Adjust the noise gate in your plugin

    Use the noise gate to eliminate unwanted noise and hum from your signal. The noise gate threshold should be set to a level that cuts out the noise you want to eliminate, but doesn’t affect the tone or feel of your playing.

    Use a short and high-quality instrument cable

    The length and quality of your cable can affect the noise in your signal. A shorter cable can help to minimize noise, and a high-quality cable can provide a cleaner signal.

    Check the ground connection of your guitar or bass

    Poor or broken ground connections can result in excessive hum. 

    Check if your position in your room affects the level of noise in your signal

    Interference from electronic devices like computers, screens, and lamps can cause unwanted hums and buzzes in your signal. Changing your position in your room or facing a different direction can help reduce the noise.

    Try moving around and experiment with different positions to see if you can find a spot where the noise is reduced.

    Map MIDI messages easily with the “MIDI learn” function

    Neural DSP plugins have MIDI support, allowing you to connect external MIDI controllers such as footswitches or expression pedals to control various parameters or UI components of the plugin. Using the “MIDI learn” function lets you quickly and easily map MIDI messages to specific parameters within the plugin.

    To get started, ensure that your MIDI controller is properly connected to your computer and recognized by your plugin. You can confirm this by checking that it appears in the "MIDI Input Devices" list in the "audio settings menu".

    To use MIDI learn, simply right-click on any parameter that you want to map to a MIDI message and select "Enable MIDI Learn". With MIDI learn enabled, send a MIDI message from your controller by pressing the button or rocking the pedal that you want to control the parameter with.

    For example, if you want to map a footswitch to turn on and off an effect, you would first right click on the on / off button of the effect in your plugin and click “Enable MIDI Learn”. After that press the footswitch on your controller that you want to use to turn the effect on and off. The plugin will map the footswitch to the on/off parameter of the effect, allowing you to turn it on and off with the footswitch.

    All of your assigned MIDI Events will be registered on the MIDI Mapping window. You can open it and edit all the parameters by clicking on the MIDI port icon on the bottom left corner of your plugin. You can add new MIDI events manually by clicking on the “+” button.

    For more information, read our full guide on setting up MIDI connections.

    Next steps

    Familiarizing yourself with the different sections, features, and controls of your plugin will help you unlock its full potential.

    Take some time to browse through the built-in presets, as they demonstrate the wide range of tones that your plugin is capable of producing. Explore, experiment, and most importantly, have fun with your plugin!

    If you're interested in trying out any of our guitar or bass plugins, we offer a 14-day free trial for all of them, allowing you to test them out without any commitment.

    If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions, our support team is always ready to assist you. You can reach us by emailing

    Guides for getting started with plugins

    All our plugins have a 14-day free trial

    Download a free trial of any of our guitar or bass plugins and take your tone to the next level.