I record exclusively at home and because of noise limitations, I can’t mic an amp. Instead I’ve been using a Strymon Iridium for the last two years and occasionally an HX Stomp for DI recording. I like the Iridium’s simplicity and generally prefer the sound of it to the Stomp. Both units are very useable but I’ve never been totally satisfied with either in terms of getting a really convincing amp tone.
Having read about and watched some demoes of UA’s 3 new amp-sim pedals, I was intrigued enough to give one a go, so I ordered the Dream ’65.
I've been using the pedal for about a week now, I’m really impressed with how it sounds. I’ve never played through an actual Fender Deluxe Reverb so I can’t tell you if it accurately emulates one but regardless of this, the Dream ‘65 does produce a fabulous tone. To my ears, it definitely does a better job of sounding and feeling like a proper amp than either the Iridium or Stomp.
The Iridium with its three amps and particularly the Stomp give you a lot more in terms of options, but for me, it’s all about getting the best convincing tone and this is where the UA is outstanding. For what I do, I don’t need 100s of different amp types. I just want one really good amp tone that works for me in most circumstances - the same as for people who just own one real amp.
The Dream ’65 is not without some flexibility though – it has 3 different speaker options (plus a further 3 which can be added via an app) and there are also 3 “amp variations”, so you can tweak the tone. It also has a good sounding reverb, although the adjustment of this is limited to a single amount knob. It also has a very usable tremolo, though this is oddly not available in one of the amp variations.
Another plus is that it also takes pedals really well.
Cons - The lack of headphone socket. Not a deal-breaker as it’s hooked up to my audio interface 99% of the time but the option to use it as a portable, personal amp option would’ve been nice.
Rather meanly, it doesn't come with a power supply - the manual says it requires 400mA of current. However, it did seem to run fine on the 250mA output of my Voodoo Labs Plus 2 though I've now upgraded to an all 500mA power supply anyway. Also it doesn't come with the usb lead you need if you want to update the firmware.
I can’t speak for the more expensive options of amp-sim such as Kemperer and Fractal, but as a mid-range priced option for DI recording, the UA seems like the best way to go, just as long as multiple amp/cab variations and lots of FX aren’t what you need. I’ve already put my Iridium up for sale, though I’ll continue to use my Stomp just for its FX.