Computer Guitar Amp Simulators
Original Author: Staffay
Weapon: Guitar/Bass Computer Amp Simulators
Guitar/Bass Amp Simulators (from now on "GBAS" for short) modelled by computers has been around for quite a while, and the market has exploded in the last couple of years. The battle seems to stand between two actors: IK Multimedias Amplitube and Native Instruments Guitar Rig, even though there are many others that might be as good as them. The critical point in emulating a guitar amp is actually the dynamic response and the behaviour of a real amp - it responds different according to the way the player plays - for instance, how hard he/she hits the strings. According to this, it's in general obviously "easier" to emulate heavy distorsion than a clean sound since distorted sounds has pretty much the same level (e.g is more compressed), no matter of how the player plays.
The manufactors of GBAS's often refers to "algorithms" and "DSP"-techniques with their own cryptic names. What it's all about is in fact no rocket science, since the computer is used to do the signal processing. It's pretty easy to measure what happens with the output of a tube or transistor (by Voltage means), and this can then be recreated using computer technolgy. The problem herein lies in that the other components that make up a sound - such as speakers, guitars, rooms, microphones and of course who is playing also is a big part of the sound. Therefore, there is no "easy" solution when trying to emulate a sound. One thing that also must be considered by the manufactorers, is that most users doesn't have a state-of-the-art computer, and the software shall be able to run on most computers. Another problem is that most users are using sampling frequencies at 44,1 and 48 kHz in their DAWs, so therefore the emulator must work under the same conditions - e.g the dynamic range will suffer.
Some manufacturers build their emulators on the single amp function, how it sounds when the sound comes from the speaker - while others try to emulate the whole chain of gear that is actually in the signal path. The latter approach of course is much more CPU-intensive. What is the best is very much a matter of taste, and so is of course the whole range of emulators. In my opinion, compared to the "real" world, I rather have a computer amp with just bass, middle,treble that sounds good than stacks of effects, microphones, cabinets etc.
Computer simulation vs. Hardware simulators
Hardware amp simulators have been around since the late 70's (the Rockman by Boston's guitar player may have been one of the first). Today's hardware amp simulator's is best described as small computers enable to emulate a broad range of sounds. Theoretically, a computer has the resources to do the same, but dedicated circuits as well as the portability had made hardware emulators far more popular.
The new trend
The latest trend in GBASs is to support the emulators with appropiate hardware such as pedals, controllers. A drawback of using a computer based GBAS "Live" is the risk of computer "crashes", and the fact that a computer is not a sturdy piece of hardware. In a studio environment it may work good, though.
To accomplish this article, I have done a comparison chart that will be updated as my work progresses. I have made the comparison chart in Excel, if someone wants it for updating, just P.M. me ! (Staffy)
NI Guitar Rig 4
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite
Multimedia Amplitube 2.1
IK Multimedia Amplitube Fender v. 1.0
Softubes Vintage Amp Room
Peavey Revalver MkIII
Recabinet Computer Speaker Emulator
- Amplitube Fender
- Recabinet Computer Speaker Emulator
- Digidesign Eleven guitar amp emulator (Pro Tools)
- Powercore Tubifex (requires TC Powercore)
- Waves GTR3
- Vintage Amp Room / [Metal Amp Room] (just the amps, no effects)
- Peavey Revalver
- SimulAnalog Guitar Suite (free!)
- Free Amp 2 (free!)
- Tube Amp Baby (free!)