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> My 2 Cents On Amp Modelling
Mudbone
post Aug 10 2010, 06:01 AM
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Amp modelling is a great technology, but it does have its limitations, and it doesn't serve every purpose perfectly. I think it is great for recording - there is no better way to record guitar for cheap than with an amp modeller. Not only is it cheap, its easy as well.

And here is the thing about real amps: so much of its character is lost in the recording. You can never recreate the feeling you get when you're standing next to a cranked full stack. A recording can replicate the audio, but it can't replicate the physics of being in the presence of such brutality. To my ears, amp modelers get pretty damn close are far as recording is concerned, but not playing live.

Unless you have a top notch studio to record a cranked amp in, amp modelers are definitely the way to go. As far as live music, nothing can replicate the sound of millions of electrons bouncing around inside a tube and blowing out of a 412 with shear insanity.


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ZakkWylde
post Aug 10 2010, 12:26 PM
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Amen


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Jerry Arcidiacon...
post Aug 10 2010, 12:55 PM
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And you can get more dynamics from a real tube amp!


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superize
post Aug 10 2010, 01:09 PM
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For home use amp models are really nice. But i dont think i will use it live


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post Aug 10 2010, 01:39 PM
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Totally agree.

Amp modellers sound like guitars recorded in the albums, but live music sounds better, because you are listening to a real amp roaring through its real cab, and no ipod or hifi system can ever sound like that, because it's not a guitar amp.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 10 2010, 02:25 PM
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I agree partially. For demo purposes, indeed software modelers are way to go. This doesn't mean you cannot achieve very good results with a real amp. It only means it will be cheaper and easier to record for demo purposes.

The part where this doesn't stand is in the studio when recording an album. Software modelers are good to use only for pilot takes in these situations. Simple example would be when the drummer is doing as session and you need to play along with him. It's practical to use modeling and send it to drummers headphones, then to mic a cab (specially if you only have one recording room in the studio available!).

But if you indeed want the best recording possible, you cannot go for modelers. Although they are good, they are not that good today. I will draw a parallel with vintage 3D games that tried to replicate the reality and make it bloody smile.gif , like Doom. Doom is a game that was very popular, but you cannot compare Doom with modern 3D games, let alone our physical reality. Perhaps in 50 years games will very much look-alike our reality, but today, and when you look back at games like Doom - they look very primitive. Same thing with modelers today. They are too primitive. In 10-20 years, when simulators achieve possibilities to replicate faithfully entire circuits in today's tube amps, and when speaker systems become more precise and advanced, capable of producing specific nuances of any speaker available today - this is when we will all use software modelers for recording.

And because technology is advancing, it is not hard at all to record a miced tube amp these days. In a semi-pro studio with a good recording room, it is understood that you will mic a real amp, not only because of the amp itself, but the whole chain. You have more possibilites in real world for experimenting and finding tone that you want. Not only that amp+speaker are involved, but you have microphone placement, speaker placement relative to the room, choice of many microphones, different kinds of natural reverberation. All this IS available in today's modelers, GR4 and Amplitube 3 give nice simulation of that, but it still very very limited compared what you can achieve in real world.


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Staffy
post Aug 10 2010, 03:20 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Aug 10 2010, 03:25 PM) *
I agree partially. For demo purposes, indeed software modelers are way to go. This doesn't mean you cannot achieve very good results with a real amp. It only means it will be cheaper and easier to record for demo purposes.

And because technology is advancing, it is not hard at all to record a miced tube amp these days. In a semi-pro studio with a good recording room, it is understood that you will mic a real amp, not only because of the amp itself, but the whole chain. You have more possibilites in real world for experimenting and finding tone that you want. Not only that amp+speaker are involved, but you have microphone placement, speaker placement relative to the room, choice of many microphones, different kinds of natural reverberation. All this IS available in today's modelers, GR4 and Amplitube 3 give nice simulation of that, but it still very very limited compared what you can achieve in real world.


+11 Agreed on every point here. You can mic a "bedroom" amp at a very low level and still get a better tone/response than in an amp modeller. Besides that, most of the effects in amp modellers is real lousy compared to original one's or dedicated effects in DAW's.

Technically wise, the problem is that most people has bad computers, therefore cannot the manufactorers design a good amp modeller since the users wont have the DSP & memory for processing a really good emulation. Here is where hardware modellers like Digidesign Eleven & Axe Fx comes in that have real power DSP's designed just for that purpose. (and then You have to buy additional power amp & speakers to use it live) However, personally I cant see the point of having 200 guitar sounds under Your feet, normally I use maybe three, both live and for recording purposes. I rather spend that 1500-2500 EUR on a good amp and some mics instead.

//Staffay


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Todd Simpson
post Aug 10 2010, 03:30 PM
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Well said smile.gif For the price, (about $100 U.S.) you can get a NIIIICE guitar modelling plugin with wads of killer tones and racks of effects that will be great for home recording. For a bit more you can get Revalver which is amazing. You really can't get close to the same tone for the same price with an amp. That much will barely cover a semi decent mic much less the amp.

Not to mention recording clean and effecting the sound in software gives a lot more flexibility than burning the efx in to the signal. So for recording, it's just hard to beat modeling for ease of use, quality of sound and price.

That said, you are not going to get the same sound as a Marshall or Mesa cranked up in a big room with great mics. But you don't have to book time in a studio with a big main room either. If you have the budget, and are making a cd for release, sure try to get in to a great studio with a great producer and engineer. Otherwise, get good modeling plugind for your DAW.

Todd


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Staffy
post Aug 10 2010, 04:29 PM
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QUOTE (VictorUK @ Aug 10 2010, 05:13 PM) *
Amp modelling gets a whole lot better when you start using impulses as i only found out about 2 weeks ago lol, you can make impulses sound almost like the real amp and if you hook your computer up to some e.g. big 200w speaker P.A. system with a tube power amp im sure it can sound very good live.


Yeah, but impulses handles only the speaker emulation in a room. There is a software called "Recabinet" that only models different cabinets via impulses. Btw. it is used in both Revalver and GR4. A solution would be to have Your regular amp producing a line-signal and then run it through recabinet. However, a normal computer can never reproduce a room simulation like for instance the TC-Electronics 6000 series, because of bad DSP-power. A factor not mentioned so far is also the sound-card, an amp-sim will sound a lot better with an expensive soundcard with good AD/DA converters, and I bet the manufactorers of Amplitube, GR4 etc. used top-notch soundcards when recording their demos. Personally, I use a TC-Konnekt 48, which is not a cheap one, but still I dont think its good enough.

//Staffay


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Aug 10 2010, 04:50 PM
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QUOTE (Staffy @ Aug 10 2010, 02:20 PM) *
...
Technically wise, the problem is that most people has bad computers, therefore cannot the manufactorers design a good amp modeller since the users wont have the DSP & memory for processing a really good emulation. Here is where hardware modellers like Digidesign Eleven & Axe Fx comes in that have real power DSP's designed just for that purpose. (and then You have to buy additional power amp & speakers to use it live) ...

//Staffay


Very true. Even those that have dedicated DSP cards have potential limitations as with some you can hear the zippering particularly at the range extremes. If you multilayer the modeling plug-in the issues become more and more apparent.

QUOTE
...impulses handles only the speaker emulation in a room. There is a software called "Recabinet" that only models different cabinets via impulses. Btw. it is used in both Revalver and GR4. A solution would be to have Your regular amp producing a line-signal and then run it through recabinet. However, a normal computer can never reproduce a room simulation like for instance the TC-Electronics 6000 series, because of bad DSP-power. A factor not mentioned so far is also the sound-card, an amp-sim will sound a lot better with an expensive soundcard with good AD/DA converters, and I bet the manufactorers of Amplitube, GR4 etc. used top-notch soundcards when recording their demos. Personally, I use a TC-Konnekt 48, which is not a cheap one, but still I dont think its good enough.


Again very true - Convolution impulses need to be very carefully recorded to be at all convincing and all to often mic placement isn\t well thought out resulting in a smearing of the sound.

WRT to the AD/DA - we use Lavry and if anything any issues with modeling become even more apparent. Excellent AD/DA is more likely to expose issues than hide it IME. But yes they may well have recoded the demos using Lavry or similar conversion to expose the issues in order to deal with them at mixing before making the demos public. Also wrt to the demos - IMHO it's difficult to accurately judge the sonic quality of something based on a recorded audio file as there are too many variables that you are not aware of. This is exacerbated if the demo is a Youtube or similar recording where it has been multiply compressed. Product demos on Youtube etc at best IMO give you a general idea of what something is like which you then need to check out thoroughly in person.


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Todd Simpson
post Aug 10 2010, 06:19 PM
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FREE GUITAR MODELING EFX PLUGINS

My producer buddy (Matt Rowles of indieatl.com) pointed me to this. A bunch of free plugins for emulating guitar effects pedals including the spiffy Digitech Whammy which has pitch shifting. PC and Mac AU/VST. Enjoy!

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2010/08/...cts-for-mac-pc/
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Mudbone
post Aug 10 2010, 07:25 PM
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While I do agree with Ivan and Staffy that recording a real amp with decent equipment will yield better results, I think the whole recording process is a compromise to begin with. So much is lost in translation. For instance, Listening to a recording produced by Bob Rock of Elizabeth Hurley narrating a steamy romance novel will never be same as being in the same room as Elizabeth Hurley. Yes her suave persona and sexy British accent is still there (yes find females with British accents sexy, but not Cockney lol) but it will never replicate actually being in the same room with her.

You guys should check out Widek, he produces some nice stuff with amp modeling. This video here is recorded with a cheap line6 toneport, although now he uses revalver I believe, which I think sounds better.



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Staffy
post Aug 10 2010, 09:11 PM
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QUOTE (Mudbone @ Aug 10 2010, 08:25 PM) *
I think the whole recording process is a compromise to begin with. So much is lost in translation.

You guys should check out Widek, he produces some nice stuff with amp modeling. This video here is recorded with a cheap line6 toneport, although now he uses revalver I believe, which I think sounds better.


Yeah, agree 100%. Its a compromise. Even that we have digital equipment today that can produce decent sound for very little money, we are far from what a real studio can produce with both analog/digital equipment. And the product (the CD) are downsampled anyway to 44,1 kHz and then people make MP3's out of it..... In order to enjoy the possibilities with the digital format, there must be a new standard and people must get some decent audio equipment. But still - nothing beats live music, if the musicians are good enough - a good band shall always sound better live, otherwise something is wrong.

I dont dismiss modellers, I use them frequently. I wrote a whole article serie bout modellers in the WIKI bout a year ago and tested nearly everyone available back then. When it comes to model a distorted sound, especially heavy distorted one's, You can come very close to the original. But when it comes to a clean sound with a lot of dynamics.... To tell the truth, I havent heard one modeller yet that can replicate what a simple Fender amp does.

The clip sounds very good - but he's a skilled player, and what goes in goes out - I think it would have sounded even 5 times better with real amps....

//Staffay


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JamesT
post Aug 11 2010, 01:52 AM
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You got to admit, the amp models are getting pretty good. Even Muris mentioned in a previous post that his AxeFx has great dynamics and that he's using it live these days.

In my experience, (I've only owned a few good tube amps ... Mesa Boogie Mark II combo, Marshall combo, Fender Champ), even my Pod Farm and X3 does a decent job to approximate each of those sounds (on recording anyway). I do remember that my Boogie which was my favorite amp by far had this really crisp and percussive (or punchy if that's a word) tone that when you played live was awesome. But even that amp had a few quirks. Like when you set the master volume below 2 on lead channel, it wasn't loud enough for our rehearsal room, and then when you set the volume slightly above 2 (like 2.0001 or something) it was way too loud for that room even with the drummer bashing away. So I couldn't get certain tones exactly the way I wanted them without getting into volume wars with the other guitarist. smile.gif

And then my Marshall (don't remember the model number but it was a 22 watt 1x12 combo tube variety) just didn't do it at all for me. By the time I bought it, I was mainly into recording at home. It had about one sound ... loud and raunchy ...which was cool for AC/DC kind of styles, but just not flexible enough for what I was trying to do.

So with a limited pocket book and when the Pod came out, I was very excited by what it could do. I'm still on the hunt for the ultimate sounds for sure though. If I could get just four of five perfect sounds ... clean, edge, blues, boogie, and shred (my names for them), I'd be in heaven.

I'll bet newer and/or better amps have these kinds of things sorted out, but I was pretty burnt out with trying mic placement and moving my amp to the bathroom/closet/hallway,entryway, etc. trying to get a good sound (which was on tape back then). I still want to go out and get a high end modern amp one of these days. I played a $2200 Marshall (shoot, I'm getting bad at knowing all the models these days) about a year ago which absolutely blew me a way ...along with about everyone in the music store basement and yes, it was way cooler than listening to my X3 through headphones.

Verdict, if I were in a gigging band and could afford roadies, I'd probably use a killer amp. For my current needs, the modeling amp and especially vst plugin models are the way to go. They have just awesome flexibility.

In general tough, I do think that as a player, your hands, your playing, and your ear will adapt to just about any amp that you're playing through and no matter what it is. ( well, almost any amp. biggrin.gif ) That's the best part of playing and probably what gives some of the vintage and or botique amps their appeal. It's their uniqueness. The first time you play almost any amp you may not be immediately blown away, but after you get to know it, you most likely will find something sweet.



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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 11 2010, 11:39 PM
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Getting some things lost in translation is normal thing with recording. But software modelers don't have that "luxury" at all. They are simply emulations, trying to emulate the sound of real gear. When you go into the studio to record an album, will you choose emulation of (for example) Marshall amp, or the real Marshall amp with good microphone next to it? If there is no choice of using real tube amp, or you simply want to experiment, there is nothing wrong using software, good results are possible. Good news is technology is progressing, as dedicated DSP devices become faster and more complicated, emulations will become better and better. I think speaker+air+microphone is the biggest obstacle to emulate today, not the amp itself, but impulses are becoming more sophisticated, as recording equipment and samples rates develop and become better, impulses will mask the source signal better, so all this will contribute to more "practical" tone, processed, ready in a small box, not needing to lug 20+KG equipment around.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Aug 11 2010, 11:41 PM


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Mudbone
post Aug 12 2010, 12:31 AM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Aug 11 2010, 06:39 PM) *
Getting some things lost in translation is normal thing with recording. But software modelers don't have that "luxury" at all. They are simply emulations, trying to emulate the sound of real gear. When you go into the studio to record an album, will you choose emulation of (for example) Marshall amp, or the real Marshall amp with good microphone next to it? If there is no choice of using real tube amp, or you simply want to experiment, there is nothing wrong using software, good results are possible. Good news is technology is progressing, as dedicated DSP devices become faster and more complicated, emulations will become better and better. I think speaker+air+microphone is the biggest obstacle to emulate today, not the amp itself, but impulses are becoming more sophisticated, as recording equipment and samples rates develop and become better, impulses will mask the source signal better, so all this will contribute to more "practical" tone, processed, ready in a small box, not needing to lug 20+KG equipment around.


I agree with you 100%, no doubt about it. But the point I'm trying to make is that are far as recording is concerned, amp modeling is about 80 to 90 percent there tone wise (to my ears at least tongue.gif), and its really cheap. In order to get that other 10 to 20 percent you have to spend thousands of dollars.

The real thing is always better, ALWAYS. Just like real maple syrup is better than that crappy artificial stuff you get at Walmart. But the vast majority of us don't have the luxury of having access to such equipment and more importantly a space to crank an amp smile.gif So for a broke ass musician living in an apartment, amp modeling is great. However, if you have access to dozens of amps and a place to record, then by all means take advantage of it, because like you said thats what the modelers are trying to emulate.

To paraphrase what Staffy has said earlier, "If the music is rubbish no amount of quality gear can save your ass!"

By the way, I really like your lessons, great stuff.

edited for language.
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This post has been edited by tonymiro: Aug 14 2010, 04:46 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 12 2010, 01:42 AM
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Thanks my friend. We talk about the same thing basically, I agree with Staffay as well, the music is most important. There are megahits with snares sounding as tin cans and guitars thin as paper, and it doesn't matter.
We can continue the topic, making comparisons between analog and digital, we already made quite a few of those on the forum, and the general view is that digital processing is still in development. Some people may hear of feel the difference more than other, but if we try to stay objective and real - Spending thousands of dollars is not what it is all about if you are on the budget. Renting a good tube amp and average studio for a day will all run you not more than 100-200$. This may be big bucks for someone, but if you need serious recording, it's the way to go. General public that doesn't understand the difference between these two methods will perceive the difference but cannot describe it. The difference is still there, for me clear as a day.
Another paradox to the topic, important factor that was already mentioned is the fact that average listener will normally listen 128kbit mp3 file of the song without half of cymbals, in urban surroundings with lots of noise, where even an expert would have troubles hearing the differences properly. But there must be a reason why all known bands use real gear right? Problem is we are indeed on the crossroad, and the whole industry is slowly changing in front of our eyes. Real gear still rules the studios, but slowly (but safely) software is coming on back doors.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Aug 12 2010, 01:43 AM


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