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Thread: Ever do any (amp) modeling?

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    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    Ever do any (amp) modeling?

    So after about 10 years of devotion to my Pod 2.0 for practice and demo recording at home, I got the IK Multimedia Stealth Plug and Amplitube. Man, modeling has come light years! It's like being a kid in a candy shop with all the amps, cabs, pedals, mics, etc. I love it when new things come along to renew the joy in playing.

    I grabbed the SLO-100 model and my HBII, put on some classic Gov't Mule and jammed out. I had a huge grin on my face at how good it sounded and how quickly I was able to nail Warren's tone. Now I just need to work on nailing his playing...
    --Garrett--

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    Just a member JustRob's Avatar
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    I love playing with Amplitube also. I like to record the dry signal (so I only have to play it right once), then using .vst or .au plugins to play with tones for hours. I do the same with the PODxt Live I have.

  3. #3
    I have Amplitube, Waves GTR, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, and Scuffham S-Gear. And of course the amps that come with Logic.

    They're great for emergencies and demos, but I really don't like using/recording with any of them compared to the real thing. As good as they can sound on their own, I find that they don't sit in a track as well as a real amp. I couldn't tell you why. They are simply harder to mix.

    Also, I seem to play better with a real amp. Again, I have no idea why.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I believe I have most all of the iOS apps. JamUp Pro XT likely being my favorite. Lately I have been using the Yamaha THR10 for practice and noodling. I love it.
    Plank Owner

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    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustRob View Post
    I love playing with Amplitube also. I like to record the dry signal (so I only have to play it right once), then using .vst or .au plugins to play with tones for hours. I do the same with the PODxt Live I have.
    Oh, that's cool! So far I've just experimented with running the signal into Garageband, using Amplitube in the Effects section. I haven't had a chance to record anything yet; just jammed for practice.

    I've really been in the stone age with recording stuff. I only just upgraded to the latest Garageband. I had the old old version before they had all the modeling plug-ins.

    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    I have Amplitube, Waves GTR, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, and Scuffham S-Gear. And of course the amps that come with Logic.

    They're great for emergencies and demos, but I really don't like using/recording with any of them compared to the real thing. As good as they can sound on their own, I find that they don't sit in a track as well as a real amp. I couldn't tell you why. They are simply harder to mix.

    Also, I seem to play better with a real amp. Again, I have no idea why.
    Glad to hear your perspective. I was wondering if a group were to record using nothing but digital models, would anyone know?

    I used to greatly prefer a real amp all the time, probably because that's all I did the first several years of playing. Over the last decade I've done so much playing into the computer to avoid aggravating neighbors and family, it's become second nature. I still can't imagine not using a real amp for gigs, though. The feel and the interaction between guitar and speaker are irreplaceable.
    --Garrett--

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    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    I did amp modelling for years but got fed up with all the tweaking to get sounds I was happy with. What killed it for me was owning the BOSS GT-10 and POD X3. I couldn't dial out the harsh digital sound. The claeans and effects where good but anything with overdrive / distortion sounded poor to my ears. I've got a fender Mustang 1 for practice with. For that it's great and I have no complaints.

    I have to confess that i'm thinking of getting the POD HD or a software modeller again so I can record at any time without disturbing anyone. A small terraced house is NOT ideal as a studio!!! I'd still use my Lionheart valve amp for any leads but for Youtube lessons, rhythm tracks, etc then the modellers are more than good enough.
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    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    soundcloud.com/johnucol John's Avatar
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    I'm waiting on my Axe-FX to ship to my doorstep at the start of next week, I'll get back to you on how that's panning out

    That aside, I've used old Line6, Native Instruments, and Peavey for amp modeling. They worked fine for demos, but there always seemed to be a bit of something missing to me. Maybe dialing it in was too much of a pain in the butt for me, or I was just so biased to using tube amps. It often felt a bit of a pain to try getting it to sit well in a mix, IMO.
    But that aside, I'm still wanting to try an Axe-FX for extra flexibility after hearing its capabilities in the hands of fellow hobbyists and touring musicians alike.

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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I use my Fender Cyber Deluxe, Boss GT-6, and Amp Designer. I like 'em all for different things.

  10. #10
    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CantankerousCarl View Post
    Haha. There's a difference between amp modeling and a modeling amp. If I'm going to play through an amp, I'm going to do it right and use tubes. But when an amp isn't practical, modeling is great for going straight into the computer.

    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    I'm waiting on my Axe-FX to ship to my doorstep at the start of next week, I'll get back to you on how that's panning out

    That aside, I've used old Line6, Native Instruments, and Peavey for amp modeling. They worked fine for demos, but there always seemed to be a bit of something missing to me. Maybe dialing it in was too much of a pain in the butt for me, or I was just so biased to using tube amps. It often felt a bit of a pain to try getting it to sit well in a mix, IMO.
    But that aside, I'm still wanting to try an Axe-FX for extra flexibility after hearing its capabilities in the hands of fellow hobbyists and touring musicians alike.
    I've spent a few minutes tinkering with the Axe-FX and the thing is just mind boggling. Sounded very impressive, but the amount of parameters and the adjustments available would give me nightmares. I imagine it's a tone tinkerer's dream, though.
    --Garrett--

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by garrett View Post
    Glad to hear your perspective. I was wondering if a group were to record using nothing but digital models, would anyone know?
    That's a super-good question. And here's some interesting background...

    Since the late 80s, when Roger Nichols used real drum tracks only to trigger sampled drum sounds he'd recorded with his home-made "Wendell" sampler on the groundbreaking (in terms of engineering) Steely Dan albums, a very significant percentage of the drums you hear on major label records have actually been triggered samples. The big-time mixers like Chris Lord-Alge pretty much exclusively use triggered samples. Few people can tell the difference, however I'd maintain that it's one reason that records are starting to sound kind of homogenized and alike.

    You hear this taken to extremes on mixes he has done for bands like Nickleback, or some of the stuff Jack Joseph Puig does, big bands like Green Day etc., to huge commercial success. Triggered samples make the process of mixing easier, since pedal squeaks, ambient room noise, mis-hits, etc., don't have to be taken into account. These mixers can simply trigger tracks using their favorite custom drum samples, run the samples through their pre-set hardware and software, and quickly put together a stereo drum stem that has a lot of credibility. Moreover, errors can easily be repaired.

    Can you hear a difference? Sure. It's there. But it's certainly not obvious. You really have to listen for it. Frankly, the samples can sound bigger, tighter, and more impressive than real drums in a mix. And sometimes there are live and sampled drum blends.

    A lot will depend on artist's intent, so there's that. And not all mixers do this.

    When it comes to guitars, most of the big time records are still made with real amps, because when making a record, an inspired performance is the most important thing. However, there are SIGNIFICANT exceptions to this, and many artists are either using software to embellish, or to replace, their amps.

    One thing I have done is to DI my guitar into the recording system, and run a parallel output from the DI into my amp. That way, I can record a real amp with a mic, and at the same time record a dry guitar signal that I can either re-amp, or use software to process. Sometimes I blend the signals. It's a nice way to work, but it's another step when I'm under crushing deadlines, so I don't do it unless I have lots of time to complete a project.

    In a similar way, software synthesizers can sound amazing in a track, but put an analog synth up against it, and the software still sounds a little less 3D and lifeless. Digital synths? Fine either hardware or software. But then there are hybrids like the Waldorf Wave, a digital synth with analog filters. The analog filters do sound better to my ear.

    Ultimately, I honestly believe that it's hard to tell the difference between an amp and a model -- in a finished mix, that has been EQ'd, put into a room effect, compressed, etc. So for me the most important question is how a player wants to work to get a stellar performance. That's far more important than some of these other questions. And it's why even when drum tracks are replaced by triggered samples, the original recording is using real drums so that the player can get a great vibe going and an inspired performance.

    Given time and budget, I prefer NOT to use sampled drums. I'd rather work in a tight sounding room, and add ambience as needed when I mix. But that's not always possible, and most of my work doesn't have enough budget to justify the additional expense of booking a world-class room; after all, you're going to hear our tracks for 30 seconds at low volume behind an advertising voiceover. But given the budget, I will choose real drums every single time.

    Same with a real guitar amp, and a real bass (though I actually prefer to record bass with a high quality DI box.).

    All that aside, unless I'm in a wonderful sounding room with a fantastic piano that has been newly-tuned and well maintained, I prefer to use my 40 gig Steinway samples when I need a piano track. I have much more control over the resulting sound that way. So in a way, my principal instrument being piano, I'm sort of a counterintuitive mishmash of recording ideas! Organ, however? I gotta have a real Leslie or it sounds like crap.

    The conclusion I draw from all this is that we're at a point where certain digital stuff sounds great (percussion, piano hammers on strings, standup basses etc.), certain stuff sounds acceptable and you can tweak it to sound pretty good (guitar amp models and soft synths), and certain digital stuff sounds relatively awful to me (long legato and vibrato strings, string quartets, french horns, trumpets, organs, and other sustaining sounds).
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-15-2013 at 03:36 PM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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  12. #12
    soundcloud.com/johnucol John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrett View Post
    I've spent a few minutes tinkering with the Axe-FX and the thing is just mind boggling. Sounded very impressive, but the amount of parameters and the adjustments available would give me nightmares. I imagine it's a tone tinkerer's dream, though.
    That was definitely a deciding factor on why I finally pulled the trigger (aside from the out-of-stock waitlist I saw when I went to Fractal Audio's page months before that. haha).
    Also, portability and just cranking up stuff for recording without my neighbors wanting to kill me were important factors in my case since I live in an apartment (though I feel likewise regarding the latter when they partied it up at 3 AM like idiots, but I digress. lolz).

  13. #13
    soundcloud.com/johnucol John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrett View Post

    Glad to hear your perspective. I was wondering if a group were to record using nothing but digital models, would anyone know?.
    A group that I like to listen to named Periphery uses modeling and samples quite a bit during the recording process, definitely for pre-prod. stuff at the very least (like a handful of other bands, if I recall correctly)- I do know for their debut album their guitar tone was strictly from the Axe FX, and the drums were from a combination of samples with Toontrack's Superior Drummer library, played through an electric drum.

    I'd say they made very good use of it, and here's some of what the end result sounds like:


  14. #14
    I was severely impressed Herr Squid's Avatar
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    I've owned an Axe-FX II for about a year and a half now, and I think my tube amp buying days are over. I can always find a great sound in it somewhere, whatever mood I'm in. I never have to fight to get it to sound good at a volume that won't break my windows! Yes, there are a gazillion and one knobs inside the thing, but as the firmware gets upgraded (every couple of months usually), it gets less and less necessary to tweak the esoteric parameters, and you can treat the usual gain, master, tone, bright, presence controls the way you would on a "real" amp and get it sounding really good.

    The clincher for me is that depending on the amp model, I really can drive it like a great tube amp, using touch and the controls on the guitar to get a huge range of sounds without switching presets. The Plexi Treble is particularly great for that, and I also love the Trainwreck, Friedman, Cameron, and Supertweed models for that. My old Line 6 boxes could never pull that off. I learned how to do that in the first place from a THD Flexi, fell in love with being able to do it, and always had to fight that beast to keep the volume tamed. It was always a battle unless the earplugs were in and the house was vacant!

    The Axe-II is at its most flexible with a full range flat response (FRFR) power amp & speaker system, and if you can get some that are punchy and powerful enough, it'll sound as good as a "real" amp (actually a lot of real amps). There are plenty of those that don't have the authority of a good tube power section, so old school still has its place if you really need to crank it up and pulverize things.

    Now the Pods have a thick layer of dust on them, and my Boogie, Rivera, THD, and Budda amps sit silent and lonely. I'll sell 'em if I can quit holding onto 'em for sentimental reasons. I've been waiting a decade or more for modeling to deliver, and IMHO, it finally has.

  15. #15
    I was severely impressed Herr Squid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    A group that I like to listen to named Periphery uses modeling and samples quite a bit during the recording process, definitely for pre-prod. stuff at the very least (like a handful of other bands, if I recall correctly)- I do know for their debut album their guitar tone was strictly from the Axe FX, and the drums were from a combination of samples with Toontrack's Superior Drummer library, played through an electric drum.

    I'd say they made very good use of it, and here's some of what the end result sounds like:
    If that seemed a bit noisy 'n' chaotic to y'all, try this one, starting at about 12:25 or 13:54!


  16. #16
    soundcloud.com/johnucol John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herr Squid View Post
    If that seemed a bit noisy 'n' chaotic to y'all, try this one, starting at about 12:25 or 13:54!

    Ah, Racecar. This tune + Jeff Loomis= Aural bliss.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Proxmax's Avatar
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    i got an axe fx ultra to my diezels and i like it a lot.
    for an easier use i'll check out the new kemper rack version that could be an alternative.

    Bavarian Barbarian

  18. #18
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proxmax View Post
    i got an axe fx ultra to my diezels and i like it a lot.
    for an easier use i'll check out the new kemper rack version that could be an alternative.

    I believe they put a power amp in those now. Never played one but they get killer reviews. Would love to try one.
    Plank Owner

  19. #19
    soundcloud.com/johnucol John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proxmax View Post
    i got an axe fx ultra to my diezels and i like it a lot.
    for an easier use i'll check out the new kemper rack version that could be an alternative.

    Nice to know that Kemper FINALLY made a rack version of this. That said, I wonder if they did anything different with this compared to the original lunchbox sized Kemper, and how it compares to the AXE-FX/justifies spending more money, seeing that street price last time I checked is past $2500

  20. #20
    The new Kemper is available with a 600 watt power amp built in. Should be a nice unit.

    For me, I'd rather just play a tube amp than emulate one.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

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