Thermionik - Foreword
Thank you for purchasing (or demoing) Thermionik amp modeling plugins! Here are a few notes to help you get better results quickly.
Input Levels and Gain Staging
While great care has been taken to ensure that default input level settings work well for a wide variety of guitars, pickups, audio interfaces, playing styles, and likely input levels, you may need to adjust the input trim (on the Options tab) to achieve results that you expect. You may be familiar with other amp simulation plugins that have automatic input gain level detection, and you may wonder why such a feature is not in Thermionik at this time. In my experience, these schemes are, at best, limited in their usefulness, and at worst, misleading. I am working on a system to more intelligently accomplish this goal than other designs I've encountered. Even then, it's important to remember that you should not be afraid to manually adjust Input Trim to taste, depending on what sonic result is desired for a particular effect.
On many real-world amps, the first 1 or 2 digits worth of rotation on the Gain control are useless, in that the entire character of the amp doesn't come into play until you turn these controls past a certain level. No such limitation exists in the digital domain. Also, on many high gain amps in the real world, settings past about 6 or 7 on the gain dial are nearly useless, in that they don't apply much more audible distortion, but they do increase the likelihood of feedback issues. Again, these are limitations of analog components that simply don't exist in the digital domain, and that hinder usability, while simultaneously contributing nothing whatsoever to the sonic picture. These limitations, accordingly, are not modeled in Thermionik.
As such, the design philosophy of the Gain control in the Front Controls tab of all amp models in Thermionik is to have a usable range of gain throughout the entire range of the knob, from absolute zero (pure digital mute) all the way up to 10.0, with 1000 control points in between. This is incredibly flexible, but it does mean that the actual numerical setting on the Gain control may vary a bit from an amp model's real-world counterpart if you are trying to match your favorite settings from an amp you're familiar with (or the settings of your favorite guitar hero on a particular amp.)
As alluded to above, the philosophy of Thermionik from an analog modeling perspective is to remain true to the sonic characteristics of the hardware, while expanding the range of usable tones, and improving the practicality of the user interface design. All hardware was carefully measured and studied for each emulation. Default settings (as well as most factory presets) are designed to replicate well-known, classic settings of each model. Some amps that myself (and many other guitarists) have found to be particularly tubby sounding in their lead channel preamps have received a Bright switch - this is intentional, and expands the range of usable tones without additional effects in front. In future versions of Thermionik, additional features may be added, to expand the range of possible tones even on very simple vintage amp models. Of course, the default settings will always represent an accurate emulation of the hardware itself.
- Shane McFee, CEO/CTO - Kazrog LLC
Feel free to discuss this below. I posted this here for reference, since there has been a lot of discussion about it.