The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

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reggie1979
KVRAF
1879 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Post Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:39 am

Dewdman42 wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:37 am
reggie1979 wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:27 am
Dewdman42 wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:06 am
Played around with MCabinet a lot more last night. This thing has a lot of potential!
As long as you don't use the secret sauce :hihi:
what secret sauce?

I know it's MCabinet, but it looks like MC cabinet :D

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:41 am

oh I get it... hehe.
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Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:25 pm

Here is my review of Vox's JamVox3 software.

JamVox3

overview.jpg

In 2003, Vox created a guitar modeling desktop device called the Vox Valvetronix Tonelab. This device was created together with Korg. It included digital FX coming from Korg tech, and an innovative new technology called "Vox Valve Reactor", which used a tube, not for typical preamp duties, but rather an innovative circuit that recreated the feel of a power amp ehancing the digital modeling going on. More information about Vox valvetronix technology can be found via Google.

Since then, there have been numerous iterations of the Vox Tonelab line including the SE, LE, EX, ST as well as Vox's VX and VTX combo modeling amps.

JamVox was created at some point as a software alternative, using the same algorithms and even including the Valve Reactor technology, except modeled in DSP rather then using a real tube. Presets from the Tonelab LE can even be imported directly into JamVox3. JamVox3 provides a bit more flexibility then the earlier Tonelab models, including the ToneLab LE. The sound is very similar though I personally found the feel of the Tonelab LE to be slightly better compared to JamVox. But they are very close and use the same digital algorithms for all modeling.

Models

JamVox provides 20 Amp Models, 12 Cabinets, 18 Pedals, 12 Modulation FX, 11 Delay FX, 15 Reverb FX, plus a noise gate. Up to two Pedals can be used in a patch, as well as one Modulation, one delay and one reverb, in any order. In JamVox you can drag and drop the various FX modules anywhere in the chain, including in front of or after the amp. (note the Tonelab floor pedal modelers are more limited in the allowable signal chain).

The only amp models officially licensed are the Vox ones, and have names reflecting the device they are modeling, but off the record the following models have been identified as being modeled in JamVox3/Tonelab:

models.jpg
  1. Vox AC15
  2. Vox AC15TB
  3. Vox AC15 Twin
  4. Vox AC30
  5. Vox AC30TB
  6. Marshall JTM-45
  7. Marshall JTM100 (plexi)
  8. Marshall JCM800
  9. Marshall JCM900
  10. Marshall JCM2000
  11. Mesa Boogie Rectifier
  12. Soldano SLO-100
  13. Dumble Overdrive Special
  14. Dumble Overdrive Special - clean
  15. Fender Twin Reverb
  16. Fender Tweed
  17. Fender Bassman
  18. "UK Modern" - Slash amp
  19. "Boutique Metal" - something from Germany, probably ENGL
  20. "Modded OD" - not sure, something out of Hollywood California
Matching cabs are provided, which can be freely mixed and matched between different amps, or disabled entirely if you wish to use external IR's (IR loader not included).

disablecab.jpg

All of the amp models include a few options that allow them generally to be extended beyond the sound of the original hardware if desired. For example, presence control is often included even if the original Amp did not have presence. This allows each model to replace the device being modeled as well as additional tonal possibilities.

The Pedals and FX include all of the typical things you might expect. Korg's contribution is noted here, for example, the Korg SDD-3000 delay and my favorite addition : the Vox VBM-1 Treble booster. The implementation of the Vox Treble booster is exceptional, it sounds really really good.
pedals.jpg

JamVox also includes a set of pre-recorded DI guitar loops which you can play in a loop while you tweak knobs to dial in your patch. it includes Les Paul, Strat and Tele sample loops in a few styles of playing for this purpose

loops.jpg


Practicing with backing tracks

JamVox3 is more than just a guitar modeler, it also provides play-along facilities with a midi drum player and MP3 player that can slow down or pitch adjust backing tracks, as well as mask out guitar or vocal parts from backing tracks, which it actually does very very well and provides controls to pinpoint in the stereo image the guitar or vocals you are seeking to mask from the backing track. A metronome and tuner are also provided.

masking.jpg

In addition JamVox provides a pickup-selector which can be used to emulate different pickups then what are actually installed in your guitar, handy sometimes.

pickups.jpg

Sound

To this day I haven't found a guitar modeler that sounds as organic, with real tube feel that matches the Vox Tonelab and JamVox. it is simply a joy to play even though the technology is already now long in the tooth. The product is still sold by Vox, but has not been updated in years. In terms of exact tone-matching, I have found it be very good at modeling the sound of Vox amps, but maybe not quite so accurate at modeling say the marshalls. what it doesn't quite nail in terms of exact tone, it more than makes up for with the sheer organic nature of the sound and the feel, which can't be emphasized enough. I will say, that the cabs are not very sophisticated and sub-par compared to modern IR based solutions today. The Cabs can be bypassed and used in conjunction with a third party IR loader, which can in fact bring the tones much closer to the authentic tones such as Marshall, etc..while still maintaining the awesome organic sound and feel I am talking about. That would obviously not translate to Tonelab floor pedal use.

Of particular interest is the so called VR-Gain (Valve-Reactor Gain) which is available on every amp and drives the Valve Reactor circuit mentioned above. This essentially drives the power amp section and makes everything sound and feel better. Nearly all of my patches have VR-Gain turned up pretty high, even if the preamp gain is lower for a cleaner sound...and seems to be hitting the tube modeling in a way that can't be explained without trying it yourself.

vrgain.jpg

Preset Sharing

Vox also provides an online portal, directly accessible through JamVox to search for presets created by Vox or by other users and shared. You can search by song, artist, style, etc and possibly find something that may work for you.

online.jpg
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Last edited by Dewdman42 on Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:32 pm

Nice review Dewdman42!
Nice to see such an elaborate and well thought out (laid out) review. Well paced.

Also good to see someone cling on to a somewhat "semi-old" amp sim that still cuts it. As with is with real Vox AC30s and the likes, it's not for everyone. That's the reason different amp exists. They have a different tone-stack and design that doesn't allow for "swiss army knife" that can sound equally as good as Marshall, Fender Twin, Vox alike.

Here's another balanced review, and I think it would provide readers of this thread, just like the doctor ordered, a second opinion.

https://honestampsimreviews.com/2019/02 ... amvox-iii/

Which raises the question again: who's talking? Like one mans perception of an amp sims should be more valid than someone elses. It's called Ipse Dixit, if one should be academically inclined. Look that one up. We're back to the Seth Lover statement again: "You hear something I don't, I hear something you don't...what shall we do?"

What I do have sensed, and if we should take those 3 pillar cornerstones of yardstick amps, Marhsall, Fender Twin, VOX AC30, it seems that amp sims has had a better go at mimicking certain select Marshall amps, and Fender Twins, more thoroughly, but the AC30 seems to be the last scalp to make, and the judge/verdict is still out there. That one seems to be the hardest to nail, for some strange reason. That AC30 (all gnarls, irks and quirks) seems to be the last bastion to nail, at least so much, that any differences still remaining are so subtle that they are neglible. But regarding my link above, to that "second opinion" of Jamvox III, is that readers should take BOTH these reviews in, and make up a decision of themselves. FWIW it's not harder than to download their demos and find out for themselves. View all reviews on the internet as a one big one, with different chapters, and don't rely too much on what's been written by whom. Read between the lines, try to detect if the reviewer (or forum, company behind it) has "a dog in this fight" so to speak, and try to make your own assesment.

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:49 pm

The Tonelab, and JamVox do a much better job than that reviewer's lousy review. I've been using Tonelab for more than 10 years and always on the lookout for something newer to replace it with and nothing comes close to the feel and organic sound of it. That includes JamVox too. Sorry that reviewer might not be impressed because the software is old and hasn't been updated in a long time compared to other offerings with tons of models and IR options, etc...all true, but regarding the sound he doesn't know what he's talking about. JamVox and Tonelab still nail the tube feel and organic sound in a certain way that many modern and feature-laden modelers today can't touch.

its pretty hard to get any modeler to "chime" like a Vox... I think JamVox is probably about as close as its going to get, but frankly I think that requires a much better cabinet simulation then what is provided in the aging JamVox.

Its the valvetronix tech that makes JamVox and tonelab special and that reviewer didn't even mention it.
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Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:11 am

Which comes to the inevitable cognitive bias prejudice that it impossible to make a fair assesment, on certain amp sims. If they've been around like 7-8 years, with little or no upgrade (Guitar Rig, Waves GTR etc) and still cost as much as when they were released, and you compare amp sims to newer stuff, that it is even freeware, you seem to be more prone to diss the older ones, when it comes to high prices, and what you get for it, and it has been left astern in development or upgrade. Karzog/Thermionik simply pulled the plug on theirs, even if it was lauded. One can't deny that it chews and gnarls in the back of your head, when you review decade old products almost, and have to really searching really hard, to find something mitigating still about them.

The main thing is ...well.. a Fender Twin from 1965 hasn't fared the same amount of cognitive bias, when judging it. It's still Yardstick. And it was introduced 1952 I think...

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:08 pm

I'm not sure what you're going on about now other then just being a negative nellie.

By the way, Kazrog is currently working on a much improved Thermionik, he didn't pull the plug on anything. I'm not entirely sure why he's not selling it now, but I just talked with him recently and he's working on something next gen, FWIW.
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User avatar
audiojunkie
KVRAF
2919 posts since 19 Apr, 2002 from Utah

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 21, 2019 1:21 pm

Dewdman42 wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:08 pm
I'm not sure what you're going on about now other then just being a negative nellie.

By the way, Kazrog is currently working on a much improved Thermionik, he didn't pull the plug on anything. I'm not entirely sure why he's not selling it now, but I just talked with him recently and he's working on something next gen, FWIW.
Oooh! Interesting! :-)
C/R, dongles & other intrusive copy protection equals less-control & more-hassle for consumers. Company gone-can’t authorize. Limit to # of auths. Instability-ie PACE. Forced internet auths. THE HONEST ARE HASSLED, NOT THE PIRATES.

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:06 pm

Spent more time with Melda's MCabinet last night. Very interesting product! Maybe I'll make a better review of that later. There is a guy that has made a lot of videos about it already and they are very good at explaining what it can do.

if I could give it a description, it would be an algorithmic cabinet emulator.

You can basically start without any IR involved whatsoever, and you can apply a 5 band parametric dynamic EQ to get a curve that makes sense for a guitar cabinet. That's the simplest level, but you can apply some harmonic filtering in each band...Its still not clear to me what that is exactly. But where it gets really interesting is that he has included some "resonators" which basically algorithmically add resonances to the EQ curve. Not a lot is explained about how that works or what its doing exactly, its a bit of a black box, but you can hear the differences when you dial the knobs.. hehe. There is a smoothing knob which can enhance or reduce the resonating effects...and other sensible knobs like EQ tilt, and things like that so that you can dial in the EQ profile that will make it sound like a guitar cab.

It can also analyze an IR and use that as a starting point, then you can apply EQ and resonators to further enhance it.

It can also analyze a folder full of IR's and come up with an average EQ profile to start out with before applying all the algorithmic stuff.

For example, after analyzing a celestion IR... we see this:


analyze.jpg

We can then further change the profile to be a bit smoother by using the smooth knob to smooth out some of the resonances... Apply LP and HP filters....a bit of scoop..

smoothed.jpg

Then we can use the resonator to see some artificial STEREO resonance(note the red and blue lines...some stereo differences are now being artificially introduced(stereo is optional):

resonance.jpg

Then we can smooth out the artificial resonance if we want:

smoothed_res.jpg

That's just scratching the surface, but shows how its possible to manipulate and create an artificial cab response profile...

And you can export your algorithmic profile as an IR that can be used in other products too. Though some aspects of MCabinet are dynamic in nature, such as the the dynamic EQ, non-linearly, and will not translate to an exported IR. If you don't use compression in the dynamic EQ, then the export would probably be close.

it also has something called wideners, which does some mumbo jumbo to create stereo out of a guitar signal... I personally haven't liked using that, I'd rather produce a mono guitar sound and mix it in my DAW to stereo field that way.. but its interesting anyway as an option to create synthetic guitar cabs that sound wider in a way that is hard to explain.

Basically its an algorithmic guitar cab processor and the theory is that once you learn how to use this thing, you may not ever need to wade through hundreds of IR files ever again. I did manage to come up with some very nice profiles in it already. I like the visuals that are presented to help understand what the IR's are doing and how I can slightly tweak them to make them more to my liking. or take an existing IR that sounds good but harsh, and smooth out the resonances (or add some), or eq out some harshness somewhere and basically improve the IR.

Its a different mindset though, you can't think in terms of "I like greenbacks mixed with Vintage 30's". Its more about engineering an artificial cabinet that just sounds bad ass.
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Last edited by Dewdman42 on Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:17 pm

I was also playing around last night with Two Notes Torpedo Wall of Sound plugin...which is a "cab store" concept. Download the plugin, and buy the cabs one by one as you need them, they are kind of pricy though. They are $8 each with a bit of a discount if you buy bulk, but it could easily add up to a lot of money. But a couple of the CAB's I tried there sounded very very well engineered. Its kind of like Amplitube where you can choose the cab you want, the mic you want and visually move the mic around on a virtual stage, change the room its in too I think...and basically it does what it says..but I found that the final sound was very well engineered. Not as raw sounding.. But they had already painstakingly removed any problem resonances, etc.. its not just a blind collection of thousands of IR's captured from various cabs and mic combinations..they have done some work, imho, to clean up the IR's and make sure they are smooth to use. Kind of impressed, but not enough to buy any of their $8 cab profiles yet.. I think the plugin is free to use as long as you buy at least one cab. It comes with two free ones, but expires after 30 days unless you buy at least one cab. SO I might buy one.

It also has a power amp emulator built in, and other FX.. room verb, compression, exciter, simple EQ. The power amp is actually kind of a cool thing, it lets you select various types of power amps and muddy up the sound with it. And it does sound muddier, but sometimes in a good way...just like a real tube power amp does. I could see myself using that.
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Ploki
KVRian
994 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:12 am

Dewdman42 wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:17 pm
.. room verb, compression, exciter, simple EQ. The power amp is actually kind of a cool thing, it lets you select various types of power amps and muddy up the sound with it. And it does sound muddier, but sometimes in a good way...just like a real tube power amp does. I could see myself using that.
oh hey its you

User avatar
The Noodlist
KVRian
1311 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from UK

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:58 am

ToneSpot Electric Express Multi-Effect by Audified
Improves the tone no matter what amp, pedal or plugin you are using for your electric guitar processing.
Features
  • Best mixing tricks for electric guitar processing
  • Monstrous processing power and flexibility
  • Minimal controls for super-fast results
  • Settings based on the analysis of thousands of world-class records
  • Time-saver: No need to use many plug-ins
  • Intelligent gain staging
Really?
It's a pretty bold statement, it depends more on what goes before it, surely. Sceptical.
Post sim treatment.
Last edited by The Noodlist on Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral:

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:00 pm

Ploki wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:12 am
Dewdman42 wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:17 pm
.. room verb, compression, exciter, simple EQ. The power amp is actually kind of a cool thing, it lets you select various types of power amps and muddy up the sound with it. And it does sound muddier, but sometimes in a good way...just like a real tube power amp does. I could see myself using that.
oh hey its you
:D
MacPro 5,1 12core x 3.46ghz-128gb 10.14, X32+AES16e-50

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1736 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:04 pm

Just want to say that I've been playing around a lot more with AT4, since recently I acquired nearly all of the expansions, including some newer ones that are better done and I have to say AT4 is starting to grow on me. I was able to get some sustain that I feel is missing from the amp models, by using the tube compressor judiciously. Now it can sustain just about as well as JamVOX, Mercurial and some others I have.. I'm having loads of fun also with the Cabinet emulation, swapping out different celestion speaker cones.. I have no idea how realtic that swapping is, but it is definitely fun to play with the tone that way.

Using the AXIO device for getting my guitar signal into the computer has been key! Its making all my modelers across the board sound better.

When i compare AT4, to say S-Gear...the S-Gear definitely has a more raw quality to it...kind of 3 dimensional in a way and I can see the allure, but AT4 obviously has way more capability to vary the sound.

Another feature I found out about through this that is a bit of a hidden little secret trick in AT4. You can right click on the cabinet and see a context menu to save the setup as a little mini preset. So you can setup a particular cab with speakers, mics, placement, room...and save that as a cab-preset which can be then loaded quickly into any other AT4 overall-preset.

This right click trick is also on Pedals, Amps, FX and everything else. There are basically no factory presets provided for this feature, but its quite handy...
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reggie1979
KVRAF
1879 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:57 pm

Red pig cabinet on EVERYTHING :D

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