The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

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cptgone
KVRAF
5450 posts since 1 Aug, 2003

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:33 am

Amp sims either try to emulate extant hardware, or go their own way. One of the latter is Blue Cat's Axiom, and it has some further advantages. It can host VST effects, and comes with Blue Cat's Re-Guitar (guitar pickup sim), a tuner, and other goodies.

My very limited experience with other sims left me impressed by PA's bx_bassdude.

I recently started using hardware guitar pedals, and picked up an AMT F1 (analog Fender amp sim), which I've been using always-on lately, figuring it makes a good clean-ish pedal platform.

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:49 am

telecode wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:41 am
Thanks. Good post. I learnt a.lot.

So you feel that S Gear sound better or more superior than Amplitude and / or Guitar Rig.
Not superior in any way. Can't think that the latest other simps have evolved a lot. It's just to my taste. I've resorted to the opinion that it's not possible to discuss or debate what sounds "best". Just my favorite. I will still cite legendary pickup designer Seth Lover, and he said it all when alluding to sound out of amp, and sounds from different pickups:

"I’ve heard musicians talking about things that are just bothering the hell out of them – complaining on sound and so forth – and I’d listen and listen and I couldn’t hear. At the same time I could hear things in there that were bothering the hell out of me and they’d pay no attention to them. I hear something they don’t and they hear something I don’t.

What are you going to do?"
- Seth Lover

https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the- ... seth-lover

So I hear something in S-gear I don't hear in others, and others hears cloud nine in Amplitube 4 while I remain indifferent. Whenever everything is said and done, I do think that almost all amp sims have a certain flair of "sameness" to their different sounds. I e in that I haven't found as of yet any other amp sim that sounds so different that it will make it worth to change it out altogether and mothbal Guitar Rig, Revalver, S-gear, Softube, Kuassa... you name it. I mean that it's worth to start all over again, and do presets with minutiae settings on each control. And after a few years of that, when I am done, all of a sudenn Amplitube 7 comes around and.... wow...must have...start all over again.

I only hear the pitfalls of ampsims when running them in stereo and summing them up in mono, in the mixer. I e two separate computers (the same) and two sound card interfaces. Like two IRL tube amps or whatever. I run them into the mix, and all of a sudden, when summed in mono, on starts to hear those phase artifacts. But ...it's a tad over the top, and no one uses that. But IRL amps miked up and put in stereo, and then summing them up in mono in the mixer you'll hear their full sound and waveform and no phase artifacts.

But still, I use both and do no think one replaces the other.

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Anderton
KVR Expert
140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
KVR Expert

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:12 am

I'll be covering S-Gear later on. It's one of those sims that points out the differences in design philosophy...it doesn't do a lot of things, but what it does do, it does very well. I think most people would characterize its sound as more "warm" or "organic."

That said, I feel you can make any amp sim sound at least somewhat more organic by the EQ you do both before and after the sim. I've also found that putting a de-esser in front of an amp sim can give a warmer, less harsh tone because it attenuates the high frequencies when you hit the strings really hard - sort of like an automatic "rolling back the tone control" for a sweeter sound.
My educational website has launched! Read articles, see videos, read reviews, and more at https://craiganderton.org. Check out my music at YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit my digital storefront at https://craiganderton.com. Thanks!

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:13 am


Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:29 am

The thing with S-Gear that it doesn't really have any amp name in it that is set out to mimick or copy a Twin, AC-30, Plexi or Mesa Boogie or any other famed name. Mr Scuffham made his designs on "inspired by" or "based loosely on..." just like they do in cinema whenever they make a film that is somewhat reminiscent of a certain book that came out before... :wink:

He cites both Dumble, Park, and Soldano as starting points. So one can't ever give a fair comparison to real amps because very few people have owned these, let alone heard them. And thus there doesn't exist any IRL amps of his virtual designs then. It's not even comparing apples to oranges (not the amp brand..the real fruit I mean). :neutral:

His latest addition was the Tweed though, a very simple amp, but one of my favorites with three knobs only...that is the one that comes closest to a bona fide clone of Fender Tweed or whatever they were called. Bright can it be, especially with Telecaster plugged in. For example, when I - years ago - set out to get a sound similar to Eric Johnsons "violin sound" with 100W Marshall Plexi, those cabs, pedals in front, echoes and whatever, I found that The Duke in S-gear gave the closest results, and that one is "inspired" by Dumble, not any Marshall, according to mr Scuffham. So don't slavishly go for virtual copies of real world amps when you're trying to nail someones tone. You may yield better result by using totally taboo amps/gear and settings. Mr Scuffham used to work for Marshall as a chief designer in the 80-90s. The Marshall head with MIDI connections was his baby among other things.

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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
6455 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:47 am

Mats Eriksson wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:29 am
So don't slavishly go for virtual copies of real world amps when you're trying to nail someones tone. You may yield better result by using totally taboo amps/gear and settings.
Indeed. Whilst Amplitube et al undoubtedly do well at emulating the blues rock type of stuff, I've never really had much joy from the big amp sims in terms of a more textured indie/jangle sound (thinking Johnny Marr, Terry Bickers, John Squire etc etc..) . Strangely, the ones I keep coming back to for this are the Plug & Mix 'American' and 'California' plug-ins, both of which have a lovely chiming sound, especially with the 12 strings, which the bigger, more prestigious amp-sims don't seem to want to give.. :cry:

reggie1979
KVRAF
1895 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:53 am

I never care about the amp model being used, I either like it and use it or don't.

That being said I'm not going to not use AT Fender or Nimbrini's Soldano model just because of marketing.

I absolutely cannot have an amp, sims are the only way to go for me so I make due the best I can.

As far as S-Gear is concerned, it's terrific. But clearly they are not putting any more work into it.

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Forgotten
KVRAF
7336 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:54 am

I haven't really used any software for amp simulation for quite some time now. Since I bought a Tech21 SansAmp GT2 I always use that. I think it sounds more realistic than any of the software amps I've tried.

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3654 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:01 am

Just came across this months Novation Sound Collective gift: Izotope Trash 2...
Just played a bit Diva into it and have tons of fun. Beside all weird distortion it has a nice collection of amp sims.
I am not in the state to judge on them, sold my last real bass amp 15 years ago or so. But fun is in there a lot. Any registered Novation product justifies for getting it for free...
As I also own Guitar Rig 5, I guess I am covered...

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Anderton
KVR Expert
140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
KVR Expert

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:19 pm

Tj Shredder wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:01 am
Just came across this months Novation Sound Collective gift: Izotope Trash 2...
Just played a bit Diva into it and have tons of fun. Beside all weird distortion it has a nice collection of amp sims.
Fun fact: the inspiration for that was my Quadrafuzz multiband distortion. iZotope called me up at the time, and asked whether I'd mind if they did something similar. I thought that was a pretty classy move, so of course I said yes. They ended up taking the concept much further, though, so I ended up with a cool new toy to use :wink:
My educational website has launched! Read articles, see videos, read reviews, and more at https://craiganderton.org. Check out my music at YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit my digital storefront at https://craiganderton.com. Thanks!

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Anderton
KVR Expert
140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
KVR Expert

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:20 pm

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS GUITAR RIG 5

Offered as part of Komplete or separately for $199, Guitar Rig was one of the early amp sims (full disclosure: I worked on the manual for the original program). A demo is available that runs for 30 minutes, but you can re-open it and use it again; however, it doesn’t save. Perhaps a better option is to download Komplete Start, which is free (yes, free) and also offers a collection of synths and effects, which includes Guitar Rig 5 Player (17 cabs, 13 effects, and several modifiers).

Image
The Guitar Rig 5 plug-in. Note the two-column layout, with the rack on the right.

Version 5.2.2 was released over three years ago, and some Guitar Rig fans wonder whether they’re ever going to see Guitar Rig 6. I don’t have any insider info, but Native Instruments is so strong in synths, DJ, content, and hardware, it’s hard to imagine that updating Guitar Rig is a particularly high priority. But more to the point, does it really need more than what it has? Guitar Rig 5 includes 17 amps, 27 cabinets, and 54 effects. More importantly, it includes modifiers that draw on NI’s synth expertise, like an LFO, Envelope, and Input Level module—all of which are sidechainable—as well as a Step Sequencer and Analog Sequencer. For a long time, Guitar Rig was the only sim with these kind of sequencing possibilities. AmpliTube has caught up in some ways by including step sequencers and such, but Guitar Rig still seems like the best option for the kind of guitarist who thinks the AdrenaLinn was brilliant.

It’s also worth noting that the sound of Guitar Rig has improved over the years. Later cabinets were significantly better than the somewhat nasty-sounding first generation modules, and although I don’t have the original version around for comparison, I believe NI tweaked the sound of the earlier cabinets as well.

Guitar Rig uses a rack paradigm, where you drag components into the rack. Here are the amp options.

Image
Guitar Rig has 17 guitar amps and a bass amp.

When you load an amp, you also have the option to loading a matching cabinet.

Image
Note the A and B mics for the cab, and a slider to vary between the dry sound and one with “air.”

However, there are also two “control rooms” (as well as a legacy cabs and mics component). The Control Room offers multiple mics you can mix, pan, mute, and solo, as well as a choice of all available cabinet models. The Control Room Pro is more sophisticated, as it offers eight mics channels, each with a choice of mics, cabinets, miking position, room sound, and phase.

Image
The two control rooms, and the legacy mics and cabinents component.

But it also has two outstanding routing features: a Splitter for creating parallel paths, and a Crossover for frequency-dependent splits. What’s more, you can sent splits into additional splitters, so multiband operation is possible. It makes for a pretty cluttered-looking rack, but it works.

A convenience feature I wish all sims had is a Learn control for the internal amp levels. When you’re dealing with a distorted sound, it’s easy to gain-stage incorrectly unless you recognize the difference between the “good” distortion the amp is supposed to deliver, and the “bad” distortion caused by overloading a module internally. Learn prevents that. There’s also functionality that makes it easy to match the perceived loudness of presets.

Image
Being able to “learn” the correct level for internal gain-staging, as well as match presets, is a very useful convenience feature.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Guitar Rig 5 because there hasn’t been a Guitar Rig 6. Yes, amp sims from other companies have eclipsed Guitar Rig in some ways—IK AmpliTube and Overloud TH3 offer more gear options, Scuffham S-Gear has a more refined sound quality, Waves’ Supermodel amps are unusually responsive, Line 6 Helix has four parallel audio paths, etc. But there’s a lot that NI got right with Guitar Rig at the outset. What made it desirable in the first place hasn’t gone away, and there have been improvements since its introduction. I do need to wrestle with it more than some other amp sims to get the sound I want (e.g., restrict the highs going into a high-gain amp, use the Splitter, etc.), but hey, that’s why presets exist—so you can save a sound once you’ve nailed it.

Finally, although Guitar Rig 5 is available as a separate product, it’s also included in Komplete 12, which costs $599 (as well as the more expensive editions, like Komplete 12 Ultimate). If you have any interest in synths, samplers, and content, that extra $400 is worth it.
My educational website has launched! Read articles, see videos, read reviews, and more at https://craiganderton.org. Check out my music at YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit my digital storefront at https://craiganderton.com. Thanks!

abi
KVRian
667 posts since 11 May, 2004 from cologne,germany

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:37 pm

as it was stated by others, one‘s preferences regarding particular amp sims don‘t rely solely on the sound. the design factor is important too.

for instance i mostly don‘t like the big amp suites like amplitude or guitar rig. amplitube in particular feels a bit clunky to me although this might be a sentiment caused by its all-in-one-approach. positive grid bias is the worst, it feels almost unresponsive at times.

so i prefer a modular approach. s-gear e.g. offers some effects but i will mostly use only the amp section and will choose a cab from torpedo wall of sound to follow the amp. most importantly the last effect of the chain would be a lo and hi-cut (bx_cleansweep does this nicely). plus, i can only recommend to get some good distortion pedal emulations (kuassas od, disortion and fuzz are great, also dirtmachine by audio assault). also don‘t underestimate the effect of some nice coloring eq (eg neve or api style) to shape the sound.

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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
6455 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:40 pm

Never really use Guitar Rig as an amp sim as such (again, that's a subjective judgement on the amps etc - just not really my cup of tea), but the effects are often forgotten about by people, and they're top notch in my book. Things like the psych-delay, the pitch and filter stuff, and the whammy emulation etc get a lot of use here and the sequencer functions (as above) are a nice touch for moving sounds and for stuff on the more esoteric end of the scale. :love: Nice low CPU hit too.
Last edited by donkey tugger on Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Forgotten
KVRAF
7336 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:41 pm

donkey tugger wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:40 pm
Never really use Guitar Rig as an amp sim as such (again, that's a subjective judgement on the amps etc - just not really my cup of tea), but the effects are often forgotten about by people, and they're top notch in my book. Things like the psych-delay, the pitch and filter stuff, and the whammy emulation etc get a lot of use here and the sequencer functions (as above) are a nice touch for moving sounds and for stuff on the more esoteric end of the scale. :love:
:tu:

I don't like the amp sims much, but the effects are really good.

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telecode
KVRAF
1521 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:58 pm

Thanks for the guitar rig post. I learnt something new there . I am a exclusive Guitar Rig user as it's the only amp sim i own on the desktop. I have gotten used to it and it's quirkiness. I manage to get the sounds I need out of it. Though I think I might want to try out S Gear when it goes on sale. Warm and organic are right up my alley. And I like the idea of a VST doing one thing but doing it really well.

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