The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

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guitarzan
KVRian
1162 posts since 3 Sep, 2005 from Outer Bongolia

Post Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:54 pm

donkey tugger wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:55 pm
Is it a blues rock/widdler/metel thing? I've somehow managed to go 35 years without knowing me preamp from me power amp. Probably doing it wrong. :scared:
Yeah, Chicago blues, a lot of blues rock guys — early ZZ Top is heavy power amp overdrive. The guy who lives in power amp dynamics land is Neil Young. My favorite is Live Rust, listen to Powderfinger followed by Cortez the Killer. The way different notes and phrases have different envelopes, depending on his picking dynamics, almost like it's going through a subtly modulated ADSR/VCA — that's pretty much all overdriven power amp distortion and dynamics.

While every tube amp model would benefit if the power amps were modeled correctly, the differences would be relatively more subtle on modern tube amps compared to vintage models like tweeds, Supros, old Gibsons, Vox, maybe the earliest Marshals, etc. Those models would become radically different beasts, where more modern tube amp models would mostly just have more balls and be more expressive, vastly improved "feel", that kind of stuff.

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3372 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:58 am

guitarzan wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:23 pm
So, since no one can be arsed to even consider properly modeling the dynamics of a tube power amp and output transformer, amp modeling shall always suck, lesson not having been learned from the 80's about relying on flashy pre-amps for tone. Anyone who normally digs into the power amp for true overdrive will get zero satisfaction — there is nothing there but the rails and, if you're real lucky, some ersatz compression and a dash of filtering. No proper power amp dynamics at all — zero. Nothing awaits but a square wave of shitone.
Seems you have a business idea, go for it, create whats missing, hire some bad ass programmers an physicists an see if you can make it...
Unfortunately I don't care too much and think that modelling tubes has been done - maybe not good enough - and the die hard hardware lovers would never replace the real thing with an emulation anyway... (As I would never replace my real bass with anything Modo...)

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Unaspected
KVRian
1036 posts since 4 May, 2012

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:05 am

It might not provide the same interactivity but try placing True Iron between your amp head and cab emulations.

You're welcome. :)

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

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:36 pm

I would love to hear your opinion on neural dsp archetype plini! it‘s the first time in years that i‘m impressed by amp sims. what do you guys think?

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Anderton
KVR Expert
140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:39 pm

abi wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:36 pm
I would love to hear your opinion on neural dsp archetype plini! it‘s the first time in years that i‘m impressed by amp sims. what do you guys think?
I'll download the trial and check it out after I finish writing up the PRS Supermodels, which is what's up next.

As I've said several times, I like amps for what they do, and amp sims for what they do. The PRS Supermodels fall either neither category, because they're amp sims that feel like amps, and have nothing else - no effects, no pedalboard, they're basically amp replacements. Just as Helix is great for doing what amps can't do, the PRS Supermodels are great for doing what amp sims can't do...details to follow.
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
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140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:14 pm

guitarzan wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:16 am
Anderton wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:57 am
I stopped using guitar amps in 1968 and went over to keyboard amps. At the time, tube quality was going downhill. But also, I was concentrating more and more on getting "my sound" independent of the amp, which is something I've continued to refine over the years.
Ah, well there you go. There's nothing that behaves more not-like-a-guitar-amp than an amp modeler. Perfect tool for you! So Helix has six bands of no-power-amp you say?
I don't think I made it sufficiently clear that the Helix is a toolbox. You choose which tools you want to use from it. If you just want to go through an amp and add pedals, you can do that. I'm always looking to stretch the boundaries of what's possible, but a lot of the times, the tools aren't there to do what I want to do. The Helix's toolset takes care of me as well as their target audience. It's like the guy at Honest Amp Sims Reviews says (and I agree with most of his opinions), the Helix is his #1 full amp suite of all time - but he uses it in a completely different way than I do. That's the advantage of toolboxes. (BTW although it's a different kind of product compared to Helix, he loves the Plini.)
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!

guitarzan
KVRian
1162 posts since 3 Sep, 2005 from Outer Bongolia

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:51 pm

Anderton wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:14 pm
I don't think I made it sufficiently clear that the Helix is a toolbox. You choose which tools you want to use from it. If you just want to go through an amp and add pedals, you can do that. I'm always looking to stretch the boundaries of what's possible, but a lot of the times, the tools aren't there to do what I want to do. The Helix's toolset takes care of me as well as their target audience. It's like the guy at Honest Amp Sims Reviews says (and I agree with most of his opinions), the Helix is his #1 full amp suite of all time - but he uses it in a completely different way than I do. That's the advantage of toolboxes. (BTW although it's a different kind of product compared to Helix, he loves the Plini.)
So what tools would it take to simulate the missing power amp dynamics? A sagging power amp imposes an amplitude envelope onto the guitar signal - it is a little bit like an ADSR/VCA but it's like the ADSR settings evolve constantly — this is the part I always end describing as "elastic", the feel of the envelope. Once the power amp is voltage starved and voltage becomes the limiting factor — would that actually make the amp begin to operate more like a VCA?

Another feature of power amp distortion is that it works upsidedown in some situations... picking softer can actually results in a more distorted (more fully squarwave-ish) sound that feels like it is drawn out of the guitar — hard to put into words but I suppose it must be a drastic version of compression or limiting, where picking harder can cause the rails to give, making for a skewed squarewave (sort of sawtooth) and the power amp to sag. You can hear all of it quite clearly and exaggerated in a lot of Neil Young stuff (I would say Cortez the Killer from Live Rust is the clearest example, but I always like to hear him heat up the amp with Powderfinger first). He'll pluck a chord fragment lightly and it will result in this rumbling pad of muff fuzz-like distortion, then the harder and more articulate his picking the more spikey and clear the notes become (not clean, but razor sharp, no fizz or bloat) — pretty much the opposite of what most would expect — it does not smash against the rails as a squarewave and mush out when pushed — it does the opposite. Harmonics leap out. I was lucky that my first amp was an oldie (maybe about a 1960 Gibson) I learned about the joys of power amp overdrive young. Ever since I can't be without it, but whatever wattage amp I try, it is LOUD! (like, structural damage loud). Plus I would love to see it preserved digitally so it can be accessible to all. Not to mention — why the hell would amp sims not model the power amp? It makes no sense whatsoever.

[Sorry — I was editing for clarity while you must've been replying, so qoutes don't match]
Last edited by guitarzan on Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:24 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Anderton
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140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:55 pm

guitarzan wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:51 pm
So where would you begin in trying to simulate the missing power amp dynamics?
I'm not a software developer, I have no idea how to simulate the sound of anything in code.
A sagging power amp imposes an amplitude envelope onto the guitar signal - it is a little bit like an ADSR/VCA but it's like the ADSR settings evolve constantly. Once the power amp is voltage starved and voltage becomes the limiting factor — would that actually make the amp begin to work more like a VCA?
Well, it seems like the PRS SuperModels take a lot of this into account. But I understand that you are dissatisfied with the current state of amp sims, and I hope that someday, a developer produces an aim sim with which you are happy.
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
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140 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:59 pm

PRS SuperModel Amps

Time to flip the phase switch. After covering the Helix—the amp sim that does things I can’t do with any physical amp—let’s cover the amp sim collection that nails what physical amps do.

People often say that once an amp sim is recorded, you can’t tell the difference between “the real thing” and the sim. And I agree. But playing is something else, because while amp sims are very good at sounding like physical amps, where many of them fall short is they don’t respond like physical amps. And having said that, I’m sure the first reaction of many people will be “No sim will ever be able to re-create the responsiveness of a physical amp.”

Well, you can get demo versions of the PRS SuperModels, and decide for yourself. When the PRS SuperModel amps collection first appeared, after 10 minutes of playing with the demo I bought the collection. I was so impressed by how all three amps responded to nuance, and the way they transitioned—smoothly and convincingly—from clean to crunch, I was hooked. I felt like I was playing through a PRS amp.

Now, understand that these are amp replacements. There are no pedals, wahs, delays, choruses, nothing extra other than a reverb on the Dallas model. Instead of doing lots of things well, the SuperModels do one thing superbly—feel and play like an amp.

Okay, that’s enough waxing poetic over how much I love these plug-ins. Each amp has three sections: an upper section that duplicates the PRS amp being modeled; these differ somewhat for the various amps. The other two sections are identical for each amp. The middle section is where you get to go nuts with the cabinet IRs, while a lower section does the homework—input and output levels, gate, cabinet loader, air control for some ambiance, and tuner.

Image

Here’s the Dallas amp, with the Boost section visible.

Let’s dispense with the lower section first. The cool thing here is the input Learn control, à la Guitar Rig. If someone ran for president on the platform that a law would be passed requiring all amp sims to have a learn function, I would vote for that person regardless of party or ideology. Levels are crucial to getting the right sound out of amp sims, and there’s no excuse for getting it wrong with these suckers.

The cabinet loader section is basically the Cliff’s Notes version of the middle section—you can load different cabinets without opening up the middle’s innards. The Air control adds ambiance, which if you’ve been paying attention to this thread, is something I consider important to give the right feel of amp-in-room.

The middle section gives extensive control over the IRs. There are eight cabs available in all the amps, but you can load your own IRs, or export new ones based on what you do in the middle section. And...you can cycle through the IRs while playing, so you can hear the sounds in context. Of course, you can pan, and alter the balance, of the cabs. There are also Phase Fix and Time Fix buttons to compensate for inconsistencies among loaded IRs.

The top sections have some elements in common: a bypass switch so you can use just the cabs, a tone stack (but the details vary among the amps), boost section with pop-up controls for gain, level, and six tonal “shapes,” and a power amp section with pop-up controls for bias, sag, and sag speed, along with indicators that show how much the output transformer is being stressed, and the amount of sag. These are effective controls in tailoring the feel to your playing. The Blue Sierra and Dallas amps have Bright switches, while the Archon has a Lead/Clean switch.

As to character, for the Dallas amp, think Fendery clean, with the option to go further. It does credible crunch, but can also do the chimey/sparkle thing. I don’t know if Waves did this just to confuse all the people who say amp sims can’t do clean sounds...but it can do clean sounds. As with most of the amps, I favored the presets labeled “PRS” because either they worked “out of the box,” or were good points of departure that were tweaked easily into what I wanted.

Image

The Blue Sierra V9 is just plain awe-inspiring. This image shows the controls for the transformer/power amp section, along with its indicator meters.

The Blue Sierra V9 is rock and roll crunch and lead, par excellence. After adjusting the input level and loading the “Initial Lead” preset, I fell in love with it. This is a lead sound that sings. The Boost and tone stack controls are particularly effective with this amp, as is the Gain Stage; its on/off switch is very much like a cleaner/dirtier switch. The amount of tonal change you can get with this collection of controls is huge, from corpulent to tight and controlled. If I could have only one of the SuperModels, this would be it.

Image

Here’s Archon. It may look harmless, but it can snarl with the best of them.

Archon is schizophrenic—it can produce superb clean, sparkly sounds, but you can also crank up the gain to go deep into modern metal-land. With Archon I actually like dialing back about 10-20% from maximum overdrive, but it can hold its own when you want high gain. Oh, and speaking of cranking, it appears with all the amps that there’s a lot going on under the hood because with several controls, it takes a second after making an adjustment before you hear the change (and you might hear some sci-fi sounds while it’s changing).

Now, I haven’t tried every amp sim in the world (despite my best efforts to do so), and I’ll be checking out some new ones before signing out of this thread. But my initial opinion of the PRS SuperModels that made me reach for my credit card within minutes of first trying them remains: you feel like you’re playing through a PRS amp. For my taste, this is an astounding collection. If you think I’m going over the top...well, try the demo...see what you think. And comment about it here.
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!

guitarzan
KVRian
1162 posts since 3 Sep, 2005 from Outer Bongolia

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:13 am

Anderton wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:55 pm
guitarzan wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:51 pm
So where would you begin in trying to simulate the missing power amp dynamics?
I'm not a software developer, I have no idea how to simulate the sound of anything in code.
A sagging power amp imposes an amplitude envelope onto the guitar signal - it is a little bit like an ADSR/VCA but it's like the ADSR settings evolve constantly. Once the power amp is voltage starved and voltage becomes the limiting factor — would that actually make the amp begin to work more like a VCA?
Well, it seems like the PRS SuperModels take a lot of this into account. But I understand that you are dissatisfied with the current state of amp sims, and I hope that someday, a developer produces an aim sim with which you are happy.
OK, thanks man — your articles were always my favorite part of GP magazine, so I thought you might have the answers.

I just realized I'm like that guy in Rush 2112, only I'm trying to present a glowing tube power amp to the Priests of The Temples of Syrinx, but they don't want to hear about another toy that helped destroy the elder race of man. Oh well. We will assume control eventually :wink:

magicmusic
KVRian
1123 posts since 11 Nov, 2013

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:31 am

telecode wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:23 am
Mats Eriksson wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:59 am
telecode wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:43 am
Sorry, can you explain what does this mean?
Obfuscation = bewilderment, confusion, obstruction, to cover up, hide something else, strutting about something else that doesn't really matters, and general smokes and mirrors.

I would make an analogy to Guitar Rig 4 when it came out. Huge amount of Room miking and placement and 6-8 fader mixers of 6-8 different mics in the same room at different angles, and wow.... spent some weekend with that. Then when put together with a dense band mix, and tried to overdub and track solos, it was all ending up a mere "pfft" anyway. So one went down the rabbit hole again, and tried and tried to get EQ working, different mic placing again for the uptenth time, spent definitely more time fiddling and tinkering and less than 10 percent playing. And one marveled at all the options and that anal retentive detail of every aspect of the sound. What a major feat, they've come up with. Then I put just a Shure mike in front of my 1x12 Peavey Bandit (I kid you not) at mild levels, and got the sound within a split second. Then it came to me "Why bother?".

I e in like this: If you have a well articulate sound from guitar and fingers from the start on, and record through a real amp/cab, chances are that you will dabble with all post-processing much less. I did.

All these options steals a lot of time, and in the end, when you've tried it all, all of the settings and possibilities is but a cul de sac. It doesn't get actually better, just different. I remember one at the Guitar Rig Forum once asked the question "Doesn't it all has some kind of sameness to it?" and he took a lot of flak and heat. But deep down, I kind of, agreed with him. There's a certain overall flavor to each of each manufacturers amp sims. That shines through after a while. Whether one can cope with this or not, is a personal preference. I don't mind it though, but wouldn't solely rely on it all of the time, 100 percent. I've discovered less listening fatigue creeping in with real amps, than amp sims.
I agree with the sameness comment. I will even say there seems to be sameness in amp sims between different vendors . I can hear a difference, but it's very slight. I think someone who doesn't play guitar won't be able to tell the difference at all. I suspect, once you put that electric guitar sound into a mix with other instruments, it becomes quite hard to tell a difference.
the problem is that the speaker sim cut high frequency too much. this can hear on thoman page when compare real valve combos with digital speaker sim combo. they use same lick

but use a exciter as ozone multiband exciter in tape or valve mode to bring the high back to the virtual amp/cabinet do the job and virtual sound much better and i hear then no diffrence to real valve amp
For Bug report Purpose that developer see which system i use; win 10 64 1809 intel i5 8600K (6*3.6 GHZ) 16 GB Ram

reggie1979
KVRAF
1879 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:38 am

Anderton wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:39 pm
abi wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:36 pm
I would love to hear your opinion on neural dsp archetype plini! it‘s the first time in years that i‘m impressed by amp sims. what do you guys think?
I'll download the trial and check it out after I finish writing up the PRS Supermodels, which is what's up next.

As I've said several times, I like amps for what they do, and amp sims for what they do. The PRS Supermodels fall either neither category, because they're amp sims that feel like amps, and have nothing else - no effects, no pedalboard, they're basically amp replacements. Just as Helix is great for doing what amps can't do, the PRS Supermodels are great for doing what amp sims can't do...details to follow.
Interesting. When I trialed them I wasn't impressed. Everyone is different.

reggie1979
KVRAF
1879 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:55 am

Very hungry. No way that will work for me.

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telecode
KVRian
1309 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:01 pm

Posting this one slightly inebriated as I am on holiday.

I just need to know two things.

1. Is Amplitube worth the deal they are having. I am old skule player who grew up and loves the old skule sounds of fender supra and twins but, that sound is out baby. Every guitar offering I get is a lot of , can we have less of that old guitar sound and something more modern. What I ask show me modern, I hear a lot of acoustic guitar twiddling a la CSN and a lot of 80s Paul Jackson Jr sounding stuff. So I tweak what I have to get those sounds. I don't know if what I am tweaking is really old low res amp sims and I should be actually tweaking some newer sims that where made in last 5 years vs the sims I have which were made in last 10+ years.

2) even though I like those old sounds. I don't want to upgrade to a software that will allow me to play and wank off to those old sounds. Need to get something that will allow me to make newer/ newish sounds ( if that's even possible in guitar world as I am pretty sure all sounds i have hear of in some form or other in previous incarnations.)
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Setup: Mac Mini 2008 model, i7, OS X 10.13.x, 16gb RAM, Cubase 10.5, Maschine MK3, Maschine Jam, Arturia, Komplete 6, Komplete Ultimate, lots of guitars and lapsteels

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telecode
KVRian
1309 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:09 pm

Helix looks interesting. But me issue with Helix is i used.to be in the line 6 ecosystem. It's cool and interesting. But lots of unorthodox.tweaking of settings that never really existed in real guitar amp world. You sort of need a familiar interface from real guitar amp world to tweak in amp sim world inorder to quickly achieve results you want, other wise, you might as well swith to a keyboard synth and read the entire manual. I am site.you can get an plucky effects ridden sound from a synth that sounds like it might have come from a guitar .
Image | https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOB4JV ... 0396XaF1aQ

Setup: Mac Mini 2008 model, i7, OS X 10.13.x, 16gb RAM, Cubase 10.5, Maschine MK3, Maschine Jam, Arturia, Komplete 6, Komplete Ultimate, lots of guitars and lapsteels

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