The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

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adXok
Banned
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Post Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:50 am

All virtual amp sims (plugins) have three* crucial components:
1. IR (impulse response)
2. Phase correlation (2 and above IRs or amps, mics, etc.)
3. High gain distortion - the greatest benchmark test - oversampling and filtering (trimming)

* Latency of course is out of questioning.

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Unaspected
KVRian
1060 posts since 4 May, 2012

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Aug 27, 2019 4:59 am

donkey tugger wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:00 am
telecode wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:35 pm
donkey tugger wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:29 pm
Unaspected wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:24 pm
donkey tugger wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:15 pm
Haven't a clue what all this bizzle is about - something to do with 'lead' guitar I'm assuming? Something I do (abysmally.... very bad widdler..) for about 20 seconds and think, 'hmm that was a larf', before returning to the serious business of the jangle, which appears to be unaffected, by this 'sag' and 'VCA' malarky.. :hihi:
The technicalities of feel and response. Indeed, it's not a big deal unless you want authenticity taken as far as it can be.

I get enough sense of response by playing software amps using a separate monitor speaker. Then I can play with feedback more easily.
I am a very bad person, and tend to record most things clean DI, then add the amp sims and stuff afterwards. If I do need to play with effects/distortion (for the odd foray into the metel..) then I'll play through my little Fender Mustang amp and and then record a DI track as well. I'm getting the feeling I'm not the target market... :D
Hmm. That would never work for me . I play totally different depending on what the amp and effects or pedals are in the sound I am hearing as I play.
Has no bearing for me unless the distortion is an integral part of the song. Probably about 80% of what I write you could play on either acoustic or electric, and I don't as a rule like to rely on effects or amp sounds for writing - instead use them as the icing on the cake to tart up what (hopefully...) already stands up on its own.

I think I come at the guitar from a slightly different perspective than a lot here. Whilst I do sometimes enjoy playing for playing's sake, most of the time it's all about writing , and I find that effects etc will sidetrack me from that a lot of times. The geetar is a tool for the job, not an end in itself.
Actually, I can appreciate that. I do most of my writing unplugged as well. It's just that when I come to record, I like to hear the amp and distortion. Especially if I'm using pinch harmonics. I do tend to add effects such as delay afterwards - even though I have all the first Line 6 stomp boxes.

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:01 am

Unaspected wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:24 pm
Indeed, it's not a big deal unless you want authenticity taken as far as it can be.
Yeah, it is as hairsplitting, anal rentetive as it comes. I can tell you for sure, if I was in my teens just starting out, I couldn't care less about such things. It's the Seth Lover adage once again "I hear something you don't and you hear something I don't" What should one do?

- - - - -

BTW, on that Brian May pick attack in his delay solo of "Brighton Rock" again. That it was done with a coin as a pick. Hmmm... snide remark here as Amplitube has recently come up with a whole suite of Brian May sounds in the virtual amp world. If they should really be kosher about it, and hard core, they should include a virtual pick too...maybe a bitcoin perhaps ?

[sorry, couldn't resist]

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

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:00 am

Yeah, who needs a little thing like power amp dynamics (the original source of rock 'n' roll) when you already have so much stunningly hyper realistic....uh.....stuff.

I mean, who really needs or even wants 3D, aren't two dimensions already more than enough for anyone?

Man, the future blows.

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Peter - IK Multimedia
KVRAF
6723 posts since 20 Oct, 2009

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:54 am

Mats Eriksson wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:01 am
BTW, on that Brian May pick attack in his delay solo of "Brighton Rock" again. That it was done with a coin as a pick. Hmmm... snide remark here as Amplitube has recently come up with a whole suite of Brian May sounds in the virtual amp world. If they should really be kosher about it, and hard core, they should include a virtual pick too...maybe a bitcoin perhaps ?

[sorry, couldn't resist]
Why is that snide? I'm assuming you realize you can grab a sixpence yourself, use the AmpliTube Brian May tools (and the Brighton Rock preset created by Jamie Humphries - who has performed with Brian and was principal guitarist for We Will Rock You the musical, and such) along with Brian himself weighing in) and get a very convincing replication of "Brighton Rock" fairly easily. I guess I'd call it a compliment rather than something negative.
NEW: AmpliTube Brian May
Follow IK on Facebook for flash giveaways, exclusives, and more.
What you got just ain't interesting (or true).

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:31 am

Peter - IK Multimedia wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:54 am
Why is that snide? I'm assuming you realize you can grab a sixpence yourself, use the AmpliTube Brian May tools (and the Brighton Rock preset created by Jamie Humphries - who has performed with Brian and was principal guitarist for We Will Rock You the musical, and such) along with Brian himself weighing in) and get a very convincing replication of "Brighton Rock" fairly easily. I guess I'd call it a compliment rather than something negative.
No, in Sweden we have Swish, Credit Cards, cell phones, and if we had any cash, it would not be easy to grab a sixpence, especially not now when a hard Brexit is on the horizon. Our coins are completely round, and very little serrated edges. They don't come dime a dozen (urh..cough cough)..

Well, it was a part tounge in cheek snide remark, as we said earlier with someone else who'd obtain someone elses sound. I think some pages back I showed a video of someone demonstrating all the Tone Capsules made by Boss/Roland to go with their Blues Cube amps. When he came to the "Eric Johnson" capsule he played, and it sounded downright fugly. Now, next video is the man himself playing through the same gear, and he sounds like Eric Johnson. You can throw a welding unit at Eric Johnson and Brian May and they will still sound like themselves. Brian couldn't ever be sounding like Eric Johnson even what gear he played through, including guitar, even if you threatened him with a gun. And the other way around too.

When guitarists stops aiming for sounding like someone else I think we will be heading somewhat forward.

I still haven't heard any well known, or new kid on the block guitarist, that has created their signature voice of their own, like Eric, Brian May and all the other stalwarts, Hendrix and so on with ANY amp sim. It's always IRL amp involved in the first place.

Now, there was this story about a radio station in US, that had Brian May as a guest to sit in for a half and hour interview. The hospitality area had a sofa table, refreshments, and a lousy cheap guitar (electric no less) that hanged on the wall. When Brian entered with his entourage, he said "that guitar needs some love" and took it down and started to noodle on it for a bit. The radio host started to giggle, and he went "I heard, it sounded like no other than Brian May, and it wasn't plugged in even". No coin, no amp...

Go figure.
Last edited by Mats Eriksson on Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:49 am

donkey tugger wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:29 pm
I am a very bad person, and tend to record most things clean DI, then add the amp sims and stuff afterwards.
Whatever works for you. You're not a very bad person, only slight. :wink: Just kidding. Whatever floats your boat, or rocks your boat, go for it. Don't let anyone beat you down for that. Although that is not my modus operandi, at all, it may work for someone else. To me it's a bit like having a keyboard midi controller and I hit the keys without any notes heard, and the computer just tracks MIDI note numbers, and afterwards you can choose if it's piano, organ sound, or anything else. Accordeon, welding unit...but by and large, nothing wrong at all with that method. If it works, it works. Period.

adXok
Banned
38 posts since 14 Nov, 2009

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:36 am

donkey tugger wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:29 pm
I am a very bad person, and tend to record most things clean DI, then add the amp sims and stuff afterwards.
Are you sure!? I want to see that: you plug the guitar, noFX (amp sim) to monitor (hear), just simple DI, whilst drums or metronome is counting the beat?
Ok, maybe you record jazz... in that case... well it is understandable. I wish I could record Rock and Metal that way.

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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 29, 2019 11:40 am

Mats Eriksson wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:31 am
I still haven't heard any well known, or new kid on the block guitarist, that has created their signature voice of their own, like Eric, Brian May and all the other stalwarts, Hendrix and so on with ANY amp sim. It's always IRL amp involved in the first place.
But that may be because most amp sims have presets designed to emulate physical amps. Maybe some kid in a garage in San Diego is reading my rants about multiband presets, heard some of my music that uses it, likes it, and takes that concept to a whole other level...who knows! I realize amp sims have been around for a while, but compared to physical amps, they're still babies learning to crawl. :)
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 29, 2019 11:43 am

Positive Grid BIAS FX 2 and BIAS AMP 2

One of the great things about reviewing amp sims is that there are demo versions available. So, I don’t have to second-guess my opinions—if I like or don’t like something it doesn’t matter, because you can hear the sounds, and decide for yourself. Where reviewing does help is letting people know what a product does, so you can decide if you’re even interested in trying out the demo.

Well, this one came out of left field and I’m pretty impressed. I’ve always appreciated the BIAS AMP 2 Amp Match feature – it let me “profile” amp sims done with software keyed to specific programs so I could use them in any program. The accuracy of the simulation was surprising, to say the least. BIAS FX was of less interest to me; I have plenty of FX processors.

However, BIAS FX 2 has been promoted as a major update, so I check out the Pro version (the middle tier, with Standard below it, and Elite above it). And it really is quite major.

Image

A preset in BIAS FX 2.

First off, the amps sound way better. There’s still the usual situation of some amps I like and some I don’t, but for me, what’s important is the number of useable amp sounds. BIAS FX 2 has a lot of them, and they don’t make me want to reach immediately for a post-amp parametric stage to tune out the resonances. Some of the amps benefit from that, but overall, it’s a big improvement. Apparently the sound engine is now the same one used in BIAS AMP 2, but I find several FX 2 amps sound better—for example, in a head-to-head comparison of the British Rock 50 in AMP 2 and British Rock 50 V2 in FX 2, the latter came out way ahead to my ears. Perhaps the amps or cabinets themselves have been re-designed, even though the engine remains the same, but in some cases, perhaps the presets are designed better.

As with BIAS AMP 2, my favorite amps are the low gain and crunch. However whereas I didn’t particularly care for (or use) the BIAS AMP 2 high-gain amps, BIAS FX 2 has several I like: the BE 101, Ecstasy 101 V2, German Fire V2, Invader, and Slayer King. These aren’t in AMP 2. However, some amps that didn’t impress me initially, like the SLO SP88, benefited from simple tweaks—like moving a mic off-axis, or changing the mic type. So maybe we have the same sort of situation as some other sims, where “legacy” sounds remained relatively unchanged, but newer additions benefit from enhanced technology.

The effects have a more refined sound, the pitch-based ones track well, and parallel path construction is easy to do. There’s also a new feature called Guitar Match, which reminds me of Peavey’s (IMHO underrated) Audio Cloning Technology feature.

Image

Guitar Match technology imparts a different guitar sound to your guitar.

You profile your guitar by playing notes as specified, then BIAS FX 2 applies EQ to alter the characteristic sound. It’s quite effective, but you really need the Elite version to take full advantage of this – the Pro version gives you six models, the Elite version 12 more. Regardless, the six you do get are good, and may be all you need anyway.

So where does this leave BIAS AMP 2? Well, you can get much deeper into the amps with AMP 2; FX 2 is more like a “greatest hits” that doesn’t let you dig into the power amp, transformer tone stack, preamp, and other characteristics. They seem intended for different audiences—BIAS AMP 2 for the tweakers, FX 2 for the “I want some good sounds with effects and signal chains I can modify.”

Image

BIAS AMP 2 lets you dig deeper into the amp sound.

As to BIAS AMP 2, I’ve often said that you need to wrestle with most amp sims to get them to do your bidding—the odds of getting a great sound “out of the box” are about luck more than the sim. As a result, the more parameters you can adjust, the better the odds of being able to find a sound you like. However, this also means it’s easy to go into “rabbit hole” land, where you hope that just a few more degrees of a turn on one parameter will achieve the sonic nirvana you seek…

BIA AMP2, like all amp sims, has it’s “best amp sim ever!” fans and “sounds like ass” detractors. This may or may not have anything to do with how much they’ve tweaked it—for example, I really like the Clean tones a lot. The Blues amps also worked for me. The Crunch settings usually don’t grab me at first, but putting EQ at the head of the chain, and shaving off some highs and lows—while boosting the frequencies I want to have more touch-sensitive—usually takes care of what I want.

Generally with AMP 2, the more I poured on the gain, the harder it was to get the sound I wanted. The High Gain amps were still workable, but the Metal and Insane had a roughness and lacked detail. Pushing the clock rate up to 96 kHz helped, but the sound remained rougher than I’d like. For high-gain, I’d definitely pick the FX 2 models mentioned previously over what’s in AMP 2. Then again, AMP 2 has the “baby Kemper” amp profiling mode, which FX 2 doesn’t have.

I think it’s worth trying out the demos to see if AMP 2 or FX 2 float your boat. If you weren’t a fan of BIAS FX, BIAS FX 2 may change your mind. It has some really great sounds. The only annoyance is that if you don’t have the Elite version, you see grayed-out images of what you can’t use. Native Instruments did the same thing with different versions of Guitar Rig when it first came out, but later dropped it because people didn’t feel good about using the “lesser” product, and that impacted their view of what they did have. IK takes a different approach by letting you visit the Custom Shop and try out stuff; again, it's non-intrusive. Perhaps BIAS should consider adding a toggle for “show/hide upgrade version modules.” Granted, seeing them makes me want to upgrade to Elite :) , and I understand that's the point - but from a practical standpoint, being presented with things you can’t use anyway increases the visual clutter (and more scrolling) when you’re trying to craft a preset.

That reservation aside, BIAS FX 2 falls firmly in the camp of traditional amp, cab, and effects emulation, with the Guitar Match a welcome bonus. It’s a major improvement over the original BIAS FX in pretty much every respect, and it’s well worth downloading the demo if you’re interested in what’s on offer.
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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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
6327 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:58 am

adXok wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:36 am
donkey tugger wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:29 pm
I am a very bad person, and tend to record most things clean DI, then add the amp sims and stuff afterwards.
Are you sure!? I want to see that: you plug the guitar, noFX (amp sim) to monitor (hear), just simple DI, whilst drums or metronome is counting the beat?
Ok, maybe you record jazz... in that case... well it is understandable. I wish I could record Rock and Metal that way.
Discipline and imagination is all it takes (the latter massively more..) even for the rawk and metel. An example (ok, 2!) since you enquired...

Some 70s stylee rokk (bit of Ver Zep ripoff if the truth be told -Jimmy Page :love: )

http://www.bennyleeds7.myfreeola.uk/06- ... ad-air.mp3

The Metel;

http://www.bennyleeds7.myfreeola.uk/05- ... kshire.mp3

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The Noodlist
KVRian
1317 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from UK

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:37 pm

Always nice to hear DT, took me away from reality for a few minutes. :D
I agree, the biggest limitation is within, not the tools.
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral:

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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 29, 2019 4:38 pm

The Noodlist wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:37 pm
...the biggest limitation is within, not the tools.
When people ask me what is the simplest, best upgrade they can do for their studio, my usual answer is "write a better chorus" :D
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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telecode
KVRian
1395 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:54 pm

Anderton wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:40 am
Mats Eriksson wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:31 am
I still haven't heard any well known, or new kid on the block guitarist, that has created their signature voice of their own, like Eric, Brian May and all the other stalwarts, Hendrix and so on with ANY amp sim. It's always IRL amp involved in the first place.
But that may be because most amp sims have presets designed to emulate physical amps. Maybe some kid in a garage in San Diego is reading my rants about multiband presets, heard some of my music that uses it, likes it, and takes that concept to a whole other level...who knows! I realize amp sims have been around for a while, but compared to physical amps, they're still babies learning to crawl. :)
I think your post makes lots of sense . We are in the infancy if what a amp sim as a new tool for electric guitar and bass can become. It's a great technology.
It allows.you.to just do weird stuff and experiment around easily and quickly in a way that would be much harder, time consuming and expensive if you were doing it in hardware.

We should try.to not keep comparing it.to that past . It's like going to a modern day IMAX film and dwelling on how much more authentic Charlie Chaplin films were. No one in their right mind would try to compare the two.
Last edited by telecode on Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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telecode
KVRian
1395 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:57 pm

Thanks great write up in BIAS.

One thing I can add about Amplitube is the interface for me works better for my workflow. I almost always use my own user presets. In Amplitube , it's much faster and less clicking to get to them. Lauch and one click on the presets button . In GR5 it was a little more convoluted to get.to user presents.
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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