The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

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audiojunkie
KVRAF
2899 posts since 19 Apr, 2002 from Utah

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:26 am

The more I look into these applications, the more I become convinced that they are better suited for home/studio use than for live stage. Yes, you can take a laptop onto the stage with you, but the convenience of floor effects just doesn't seem to be there with these setups. Foot pedals with actual instantaneous visual feedback (showing the patch names and such) don't seem to exist in as easy a form as with floor/pedal effects. I think that is important for people to note if they plan on playing live. There is a lot more set up and inconvenience to these apps than taking a floor unit onto stage and plugging it in.
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Pashkuli
KVRist
46 posts since 9 Sep, 2019

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:55 am

Let's be honest. Amp sims are simply and very elementary put just tone generators.
I also do think that amp sims for clean to crunchy/dirty tones are more than good enough (above 95%) - that is for the vast majority of players. When it comes to hard-rock and metal tones... well... that is where the 'Great struggle' begins.
Players would love to record with the actual tone they want to hear, while they are playing/recording, despite the fact that actually they might and should record the DI signal on a separate track for later re-amping.

To this day I have not experienced an out of the box Amp sim plugin (presets) or tweaking of those that's got the thump.
Yes, no one should fool themselves that anything will work straight away without "some" (a lot of) tweaking.
And I am not talking about the volume of the signal. Once or twice I got very close with dual setup and tons of EQ tweaking and splitting and 'palm mute / low mid' side-chaining, trying to get rid of the "too direct" peaks of some frequencies (especially high-mid and highs), tried to drown them in a short reverb parallel swooshing just to attenuate them somehow in the background.
And then I try to record... but an hour or so had passed already.

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

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:18 pm

audiojunkie wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:26 am
The more I look into these applications, the more I become convinced that they are better suited for home/studio use than for live stage.
Helix Native, Helix Floor, and Helix LT are preset-compatible. So you can develop presets in the studio, but load them into the floor units for live. Other than that exception, you're pretty much right. With EV2 (the band Public Enemy's Brian Hardgroove and I put together), I used a laptop live. The DAW was used only to host six instances of AmpliTube (no sequencing) because I was using a hex guitar. I basically needed to load a new "song" when I wanted a different sound. Sonar had a playlist feature that helped along these lines, but it was kind of squirrely.
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Anderton
KVR Expert
128 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
KVR Expert

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:27 pm

Pashkuli wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:55 am
Once or twice I got very close with dual setup and tons of EQ tweaking and splitting and 'palm mute / low mid' side-chaining, trying to get rid of the "too direct" peaks of some frequencies (especially high-mid and highs), tried to drown them in a short reverb parallel swooshing just to attenuate them somehow in the background.
And then I try to record... but an hour or so had passed already.
One of the most important techniques for me when recording is pre-sim processing. In other words, instead of expecting the sim to produce sag, use a limiter or compressor before the sim to create the sense of sag, and then just have the amp sim interact with it.

I agree that metal and high-gain sounds are the biggest challenge to sims, because they're the biggest challenge to algorithms and CPU cycles. In my experience, they benefit the most from pre- and post-processing, and of course, multiband operation because the individual amps don't have to work as hard. I have much greater success cranking something over a narrow range of frequencies than cranking something over a full range of frequencies, which ends up generating into a sea of intermodulation distortion.

I also understand that the time it takes to create sounds can distract from the creative process. My solution to that is to devote some "R&D time" to developing and saving presets so they're ready to go when I start recording.
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
128 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
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Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:06 pm

Cool news! Overloud is sending me TH-U to check out. I thought TH3 was one of the better amp sims, and they're pretty excited about the new one, so...we'll see what happens :)
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!

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1677 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:10 pm

I’d love to hear more specific suggestions about how to emulate sag and playing dynamics using external fx. I guess an expander in some capacity but I don’t think it’s quite that simple as it matters what kind of snores your playing and various factors I don’t think it would be that authentic but would be interesting to hear some ideas there
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Dewdman42
KVRAF
1677 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:13 pm

But I think also a sidechain that ends up turning the gain on the amp sim up and and down a little bit depending on how hard you pick. An expander with slow attack for the sag? I dunno. Might need plogue bidule or something to do it
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reggie1979
KVRAF
1679 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:51 pm

Blue Cat Audio wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:21 am
Dewdman42 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:16 am
I just want to say, I'm with guitarzan on his plea for more feel in amp modeling. I think the sound from guitar modeling became perfectly realistic enough a long long time ago [...]

But they have not come close at all to catching the wonderful feel of playing through tube amps. To me its like if I was an olympic runner and they expected me to run the race in ski boots. Or if I had to play a great piano piece on a non-weighted midi keyboard. Sure I can get the job done and a lot of people might not hear the difference, but I would know as I was playing it that it was not the inspired performance that it could have been because my feel was less then optimal.
That was one of the reasons for us building Destructor and then Axiom - getting inspired is indeed not only a matter of tone, but also how the tone changes depending on what & how you play.

However, whatever the technology of the amp sim, you cannot expect to get this "loud tube amp" feeling when playing on headphones or tiny desktop monitors. You cannot fool your ears and your brain so much. So you should be prepared to invest in at least larger monitors, or better a dedicated guitar FRFR speaker. Then you get the best of both worlds: a great feeling while recording (go thru the speaker), and the flexibility and easiness of amp simulation in the box (please do not tell me you would want to mike your FRFR speaker! :lol: )
reggie1979 wrote:That's the thing. The physical nature of the amp and how it gets to your ears (or even a mic) simply can't be reproduced.
Well, it can, if you choose the right monitoring solution: unless we end up bypassing ears by connecting computers directly to the brain, I don't see the point of trying to "emulate" that in software.
I don't agree. No WAY are we/here and now/going to replicate the air between an amp and a sim. NO WAY in hell.

That being said, I want to make this clear, most of us ( you included) do a damn good job especially when it comes to a mix!

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

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:59 pm

Dewdman42 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:10 pm
I’d love to hear more specific suggestions about how to emulate sag and playing dynamics using external fx. I guess an expander in some capacity but I don’t think it’s quite that simple as it matters what kind of snores your playing and various factors I don’t think it would be that authentic but would be interesting to hear some ideas there
The Honey Bee Overdrive pedal is good for mild amp-like sag.

I want to try this Orange Squeezer compressor mod:
The closest you can get to actual old cranked tweed amp-like sag in a pedal that I've found is with a compression pedal. You want a ducked attack with a slight swell. There are some compressors that do this stock; but they won't be distorted. With a very simple mod, though, you can get an orange squeezer (which is a pretty dirty compressor) to do it.

There's a 100K resistor in a cluster with the germanium clipping diode and 4.7uF capacitor in the Orange Squeezer. Raise that 100K resistor to, say, 270K or 330K and it'll sound exactly like a bendy amp, and it reacts much the same way as a bendy amp - it'll stay very squashed if you keep picking notes very fast. It does this by changing the drain on the capacitor, effectively squashing the sound more. You can make the effect extreme by putting the resistor up to 470K, but I really hated that.
That's from this thread:

Recommend a low/med gain overdrive with a good saggy feel
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index ... 022/page-2

Seems like adding a 250K or 300K pot in series with the 100K resistor would be the way to go, then the sag would be adjustable. A clean blend would also help it sound less like an effect - a common mod in DIY versions of the OS compressor circuit.

It would be great if there were a special guitar interface that could act as a digitally controlled analog front end for amp sims, get the pickup/V1 interaction right, do some of the hard to model stuff like sag, output transformer maybe (see Supro Drive pedals, Bogner Neve pedals, esp. the Harlow) ... it could even do some of the pre-amp distortion. It could also condition the signal to eliminate noise and prevent aliasing, as well as provide look ahead info for the amp sim's dynamic response, if they were integrated. It might also be possible to induce feedback through the right monitors the way the Digitech FreqOut pedal does in natural mode (or whatever) where it boosts detected feedback buildup frequencies, the opposite of those feedback suppressors for acoustic guitars.

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Pashkuli
KVRist
46 posts since 9 Sep, 2019

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:30 am

Dewdman42 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:13 pm
But I think also a sidechain that ends up turning the gain on the amp sim up and and down a little bit depending on how hard you pick. An expander with slow attack for the sag? I dunno. Might need plogue bidule or something to do it
Yes, I see we are of the same breed. The bad news is that this "depending on how hard you pick" has to be translated by the developer as an algorithm for the code to guess it (emulate it): amplitude, transient, attack, freq. range or why not even a general note recognition (from a tuner sim, which will require more time window and generally will go out of the scope of "how hard you pick").
If we look at a DI signal of an average guitar track, the signal is dynamic with quiet/loud parts.
The big problem is that the player would like all this to happen while they are recording (real-time), although as a post-processing many things can get done much more in detail.

With this said, I think that if we (for now) dismiss the "real time amp sim while recording" requirement, we (ok, the developer of the amp sim) can use the general RMS or Loudness wrapping curve (WC = wrapping curve) of the signal as an Automation parameter to trigger sidechain events, parameter automation in linear or other function (reciprocal, exponential, partial) such as the Gain, priority of the freq. range (maybe favouring the mids in loud portions of the WC, maybe attenuating the mudd-mid range, applying a pick-up freq. match, etc.).

And yes, I am aware that in real time all this probably is not going to be possible within reasonable amount of a max. 3~4ms latency. Maybe first step will have to be a profile of the player's guitar setup (pickup response freq.).


Just some ideas... those were.

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The Noodlist
KVRian
1165 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from UK

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:08 am

Just noticed Ownhammer's power amps in the form of Nebula programs (Legacy).
Don't know how these sound, not got Nebula commercial. Just saying....

With amp sims, I sometimes try to pass the guitar input signal through an analogue pedal or devices. Like a tube preamp or something containing transformers, resistors or similar.
Like, for overdrive, trying to clip the signal in the analogue domain (pedals,etc).
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral:

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audiojunkie
KVRAF
2899 posts since 19 Apr, 2002 from Utah

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:40 am

Anderton wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:06 pm
Cool news! Overloud is sending me TH-U to check out. I thought TH3 was one of the better amp sims, and they're pretty excited about the new one, so...we'll see what happens :)
Nice!
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.

reggie1979
KVRAF
1679 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:46 pm

It's really dark sounding to me for the high gain stuff.

I have the Slate version, don't use it very much. It's ok, I like AT better though.

Ploki
KVRian
837 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:36 am

I'm thinking of selling my tube amp and replacing it with a hybrid setup like this:

Tube DI >> plugin amp sim >> tube power amp (6L6) >> speakers

it's much cheaper and more flexible compared to a mono tube amp, and should give plenty of tube flavour due to power amp.

I'm thinking of using Bias amp2. I know the opinion is that it's slightly overrated and overmarketed, but as far as i tried for purely amp models, i found it pretty good, as i dont want or need pedals and fx.

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Pashkuli
KVRist
46 posts since 9 Sep, 2019

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:31 am

Ploki wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:36 am
I'm thinking of selling my tube amp and replacing it with a hybrid setup like this:

Tube DI >> plugin amp sim >> tube power amp (6L6) >> speakers

it's much cheaper and more flexible compared to a mono tube amp, and should give plenty of tube flavour due to power amp.

I'm thinking of using Bias amp2. I know the opinion is that it's slightly overrated and overmarketed, but as far as i tried for purely amp models, i found it pretty good, as i dont want or need pedals and fx.
Well, that would be a placebo , actually a double placebo (using Tube DI on the input, then Tube amp on the output) as somehow you will be sleeping in satisfaction that you've used tubes.
Yes, BIAS FX is an overrated = (marketing driven) amp-sim. Nothing wrong with that. Their product looks amazing and works.

The heart of the amp-sim is in the pre-amp. Cabs + Mics → there are plenty of great IRs of those (good/bad). You just have to phase them correctly or to the maximum phase match (not 100% possible anyway).
We need "IRs" for the pre-amp throughout the whole freq. generated tones (harmonics) spectrum - profile match.
That is what the most important characteristic of a tone is - the timbre (harmonic content in various combinations of freq., amplitude, phase, attack, decay, sustain, release, tail)!

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