Swanky Amp BETA (guitar tube amp simulation)

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
garrinm
KVRist
98 posts since 26 Sep, 2019

Post Fri May 08, 2020 9:32 am

EDIT3: this thread and software have come a long way, so here's the current state of things and the original post will follow.

Image

You can find more information and downloads at:
http://www.resonantdsp.com/swankyamp/

The software is open sourced, and the source code can be found on GitHub at:
https://github.com/resonantdsp/SwankyAmp

It is currently distributed as a VST3 for Windows, VST3 and AU for Mac.

---

Original post:

I just finished work on an amp simulator plugin. The status is certainly alpha at the moment, the UI being bare-bone, and with notable features such as preset management lacking. I’m hoping to get some early feedback to get a feel for whether or not I’m on the right track to make something people want to use. At the moment it’s only available as an x64 VST3 which you can grab here (sorry to Mac and Linux users, and the rare remaining Win 32 users):

I spent quite some time simulating amplifier circuits to develop a model that captures the dynamic aspects of tube amplifiers. The hope is that the result is something that feels like it has more realistic touch sensitivity.

A benefit of this approach is that the model is highly tunable. I added a few knobs that effectively change things like tube geometry, capacitances, voltages etc. The hope there is that you can tune into a very specific amp sound, not just its tone but the sound of the distortion as well.

I have no specific release plans at the moment. But if I am able to tweak this into something that sounds good and is usable I’d like to keep a free version around, make some of the code open source (it’s a different approach from how guitarix does their simulation, so maybe this will be useful to the open source community). If it looks it can be more than a curiosity I will consider a more advanced payed version as well.

To anyone who wants to try it out, thanks in advance and I hope you enjoy it.
Last edited by garrinm on Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.

jbraner
KVRian
1148 posts since 8 Jan, 2003

Post Sat May 09, 2020 4:29 am

Hi,

It sounds pretty good here.
Doesn't go into wacky Recto mode - bu tthat suits me fine! ;)

- If I turn cab mix all the way to the left - there is no cab sim? (so I can use my own)
- I don't really know what the bottom row is doing.

I guess "power drive" is a master vol?
And "pre drive" is a gain control?

I'm also not 100% sure what the 3rd row is doing. I guess contour is a type of tone control?


Will you keep in touch here - re: what's happening with this plugin?
John Braner
http://www.soundclick.com/johnbraner
and all the major streaming/download sites.

garrinm
KVRist
98 posts since 26 Sep, 2019

Post Sat May 09, 2020 6:52 am

Hi John,

Thanks for giving it a go, I'll take all that feedback into account and will definitely but dropping updates here as I progress with this work.

The plugin needs better labels at the very least to make the controls more obvious, but for now let me answer your questions:

- With the cab mix all the way to the left it is fully by-passed, so with that you could throw your own cab IR after the plugin. Anything in between makes for ... let's call it an experimental sound :? . Maybe I'll turn that into a toggle instead.

- The bottom row is adjusting a variety of model parameters that related to the circuitry around the tube, and even the tube geometry itself. Think of it as fine tuning the distortion sound. Some of it is more obvious with drive set higher. And keep in mind the "pre" knobs affect the pre-drive while the "power" knobs affect the power-drive. Generally the "dist" knobs affect the sound of the distortion while the "dyn." knobs affect the dynamics (how things like touch sensitivity, a bit of sag, etc.). But really its a bit arbitrary.

- The power drive is just that, the master volume, but it tries to correct for the actual change in level so you don't have to constantly crank it up and crank the output level down at the same time.

- And the pre-drive is also just that, the gain control, or how hard you are pushing the pre-amp tubes. Once again the output level tries to remain constant as you change that value.

- The 3rd row (other than "cab mix") controls the pre-amp stage as follows:

- "Gain stages" controls how many pre-amp tubes the signal goes through. More tubes makes for a more modern distortion sound. A neat (and maybe unique?) feature of this model is that you can interpolate between gain stages. Normally you'd have to pick a different "amp" model to get low gain, or high gain. But here you can just turn this knob until it sounds like what you want.

- "Gain slope" is a bit technical, it changes how much more or less you push each successive tube. Turn it higher and the last tube will be working harder than the first, which I find makes for a more edgy distortion. Turn it lower and the last tubes are working less hard and kind of smoothing out some of the really harsh distortions from the first tubes.

- "Contour" controls a high pass filter that the signal goes through between every gain stage. Turn it up to cut out some of the low end and mud. In particular, if it's set very low, then the low end kind of builds up and pushes the tubes a bit too hard in a way that doesn't always sound like it follows the signal, it can be a neat effect but generally I think it's to be avoided.

With default parameters you should be hearing something close to a 12AT7 / EL34 amp, but if you move around the knobs in the bottom row, you'll get away from that into sort of uncharted territory. The effects are fairly restricted at the moment because it turns out that it's really easy to get the amp to fart out if you push these things too far (the model takes into account a variety of voltage drift that happens in a real amp circuit). But I'll try to work on that some more to give more control range while keeping the amp stable.

I'm not clear what you mean by wacky Recto mode, are you talking about dual rectifier voltage sag? I'm thinking of adding that in with a control, but you're right that at the moment there is no such effect.

jbraner
KVRian
1148 posts since 8 Jan, 2003

Post Sat May 09, 2020 7:34 am

Thanks for the info - I'll copy these into a document and play around a little more.
Re: the speakers - I think an "off" button is necessary. A lot of people will want to use their own cabs. No matter what speaker/cab combinations you include - somebody will always want something different ;)
(me I prefer my Torpedo WOS with everything - that way I have consistency)
I'm not clear what you mean by wacky Recto mode,
Well, I mean everything on 11 - with at least 4 gain stages. I don't think that's what you're trying to achieve is it? If it is - I hope there will always be a nice clean tone too - as well as all the "in between" sounds ;)
John Braner
http://www.soundclick.com/johnbraner
and all the major streaming/download sites.

jbraner
KVRian
1148 posts since 8 Jan, 2003

Post Sat May 09, 2020 7:41 am

The effects are fairly restricted at the moment because it turns out that it's really easy to get the amp to fart out if you push these things too far (the model takes into account a variety of voltage drift that happens in a real amp circuit). But I'll try to work on that some more to give more control range while keeping the amp stable.
It's got a pretty good range already - no real need to go nuts, is there? ;)
John Braner
http://www.soundclick.com/johnbraner
and all the major streaming/download sites.

jbraner
KVRian
1148 posts since 8 Jan, 2003

Post Sat May 09, 2020 8:17 am

Here's a few more ideas:
- any chance of an input meter? I find these really handy, to know what kind of level is going in to the amp. cheap and cheerful is good enough ;)

I can get some decent sounds out it - but I have to fiddle with the knobs a little ;-)
John Braner
http://www.soundclick.com/johnbraner
and all the major streaming/download sites.

garrinm
KVRist
98 posts since 26 Sep, 2019

Post Sat May 09, 2020 8:53 am

Hi John,

Thanks for all this additional feedback, I guess I'll have my hands full for a bit XD.
jbraner wrote:Well, I mean everything on 11 - with at least 4 gain stages. I don't think that's what you're trying to achieve is it?
I see what you're getting at. The focus has been on the amp performance around the edge of breakup where I usually like to play (and also where the amp dynamics are most interesting). But I tried to give enough range so that you can also do something a bit more outrageous. Sometimes that's what you need right haha.
jbraner wrote:any chance of an input meter
Yes, that seems to have slipped my mind but is actually quite important. The whole system is setup for a signal roughly around 0 dB VU. Of course it's quite flexible since you can compensate with the pre-gain for the most part. But at any rate I will prioritize including a meter to indicate if the input signal is in the right range.
jbraner wrote:I can get some decent sounds out it - but I have to fiddle with the knobs a little
If you come to find some annoyances with some parameters, or just rough configurations that seem wrong, I'd love to hear about that.

Thanks,
Garrin

jbraner
KVRian
1148 posts since 8 Jan, 2003

Post Sat May 09, 2020 12:29 pm

Hi Garrin (now I know what to call you)

Yeah - I like meters because I like to turn input levels down a litle so my single coils sound like single coils, rather than a guitar playing through a boost pedal ;)
The Mercuriall manuals explain how to use different input levels for different pickup types.

I think your range of sounds is great. I meant it as a positive thing that you don't seem to be aiming for the hi-gain sounds that so many other amp sims are.
John Braner
http://www.soundclick.com/johnbraner
and all the major streaming/download sites.

DaveClark
KVRist
225 posts since 8 May, 2007

Post Mon May 11, 2020 8:59 am

Hi all,

I've been corresponding a bit with Garrin about his new plugin and what he did to create it, beginning back a few months ago, with a dry spell in-between then and very recently. I think what he has done in his "spare time" since then is impressive.

This is an alpha version, as he posted, but it's a heck of a start. Please do check this out, even if you're happy with your current amp sims. He needs and quite frankly IMO deserves constructive feedback. Garrin has produced as much high-quality work in a short time as anyone else I know about. This is a very promising project, and I would really hate to see this project abandoned due to lack of interest from potential users. Seriously. Let's keep this guy in our community, please.

Thanks for your attention.

Regards,
Dave Clark

PS: Please be sure to check out your favorite cabs because Garrin spent relatively little time on the one that is included, assuming that users would use their own.

jbraner
KVRian
1148 posts since 8 Jan, 2003

Post Mon May 11, 2020 9:52 am

I'm comparing this to some good amp sims - I'm using some Neural DSP, Mercuriall, and S-Gear amps at the moment - with Torpedo WOS as a cab sim.
I agree that this amp is off to a good start ;)
John Braner
http://www.soundclick.com/johnbraner
and all the major streaming/download sites.

RafaelMorgan
KVRist
190 posts since 14 May, 2008

Post Mon May 11, 2020 10:20 am

Hey Garrin,

Well, I just tried Swanky Amp for about 30 minutes or so.

Here's what I think:

- It feels and sounds really great in the clean/breakup territory. I couldn't get a really good crunchy tone out of it, maybe because it has too many controls and I didn't take the time to learn them properly.

- It doesn't suck the tone out of my guitars. Tried it with my SG, Tele and Strat, and they all sounded like themselves. This is a big plus. Most amp sims can't preserve a guitar's sonic footprint that well.

- My strat is super spanky and it has translated that "spankyness" excellently well. No other amp sim could do that except for Fuse Audio Lab's F59, but yours did an even better job.

- There's too much low end even when the low end knob is zeroed. There's a lot of room for improvement in that EQ section, generally.

- What Pre Dyn./Power Dyn. knobs do? I guess it's some kind of compression? I like what they do, but at their current state they are too sensitive; A small move can make a huge difference.

- It responds really well to finger/picking dynamics and volume knob rolloffs. Excellent.

- Cab section could use some improvement. You know, cab dynamics are really underestimated, but they can make a huge difference to get closer to a real amp feel. Some cab loaders have a dynamic feature (Recabinet, TH-U, Vexengo's Boogex 3, etc...) which really helps, but as far as I know, no one has simulated the complex non linear characteristics of a real speaker interacting with the atmosphere, playing dynamics, etc...

- Talking generally about amp sims, there's one thing that no amp sim can replicate well (I've tried ALL of them, literally), which is "note-blooming"...You know, when you pick a note (specially when you bend it afterwards) and you have that super nice feeling like the note is singing...There's a lot of room for improvement in this area as well.

Just my two cents.

R.

User avatar
pough
KVRAF
3042 posts since 3 Jan, 2003 from Vancouver

Post Mon May 11, 2020 10:46 am

I can't seem to get it to load at all. I've tried Waveform 11, StudioOne 2, and FL Studio. Tracktion's plugin validator says this:

pluginval v0.2.6 - JUCE v5.4.7
Started validating: C:\Users\Josh\Downloads\SwankyAmp.vst3
Random seed: 0x11df271
Validation started: 11 May 2020 11:40:07am

Strictness level: 10
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Starting test: pluginval / Scan for known types: C:\Users\Josh\Downloads\SwankyAmp.vst3...
Num types found: 0
!!! Test 1 failed: No types found
FAILED!! 1 test failed, out of a total of 1

Finished validating: C:\Users\Josh\Downloads\SwankyAmp.vst3
*** FAILED: 1 TESTS
This is a block of text that can be added to posts you make. There is a 255 character limit.

RafaelMorgan
KVRist
190 posts since 14 May, 2008

Post Mon May 11, 2020 10:52 am

pough wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 10:46 am
I can't seem to get it to load at all. I've tried Waveform 11, StudioOne 2, and FL Studio
Try placing it into your VST3 folder, which generally is under "C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3"

User avatar
pough
KVRAF
3042 posts since 3 Jan, 2003 from Vancouver

Post Mon May 11, 2020 10:57 am

RafaelMorgan wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 10:52 am
pough wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 10:46 am
I can't seem to get it to load at all. I've tried Waveform 11, StudioOne 2, and FL Studio
Try placing it into your VST3 folder, which generally is under "C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3"
Thank you, putting it with the rest of the VST3 plugins was the first thing I tried. StudioOne ignores it. Waveform tells me it's not recognized as a plugin. FL Studio adds it to the plugin list but fails when trying to open it.

I then tried to re-download it in case something had gone wrong with the download. I left it there and give it a scan with pluginVal.
This is a block of text that can be added to posts you make. There is a 255 character limit.

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Russell Grand
KVRAF
2664 posts since 22 May, 2017

Post Mon May 11, 2020 11:57 am

I will be trying this out tonight - although I'm a tad apprehensive after reading pough's post as I'm mainly using FL and StudioOne.

I'll test and report back when I can. 8)

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