Amp sims

Get that song on tape! Errr... disk?
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cpeck
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Amp sims

Post by cpeck » Sat Jan 29, 2022 5:00 am

This is almost certainly a psychological issue more than anything, but:

My recording situation has changed due to life circumstances (I used to record almost everything in my house out in the country where volume was not an issue because there were basically no neighbours). I’ve moved to the city with my partner and the apartment scene is obviously a little more complicated. All of my gear is at a great studio that I have access to at regular intervals, but it’s a 45 minute drive each way and making finishing my album a slow process.

I have an HX Stomp that I use for demos but I’ve never been able to get over the idea that it’s not as good as the real thing/that it’s cheating somehow. I got a fuzz pedal from Japan the other day and made a quick demo of it with the HX and my group chat (who don’t like anything, really) thought it was incredible sounding.

Anyway, the tl;dr is has anyone successfully moved to using amp sims regularly? Any tips on getting over the mindset issue? Or should I just go slow and steady and finish the record with my “real” stuff?

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Re: Amp sims

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:00 am

This might help with the mindset issue: Nobody cares about the process--only the result. You've already proven this.

Everything that makes sound contains possibilities. An expensive vintage amp contains possibilities, but the shittiest DI sound also contains possibilities--those just tend to be under-explored.

It can be quite liberating to abandon (or even subvert) the culturally-accepted paths to "good tone." You don't need anyone's permission to like the result you're getting from a given process. The only endorsement that matters is your own taste. If you feel like you're getting something interesting with the amp sim (or any other process), then that is quite enough.

Good art doesn't follow from expensive gear--it's the other way around. The value of gear follows good art. This is attested by every single cheap piece of shit that was transformed into a "rare holy grail" because someone made great art with it once.

It pays to remember that most of the records that changed the world were made with whatever was available at the time. Many times, this created flaws and shortcomings that were later imitated by others. A compelling idea and a great piece of art will turn any shortcoming into a feature that future generations will imitate.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:15 am

Pandemic life has made this necessary for me. I do have a practice space where I can turn up, but getting down there is often tough.

Without getting into specifics on gear it is definitely partially a mindset thing. The average listener is not going to know or care.

One definite advantage of going direct is you can very quickly tell how your part is working in the mix, both sound and playing-wise.

It’s convenient and repeatable.

The downside as I see it is most amp sims whether hardware or software can sometimes present an idealized version of the thing being modeled. Real amps are unpredictable and sometimes ugly and that’s what makes them exciting to listen to.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:21 am

I've done tracks for other people while on the road using stock GarageBand amp sims and the cheapest Focusrite interface that travels with me.

Usually intended just to demonstrate an idea, but sometimes those parts end up being keepers. Nobody bothered to ask whether it was a real amp... they just liked the performance, the sound, and the vibe and didn't feel the need to re-record.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by mikeymike » Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:23 am

I generally think that sims sound better than the real thing in a recorded product short of having a real studio with high-end mics/pres/acoustics and a nice, well-maintained amp.

For me recoding only my basement? The sim will almost always sound more polished and professional. It sounds like you have access to a space/gear that makes that less true for you than it is for me.

Regardless I’m not bothered by the idea (obviously) of “cheating” either the song works or it doesn’t. It’s seems likely that no one cares about the guitar sound more than the person playing (unless your Eric Johnson or something, I guess).

All of this speaks more to my own vibe and opinion, and I may be a mile off or just admitting that I’m bad at recording guitars, but that’s what I’ve come to the last couple years. YMMV, of course.

Ultimately, do what you enjoy most and what creates the music you want to make. It sounds like the stomp maybe doesn’t do that for you.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:37 am

Waiting until conditions are ideal is a good way to get nothing done.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:46 am

Amp sims are also a lot better than they used to be, so if you haven't used one in a while, it might be time to check them out again.
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Re: Amp sims

Post by øøøøøøø » Sat Jan 29, 2022 11:20 am

marqueemoon wrote:
Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:37 am
Waiting until conditions are ideal is a good way to get nothing done.
QFE

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Re: Amp sims

Post by FrankRay » Sat Jan 29, 2022 11:38 am

I'm currently using a helix LT to record and it sounds great. I particularly like the way you can save and reuse the exact same sound over and over. I think modern sims sound considerably better than most amps miced up, personally. There just seems a direct crunchiness I really like.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by Dok » Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:40 am

Using your pedalboard (gain staged properly, of course) into an amp sim (especially one that models your preferred amp) is a great easy starting point if you're trying to approach your signature kind of sound. It's been a while since I used Amplitube (version 3 maybe?) but even then it was pretty good for that purpose, and you can obviously go much farther these days. Back when I had a real shitty, unreliable guitar amp, I made an entire record chock full of distorted guitars that way. Nobody knows or cares. Fake piano on the other hand, that I have an ear for. :w00t:
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Re: Amp sims

Post by cpeck » Mon Jan 31, 2022 7:40 am

Great intel/motivation/perspective here. Thanks! Gonna record some keeper takes and live with them for a bit. One real test for me will be sending them off for mixing and getting feedback in that context.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by panoramic » Mon Jan 31, 2022 12:02 pm

Pretty sure you already know how to get the sound my man, I am not going to judge anyone using amp sims. I use them myself sometimes too, sometimes they just sound right.
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Re: Amp sims

Post by NBarnes21 » Tue Feb 08, 2022 11:42 am

If you envision this being a long term thing and want to invest some cash into DI guitar recording I have heard awesome guitar tracks using the Universal Audio Ox Amp Box, you run your tube amp into it. Otherwise as mentioned earlier I've ended up keeping certain guitar tracks from demos on my iPad in garage band when I wasn't able to top it using a miked up AC15 so IMO just comes down to what sounds good and fits the vibe!
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Re: Amp sims

Post by jorri » Tue Feb 08, 2022 6:25 pm

Agree its best to find a way to get things done before ideas dry up. The immediacy in the creative process can far outweigh any technical idea about tonality. In some ways sims can be double edged because being confined and yet unresitricted as far as time constraints is like the sessions never starts or ends too, or like you haven't left to go somewhere, or like quantity over quality once it gets so easy- but that's another balancing act like anything in life.

I took a left turn away from digital modellers recently. An 'idealised' version for sure. I do a lot outside the box of general guitar playing and don't find the IRs really can go out the box- they fit a snapshot simulation often perfectly, but don't react to unusual things so to speak. So wth analogue amp and cab sim (spring IR), and/or the line-out from my amp, with a pultec-style eq plugin.
WELL, it feels like my tone is better because its not trying to be that speaker+mic thing. My analogue cab sim is just applied EQ. DO I EVEN LIKE SPEAKER+MIC? i came to the realisation that i don't (especially live, home, but also professional recording) but my fx laden sound it just degrades and gets those crappy resonances and distortions that for another sound might be revered if i played blues-rock or indie...not all guitar demands it and one can reference a lot of DI guitar music. (And perhaps if i do guitar-as-guitar in a general tone the fender/orange/whatever sim i used before might be alright for a track or two. Perhaps if i change my style i will do super purist Albini production...)

Also to the mix was EZdrummer. It sounds better than the guitar sounded through sims. But more importantly got workflow very immediate.

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Re: Amp sims

Post by burpgun » Thu Feb 10, 2022 6:44 am

I moved to NYC 23 years ago and had to give up playing through amps while at home and recording a long time ago. I've been through all the sim stuff. Started with the Line 6 kidney bean things for bass and guitar, moved on to IK Multimedia's Fender and Ampeg packages, and am now on a Tech 21 VT analog pedal for bass and a Blonde for guitar. Nothing against all the digital stuff, I'm looking for very specific sounds and have found that the Tech 21 stuff, for recording work, gives me exactly what I need.

Try to forget all the cork sniffing stuff. Whatever signal chain gets you the tone you need is the right signal chain. The options available to us for home recording now are amazing.

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