EHX Memory Boy?

August 30, 2009

I’ve been thinking about a new delay lately for my physical rig. EHX recently put out the Memory Boy – I really dig the DMM, maybe I’ll look into one of these. Demos sound good, that’s for sure, and I’ve heard it can really do some cool/out-there stuff, maybe even better than the DMM.

Thanks to ToneFactor for the demo video!

Oh, by the way, this kicks off a new page on the blog, “Cool Youtube Demos.” I’ll be posting up demo videos that I find on youtube of things I think are interesting. It’s an experimental addition to the blog so I appreciate your feedback and will be paying attention to what my readers have to say about the concept and how I’m doing it. I want to keep the Youtube demo stuff off of my original content blogroll but I don’t want to make a new blog just for linking to cool Youtube product vids. Anyway, check it out, read the idea, and leave me your thoughts, please.

August 29, 2009

A quick demo of Preampus Razor. I find this one to be a real thick sounding sim, very Recto-ish. Speaker sim selection is very important to get your ideal sound out of it. I went with a mix of Marshall and Orange IRs from Recabinet Modern.

The signal chain for this clip goes:

T-Racks 3 Singles Opto-Comp (my tracking compressor of choice for instruments, transparent but with pleasant enhancements to the sound nonetheless) -> GTune tuner -> GGate noise gate -> Softube Acoustic Feedback -> Preampus Metal Razor -> LePou’s LeCab -> GDuckDelay -> CSR Plate Reverb

There are a lot of sounds to be had in it but they are all quite thickly textured. I look forward to hearing others’ experiences with this amp and to seeing what else Ken has in store for us this week Smile

More on Softube’s Acoustic Feedback: An Explanation of Feedback, and Why You Might Need This Plugin

August 29, 2009

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I felt that my earlier post might not have done a good enough job explaining why I am so enamored of this software. After all, a glowing review can be pretty empty if it isn’t clear why the product makes the reviewer glow. In the spirit of explication and service to my readers, here’s a (somewhat, but not too technical) explanation of guitar feedback, and why you might want Softube’s Acoustic Feedback plugin.

Feedback in the context of a physical guitar amp is the product of a lot of things. It is a somewhat controllable feedback loop that involves your guitar’s body, your guitar’s strings, your guitar’s pickups and their resonant frequencies and frequency response, your amplifier’s gain, frequency response, and power output, your cabinet’s ability to move air, and just as importantly the physics of the room you’re playing in. The physics of sound are such that there will be spots where you can’t get any feedback no matter how cranked your amp is (nodes), and there will be spots where feedback seems very easy and your guitar just screams (anti-nodes). Guitar amp and cab systems are great for making controllable feedback because they’re made to operate at high output levels and hence they move a lot of air. It’s what they’re supposed to do. In fact, modern amp modeling software usually has no problem with feedback if you’re running into a power amp and a speaker cabinet! There’s nothing lacking in the technology of, for example, Amplitube Metal – if the supporting hardware and the physics are on your side, it’ll let you scream and squeal just like the real amps it models. Ditto for others.

So why is a plugin like Acoustic Feedback necessary? After all, if the software can do it, that’s all that matters, right? You wouldn’t want to put something that makes more feedback in front of a real amp, would you? (well, sure, lots of people would, dirt pedals, compressors, you name it – but that’s beside the point Very Happy)

There are a few factors that make musically useful, controllable feedback a tougher prospect for amp modeling setups in the studio. First, there’s a world of difference between a guitar amp made to run hot and ready and a speaker cab made to pump out massive volume and take a pounding without giving up the ghost, and a set of studio monitors. Studio monitors are usually capable of relatively high output – my KRK VXT 6, for example, claim that they can reach peaks in excess of 109dB – but they are very uncomfortable when asked to do so. Frankly they tend to sound like garbage when operated near their peak output. Professionals like Bob Katz will tell you that ideal monitoring volume is no higher than the mid 80dBs, both because that is the level at which we can safely and comfortably listen for hours a day without suffering hearing damage, and because our hearing curve is as close as our imperfect ears get to flat at ~83dB. So, there’s a real difference in the intent and design of monitors compared to guitar power amps and cabinets that results in a basic discomfort with moving that much air for that long of a time, especially under feedback conditions (which can cause unsafe peaks for monitors).

But let’s say you’ve got a set of Barefoots and as the last son of Krypton the idea of ear strain is something you scoff at. Even if your monitors can take the punishment and put out the sound no problem, you still might have no luck getting musical, controllable feedback. That’s because it’s entirely possible that the physics of your recording environment are not such that you have a conveniently located anti-node; wail all you like, but if the physics aren’t on your side, you’ll get nothing more than ordinary sustain.

I monitor at about 83dB, and try as I might only the higher gain amp models in my substantial collection will give me any kind of feedback. It seems that I’ve got that unfortunate physics problem. However, Softube has solved it for me. The clips in the first Softube Acoustic Feedback article are recorded at my usual spot, with that low monitoring volume, and yet there it is, musical sustain that I can control and use. And the same goes for the Preampus Classic Head series clips – the feedback you hear is the result of Softube’s Acoustic Feedback plugin combined with the virtual amps’ effect on the sound. Of course it doesn’t do it all on its own, it relies on having a realistic amplifier model after it in order to get such a realistic sound!

Softube Acoustic Feedback is the solution to a problem that perhaps not everyone will have – count yourself lucky if you don’t, if through accident or intention your studio accommodates your modelers’ capabilities fully – but for those of us who do have it, and who admire the musical use of feedback (artists such as Hendrix, Van Halen, Satriani, Vai, and many more have been fond of playing with feedback as a big part of their sound), this plugin definitely makes a $99 difference and more.

I always thought Ken must work 8 days a week, but apparently there ARE 8 days in Preampus week!

August 28, 2009

I had REAPER open in the background when I saw this posting over at KVR and one at GuitarAmpModeling announcing a bonus eighth Preampus Classic head, called Mr. Tater Headso of course I downloaded it and made a quick demo, why not 🙂

This one’s a bit different from the others, with individual gain controls for three frequency bands. As such it’s more complex to dial in than any of the others in the Preampus Head line; there’s a balance to be achieved between overall front gain (bottom left corner) and individual band gains; and there’s another, separate balance to be achieved between the individual band gains and the EQ knob that adjusts those frequencies. It’s possible to get some really FUZZ sounding stuff with this amp, but it’s capable of more laid-back stuff too. But you know me, I don’t really do laid back, so my demo is as usual seeing what you can get out of this amp when it’s pushed.

I didn’t use the built in Treble Booster this time, I had some trouble getting it to balance out with how I wanted the treble Gain and EQ settings to be, so I used instead two BTE Audio TubeScreamerSecret plugins in series, each set for 1/4 drive with only unity output on the first one and higher volume output on the second one to push the input gain stage harder on Tater Head. Why use two Tube Screamers instead of one with higher gain? Ask Stevie Ray Vaughn next time you’re at a seance, or just take my word for it that stacking pedals with individually lower gain can sound quite lovely 🙂 Try it with a couple germanium Fuzz Face pedals if you ever get the chance, or some Marshall Bluesbreaker pedals (fact: the Analogman King of Tone pedal is two modified Marshall Bluesbreakers in series in one box, sounds lovely).

Anyway, do I even have to say it’s going to be sloppy? I wish I was like Dimi Nalbantov and could rip out an amazingly fluent, virtuosic passages for demos at the drop of a hat, but that just isn’t me. So my quick clips aren’t pristine. Forgive me and enjoy the sound anyway!

Another Clip of one of ABG’s Preampus heads – Knuckle Head

August 27, 2009

Same signal path as the last time, though I did adjust the delay and reverb. I’m using a tracking compressor up front, the T-Racks 3 Deluxe (well, actually, the Singles version) Opto-Comp. It is set for subtlety, just bringing some flavor out of the guitar and giving me just a pinch more sustain; if you’ve ever used it you know it is a very transparent compressor (and my favorite of all the compression plugins I have). Anyway, yon clip approaches!

Of course it’s just more of my silly meandering noodling, but this time I did more rhythm playing to show off the dynamics that Ken is so proud of in this Preampus Classic Heads line.

I think Knuckle Head is my favorite of all, it just has a great, classic sound. Sorta reminds me of my old doctor’s Dumble, no joke. I got to play it a few times and this has a similar feel and sound (and costs about, oh, $40,000-$80,000 less than a Dumble, too). Could just be in my head, sense memory isn’t all it’s cracked to be and it’s been awhile, but that’s what I feel like when I play it 🙂

AcmeBarGig’s Preampus Week Plugins: Go get ’em, they’re free and rad!

August 27, 2009

A big thumbs up to my buddy Ken at AcmeBarGig. He has really become a mighty fine programmer of guitar-related DSP, and the last week was his proudest yet, releasing a new virtual amp head every day of the week. These are all based on his latest modeling technology and they have great tone and feel. They are, as described, amp heads, so make sure you’ve got a cabinet sim after them; I recommend LePou’s LeCab 1.10 IR loader, with either the quality included IRs courtesy of the fine folks at, or IRs of your preference (I personally use ReCabinet Complete for my IR needs, covers all the bases very well).

To put it in the words of a KVR poster, the heads do feature some “dink humor” in their naming scheme, so consider them PG-13 (hey, rock n’ roll hasn’t ever been politically correct!) There are seven to choose from, but I recommend grabbing all of them since they’re free and all sound different and quite nice. You’re sure to find a flavor or two (or three, or four, or…) that suits you perfectly.

Here’s a little sample of what I am affectionately referring to as “D-head” to keep my blog family friendly.

D-Head is thick and has tons of ba- er, guts! For effects I’m using Bionic Delay, a great free delay plugin I favor, and IKMM’s fantastic CSR Plate Reverb. I am also using Softube Acoustic Feedback up front (see my last blog post for more on that). The cabinet sim is LePou’s LeCab, with two IRs from Recabinet Modern 2.0’s Randall XLT 4×12. But the tone is all D-Head!

As a bonus, all of the Preampus Head series have Ken’s new Treble Master pedal built in (which you can turn on and off, of course), so you’ve got a ready boost to kick things into high-gear with any of the amps. Experiment with different combinations of the various gain stages available – most of the amps have Input Gain and additionally another Gain control, sometimes referred to as Power Gain, and then you’ve got the Input Level adjustment AND the controls on the Treble Master. Quite versatile results can be had from different combinations, so have fun playing with these heads! Just don’t tell anyone in your excitement that you’ve been off fooling around with…. you know. 😉