One of the biggest complaints about amp modelers in general is that they have a “dead” response; mostly that comes from the fact that we’re using FR/FR speaker systems that are designed quite differently from guitar power amp and cabinet systems, and which as a result just don’t have the physics on their side to go into sustaining feedback. The software is usually perfectly capable of it, and if you manage to get in an anti-node in your studio you can get some great, authentic feedback from plugins with enough gain going on – provided you’re moving enough air, which is usually much more than is comfortable for extended recording and mixing, and often which gets your monitors close to the point at which they stop sounding quite so sweet.
Softube’s Acoustic Feedback plugin is a really cool answer to that problem. I’m not sure exactly how the math of it works, but it’s obviously pretty fancy processing going on because it simulates guitar feedback quite naturally. It takes a bit of tweaking, but once you get it dialed in it really adds a new dimension of realism to your amp modeler’s sound. There are three parameters to adjust: Mix, Feedback and Threshold. They are all helpfully marked with a nice green band labeled “Natural,” and other bands of yellow and reddish brown indicating more subtle and more ostentatious sounds respectively. The labels give you a starting point for achieving a natural feedback sound. I have found my best results come from setting the “Mix” control very low, at the beginning of the “natural” side; the Feedback control a little before the edge of “Natural” and “Wild,” and the Threshold at “Moderate.” This gives a realistic feedback swell, both in volume and pitch, without artifacts of the simulation that can result from higher threshold settings.
With too high settings for Feedback and Threshold on a given guitar, it can sound sort of like a Digitech Whammy gone haywire, but you need that adjustment range to account for differences in guitar configurations and personal tastes. There is some learning involved, just a process of getting to know how the acoustic feedback plugin responds to your playing – nothing as difficult as learning how to dance just right in front of a stack to get your guitar to feedback like you want it to, so they’re doing something right! 😀
Here’s a clip of before and after with Softube’s Acoustic Feedback plugin. I recorded these under 80dB monitoring volume; what you’re hearing is totally a product of the plugin, not of a loud recording environment. The amp modeler used here is Studio Devil Amp Modeler Pro, to show that you don’t have to be using one of Softube’s Amp Room plugins to benefit from the Acoustic Feedback plugin. They did a great job of making sure that it works with whatever you prefer, kudos for that.
I am highly impressed with Acoustic Feedback, I definitely recommend it. It brings your virtual amp to life and very well could be one big step closer to total authenticity in your software studio.