Man, talk about slow lately! Have some news.

April 28, 2010

There has been some news, though, and I wanted to share it with you guys. This will be a minor post, because soon I intend to do a “state of Freeware” update that includes a more comprehensive look at recent additions to the freeware landscape that would be of interest to guitarists, bassists, and cellists. Well, okay, I don’t know if any cellists are into amp modeling, that part was an exaggeration.

First, Guitar Rig 4 has been OFFICIALLY UPDATED! Fireworks, etc.! Go to your NI User Area to download the official version of an update that has for months been parked in the beta stage, and you can be the proud user of the Cool Plex among other things. I know Amplitube 3 has somewhat overshadowed GR4, given the direction it took and GR4’s comparatively minor additions, but as I will relate in an upcoming review (now that the official version is finally out) Guitar Rig 4 is still a valuable tool to have with features that no other company has matched. Amplitube 3’s amps still sound better, not really debatable! But Guitar Rig 4 brings a lot to the table. And if you’re a user, you probably want that update. You know the drill, go to your Native Instruments user area and there it will be.

Second, wonder of wonders, it appears ReValver Mk3 is actually going to be getting updated. Not to RTAS, I mean bug fixes. There are some pretty nasty ones, as many customers know, so this is a very welcome (very, very welcome) acknowledgment and commitment from the gentleman working on ReValver.  How it’s going to be done is kind of interesting; there will be periodic beta updates, good for a month each (why this limitation is in place I don’t know), which will overwrite each other and reset the timer as he releases and you install them. Then finally the full update will be released. This approach allows him the flexibility of the time he needs to squash the (many) bugs in ReValver Mk3, marring an excellent sounding product, but still push fixes to the user base who have been near frothing with rage over said bugs’ lack of official attention since launch. He’s doing it all on the Peavey ReValver forums. More info here. I am not sure yet whether this update will culminate in users of MkIII becoming users of the recently announced Mk3.5 with its new amps and stuff, but if I had to guess I would guess… no. Speculation on my part for now, I’ll update if I get concrete info.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more and a special post dedicated to exploring the state of the freeware scene.

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The Sword’s “Freya” sound-alike with Amplitube 3

April 9, 2010

Alright, here we go. I left in my little count-in on the left at the beginning, because it might help you understand why it’s a bit sloppy on the doubling – I foolishly decided “feh, who needs a metronome when playing metal?” I didn’t want to take the time to whip up a drum track for it because I lack the midi cables I need for the drum controller I got recently, and I’m sick of piano roll drums. So, sorry for the slop. Also, this was just by ear, and I know for a fact the rhythm has a part I’m not playing because a guitar would actually have to be tuned in C in order to play it, and I kept mine in standard. But, anyway, Freya:

And the two patches involved:

1. For the intro and the solo (I didn’t play the solo, but it’ll work there too): Megaupload link

2. For the rhythm part, Megaupload link

What I did here to avoid retuning my guitar is for the intro I used AT3’s pitch shifter. While -4 would make the root of a guitar tuned to standard become fake C, I wanted more control over the dynamics and playing, so I went with -6. That turned the second fret into fake C, and gave me the ability to do vibrato and more easily mute non-played strings. It also helped accomplish some of the “sloppy” sound that the guitarists intentionally go for as part of their sound.

The rhythm part I played without any pitch shifter, because polyphonic pitch shifting sounds worse and worse the lower you take it. By -4, chords bigger than two notes start to sound a little glitchy. So, rather than do that I just stayed in standard and played what my range allowed, using a couple tricks to help get the low sound without actually being tuned really low. Throw a bass under it and it’d sound like I was tuned in C, I think. I might do that later, but I probably won’t.

As for the sound itself, tricks and such aside, I know that The Sword uses Orange amps with distortion pedals. One of them is a EHX Metal Muff. Well, the Metal Muff is based on the Boss Metalzone – different tone shaping stuff and not totally identical, but really close (close enough to be obviously derived from it) so while I’d probably not choose a Metalzone in the physical world, I figured it’d be my best shot at getting as close to the sound as possible in AT3 alone. I spent a lot of time adjusting the pedal and the amp, going back and forth between them until I had the balance that I wanted. The Orange model in AT3 is killer, it has a great sound on its own and the way the controls work makes them very reactive to one another (in a good way). While it’s said that the band uses pedals into Orange amps set clean, I found the closest approximation of the sound came from getting a little bit of grit going on the amp and then hitting it with the pedal. I used mic choices and positioning rather carefully to hit the right spots in the sound that I wanted, and then applied EQ in the rack section using the parametric EQ. For the intro bit I did a rudimentary lowpass with a second Parametric EQ; for the rhythm I made sure the sound would have balls even though it had a lot less gain by using the Tube Compressor.

I didn’t do anything at all in post. I just normalized the tracks, hand-adjusted the levels to match (the doubling meant that the normalization wasn’t 100% even, and I’m a little persnickety about levels), and rendered it out. No effects or compressors, just AT3 doing its thing.

So, there you go, a clip, two patches, and an explanation of what I did. Questions and feedback are, as always, welcome.