Suggestion Box

Got a suggestion for the blog? Drop me a comment and let me know.

41 Responses to Suggestion Box

  1. Let us know if you’d like to review GuitarToolkit or TabToolkit for the iPhone / iPod touch.

    Thanks — Jack / Agile Partners

  2. geareview says:

    Looks like some really interesting products. I’ve got a good friend who swears by his iPhone as part of his creative workflow these days. Stranger things have happened, Apple has always been clever with this kind of thing, providing a platform for people to do some amazing stuff “outside the box.” Of course, I don’t have an iPhone so I doubt I’d be able to check it out, but if that changes I’ll let you know.

    Frankly I’ve thought about section C’ing an affordable Macbook so that I can make my blog and work in general truly cross-platform, for that matter, but who knows if I’ll pursue that.

    In any case, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Dave Thomas says:

    I would like to see more along the lines of a how tos and setting stuff up, its good to get different viewpoints and ideas…

  4. Dave Thomas says:

    whats our favorite vst amp wise?

  5. geareview says:

    Hey, man, I addressed this somewhat in the last few paragraphs of the extraordinarily long entry I just posted yesterday. But for you, since you’ve been an extremely faithful reader, I’ll go even more in-depth on that specific question. I hope you’ve got the attention span for a long post, because this is pretty complex question for me and not something I can answer with a simple list or a yes/no scenario.

    For top quality emulations, IKMM is probably the best. Their Amplitube Fender amps are as realistic as I have personally ever heard. I have had quite a lot of real-world experience with the amps they model (the modern ones – they’re modeling the current production Fenders, probably part of the deal that let them use Fender’s name and which bound them to Fender’s rigorous QC process) and they’re extraordinarily spot-on. I have a Champ 600 reissue sitting beside me and I don’t have to mike it up because the Champ 600 in Amplitube Fender sounds just like it.

    Amplitube Jimi Hendrix and Metal are both very high quality too, a very solid intermediate step between Amplitube 2’s models and the new processes in Amplitube Fender. Amplitube 2’s models were already quite good to start with, on the whole, though of all the IKMM products it’s the only one that suffers from model inconsistency (that is, some models are better than others). The cabs in Amplitube 2 are pretty good, better than Guitar Rig’s cabs were until GR4, but not as good as some competitors’ options. That was a weak link for Amplitube 2. They addressed it very well even as early as Ampeg SVX – the cabinet models and microphone placements in Ampeg SVX are more realistic, and the trend continues in Jimi Hendrix and Metal, culminating in the best job they ever did in Amplitube Fender. The progression isn’t just linear, they really ramped up the quality starting in Jimi Hendrix and Metal and it shows.

    The biggest market competition for IKMM is Guitar Rig 4 – they’re the top dogs and they slug it out in the streets, and in the hearts and minds of potential customers in every corner of the net. Guitar Rig 4’s amps are now at the level of the better amps in Amplitube 2. Before, Guitar Rig 3’s BEST amps were alright, but on the whole they were a weak spot in the program. Now they’re competitive… with the best parts of what IK was doing in 2005ish. But that isn’t something to be ashamed of, since, as I said, IK’s best models back then remain usable and realistic to this day. Since the new Control Room cabinet module is pretty much the hottest thing around for now (though some of the shine wears off when you realize that at the end of the day, even though those five cabs are capable of a lot of tones from the various sliders, there are still just five of them). Guitar Rig’s effects, their user interface, ease of use despite incredible depth and complexity possible remain unparalleled. So it’s an attractive package, to a different sort of folks than for whom IKMM’s X-Gear is an attractive package. Go look at the screen shot I posted a couple entries ago and see how you can use splitters and other things to make Guitar Rig’s signal chain very complex with high-quality sound results.

    Now that I’ve got the “big two” out of the way, the truth of the matter is that all of the programs that I have had time with have strengths and weaknesses. For instance, though the effects and amps in Amplitube X-Gear are great when it’s fully loaded with the programs, the interface is somewhat dated by now and doesn’t give you the same degree of flexibility that some other programs now offer. Remember that Amplitube 2 entered development pretty early – I hesitate to say exactly when but what comes off the top of my head is 2004, you might want to look on Google for that though – and the competition was very different then. Since IKMM’s X-Gear interface is basically tied to the Amplitube 2 workflow, there are some things that it lacks, like individual presets for effects, dragging effects, that kind of thing. There are still good routing options and you can still do quite a lot of things with it – and it also will be immediately familiar to any guitarist who has used a physical signal chain with pedals and amps and rack units before – but the competition has had several years to try to one-up IK with their user interfaces and it’s a lot easier to build a competitive UI from scratch when the other guy’s cards are on the table.

    Overloud TH1 is a sort of all-arounder. Its amps are not ubiquitously top quality, but none of them are bad. At least half of them are really, really good – very mature modeling process – and the other half aren’t stinkers even if they don’t give you exactly what you expect all the time. And thanks to the SLR slider you can turn the amps that may not speak to you at first into something more agreeable by blending them with something else (this is a really cool feature that deserves more attention than it’s had). The fact that they model all of the channels and most of the switches for their amps means that while they may seem to have fewer amps than other software companies’ products, some of those companies model one channel and call it done (in fairness it’s usually the “best” channel, the one everyone uses, but it’s not nearly as complete as Overloud’s perspective on modeling the whole thing). ReValver MkIII does the same thing and it’s very handy.

    I’ll put those two head-to-head to bring out some distinctions. ReValver MkIII and Overloud TH1 both have good, deep modeling processes. ReValver gives you access to the guts so you can swap tubes, adjust internal filters, change the input section’s behavior, change the tone stack, alter your output transformer and its behavior, even fine-tune the inner workings of all the tubes… and a host of other things that are really fascinating and impressive to someone who knows what he or she is doing inside the virtual amp. At the same time it’s possible to make changes that sound really bad or even cause the amp not to function or to function in badly undesired ways. So it’s great if you’re somewhat versed in amplifier electronics, but it can be intimidating if you aren’t.

    The support for ReValver MkIII since release has, regretfully, been lacking. They did release an RTAS version of it to try to get into the ProTools market, but there have been some long-standing bugs that haven’t had any attention. It’s badly in need of a patch to correct remaining bugs and solidify the user interface. It’s a program that already, despite some real issues, has a bunch of exceptional, realistic amp sounds and some cool, well thought out effects… But it’s hard to say “this has the potential to be amazing” when it’s been over a year since its release and it hasn’t had a bug-fix patch or any real effort to help it realize its potential.

    Overloud’s approach to customization relies on a similar level of depth to the models themselves, but rather than giving you access to the guts, it lets you pick two different amp models (including the channel selection on each model) and blend them together for a new sound. Under the hood, that does some pretty cool stuff – it’s not just a crossfader, it actually changes the virtual circuit in real-time. While it’s still possible to end up with combinations that don’t sound as good as the software is capable of sounding, it’s not possible to end up with an amp that literally just makes a high-pitched squealing noise because you didn’t anticipate how changing the power section tube characteristics would impact the circuit. And it gives you the freedom to think of the problem in more musician-friendly terms: “I like how this amp model sounds because of its raw, fat tone, but I like this amp model because it has some cut and refinement in the midrange… I bet a hybrid between those two would sound great!” And usually you’ll be right if you approach it that way.

    Overloud’s support has been absolutely model. They listened to their customers every step of the way, and released a patch, version 1.1, which didn’t just fix bugs, but which added enough content that they probably could have justified charging for it. Tons of extra effects and new amps, as well as much-appreciated mixer tools like a signal splitter which – though not capable of nested, multiple splits like Guitar Rig’s – has a great deal of precision and allows for a number of split configurations. So Overloud is a company that has shown a great deal of loyalty to their customers and TH1 is a product that has grown as a result of interactions between the company and the community.

    IKMM has done quite a bit of listening to the community, too; T-Racks 3 Singles was a big wish-list favorite, and their patch for Amplitube Fender took note of what critics and customers had noted, adding more effects in more places than previously and making the whole package stronger as a result.

    Other companies’ products have different strengths, too. Studio Devil is a small company and takes advantage of their small size to offer really good value propositions for single products; Virtual Guitar Amp is $79 and has something like 18 models, while Amp Modeler Pro is less than twice the price (coming in at least $75 under the least expensive competition from the major companies) and has a bunch of improved models, a powerful IR loader with good tone shaping, smart and well-programmed effects, an improved noise gate, a full EQ section, multi-function delay and reverb, and separate preamp and power amp modeling. And all over the plugin there are little switches and knobs that let you tweak it to just your tastes. Its GUI is perhaps its biggest problem for a lot of people – there’s just so much on one screen, even with the tabbed effects it is a little overwhelming and you have to read the manual carefully to understand how best to use the software. But Marc is one guy, he does his best work on the sounds and tries to make the GUI as functional as possible without being ugly but without taking a lot of time away from his important work on the sound engine and its capabilities. I think the product has a niche. We’ll see how it fares.

    Waves GTR excels at getting a very polished, produced sound without a lot of tweaking and tinkering necessary. It’s almost pre-produced and its sheen is not easy to take off if you don’t like it, but there are a bunch of models, a bunch of effects, and it’s pretty good stuff all around. If you want to get a modern sound fast (and that isn’t limited to distortion – its cleans, its crunch, everything sounds “modern” and studio-crisp), it has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. Waves GTR Solo hardly does the full version justice; it improves the flexibility and power of the software a lot.

    Pod Farm has TONS of sounds in it. Quantity over quality in many cases, especially with the amps, but there are over 90 amp models to try out. I’ve found that many of them have some superficial differences but the same basic sound, in categories – like, the really high gain amps all have sort of a “Line6 high gain sound” to them, etc. – and the limitations of the program make sense on the POD X3 but not in a DAW. Why can’t I use two Tubescreamers if I want to? Why am I stuck with one of each kind of module? I can’t boost my amp with a preamp if want to and that’s a shame, I can see how the hardware would be limited in what it could do at once but my computer is not. Still, Line6 has a sound and a workflow that is very familiar to a lot of people, and their effects and some of the amp and preamp models are in fact very good. Ultimately it’s hard to recommend it over any of the other programs because it just doesn’t seem to fit in on the computer in the same way, it doesn’t take advantage of desktop strengths. It seems more like a great companion to the physical hardware to make reamping easier, or if you’re just a long-time Line6 user and you know it like the back of your hand then the option is there, but the other programs do its job better for the most part. Except for some of the cool, original effects, and some of the studio effects and mic preamp models which are surprisingly good.

    And on the opposite end of the spectrum from Line6 there’s Softube, giving you quite minimal, spartan models for quite a lot of money considered as cost per model. But the sound quality on them is hard to beat. Amplitube Jimi Hendrix and Amplitube Metal started getting to this quality level and Amplitube Fender is there now… but for quite awhile Softube’s models were uniquely high quality. Now they remain top-notch but the cost is very high, probably too high for most to justify. I imagine they intend their customers to be studios who are looking for a specific reamping solution and who intend any effects, etc. to be applied in post. User interface and ease of use are paramount for Softube’s amp modeling software and it’s as close as is currently possible to taking real-world mic placement knowledge into the virtual world and getting the same results.

    Anyway… What a HUGE post! I hope you’re still awake here at the bottom of it. Hopefully you can see why I can’t really say “all you need to do is go buy X software and you’ll have everything you could possibly ask for, it’s the right answer for everyone.”

  6. Dave Thomas says:

    Thanks for the detailed reply!

    Keep up the long posts I enjoy reading them!

    I keep mentioning UI from time to time, the best ones for me are revalver and Guitar rig, your right about the IK interface been a bit aged, when I use the IK stuff I do enable the global cabinet disable, and use Poulins cab sim with an over sized mesa and and Engl powerball or Framus cabs.

    Im going to fire up reaper and give Guitar rig 4 a try now, I might even copy the settings on your sceen show to save me a fiddling to much 🙂

    Cheers!
    D.

  7. Dave Thomas says:

    Back to the suggestions … same as usual mixing / recording workflow 🙂

  8. strolf says:

    Great reading. I’m a sucker for this kind of deeper analysing. Let’s all be nirds!
    Thanks!

  9. Ed says:

    Hi, enjoy your blog! I would enjoy getting some more insight on modeling tips and tricks specifically in regard to tone shaping. A really good primer on how, when, why, to EQ for example. Are there any general or default EQ ‘rules’ to apply in the sim world?

    I ask because I’ve been spending hours trying to get a decent medium to high gain sound. 70’s cranked Marshall style mostly. I LOVE ABG’s Knucklehead and LeCab (per your advice), but I’m wrestling with trying to filter out what I perceive to be some nasty upper frequencies around 3-5k (as far as I can tell so far). The higher the gain, the worse it gets. I hear this harshness in all sims I’ve tried. The JSX in MKIII is another one I’ve been messing with of late. Same issue. Rolling off my tone control and using the neck pickup helps but this can’t be ideal solution.

    I see numerous but seemingly generalized tips such as use a LPF but no luck, and using a parametric for a noob seems daunting and akin to a crap shoot. Is there anything you’ve learned on this issue? Unless I’m the only one with this problem, I’d think there be more specific and well compiled FAQs on this.

    Thanks, looking forward to your thoughts on this.

  10. gl says:

    Hey Agreed,

    been researching virtual amps for the last few days, and stumbled on your blog – excellent stuff, and some good links.

    Eventually settled on the excellent GR4, but now I’m also checking out the freeware stuff. I wonder if you can pass a message onto AcmeBarGig as I haven’t found their contact details yet.

    I just tried out their DIG2, and whilst it’s pretty impressive, it does have a GUI issue on multi-monitor systems – the dials don’t work properly (spin out of contorl) when the interface is on a monitor that has negative mouse coordinates – eg. a monitor arranged to be below the primary monitor (y coords are then negative on it as all the monitors form a giant desktop, with the primary’s bottom/left corner at 0,0).

    I’ve seen this on Bootsy’s plugs too. I’m a programmer, and the problem is most likely that the GUI code is using (and/or only expecting) unsigned mouse coordinates – this is only valid in a single-monitor system (or on particular multimon setups where the secondary screens are always to the right or right/top of the primary).

    Feel free to pass along my email so he/they can contact me for more info or to tryout fixes.

    In the meantime I’m watching your blog closely :).

  11. Jo says:

    Great blog – keep it up. bumped into all this AmpSim Stuff by trying to add shimmer to my X3 Live in order to play U2. Am now testing Ampl 2 and GR 4. Seems all octavers/pitch phasers are mono-phonic.

    So here’s the challenge – Line6’s M13 can do a good shimmer (using OctoVerb setting) – can any of the AmpSim Softs get it ? (PS Is t normal that one can’t load presets in the GR 4 Demo version ?)

    Ah, by the way, what’s your feeling about Eleven Rack, with the PT 8 Sim Eleven ?

    looking forward to your next blog.
    Jo from BE
    —-
    Fender Strat Am Stdrd, VG88, X3 Live, Marshall 8280, Alessis M1Active520

  12. gl says:

    Jo, you load the GR4 presets by double-clicking them.

  13. Jo says:

    GL, thx for your feedback, however, i meant GR3 presets. I did play around with the existing ones inside GR4. Normally you define a new input folder via the tags, but DEMO seems not to allow this.

    Anyway, while going through some more internal GR4 presets, I found a Shimmer Delay, which is exactly what i was looking for. I is using a Pitch Shifter,On a Whammy +1Oct, plus a reverb, et voila there is the Shimmer sound. Great.

    Still interested in input on the other questions.
    cheers

  14. geareview says:

    Just checking in to let everyone know I’m reading these comments every day and take everyone’s suggestions and other stuff seriously – I can’t work at the pace I’d like to on the blog and keep up with everything else in my life, but I will be trying to do more of the sorts of things that I see a lot of people asking about, including (especially) patch crafting and going for specific sounds. I’ll have to experiment with the format for posts like that, but hopefully with your continued feedback we can come up with something that works!

  15. DigitalMan says:

    There’re a couple of new freeware amp sims out, one a simulation of a Tech 21 Sans Amp (http://www.mokafix.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66%3Anoamp-overview&catid=48%3Anamain&Itemid=73&lang=en), the other a simulation of an Engl e530 preamp (http://www.theserinaexperiment.net/). The people who made the first one also made a Fuzzface emulation, which retails for Euro 9.

  16. geareview says:

    I actually have been helping the Mokafix guy dial in the sounds of his stuff, so I knew about that one. The other one comes a bit out of left field, I didn’t even know that TSR was a thing and especially not that they were making a good Engl 530 emulation.

  17. Dave Thomas says:

    Hi Jeff though I would stop by…
    Im still bouncing from amp sim to amp sim I cant seem to settle on a sound I like anymore 😦
    I was thinking of going back to my GT-10 to see what it sounded like, I seem to have forgotten what I didn’t like about it now, Ill look forward to any material on dialing in sounds…

  18. Dave Thomas says:

    Do you have any suggestion of getting the sound of the classic /jason Becker solo from xray eyes by Cacophony, using software fx though?

    I would have dropped you an email but i don’t have your address.

    Hope you enjoyed your thanks giving!

    D.

  19. Dave Thomas says:

    Have a great Christmas!

  20. suprosuper man says:

    hi was checking out your thread in the NAMM section at HC and I ended up here.. lol….

    There is a amp emulator/modeler software thingy that i did not see on your review site, thought I’d bring it to your attention…

    AcmeBarGig’s modeler called DIG, they got some other stuff too on their site aswell, I never tried it but it looks interesting , gonna post link to their site below..

    AcmeBarGig web address – http://www.acmebargig.com/

    BTW you wrote up some very nice reviews on your site, hats off to you..

    yours suprosuper man
    cheers 🙂

  21. geareview says:

    Hey hey, I’m a friend of Ken’s, helped him test and develop his software very early on in ABG’s life and I have posted many times about developments in his work. We correspond regularly and I always look forward to seeing what he’s got coming up next. I demo’d the G-Spot suite, which is basically the delivery on DIG’s initial promise, and I have been keeping a close eye on Shred’s development. I think those two are going to be his real break-out hits. But ask Ken, I have definitely not ignored his work in the freeware scene 🙂

    In fact, if you click on the Freeware Master List page of my blog, you can see a link to that very web site you just posted.

    Thanks for the kudos, hopefully I can continue to keep the blog cruising along with good content as time goes on.

  22. Will Chen says:

    Get some ads on the site! You’re providing a great service here and deserve to at least get a little compensation for it…

  23. geareview says:

    It’s been a labor of love forever, I’d like to keep it that way until I just can’t 🙂 I don’t have anything against ads, but I just enjoy knowing that I’ve got readers and they find it useful and keep coming back. Thankfully, basic WordPress hosting is free, so while I don’t make anything from it, it also doesn’t cost me anything but time (though as you very well know, time isn’t cheap with all the other stuff demanding our attention).

  24. Dave Thomas says:

    Hey Jeff, I have been thinking about getting a Digitech GSP1101 or an RP1000, have you been able to try one of these out? I was thinking of moving away from software stuff because it feels quirky at times, glitches pops etc, and you have the whole reliance on a computer…

    not sure on whether to go for one or not what are your thoughts?

  25. geareview says:

    Hm, I used to have a prejudice against Digitech and considered them to be sloppy and inferior. Then I got to actually spend some quality time with an RP-1000. I think either of their modern modeler iterations would work pretty well. They are quite responsive, I like most of what you can get out of the units but their speaker modeling isn’t amazing. That’s a downside. However they do have good effects and a quality range of amp and distortion sounds.

    I don’t even know where those two products fall in relation to eachother. It was easier when there was just the RP-500. I *think* the GSP is their “top of the line” product, it’s the rack unit after all, but the RP-1000 makes it less clear. I dunno, they’re probably using the same algorithms anyway, would you rather control on the front of a rack unit or control on the floor with switches and knobs? 🙂

  26. Dave Thomas says:

    To be honest I don’t change settings that much, Im pretty much a one or two patch guy 🙂 the rack unit costs more than the RP1000 and has another processor so you get seamless patch change and reverb/delay trails otherwise I think they are the same, Im tempted to just keep using VSTs and get some decent monitor like you recommended, I have been using the VST stuff solely with headphones which I get a bit fed up of, its nice to hear the tones out of a proper speaker. How does the best of the software stuff stack up against your experience with Digitechs modelling?

    Are you still hanging around the forums, I haven’t heard much from you lately…

  27. geareview says:

    As far as the modeling goes, well, headphones are a big part of your problem. Even on the best headphones, just guitar doesn’t sound right to me. Too much detail, so it tends to sound kind of fizzy on its own. Full mixed and mastered material is different, of course, they’ve got a lot of attention carefully paid to putting each thing in its right place and so it all comes together nicely. Try a fairly aggressive lowpass filter at between 5 and 7 khz if you want to try to tame some of the ugly with guitar just with headphones.

    Digitech’s best modeling is inferior to Amplitube 2-level modeling. A list of programs that sound better than Digitech’s modeling is really long. But it’s not just Digitech, Boss/Roland with the GT-10 and others are in the same boat. There just isn’t the processing power in those units to match what computers have to offer. They have to make sure that they can fit the whole functionality of the unit into the available resources, so if it’s got a dual signal path advertised, it has to work using every potential component that can be in a chain at once, twice… It limits what they can manage. But they’re usually pretty good anyway, modeling has come a long way. Compare a modern Digitech unit to an older RP50 or what have you and it’s amazing to see how they’ve improved. Compare them to an even older Zoom 505II and the difference in realism and responsiveness is astounding. It’s just in what is good enough for usage.

    Frankly I think you’d be better off sorting your listening setup, as a long-term solution and better use of your money. Modeling quality is a step down from software to hardware except in a very limited number of cases (AxeFX being the real match for today’s software, and the Eleven Rack I suppose as well, plus a high-end standalone unit like the Receptor actually running software). Any hardware unit is running software capable of running on that unit. It’s no comparison, computers just have so much more horsepower… But they do a good job with what they have. Still, you need good monitors anyway for recording, and I think you’ll be impressed with the difference for a lot of applications (including just listening to music).

    As to the other question well…

    I do browse some forums, but not that many. I’m waiting on Harmony Central to update to 2.0 before I get back involved with it too much; I don’t post much over at TGP anymore because it’s a little too rich for my blood 🙂 Nice folks, but they’ve got more free cash than me and much more of a desire to own the world’s largest pedal collection and so I don’t often have much to contribute. The SomethingAwful forums are my “home,” but I do post a lot lately over at AVSforum, too, and I still browse around KVR, GuitarAmpModeling, and Gearslutz and post sometimes. I have my knowledge niche and I don’t try to expand too far out of it, I’d rather just stick to what I know.

  28. Stacco says:

    Dear Jeff.

    I’m about to start rehearsing after a long lull, and -while most of my gear will be now residing in the rehearsal space- it would be greatly beneficial for me to be able to “replicate” my rehearsal set up at home and I would like to do so with Amplitube 3.

    What this basically means is, that when I carry my pedalboards from my rehearsal space to my home studio, I’d like to recreate the signal routing for home recording. This would mean the following:

    1) Bunchapedals into a Mesa Boogie Nomad Preamp
    2) Buncha pedals in the Loop of the Boogie
    3) Two returns: one back to the Boogie’s Power Amp. (Modded with EL84 Yellowjackets), the other to a old Peavey’s 6L6 power section ( I don’t use the Peavey’s preamp, and my effected chain is split by a Seymour Duncan Déjà Vu, going into a Line 6 M9).

    If I manage to do this, I think I can get a lot of troubleshooting done at home before I set up in the rehearsal space, (apart fro, the inevitable ground loop issues et all, but I have (safe!) means of fighting these.

    So, I’d like to replicate all this mess with Amplitube and through Ableton.
    As far as I can predict, this would mean having three tracks open in Ableton, ie: One for the Preamp, and two for the corresponding power amps.

    So, tell me if I’m wrong, but I would have to have:

    FIRST track: With a mono input (from all the pedals I have before going though the preamp) going into amplitube SOLELY to a Preamp. Now, I’ve noticed on AT3 that the Orange and others don’t seem to have dedicated Pre/Power amp sections. In any case, how can I isolate a Preamp only sim????.

    More complications: The Boogie, being a three channel switching combo has, effectively, three pre-amp channels. I’ve noticed that there’s a split second of muting when switching between presets… Could I assign these three “preamp channels” to the same track in Ableton (and switch between them with one of my Midi controllers?). Otherwise I’d have to run five instances of Amplitube on live at the same time and, although my computer can handle it (and 3 seems to be less processor demanding than 2) it seems a bit of a waste of resources I may want to use for other things.

    Now, this Preamped signal I would have to route back out to one of my audio interface’s outputs…. This brings the question. Would I need some sort of re-amping device before feeding this signal back into the rest of my effects chain, or can I take an audio out and that will do the job?

    From there I’d feed the Stereo signal back into Ableton, into two different tracks, panned left and right, and each “modelling” A 6L6 power section and an EL84 Class A one, but again. I just want the POWER section and speaker/mike/room emulations, no preamps.

    Well, I fear this message has turned out rather long winded, but given your familiarity with software modellers, I’m sure you’ll be able to unravel my techno-ignoramus ramblings!!!!

    Apart from doing this through Ableton, in the described manner, does Amplitube offer these routing options in Standalone mode? I can’t find anything on the manuals (or Ik’s rather confusing webpage). I basically would like to use Amplitube as if it had an effects loop through which I can route external devices.

    Thank you Jeff and bless you for your patience!

    Stacco

  29. geareview says:

    Stacco, it’s going to require some experimentation to figure out if AT3 will do what you need it to. There isn’t really any way to get an effects loop in Amplitube, even with the amps that allow for splitting up their parts. That is a limitation of the software that no amount of clever routing can overcome, unfortunately. They aren’t alone in the limitation; very few modelers have separately selectable pre and power amp modes, ReValver comes to mind but it has been poorly supported since its launch a couple years ago and I can only hope that the upcoming MkIII.5 release will fix some long-standing bugs. But that won’t get you Amplitube 3’s sound and its comprehensive model selection.

    Here are a couple quick notes before I get to the nitty gritty, I’m pretty sure you can automate the channel switching on the Boogie (usually every single parameter or switch in Amplitube products can be automated, for some time now). That should cut down on any preset switching lag you’re getting, since you can just do it in the software itself. You’ll want to try it at home before taking it live, obviously, because it might not give 100% predictable performance, but it’s worth a shot. Also, I don’t think it should be necessary to use a reamping device for feeding the signal back in, but only experimentation will inform you on that one. I haven’t done that, myself, and it will just depend on what kind of signal your effects are expecting. Most pedals want an instrument level signal, but a lot of pedals will put up with a line-level signal, too. Some won’t and you’ll get audible clipping of an ugly and undesirable sort. Very few will actually be damaged by it (CMOS-based distortions are susceptible to damage from input signals exceeding their designed threshold, so if you have an Anderton Tube Sound Fuzz based pedal like the Red Llama or the Catalinbread Hyperpak, be careful). Now, on to the important stuff!

    To your main question. Some bad news: the closest you can come to isolating the Preamp or the Power amp is a limited workaround. I’ll outline the steps below. You’re already on the right track, so this might just be confirming what you were already thinking. One thing to keep in mind is that it will make a big difference where you decide to have the strongest tone stack influence on your sound, since the tone stack will be coming either before the effects loop, or after it. I would imagine that you’ll want to use your preferred colorful tone stack on the Preamp portion, since that most accurately imitates real-world effects loops.

    1. In the first instance of Amplitube 3, to isolate the Preamp as best as you can, turn the power amp volume down as low as possible while still getting sound through. You can boost the Module Volume down at the bottom of the Amplitube 3 window to make up for it, you might need to do that on the Amp module and also on the Master Volume to make up for the loss in gain. That will not eliminate the coloration that the power amp provides, but it will minimize it, since it won’t be distorting the signal and generating crunchy harmonics. Bypass the cabinet sim entirely on this instance of Amplitube 3, because it’s the start of your faux-effects loop. As I said above, I think it would be a good idea to use your tone stack on this instance to shape the sound.

    2. In a second instance of Amplitube 3, to isolate the power amp(s) as best you can, reduce the preamp gain as low as possible while still passing through a clear signal. This is a strength of Amplitube software, all of the preamps behave quite realistically and will taper to nothing when the preamp gain is reduced all the way. You only want it down far enough that it is sending as clean of a signal as possible to the power amp. Much like the above step, it will not negate the coloration of the preamp itself, but it will mean that it isn’t as prominent and it isn’t distorting the signal and adding harmonics. Now, you can’t really remove the tone stack from this, even if it is one of the amps that gives you variable options. Your only recourse is to try and set it as uncolored and flat as possible. It isn’t perfect and it is a workaround. Experimentation will be necessary to get your best sound, here. Your cab sim can go on this one, too, if you’re using AT3’s built-in cab sim (and I recommend it, I have had lovely results).

    3. Two instances of the Power Amp portion aren’t necessary, because Amplitube 3 offers a dual signal path; you can just select one of the routing options that gives you parallel amps, and use it that way. That should save you some CPU resources which, as you say, can go toward other things. It’s up to you whether you want to go with the one that runs both parallel amps into one cabinet, or gives each amp its own cabinet sim.

    As far as the standalone mode, no, you won’t be able to do anything like that in standalone without some really severe workarounds (software internal audio device emulation for re-routing between multiple instances) that basically make using it in Ableton for your needs look like a walk in the park.

    I hope that this info helps you out. Don’t give up on the idea – you’re clearly aiming for something creatively useful and specific, and I think that with some patience and experimentation you’ll have a successful result. You seem to know exactly what you’re after, sound-wise, and that’s the BEST place to start when it comes to trying to do something sophisticated like this with modelers.

    Do let me know how it turns out, when you’ve had a chance to try. And please don’t hesitate to post comments, I love hearing from my readers and if being long-winded is a crime, I’ll be in the cell down the hall when they take us in 😀

    Best,
    Jeff

  30. Stacco says:

    Oh, thanks for the reply Jeff!

    Yeah, it’s amazing that Ampitube lets you defeat the cabinet sim but not the any of the separate preamp/tonestck/poweramp modules. I was certain that they’d have done this with 3, but no luck.

    Anyway, yesterday I did a little experimenting. Right now what’s holding me back the most is my ignorance about operating the effect sends and return on Ableton and the routing. (Amongst other unplanned disasters I was still getting the sound from the “preamp” instance, mixed in parallel with the “poweramp” and cabinet instance.

    I first tried with the demo version of Revalver, because. Regular BZZZT aside I wanted to go for the whole modular experience, and YES, it works! Now, due to impendance issues and such I was getting strange effects and feedback, but, I finally got a decent sound.

    Now, on to Amplitube. I followed your procedure and I believe I’m getting there. I certainly managed to isolate the “preamp” version. I was getting a lot of weird artefacts (feedback, oscillation, et al) going into the simulated “Power” section but, like I say, I think that’s got to do more with the sends and returns on Ableton that with the levels set by amplitude.

    So, even though I have to Iron out the majority of the details I know now I can make it. It certainly makes a difference if I’m using buffered fx in the “outside loop”. I’ll keep informing and, when I have it down to a science, I’ll share the methodology.

    Stacco

  31. geareview says:

    I actually started out using Ableton, but it is apparently smarter than I am because I could never really get anywhere with it. I blame it on my own ignorance – I just knew I wanted a recording program that was more fully-featured and professional than Audacity or Wavosaur, and a friend was pumped about how flexible and amazing Live was for him. I didn’t really understand when I got it that it’s not so much a DAW as a performance tool with DAW-like features. Since switching to Reaper a couple years ago I’ve been a much happier camper. Live is an amazing tool, it just isn’t the tool I needed. I look forward to hearing how you manage to get it all to work out 🙂

  32. tom says:

    i’m trying to start the process of recording my songs.I have about 40 or so, mostly incomplete.I have no experience with DAW’s.You are obviuosly quite knowledgable and helpful,and i’m hoping you can help me.I’ll give you some info then could you please recommend some products to fit my needs?I have a newer PC w/athlon dual core, 2GB DDR2,my music is instrumental rock {satriani,but no stealing!} mostly but would also like record some nylon string.I would like to use amp sims. mostly except for the nylon {miked}.What i think i need is a DAW, usb interface, amp sim. software, decent mike for nylon and acoustic, monitors, and possibly a midi usb keyboard.Software instruments, most importantly something for drum tracks. I did read that you use REAPER and i saw the free vst’s list so if you can’t respond to this thankyou anyway.P.S. i did not mention how much i’d like to spend{not sure}.i’d say up to $250 for the interface and $60 for Reaper sounds great. Thanks again.

  33. geareview says:

    Tom, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I will consider your needs and see if I can’t make any recommendations for you tomorrow, alright? Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  34. tom says:

    Hello Jeff, hey no problem,i figuerd you were busy.I went ahead and ordered NI’S audio kontrol 1.It comes with a coupon for guitar rig 4 pro and other software.I read some good reviews about it; when you factor in the GR 4 pro,i’m getting the interface for about $80.In addition to the other stuff mentioned above,perhaps you can comment on some i’ve been looking at if you are at all familiar with them.These are ,beta monkey drum loops,toontracks ezdrummer,behringer monitors and mics.Bundled with my interface is kore player and cubase le.Do you know about kore,will i be able to use it for drum tracks? And what about cubase? do i start there or go right to reaper? My interface wont arrive for another week so once i get it and start using and get you’re input,i can start thinking about completing my setup. Thanks

  35. geareview says:

    That controller should be fine for your needs, and GR4 is a good program. Not the best amp sounds out there, but still quality, and very, very, very flexible and user-friendly patch creation. AMAZING effects! Really top-notch. I’ve always thought of the split between Guitar Rig and Amplitube (the two “big” players in computer modeling, though of course Line6 has plenty of market penetration thanks to the way they bundle Pod Farm in with their Pod hardware, and other companies have their own cool technology too) as being sort of underwritten by their personal differences. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some of the people that work on the programs (Guitar Rig from NI, Amplltube from IKMM) and it strikes me that the NI folks are synth folks, while the IKMM people are guitar people. So it kind of makes sense to me, then, that IKMM’s focus is on the fundamentals of getting the best amp sounds possible, building off of that strong foundation, while Native Instruments aims for incredible flexibility, superb effects, advanced controllers and parameter modulation… Sort of a “synthy” approach to making a plugin. Of course now that Guitar Rig is in version 4 they can lay claim to some really quality amp sounds and cabinet models, too, they have caught up in a lot of ways, but Amplitube 3 definitely leads the pack for amp modeling authenticity to my ears.

    The truest way I can put my experience with amp modelers is that no modern amp modeler, from freeware (Aradaz, LePou, AcmeBarGig, and others) to the smaller commercial offerings (Studio Devil, Flying Haggis) to the big companies (Amplitube 3, Guitar Rig 4, Overloud THD, Waves GTR, ReValver, etc., etc.) – none of them is going to stop a musician with a song in his heart from getting it out. They will ALL facilitate that. If you have a song to make and you are dedicated to getting it out, then any program will work for you, it’s just a matter of learning how your chosen program works so that you can get the best out of it. I started this blog thinking maybe I could determine which was the “best” amp modeler, but now a year and a half later I just have to say that they’re all good and it’s just the same problem that EVERY musician faces. All the cool toys in the world won’t put a song in your heart. Once you’ve got a song, the toys turn into tools, and you make your music. That’s just how it is. So I hope that you have songs to create, because the urge to get them out will make you succeed with your software much better than anything else I could say would. You will learn how to make the music you NEED to make, and you will learn your tools in the process. 🙂

    On to the other specifics:

    I haven’t had any personal experience with Beta Monkey drum loops, I have a version of Groove Monkey’s drum loops from a year ago or so and it’s been very handy. I understand Beta Monkey are really well regarded; if they’re really better than Groove Monkey’s stuff, then I can only imagine they’ll be very good! I’ve been quite satisfied with the Groove Monkey loops, I like that they’re not quantized and have a really natural sound to them.

    I use EZDrummer myself. There are pros and cons; the biggest pro is that it is, true to its name, very, very “EZ” to work with. The most complex thing you can do with it is have it output its drums to individual tracks for easier manipulation of their various sounds in your DAW (e.g. grouping cymbals, grouping toms, etc. for processing). It’s very much a plug-and-play kind of software, and the price is quite fair. I’ve got some friends who have upgraded to Superior Drummer, and it lives up to its name, too; EZdrummer will always sound like EZdrummer, even when you do your preferred EQing and processing to it. The expansions help but it’s got a sound that is kind of its finger-print on your mix. Doesn’t mean it will sound bad, just that someone familiar with EZdrummer and expansions will be able to tell that you’re using it 🙂 Doesn’t bother me, I use it to record demos and stuff so I’m quite alright with it being recognized for what it is, no big deal.

    I used Behringer’s B2031A active monitors for a number of years before switching to a KRK monitoring rig. They were adequate for the task, far better than any of the multimedia computer speakers I had used before then, but this was very soon after they came out. I heard from a friend in the industry that they had to make some internal changes to the B2031As when Genelec realized just how close the B2031As were to their monitors (we all know what Behringer does, and sometimes they get a little too close to the “inspiration”). But that’s hearsay, who knows. The price for a pair of them is quite low… I don’t know, it depends on what you’re after I guess. When I was doing listening tests to get into a higher quality and more accurate monitoring rig, I got a chance to listen to the KRK Rokkit V2 monitors and I thought they sounded really, really good for the money. You might consider them. One artist who uses them for his recording is Dimitar Nalbantov, you can see in a picture toward the bottom of his endorsement page. His guitar instrumental albums sound very good to me, so I would say that once you get to know them, the affordable KRK Rokkits are perfectly effective monitors. But I never had any trouble out of my Behringers and I used them for four years or so. Well, once I blew a tweeter, but they fixed it for free and paid shipping both ways, so I can’t fault them for that!

    On a less happy note, I am not a fan of Behringer mics. The cheapest condenser mics that are worth using in my opinion are probably MXL’s stuff, and plenty of people will insist that you’re better off saving your money for better ones. Of course the old Shure standby SM-57/SM-58 are safe bets for dynamics; they sound good with vocals, good on instruments, just good sounding mics.

    In my opinion you get a LOT more with Reaper than you do with Cubase LE, I would just head straight to Reaper without stopping in the feature-limited light edition of Cubase. Reaper is a very deep, very sophisticated DAW but also very easy to break into. You can figure things out pretty quickly, though it helps to give the manual a thorough read so that you can understand the complex operations that are available to you. I have been using Reaper since before version 2, and it has just grown and grown and grown into an incredibly good, fully-featured DAW, rivaling the best out there. For a project studio it is incredible. I love it. My favorite DAW, for sure. 🙂

    Hopefully when your interface gets in, you can get set up and running soon, and be making and recording music right away!

  36. tom says:

    Thanks for your reply Jeff, you’ve been helpful.I may have purchased stealthpedal/Amplitube 3 if it was available at the canadian online music stores where i prefer to shop.Ofcourse i want the best amp sounds so i plan on getting Amplitube 3 sometime. Thanks for the bit of encouragement; I think i’ve got good songs and am confident about tracking the guitars, the rest i’m gonna work at. I’m curious about your setup, the software i saw on the front page and monitors you mentioned. what are your system specs? Do you use an external hard drive for some of your programs? I’d like to know what midi keyboard you use assuming you have one? A $200 or less midi keyboard is what i need next because i bought IKMM’s sampletank 2 XL. After watching the videos on IKMM website i decided to buy it. For $399 i wouln’t have considered it, but for $99 it seemed too good to pass up. I could sit here all day and bug you with these questions i wont.I’m sure you’d rather work on your own stuff or whatever so if you’re busy reply whenever or not. I’m glad i found this site , keep up the good work, and thanks alot.

  37. jjblacksheep says:

    Jeff, have you had a chance to try any of these models?

  38. geareview says:

    Took me a second to figure out what you meant, I see the link in your name 🙂 No, I haven’t yet tried to contact Line6 about checking out the new software, I am interested certainly and as far as the idea of it goes, I think there’s a spot in the market for a product that brings better model quality than what’s generally been available in floor units to the floor-based processor market.

  39. stuartbahn says:

    Hi Jeff,

    A little different to your usual reviews but would you be interested in reviewing a video course for guitarists on how to become a guitar teacher?

    Drop me an email at stuart@stuartbahn.com and I’ll send you one of the complete units. There’s course contents and clips at http://www.beaguitarteacher.com

    With best wishes,
    Stuart Bahn

  40. stuartbahn says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I’ve just released a sight-reading app called ‘Notation Trainer’ for Android. Would you be happy to review it? Just drop me an email and I’ll forward you the installation file.

    Kindest regards,
    Stuart Bahn

  41. Support Team says:

    Hi, geareview!

    We just launched our first product, ChordCommander for Guitar. It’s software that can show you how to voice-lead or otherwise play more-or-less any modern music chord progression.

    http://www.dogearsoftware.com/

    It supports 6, 7, or 8 string guitars, 4, 5, or 6 string bass, ukulele, right or left handed… You can tune the strings any way you like, so it’s good for experimenting with open tunings, etc.

    If you’d like a free copy to review, please drop us a note via email.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Cheers,
    -Dog Ear Software Support Team

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