In the midst of NAMM 2009 (Today is IKMM day, big news coming I’m sure!), Overloud releases… SLEGO! For free!

January 14, 2010

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What is it? Well, Slego is apparently a stand-alone app from Overloud featuring 32 presets from TH1, except they don’t cost you any money at all to use. Enjoy, folks, TH1 has some great tones in it and I’m sure they picked some cream of the crop presets to show off what it can do. For free! If you want to use them for recording, you’ll have to use something like Rewire to route the audio to your DAW of choice, but hooking up and jamming should be a simple affair.

Download your very own Slego here

I’ll update later today with any cool stuff coming out of NAMM and my thoughts on it. IK has a big one in store, pay attention to the press – something very cool already leaked, but today’s the big day.

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On Guitar Rig 4, value, and what software is right for you

October 13, 2009

Overall impression remains the same. The amps have improved but they are not top of the heap – they are however competitive with many other companies’ software to the point that if you can’t find a sound you like in Guitar Rig, the sound might not exist. I have to be honest, I am not in love with the Hot Plex at all. I think the revamped regular Plex sounds better for everything. I do however quite like the new Jump amp, and think it compliments the JCM800 model nicely with a different sound and feel but a similar inherent range. The Hot Plex seems kind of redundant with the Plex model having been revamped… Boost the Plex with the Gain Booster, adjust the advanced settings a bit, give it some fatness in the bass and you’ve got the Hot Plex model more or less. I’ve tried to give it time to grow on me but I just can’t get any sounds that really speak to me out of it. The only thing I haven’t yet tried is running a strat into it – traditionally I have loved the sound of a single-coil equipped strat into a cranked ripping Marshall, so that might be the key. I’ll try it tomorrow. I’ve had no such identity crises with Jump, that one is my style for sure! Great sounds on its own, very dynamic and responsive to your touch, and it boosts well. I look forward to the Cool Plex and seeing how that differs from the regular and hot Plex models.

The effects are overall great despite a few mediocre ones; the Spring Reverb for example sounds good enough used subtly but gets sort of spastic and inauthentic at higher settings, the oktaver has problems (bug problems, they’ll fix that I’m sure)… but on the whole the effects are very nice. The list has to be the ones that aren’t kickass, for me, because most of them are. The pitch-based effects apart from the (probably bugged, again) oktaver track more quickly and with less glitchy artifacts. It’s possible now to do something not unlike the EHX POG with the Whammy emulator, and the Psychdelay’s pitch function can do the Eventide Crystals algorithm aping better than ever. Which is good because I like that 🙂

The new Control Room cabinet sim had a lot of shock-and-awe factor for me when I first used it because, man, that’s a big improvement! But that’s worn off a bit now. I still think it’s the coolest method of in-program cabinet simulation I’ve ever seen, and contributes a much greater degree of realism to the sounds than ever before in Guitar Rig. I would buy a Control Room plugin if they added some more cabs to it to round it out a bit more but kept the quality and consistency the same. I wish I could afford the time of whoever it is that did those impulse recordings, because that guy knows how the hell to mike up a cab. That said, even though it’s simplified and streamlined, it still takes some work and an ear to get the right cab sound for the track. And there’s a subtle complexity to it since you now have the ability to (and hence the responsibility to understand) bringing in many mics on the cabinet at once… Too many cooks in the kitchen ruin the soup, and while liberal usage of the various sliders can give you some great “in the room” sounds out of your monitors, you’ll probably find yourself having to remember that in the end you’re going for a specific, miked up cab sound and being a bit more surgical in your approach once it comes time to fit the sound into a broader mix context.

The new matched cabs are better, too. So good on them for that, since there are still going to be people who want to just load it up and go. I don’t think Guitar Rig is the best sim for people with no desire to tweak, though they certainly go very far with thoughtful, comprehensive and non-threatening documentation, extensive preset libraries and other things like that to make it as pain-free as possible to new users. It’s just that so many of the cool sounds you can get – the ones that sound like you, the ones that come from your head – require getting under the hood with the advanced settings on the amps and effects, and more precisely adjusting the cabs (even throwing some EQ/filters in where necessary to sculpt the tone more fully). Still, they make it easy to test-drive with all the ease-of-use features, and all that horsepower will be waiting for the user when he or she is ready.

Integration with Rig Kontrol is more complicated than it used to be as far as the “control” menu goes, but it is very easy to integrate with Rig Kontrol using the graphical representation of it, just drag and drop what you want.

I don’t like the new module preset manager. I just don’t think it’s any kind of an improvement over the old one. I guess it makes having more presets for a module easier on the eyes, but it’s also a lot easier to accidentally delete a preset and then it’s just gone for good – and it’s also quite possible to accidentally add a duplicate module when you’re just trying to change its preset. These are not workflow improvements.

I have always been in love with the flexibility of Guitar Rig and this continues that tradition excellently, if anything the advanced routing options now are even better than before.

I’ve got some stuff to think about to put all my thoughts into a more concise review for Frugal’s publication format, but these have been my general impressions. Thanks everyone in the thread for helping me think it through, bouncing stuff around, etc.; in the end I am more comfortable recommending Guitar Rig as someone’s comprehensive solution than I have ever been before, and the apparently common choice between Amplitube or Guitar Rig is now harder whereas it used to be easier (not trying to discriminate against other software, here, that’s just the question and comparison I see posted about over at KVR WAY more often than anything else – you’d think it was class warfare between IK lovers and Native fans or something, haha). They’ve got the improved amp and cabinet simulations to thank for that above all else, but all the other factors play their part as well. Even though the amps haven’t closed the distance, they’re getting there and they’ve caught up to where the competition started really getting great… all while building on advantages they’ve enjoyed in other areas.

You can’t forget that IKMM, Overloud, and Waves are no slouches when it comes to effects. IK’s process in modeling their amps translates to their effects, too, with great results; Overloud has an awesome stable of profoundly useful tools. And Waves is Waves, of course they’ll have well programmed effects. But Guitar Rig 4 brings to the table a neat level of customization and “beyond modeling” tweakability that sets it somewhat apart (in addition to the easy integration with its controller, though that is by no means exclusive these days since IK released the StealthPedal interface/controller).

A reader asked me what my favorite amp modeling software is. I can’t answer that. I know that I use a lot of X-Gear in my studio, it’s one of my first stops on the tone journey for a given piece. But it’s not exclusive at all. I mix and match, taking what I want from different things. Guitar Rig 4 is great in that for the first time, really, they’re offering what I am willing to call a truly professional and high quality sounding PACKAGE. Previously the amps were a mixed bag, some very nice but some mediocre, with sub-par cabinet modeling rounding out the dud at the center of an otherwise powerful effects and routing platform. Now they’ve corrected their biggest weaknesses and it makes the package of Guitar Rig 4 a better bargain. But IK’s doing a pretty damned impressive promotion… and Overloud and Revalver are priced competitively, too, not to mention the drastically lower price of Studio Devil’s recently released comprehensive Amp Modeler Pro suite.

And as much as it pains me to admit it – as a reviewer, this really is hard to say – the best thing you can do is test these programs for yourself. Listen to my words and my clips, because they’ll give you some context and maybe even some guidance as to how to get sounds that you’ll like. If you hear something that piques your interest, download the trial and see what you can feel from it. There are several considerations that all matter when you’re test-driving software. Some say ONLY sound matters. I see the merit in that but I think that work-flow and an intuitive user experience are salient factors as well. After all, a great sound that takes an hour to find might not be better for your needs than a good sound that you can dial in within a few minutes. And work-flow isn’t something that someone else can tell you, either. Whether the software “thinks like you do” is a big part of how you’ll get along with it, and whether you’ll find it useful and inspiring to your musical creativity. Having had experience with all the software that I have, I’m actually in a pretty poor position to judge work-flow just because I’ve familiarized myself with all of them to the point that they’re close to second nature. I can guess how a new user will approach a product but I can’t know for sure. That’s where trials and your own brain and ears come in.

So I guess if you wanted me to pin down my position this post won’t be very satisfying. On the other hand I hope that you can see why I find it difficult to explicitly come down heavily in favor of this or that. I will do everything I can to arm you to make a smart purchasing decision. I will listen to your requests and try to meet them, I will offer clips and commentary and reviews as thoughtfully as I am able. But I’m me, and you’re you. After you read what I’ve got to say and hear what I’ve posted for you to hear, I want you to keep on thinking about it and try the software out for yourself. Software is unique in that regard – you can’t audition a pedal or a rack unit in the same way that you can software, in the comfort of your studio, unrestricted for however long. So take advantage of that, and let my work be part of answering the question. I want to facilitate your decision making, but you are the decider 🙂


Hardware into Software, 1: Zoom Tri-Metal pedal into Fender Bassman models

July 25, 2009

Had no time today to revisit the clips, but I did listen to them on my monitors at home; they are somewhat brighter than I had intended but not extremely so. There really are big differences between how the different models and their speaker emulations sound in the different software! The funny thing is that it’s hard to tell before clicking on the Tri-Metal how it’s going to sound into this or that Bassman model. Frankly they all sounded lovely clean, but in different ways; with a high-gain, Recto-ish distortion up front it sure changed a lot, huh? For those interested, my settings on the Tri-Metal were: Treble -4, Midrange boosted in the upper mids, Bass -5, Gain slightly before noon. Yeah, there’s wayyy too much of everything available on the Tri-Metal, it is the definition of over the top, so your best bet with it is to cut rather than boost. It’s got brutal distortion at 1/3 on the gain knob; it’s not playing around!

Still no comments, that makes me sad. Please speak up folks, I crave your participation 😀

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, the long wait is over! This update is my substantial return to this blog, and with it I pledge to provide more interesting content and commentary to suit my readers. I ask that you please help me out by commenting on entries and letting me know what you do and don’t like about my updates, what you think I’m doing well, what I could do better, and any ideas or requests you have for future updates. I’ve got some stuff on the list of things to do, starting with the addition of a new table of contents page to keep track of all of my articles on the blog more sensibly than they are now with the wordpress widgets.

For this update, my signal chain was my Schecter C-1 Classic (my go-to guitar for most of my gear reviewing because of its familiar pickups and sound) into my beloved Zoom TM-01 Tri-Metal distortion pedal, then into an IK Multimedia StealthPedal and on to my DAW. I used the venerable Fender Bassman because nearly all of the software I use has a Bassman model, and it’s a sound that I think everyone has had at least some experience with. There are a number of different revisions of the Bassman amp, and they can differ quite notably in their overall gain, ease of overdriving, and basic tonality; since different software plugins emulate different versions of the amp, don’t be surprised to hear some stand-out differences in the tone. I used only the cabinet simulation native to each software, so what you’re hearing in each case is just what it can do alone. That’s the norm for my work but I want to remind you and let newer readers know that’s the case!

As usual I spent a lot of time tuning each of the plugins to sound its best individually, giving my ears time to rest between tweaking each. I have a great deal of respect for all of the modeling programs that I use, and I think it’s important to try to make them shine on their own, as though each was the only software that I had to work with. Hopefully by doing that I can give you guys something useful even though you might not have access to such a range of programs. My goal in this roundup, and in the ones I will do in the coming days, is to explore how these modelers interact and function with hardware. While probably most guitarists aren’t collectors like me, we do tend to be gear lovers, and one of the important aspects when considering a digital setup is how well it can integrate into our current approach to the guitar. A guitarist making forays into the digital world expects a learning curve, but hopefully the things that have been useful and fun creative tools before getting into amp modeling can retain their utility even when the amp part of the equation is bits and bytes.

As usual the best judge of sound is your ears, so I invite you to listen to the clips and post your thoughts before I post mine tomorrow evening. I play three different sorts of things in the clips, with different emphases on playing style and dynamics; you will probably notice that each of them causes the software to react in a different way, and some of those differences are really interesting. On to the clips!

Amplitube 2

Amplitube Fender

Amplitube Jimi Hendrix

Guitar Rig 3

Pod Farm

ReValver MkIII

Overloud TH1

I hope that this update gives you all something fun and useful to chew on. After this, I won’t be able to use the same model across all of the programs, so the comparisons will have more variables; giving you this one first gives you a baseline for comparison that should keep the rest informative despite the differences I can’t control for in using different amp models! Please post your thoughts and comments, I want to hear what you think before I tell you what I think!


TH1 1.1 Clips

May 16, 2009

The DI and controller for all of these is the IK Multimedia StealthPedal. Part of reviewing the StealthPedal involved me actually testing it with a bunch of non-Amplitube software, so I figured I’d tie this in to demonstrate that it sounds good and controls anything you want it to, and quite effectively at that.

1. Bassman model, clean, with 9-0 Phaser and Plate reverb (controlling the phaser’s mix with StealthPedal)

2. RAT pedal (a real standout) into a Marshall/Fender hybrid amp (SLR slider) with some D-Delay and Plate Reverb

3. High-gain Overloud Custom/SLO hybrid (SLR slider)

4. Mu-Comp compressor into AC30 model with the Varifire turned up to give it more sizzle, Hall reverb

5. Rock Wah (activated and controlled with StealthPedal) into Diode250 overdrive into JCM900 model, cranked, with some Dimension Chorus, Tape Delay, and Hall reverb

Hope y’all dig it. I recommend reading my TH1 1.1 review, linked two posts back, if any of the terminology above is unfamiliar (e.g. “what the heck is a varifire?”)


Comprehensive TH1 review posted on FrugalGuitarist.com

May 11, 2009

Here’s the introduction:

Almateq Overloud TH1 1.1 is a very interesting entry into what has become a very crowded field of guitar amplifier modeling and multi-effects software. Among the considerations that the modern musician or audio engineer has when selecting a modeling software is whether the software is flexible enough to meet their needs; whether the effects are useful or simply for show; whether the program is both stable and gentle enough on the processor to be used across multiple tracks in a session; whether they have sufficient control over the software to use it live; whether the user interface is intuitive and workable; and just as importantly, whether the company can be counted on to listen to its users and respond to their needs moving forward. For a program to make waves rather than just a ripple, those factors and more have to be well in order. The leading modeling software companies have learned how to achieve the above goals through years of experience; it would be remarkable if Overloud TH1, a new product, could take a legitimate seat among the elders. However, after spending some time with TH1 1.1, in my judgment it is indeed a worthy competitor.

Read on at www.frugalguitarist.com!


Back In Action! A Tri-Fold Update

March 23, 2009

Three items of interest to my readers!

Item One: I’ve been working with Overloud TH1 1.1 lately, gearing up for the review of the software I’ll be doing for Frugal in the next issue. It’s very, very interesting. Some of the coolest and most intuitive routing I’ve ever used. I had the chance to do a quickie “collaboration” with Harmony Central forum user Zygoat, who got an AxeFX unit not too long ago and has been posting clips. I asked him if I could jam over one and he said sure, so I fired up TH1 and recorded some lead to the great sounding clip he had up. He did the bass and all rhythm guitar, and the drums too. I just recorded the lead track. A synthesis of AxeFX and software, haha. Don’t tell Cliff, he’s remarked on occasion that everything that isn’t AxeFX is just a toy (I think you can imagine my response to that gem!).

The fact that I had to make the guitar fit in an already mixed track posed some interesting challenges. I broke out a few plugins to make everything fit together. I wanted to place the guitar in a certain way in the mix, both in terms of its “sound” and also in the stereo field. I’ll write a run-through of the process here, explaining what I did and why.

To get the amp tone, I used Overloud TH1’s “SLR” amp mod slider function which lets you adjust continuously between two amplifiers’ properties, not just a fader but it actually alters the internals to make a hybrid of the two amps. This is a hybrid of the “Overloud Custom” on PlexiBright channel, and their Soldano SLO amp model, about 55/45 in favor of the Overloud Custom PlexiBright. I’m not using a whole lot of gain, because I wanted my playing to come through… Read the rest of this entry »


Marshall Madness 1

February 8, 2009

Marshall Madness!

The goal here is to offer a comprehensive, experimentally controlled demonstration of the various programs’ Marshall models. All of them. Of which there are, oh, I don’t know, a lot. In order to obtain as much control over these as possible, as usual I’ve used the same dry track on all of them, and tweaked them by ear against clips of the real amp they’re modeling to try to obtain a realistic and useful sound. Since all of these programs address effects differently and that isn’t part of this review, I decided to use a couple of free VST effects on the Master rather than using individual programs’ effects (which would also seriously disadvantage Studio Devil Virtual Guitar Amp, as it is an amps-only modeler and has no effects). Therefor all of these tracks feature the same delay and reverb, provided by the awesome Classic series of plugins (Classic Delay, Classic Reverb). I was going for “subtle” reinforcement rather than overt wash-of-reverb or megadelay, which should let the amps themselves show what they can do more effectively. So without further ado, here we go, part one…

Read the rest of this entry »