Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

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Aleks
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Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by Aleks »

So I've been trying various vst amp sims quite a long time, because not having a studio, I was hoping that I could find some software to simulate amps and when I have sufficient spare time maybe to make some semi professional or demo album or whatever. So I tried pretty much everything from the Windows and Linux world, demo, cracked, free software and some of them are really great, we all know the champions from the three platforms. I especially enjoyed Guitarix and Rakarrack on Linux of course, and Simulanalog, LePou and Ignite on Windows, and to be honest, those sound much better to me than the big comercial names.

I moved to Linux because here (thanks to FalkTX and KXStudio repos, that saved me a lot of trouble and time) I can just fire up Rakarrack, and play YouTube at the same time in real time without too much hassle and almost noise free without some special sound card or whatever, and learn songs, jam, watch video lessons and stuff, also transcribe something when I have the time and I'm not to lazy about it. But there was always something lacking in the sound, either the bass is too boomy, or highs are too shrill or they are gone and all is muffled and somehow flat, two-dimensional sounding and I thought it was all due to not having a proper soundcard/interface and not knowing how to properly set up the all the effects etc.

Anyhow, I bought this cheap mic, I mean dirt cheap, like 8 Euros and today decided to try out some micing techniques that I watched on YouTube. I tied the mic to my guitar stand and put it close to the grill cloth, of axis; I connected the mic to the mic in of my on board sound card. While I waited the tubes to warm up on standby, I opened up Ardour and set the tracks. I didn't even pushed the tubes hard, because I don't want some of my old neighbors to die, I just set it like on 1 or 2, which is damn loud anyway for a 30W tube amp. I maxed the gain, and that is just a tad overdriven, I have a handmade all tube one channel amp which is fairly clean, sounding something in between Fender and Vox, I would say. Then I created some simple 4/4 rhythm in Hydrogen, then I laid a short and simple rhythm track and then just fooled around with some blues licks.

After the recording I panned the two guitar tracks left and right, added a Guitarix room simulator to the master track, and now I'm looping the short track in Ardour over and over thinking how amazing it is that it's all there in the guitar sound. There is a terrible noise from the sound card, but the guitar sound is something I never managed to achieve with a amp sim.

I don't know, I've read that people are recording albums with amp simps and impulse responses, but I decided to obtain a decent sound card and a better mic. Having some experience in electronics, I will also build a good low noise mic pre. In my opinion, that is still the best way to go when recording a guitar.

apathity
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by apathity »

I think you might be able to release an album using only Guitarix nowadays, and then have average people on Youtube asking what real amp it uses, or at least they wouldn't perceive it as sub-standard quality? I have a few demos out with guitarix and some people were asking me what amp I use. They don't even know Linux so they would never find out if I didn't tell them, so that's sort of a unique thing.

But I agree that recording an amp will not go away anytime soon. In fact I will buy a new amp and cabinet very soon because nothing beats the sound and feeling (and look) of a good amp for me (but there's one major plus of guitarix, it is quite cheap compared to a 2000$ Marshall head :))

Also, one thing doesn't exclude the other, you can use both methods. I'm taking guitarix to a friend's band next week, just a little laptop with guitarix and Hydrogen to write some songs, that's awesome. They have one of these cheap Line 6 amps there where you can select presets by band name, dial in AC/DC etc., but man there is not a single preset on it which sounds usable to me.

I'm not a friend of pedal boards, I never understood the guitarists who have like 18 pedals in front of their feet. So if I were on a project where we'd need a big palette of different sounds, then I would use only digital products for everything. Gladly I'm a minimalist kind of guy so don't need any effects at all.

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English Guy
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by English Guy »

I have had good results out of a line 6 pod 2.0. I like the fact it has knobs & you can dial the sound you want. If I ever get back to playing live I would certainly look at trying it through a PA as my amp.

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funkmuscle
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by funkmuscle »

I run my Vox tube preamp through IR cabs and it's hard to tell the difference.
this link below if for the TwoNotes Torpeo CAB.. An amazing pedal and is now used or it's rackmount version, in pro studios.
http://www.two-notes.com/en/hardware/torpedo-cab/

Frank Marino uses it in his studio.. listen to demo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VajnU6Au04Y

ssj71
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by ssj71 »

Aleks wrote: I decided to obtain a decent sound card
I'd recommend you try an all software amp again when you have a good sound card with dedicated instrument inputs, just for experimentations sake. If you are just plugging your guitar into a mic in you'll have impedance mismatch and it will be hard to get a good sound. That said I imagine its a bit easier to get the sound you expect with a real tube amp since you don't have to fiddle with an audio interface, but I think you can get equal sound quality with software if you work hard enough. I know I prefer guitarix over my cheap radio-shack amp any day! :)
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Aleks
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by Aleks »

Well don't get me wrong, I didn't say I'm ditching sims. As I said, rakarrack/guitarix + FalkTX's Cadence and Pulse audio bridge + youtube - nothing beats that for learning songs and watching youtube lessons and all that. It's simply ideal setup that I have here. I'm telling you, I get sounds that I like even without interface and with minimal to almost non-existent noise and with latency of 2.7-3 ms. Maybe you are right about the interface (I'm not plugging in the mic input, but line in, but nevertheless) and of course it's a subtle difference in the sound and if the song and the playing is good, hardly someone would care about that, but the difference is there and I can hear it. It's something like spongy, airy, three-dimensional subtlety that I don't hear with the simulations. And I guess the big players hear it too so that's why they're still going the traditional way :)

On the other hand, I've read that this band, I forgot the name of it, was performing using those SansAmp pedals into the mixing board, and behind them they set washing machines, mocking the "wall of Marshalls" that the metalheads are using (which are for most of the time empty boxes).

And on some other place I've read that there is something inherent in the tube that makes it sound "superior" to solid state and modeling amps. The explanation was that, besides the obvious smooth distortion, it amplifies the full spectrum of your guitar, while the transistor/modeling chops the signal into little pieces, and then putting it together, then amplifies it. While I guess this is obviously true for modeling amps and simulations, I don't know if it's true for transistor amps. But I've owned transistor amps, I also made one, and I've owned tube amps, and of course there is a difference. But then again, there are players who prefer(ed) transistor amps, like Mike Stern, B.B. King...

Forgot to say - tube amps are pain in the ass, especially combos. Today I noticed that one of the power tubes started to develop rattling.

glowrak guy
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by glowrak guy »

It's hard to duplicate the breakup of biased sagging tubes, overdriving a speaker that is designed to distort,
when using computer systems with flat response, or bass-heavy monitors, designed not to. Sometimes a parts-bin
of modeled components of various accuracies exists, so making sure there is no duplication at the cabinet section is important,
whether it's a built-in cab-sim, a cabsim plugin, or just items cobbled to achieve generic overdriven sound.
Sometime all three are in play, not often to good effect. But we are at the point of no return,
where young ears now lack the frame of reference to recognize classic sound, let alone agree that it is
somehow superior to what they can produce at home.

Pickups, strings, picks, humidity, even body chemistry, could be modeled eventually, perhaps even
the effect of recording while having the blues, could be figured out. Housebound players enjoying the
prolonged waves of arctic weather in the U.S., may have discovered fresh new dynamics, in recent weeks,
so there is hope! 8)

emarsk
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by emarsk »

Wikipedia delivers:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tube_sound
The references are really interesting too, especially the pdf one.
Please, avoid some common spelling errors:
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

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GMaq
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by GMaq »

Hi,

A non-obvious solution: http://axetrak.com/

Depends what you want of course, I personally think guitarix and amp sims have a real place and guitarix in particular just gets better and better, however sims still seem best suited to various metal genres, for bluesy lead tone I just can't find what I want with sims and a POD. I purchased an Axetrak and I couldn't be happier, it's very quiet and handles my detuned D and C baritone guitars no problem with the passive high boost switch. This isn't a cheap alternative but it is effective.. You can plug any amp up to 100 watts into it..

Almost all the recent stuff on my Soundcloud page has been tracked with the AxeTrak FWIW

glowrak guy
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by glowrak guy »

The $459 unit isn't a bad price, for falling in love. Lots of folks have spent many times that
on various soft and non-tube hardware, attempting to kiss the grail, only to be dumped at the altar,
holding the credit card balance, and memories. If I need more from the Mustang range,
it's good to see there are custom options! 8)

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funkmuscle
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by funkmuscle »

GMaq wrote:Hi,

A non-obvious solution: http://axetrak.com/

Depends what you want of course, I personally think guitarix and amp sims have a real place and guitarix in particular just gets better and better, however sims still seem best suited to various metal genres, for bluesy lead tone I just can't find what I want with sims and a POD. I purchased an Axetrak and I couldn't be happier, it's very quiet and handles my detuned D and C baritone guitars no problem with the passive high boost switch. This isn't a cheap alternative but it is effective.. You can plug any amp up to 100 watts into it..

Almost all the recent stuff on my Soundcloud page has been tracked with the AxeTrak FWIW
dude you're right. Most sims do aim at metal. guitarix creates some serious metal tones but like you said, you wanna drop a Jimi or Clapton vibe on a track, it's hard to find.. I get the blues tone from my ToneLabs tube pedal/preamp through a cab sim though..

emarsk
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by emarsk »

GMaq wrote:A non-obvious solution: http://axetrak.com/
Nice, but is this relevant? From what I see, it's a cabinet emulator, not an amp emulator.
IMO cabinet impulse responses are already quite good for this task and don't cost half a leg (assuming a leg is about 1000$ :) ).
Please, avoid some common spelling errors:
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

tramp
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Re: Nothing like a tube amp, I would say

Post by tramp »

Aleks wrote: It's something like spongy, airy, three-dimensional subtlety that I don't hear with the simulations. And I guess the big players hear it too so that's why they're still going the traditional way :)
To hear this "three-dimensional subtlety" you may try the jcm800pre [Distortion] gxplugin in guitarix and switch the guitarix tube selector to ---
:wink:
On the road again.

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