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-   -   VST, Effects Unit, or Micing? (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1578094)

SharpSpoon 12-15-2012 09:41 PM

VST, Effects Unit, or Micing?
 
Hey everyone.

I've been lurking this board for quite sometime and I've learned a lot of stuff about recording thanks to you guys. I now have a fairly decent recording setup, although I am still terrible at mixing.

Anywho, for my recordings I use amp sims and other VSTs, as they seemed to be the general consensus here for those starting out with home recording, and they are relatively inexpensive and simple to use.

What I'm curious about is, what does everyone here use? How far can you go with amp sims? Would you eventually need to look into getting an effects unit like a Line 6 POD HD Pro or Axe FX II? Or maybe get some expensive amps and start micing them up?

I really like the ease of use and the amount of tuning you can do with amp sims and other VSTs and am just wondering how far others have gotten doing it. Wether they stopped and eventually went to rackmount effects or what.

Thanks for any responses.

chatterbox272 12-15-2012 10:31 PM

I can't mix for crap either, starting to post in the crit thread though so I can improve. Anyway, I use the Poulin (LePou) amp sims, AcmeBarGig's free amp sims, Nick Crow 7170/8505, Amplitube 3 with the Fender and Ampeg expansions, Guitar Rig 5, and occasionally Peavey ReValver. For impulses I usually use the inbuilt ones on Amplitube Ampeg SVX for bass, and either Catharsis, RedWirez BigBox, or God's Cab for guitar (usually a combination). I also combine these with the TSE B.O.D. for bass tracks (simulates a Sansamp BDDI) and the Ignite Amps TS-999 for guitars (simulates a tubescreamer).

Amp sims now days are at the point where regardless of what purists will say, you can get as good or better sounds out of amp sims as you will out of micing a real amp. Will they sound the same as the real amp they're trying to simulate? probably not, but it will only be slightly different and not necessarily better or worse. Unless you have access to some pretty damned good gear (read: not *insert popular well known amp here* + SM57) you're likely forking out a decent amount of cash for an improvement that could be attained for free if you spent some more time learning how to use your amp sims.
Professional studios mic amps because they have the amps already, why simulate something you already have. The outboard effects they use are better than most VSTs but that gear costs some serious cash, some over what most people here would have spent on their entire setup.

TL;DR Pro studio's have outboard effects more expensive than your whole setup. You are unlikely to get much better than good VSTs without spending some serious dough.

chaosmoon 12-15-2012 11:36 PM

The POD and Axe FX are amp sims. They're just hardware versions, but they still simulate amps.

How far can you go? Well, I guess that depends on the genre. Strugis uses amp sims, and he's one of the biggest names in the industry right now. But for a lot of applications, amp sims don't quite cut it. You can still get pretty far though.

As for me, sometimes I use my POD, but I mostly use a Dual Rec.

Edit: I am also a firm believe in knowledge and experience. If you know how to really work an amp sim, you can get it sounding great. If you know how to mic cabs and dial in tones, you can get great sounds. It all comes down to how much time and effort you're willing to put into it.

lockwolf 12-16-2012 12:52 AM

It really depends on the amp sim you're using. Most (and by most, I mean all but one), get a rough sample of the EQ curves & such that try to model the real amp. I've recently been using Brainworx RockRack where they just went after 5 amps & made them as realistic as hell. Sure, there was a $250 price tag on it but its worth it.

As far as how far you can go with them, I think you can use amp sims in most any environment, even up to the professional level. With a good DI signal, it makes adding extra parts or changing sounds easy. Also, sims are getting to the point where even to people who do this professionally can't tell the difference.

I wouldn't invest in a POD HD, not worth the money to me. I've heard a lot of good things about the Axe FX system but there are a lot of things I could get with the $1500+ one of those costs. As far as expensive amps & micing those, you really need one or two different amps & a few good speaker cabs and you're good for most situations.

SharpSpoon 12-16-2012 01:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lockwolf
It really depends on the amp sim you're using. Most (and by most, I mean all but one), get a rough sample of the EQ curves & such that try to model the real amp. I've recently been using Brainworx RockRack where they just went after 5 amps & made them as realistic as hell. Sure, there was a $250 price tag on it but its worth it.

As far as how far you can go with them, I think you can use amp sims in most any environment, even up to the professional level. With a good DI signal, it makes adding extra parts or changing sounds easy. Also, sims are getting to the point where even to people who do this professionally can't tell the difference.

I wouldn't invest in a POD HD, not worth the money to me. I've heard a lot of good things about the Axe FX system but there are a lot of things I could get with the $1500+ one of those costs. As far as expensive amps & micing those, you really need one or two different amps & a few good speaker cabs and you're good for most situations.


Yeah, I was kind of interested in the POD HD Pro because it seemed kind of like a poor man's Axe FX. From the videos I've seen it sounded quite good. I just wasn't sure if it was worth the $700 price tag.

I figured I'd be able to some how get the same tones via amp sims and cab impulses for a whole lot cheaper.

JohnnyMcFly 12-16-2012 03:30 AM

My .02 on this subject
I pretty much agree with everything that has been said, I am a tube purist though so even though I make virtual amp software, my preference when recording is to use a real amp. Its just a personal preference and if I cannot use a real amp then I could use any one of the sims or virtual amps, but I would not get stuck in the "I'm loyal to company X so everything else is crap nonesense". What sim or virtual amp I would use would depend on what sound is needed. All of them are good at something, none of them are good at everything, including my own. I'm sure everyone strives to be good at everything like we do, but the truth is, each software has its strong and weak points and in the end they are just tools. So use the hammer for nails, and wrench for nuts and you'll do fine...

Hope that helps
KM

lockwolf 12-16-2012 04:50 AM

^Man, that's why I have so much respect for what you guys do. Keep on doing what you do.

DisarmGoliath 12-16-2012 08:00 PM

Yeah, at the end of the day it's 90% down to personal preference now and the remaining 10% is what you have available to you, and what the situation calls for.

As far as I know, I'm one of the few regulars here who will usually go straight to mic'ing an amp for a commercial project (the two DG songs in my profile are all my H&K Switchblade halfstack, mic'd with a '57 and an e906) to my knowledge but I don't necessarily think that makes my guitar tones better (even just to me)... it's more about the feel, for me, when tracking. I also find it quicker to get something I'm happier with, dialling it in on an amp with the physical controls and hearing it come through the speakers/pushing the air etc.

I just... I can play through amp sims, and I certainly feel I've got better at playing through them since I moved into a flat with my girlfriend and practise with amp sims, but I definitely find I play better through a good amp - whether it's mostly a mental thing, or to do with the gain staging, which I believe it is - something good happens in my fingers when I play through a real amp, and I be likin' it :p:

That being said, as it is quick, I demo everything through amp sims (my go to amp for metal is the LePou LE456 these days, and I use either the God's Cab or Catharsis impulse responses, depending on the mood I'm in), and if I'm mixing something with clean DI's I will put it through amp sims rather than wanting to re-amp it externally (though that would not sound as good anyway, as I don't have a re-amp box so would have to work around it!).


I think you should consider experimenting with both (knowing how to mic an amp does take some practise and skill, which is essential for live sound - something I also do), and use whatever is the most practical in a given situation. Also, as long as you aren't compromising on quality - never feel bad about using the comfortable option, as long as you know when to mix things up a little and experiment with different techniques when the time comes.




Oh, and I'd only buy an external amp sim (Axe FX or Avid Eleven Rack, mainly) if I had a load of money to spare - don't need one much more than it would just be an easy way to add more options, and speed up tracking demo stuff rather than clicking about on screen with a mouse to set things up.

lockwolf 12-17-2012 12:54 AM

I keep forgetting about Eleven & Eleven Rack. I used it on a track recently. I may pick one of those up considering I can get an Eleven Rack & PT10 for $600 on eBay.

One thing Disarm also brought up is keeping the noise down with amp sims. Most of my recording takes place between 11:00pm & 8:00am when my house is asleep. I live in a condo. Unless I want noise complaint after noise complaint, theres no way I can mic a real amp.

JohnnyMcFly 12-17-2012 10:09 PM

Thanks Lockwolf..

We have generations of players coming up now that have never mic'd an amp. They have never owned a Marshall, or played for any length of time with a VOX. Their experience with the Marshall sound has been through simulation. So, keeping that in mind, lets swing forward 50-100 years, Hard to say what we'll be using more of then.. isn't it..? In my way of thinking simulation and Virtual Amps will become pretty much the norm and Tube amps will be priced right out of reach. I mean I know that tube companies exist to supply tubes to the military now but those same uses for the tube may disapperar, which leaves only amplifiers for Audiofiles and Guitar/Bass..(Compressors too). It just makes one wonder will there ever be no tubes, and if there is, how much would they be?

GaryBillington 12-18-2012 04:39 AM

Personally I always mic my amp. Never use sims. Keep it real.

Have to admit though, can't help thinking that last post is going to be right. In 50-100 years, people won't know what a real amp is, they'll be so used to using sims. That's not just music either, a lot of the things we take for granted today will be replaced by simulation, so much so that the simulation becomes the real thing & the real thing is the simulation.

Personally I think that's a sad thing.

T4D 12-18-2012 05:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
Personally I always mic my amp. Never use sims. Keep it real.


yeah True but you don't use a DAW Gary ? so you can not really use and have not heard the latest VST amp sims have you ?

but you are right the best tone is always found at 11 on the amp and well it's so hard to find even family members that can deal with that at 1 am. specially since I play though 4 marshal cabs...

but it's hard to own so many amps and get a good levels and find prefect mic placement..

so for me anyway,. I think VST's rock Saves money, saves time and get better tone record and get control afterwards.

for which AMP Sim VST to get into .. ?

First step would be ampitube is great at being free plus alot of cool vst listed Here

You can buy more amps for ampitube start at $15 - 20,. I found the 5150 very good and the slash amps is well it's slash amazing ! you can try the demo of each amp for 2 or 3 days before you buy.

next step if you want more
for me I think a good second option after ampitube
is Line 6 amp farm 2 is good all rounder alot of everything.

if you want more Metal tones Guitar rig ( with rammfire ) has clean but metal is where it's best.

if you want more clean and warm tones GTR 3.5 Fender tones and PRS amps ( if your a blue player this maybe before line 6 amp farm.. )

I just got ReValver waiting for postage to get here..

and have not tried the rest.. check the demo's go hard :headbang: ;)

as for rack gear,. no need,. I just got a Line X3 because I was playing live again. in the studio and practice all VST for me. the X3 does give nice recording option ( record one channel clean the other with your x3 tones ) but if you have a good interface that's easy to setup anyway.

for live i just use amp sim in X3 with no cab or mic sims and let my power amps and tubes and speakers do the rest.. :devil:

kyle62 12-18-2012 01:22 PM

One bit of advice I should probably give to people using VST amp sims....COMMIT TO YOUR SOUND.


Set up your amp and cab VST chain the way you like it, with no other effects, and then bounce it down to audio. From there, carry on mixing as if it's a normal recording of a mic'd up amp...highpass it, tweak the EQ, whatever.

It's too easy to spend hours tweaking and fiddling with your tone even late in the mixing stage, completely altering the sound of the track. I used to constantly swap cab impulses and mics to slightly alter the character, when I should really have just EQ'd.


Same goes for Superior Drummer etc. Once you're happy with the drum sound, turn on all the bleeds, set it to 24bit and use the internal bounce to make wav files for each mic (or use your DAW if your drum software doesn't do this).
Then import them all in and mix it as if you're dealing with a raw, mic'd kit.

GaryBillington 12-18-2012 01:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by T4D
yeah True but you don't use a DAW Gary ? so you can not really use and have not heard the latest VST amp sims have you ?


Actually, what I use IS a DAW.

DAW = Digital Audio Workstation. That phrase was created to separate analogue cassette based recorders from digital multitrackers. It has since grown to encompass other digital recording methods, including software and all the hardware that goes with it. It does not relate to the software alone.

And no, I haven't used the latest amp sims. I don't need to, I get the sound I need from my real amp.

I don't record late at night, so volume isn't an issue for me - if it was, I may need to reconsider things, but for now I'm keeping it real :headbang:


EDIT: Aren't you the guy who was going to programme a full song using VSTs in under 3 hours? How are you getting on with that?

T4D 12-19-2012 12:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle62
One bit of advice I should probably give to people using VST amp sims....COMMIT TO YOUR SOUND..


good advice honestly ,. I must do that one day =)

T4D 12-19-2012 12:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
Actually, what I use IS a DAW.

EDIT: Aren't you the guy who was going to programme a full song using VSTs in under 3 hours? How are you getting on with that?


I see your point your not doing anything wrong just saying that VST amp sim are pretty useful,..

And yeah I was,.. but had a party, went to the Rubgy 7's,. I got kids and a wife.. i have not been in the studio for about 3 weeks.. about to fly back to Oz for Xmas ,. abit busy ,.. Hey that's life :D

I will do that 3 hour thing in the new year for U Gary no prob's ;)

GaryBillington 12-19-2012 05:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by T4D
I see your point your not doing anything wrong just saying that VST amp sim are pretty useful,..

And yeah I was,.. but had a party, went to the Rubgy 7's,. I got kids and a wife.. i have not been in the studio for about 3 weeks.. about to fly back to Oz for Xmas ,. abit busy ,.. Hey that's life :D

I will do that 3 hour thing in the new year for U Gary no prob's ;)

We'll look forward to it :)

I'm hoping to do another one-day project over christmas as well, unless anyone makes any other plans for me.

lockwolf 12-19-2012 07:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle62
One bit of advice I should probably give to people using VST amp sims....COMMIT TO YOUR SOUND.


Heh, so true. You don't see mixing engineers bringing in new amps at the mixing stage to change the sound that often.

As far as Superior, that should be common sense to free up resources since a fully loaded kit eats up a shit-ton of RAM.

chronowarp 12-23-2012 11:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chatterbox272
I can't mix for crap either, starting to post in the crit thread though so I can improve. Anyway, I use the Poulin (LePou) amp sims, AcmeBarGig's free amp sims, Nick Crow 7170/8505, Amplitube 3 with the Fender and Ampeg expansions, Guitar Rig 5, and occasionally Peavey ReValver. For impulses I usually use the inbuilt ones on Amplitube Ampeg SVX for bass, and either Catharsis, RedWirez BigBox, or God's Cab for guitar (usually a combination). I also combine these with the TSE B.O.D. for bass tracks (simulates a Sansamp BDDI) and the Ignite Amps TS-999 for guitars (simulates a tubescreamer).

Amp sims now days are at the point where regardless of what purists will say, you can get as good or better sounds out of amp sims as you will out of micing a real amp. Will they sound the same as the real amp they're trying to simulate? probably not, but it will only be slightly different and not necessarily better or worse. Unless you have access to some pretty damned good gear (read: not *insert popular well known amp here* + SM57) you're likely forking out a decent amount of cash for an improvement that could be attained for free if you spent some more time learning how to use your amp sims.
Professional studios mic amps because they have the amps already, why simulate something you already have. The outboard effects they use are better than most VSTs but that gear costs some serious cash, some over what most people here would have spent on their entire setup.

TL;DR Pro studio's have outboard effects more expensive than your whole setup. You are unlikely to get much better than good VSTs without spending some serious dough.

lol


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