I am wanting to make very ambient sounds through my guitar which would require different combinations of delays and reverb and a volume pedal which can get costly. What are the pros and cons to playing through digital pedals and software instead of physical pedals?
You are under the very wrong impression that if you want to pass a guitar through it you need something in the form of a pedal.

Actually, you'll likely get better results with free general purpose fx processors than with low to mid-tire pedals.

If you're using a computer already, I'd highly recommend to use digital fx.
More versatile, usually better sounding, easier to control, usually cheaper...
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Yup, even if you just get reaper it has tons of delays and reverbs as plugins. And there are some amazing and trippy free VST's out there that work very well with ambient. Pedals are great, and boutique pedals easily sound a lot better than a free plugin, but since the difference in price is in hundreds of dollars you should be just fine with digital effects. And there are some bad pedals out there too, or some that lack the versatility of a nice plugin.
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This can turn into a very long and very subjective discussion but my opinion is some VSTs are getting really good results about atmospheric guitar tones. The warmth and the liveliness (if that's even a word) of the analog stompbox setup is currently unmatchable by its digital peers but digital world doesn't leave you half-way through too. Actually as I don't have the access/cash to the pedals I desire, I go for digital all the way nowadays: especially AmpliTube and it's pedal simulations with some Digital Reverb/Delay works wonders - you can also check Jakub Zytecki's solo album for all those elements as he only used AmpliTube in that album's recordings as well.
Would it be possible to suppose add effects to the guitar and have them active while I am playing rather than playing and adding the effects after I play?
Audio recordings are slightly overrated.

Even the highest bit rate recordings are still a fragment of the nuances that real sound possess.

Analog pedals when played loud through a tube amp, will sound more detailed and organic and by design without fake sounding artifacts, but mostly only when you also hear it directly from the amp (live).

For recorded audio you listen to hi-fi systems, 2 speakers for the entire sound, where a guitar through amp is 2 or 4 speakers + specific amp for solely one sound. No comparison.

If you just want to produce, you have very nice digital effects out there, and most warmth in good productions is added mostly through the low end spectrum like bass.

There's also a psychological factor. There are many electronic tracks with very high end vocals, but mediocre backing track. These tracks are still immensely popular, leading me to believe that if the main attention of a track is good produced (vocals in this case) the rest matters less.

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Would it be possible to suppose add effects to the guitar and have them active while I am playing rather than playing and adding the effects after I play?

This should be no problem at all with most plug-ins. This is almost always dependent on how far your cpu can stretch.

It's not so much that digital effects are not good, more so that real sound has no limit. In real life sound does not lag, or has a maximum amount of physics calculations it can do haha. Reverb for example will go on to the very last overtones, even beyond what you can hear it will continue to naturally fade out.

It just happens to be, that reverb is a combination of 1000's of frequencies and overtones, that are individually affected by the physics of the surroundings it hit. It would change if it hit stone compared to a wood chair, even your body in a room would technically change it even though it might seem so small and unnoticeable.

This is all modeled in digital effects, but it's just so many frigging details, that it will be a long time for it to match reality to it's fullest.

Most designer have pseudo given up, by now working with sample based plug-ins like omnisphere. They use recordings of real sound, which takes out half the equation, and the plug in can modify that. It's imo not true digital reproduction, but from a musical perspective it's great.

Impulse reverbs are also a workaround. People find them to be great, no wonder, they are basically real recordings. They record the entire spectrum , then use an equation for how much of a certain reverb frequency is "played back" at the appropriate frequency input. Ie your sound has a lot of high, more high reverb will be "played back", is it loud, then the reverb will be played back louder and/or more dense.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jul 17, 2015,