#1
Hey guys!
I want to start recording but I can't really  decide whether I should use an amp/effects simulator or a real amp.
I could spend ~600€ euros but I'd rather spend less. If I buy an amp, I'll try to find a used deal before I buy a new one.
Some of my favorite youtube guitarists use BIAS FX and it sounds great imo but to be honest, I'm not even sure how much money I had to spend if I'd choose that route.
I have read a bit about recording software and it looks like I need an interface, the amp/effects software, speakers and a digital audio workstation.
Is that all or am I missing something?
And do you have any suggestions for the products that I could use? Are there any major differences between the interfaces ?
The biggest advantage that I can see in using software, is that I can use all kinds of effects which is great because I don't like to limit myself to a genre.
My main genres are punk-rock and nu metal though.
But the sound should also be great in real life and not only in a recording.
Can anyone tell from experience whether amp software delivers authentic tones or not?
Or am I better off with a good old tube amp ? Maybe one that can be connected directly to a computer?
I am using a Fender Mustang I V2 right now, and while it sounds pretty good for the price in real life, the recorded tone sounds veery "cheap" when I connect it to my computer.
I am not(!) gigging currently and I can't play at very high volumes at home. 
My guitars are a Fujigen Neo Classic LS10 and an Ibanez RG421-WK and some of my favorite bands are Green Day, Rise Against, SUM 41, Trivium, Slipknot, Guns 'N Roses, Three Days Grace and Dope.
A pitch shifter is also pretty important for me because I like to play in E-Standard, Half-Step-Down, Drop D, Drop C and Drop B.
I can't afford a decent guitar for every tuning.
Thank you in advance!
Last edited by juvion at Apr 24, 2017,
#2
There are a lot of interfaces that are cheap and come with lite versions of recording software.  I chose yamaha MG10Xu mixer, has usb to connect to pc and came with cubase recording software.

Bias FX is like 100$, you can upgrade the amps for another 60$ I believe.

lots of options.  The industry standard leans towards Protools, but thats expensive.  Something like this is cheaper,
 Presonus AudioBox USB 2X2 USB Recording System  
'16 Gibson LP Standard T, '95 Fender MIM Strat
Helix Rack, Jetcity JCA50H w/ JCA24s+
#3
If i were you, id go down the software route. You can get an audio interface for about 150€, BIAS for less than 200€, and for the DAW, i would use Reaper (i actually use it all the time), and the license for that is around 60$ i think, altough if you dont mind the "trial perioid" messages, its actually free. So, for about 400-500€, you can get the interface+all the software you need. Software pitch sifters arent that great, so i guess count in the price for a Digitech D-tune or whatever its called. But you would need that with an amp as well.

So, around 400€ for everything you need to go the software route. Thats less than just the amp would cost you, or the same as about 2-3 decent effects pedals, ore one multifx pedal. So, its your pick really.

The other way you can also go is to get a modeler of some sort. The line6 HD500 is not bad, and now they started offering a Helix LT version, that goes for around 1000€. Considering how many different amp models and effects it has, its still a pretty good bargain, and you can import your own impulses, so it sounds a lot better than the HD500, and unlike the computer+software, its also meant to be used live.

Basicly, it all boils down to your budget, and your actual needs. The software route is the cheapest, but its also the hardest to get really good tones out of it. The slightly more expensive modeler route is, well, more expensive, but still not that much. The amp+pedals way is probably the most expensive, and it is also the most dificult to use in recording. But, you cant really beat a tone from a massive tube amp into a great cab, unless you go for the most expensive modeling amps out there, like Kemper.
Joža je kul. On ma sirove z dodatki pa hambije.
#4
Wow, thanks for your detailed answers.
Yeah, I have been considering Reaper as it seems to be very commonly used.
400 for everything looks like a very fair price.
What about a ~20W tube amp?
I heard that the Jet City Custom 22 sounds great at low volumes but can still be relatively loud if you wish to. With pedals and a cab it'll be more expensive that bias fx but I'm not bound to the computer anymore.
Can't test it sadly, because the only shop that has it in stock in Germany, is very far away. :/
Last edited by juvion at Apr 26, 2017,
#5
If you're going the Bias/amp sim route route you will need ( in american dollars):

1) audio interface  ( $150 to 300$) - search the sweetwater website by price range to narrow your search - buy an established brand and watch out for latency!
2) a PC or Mac that can handle low latency audio ( $1000 + ) - hopefully you already have one - make sure your interface is compatible with the system. 
3) monitors or a great pair of Headphones.(  $200 )
4) Bias amp desktop or FX -  $100 ( you can get it on sale during black Friday and other sale times for like, 50$) - don't bother with the "pro version"  the basic version has more than enough for anyone. Make sure your PC or Mac meets the minimum requirements.
5) a DAW - Reaper $60
6) a good reverb plugin (all amp sims sound like shit unless you have decent reverb) -  Valhalla Vintage Verb  -  $50

If you aren't going to be jamming with other people and simply will be playing in your bedroom, than amp sims are great - but there is a learning curve - it's certainly not plug and play with the above gear. I strongly encourage any player to get into recording because it will really move your playing forward, so an audio interface is kind of a must in my view for any real musician today. Plus you can practice with headphones with good sound, which is really great.

If all that seems to complicated, get the best small tube amp you can afford and I highly suggest you buy used with that budget.
#6
Right, I should probably clarify the specs of my computer.
GPU: Sapphire R9 390
CPU: Intel core i5 3450 (4x3,1GHz)
RAM: 12GB
OS: Windows 10
USB Slots: Both USB 2.0 and 3.0, the 3.0 ones aren't working currently though. I'll try to fix that.
The sound card and motherboard are noname parts.
The interface handels the job of the sound card though, doesn't it?
(The PC is a 08/15 PC that I upgraded)
Are the specs sufficient?
Getting to know the software and components isn't a problem for me, I like to learn stuff like that.
(Complexity+Freedom)>(Easy to use+Limited) imo.
Last edited by juvion at Apr 26, 2017,
#7
Quote by juvion
Right, I should probably clarify the specs of my computer.
GPU: Sapphire R9 390
CPU: Intel core i5 3450 (4x3,1GHz)
RAM: 12GB
OS: Windows 10
USB Slots: Both USB 2.0 and 3.0, the 3.0 ones aren't working currently though. I'll try to fix that.
The sound card and motherboard are noname parts.
The interface handels the job of the sound card though, doesn't it?
(The PC is a 08/15 PC that I upgraded)
Are the specs sufficient?
Getting to know the software and components isn't a problem for me, I like to learn stuff like that.
(Complexity+Freedom)>(Easy to use+Limited) imo.

This is plenty. I use an old laptop with an i5-2540M cpu and 4GB of ram, with an ancient M-Audio fast track pro, and Reaper works just fine. I have 3.8ms of latency if i remember correctly. I use Amplitube 4, ez-mix and lepou plugins for guitar, and its actually all i use for home playing. I get better tones than with my practice amp. You might wanna shell out another 100€ or so for some entry level studio monitors, the sound on those is still much better than on normal computer speakers. 

As far as Jet Ctiy amps go, i have a JCA50 head, and i love it, but its more of a one trick pony. The clean channel is hardly clean, especially if you dig into the strings a bit or need some volume, so its more of a crunch channel. The overdrive is good for the kind of music you want to play, but again, it does one kind of it. You would still need at least a multifx with it, if you want anything more than just bare bones 2 channel amp. Its great for band practice and giging tho, i still sometimes use it instead of my ENGL.
Joža je kul. On ma sirove z dodatki pa hambije.
#8
Do a little research that model jetcity.  I'm not sure which models are like this but my Jetcity JCA50h has the effects loop before the EQ, so anything you run into the amp is colored by the eq.  it kinds sucks, but its one small downside to an awesome amp at a very good price.  gorkyporky hit it right on the head about the lack of versatility on these amps.  But I agree its still an awesome amp.
'16 Gibson LP Standard T, '95 Fender MIM Strat
Helix Rack, Jetcity JCA50H w/ JCA24s+
#9
I would definitely opt for going hardware as much as I could (I'm not telling you to do so). Not for much for tone reasons - amp simulators sound great, some free plugins sound somewhat decent - but as a mindset. When you go software, you can change everything. You can record your guitar, make it sound like AC/DC, then turn some digital knobs or use a different virtual sound and run it through a hi-gain amp instead of overdrive. That makes plenty of options, and most of the time, I find that's too much.

Keeping your sound inside your hardware for most of the signal path - pedals, amp, speaker cab, mic - will force you to think about your sound and dial in exactly the tone you want. If you can't change your tone afterwards, you'll have to get much more familiar with your equipment, and you won't even be tempted to "just get me that little bit better tone from this or that plugin".

Like I said, it's a mindset rather than a practical approach. I think regarding the technical aspect, there are lots of people more competent to talk about gear than me, just giving my two cents about the idea behind choosing gear. It has something to do with getting creative about limitations.
#10
Quote by HashtagMC
IWhen you go software, you can change everything. You can record your guitar, make it sound like AC/DC, then turn some digital knobs or use a different virtual sound and run it through a hi-gain amp instead of overdrive. That makes plenty of options, and most of the time, I find that's too much.

Oh, thats true. I did the same thing, and i still sometimes get lost in all the options. Its just the matter of having the resolve to say "yes, i like this tone!" and then resisting the urge to endlessly tweak it. Ive used the same 3 patches for the last year or so now.
Joža je kul. On ma sirove z dodatki pa hambije.
#12
I recommend you first purchase an interface (Focusrite solo or 2i2 2nd gen) and download Reaper (you don't need to pay for it until you know you will use it long term. Then try some free VST amp sims & effects of which there are many, some pretty good. Reaper comes with a ton of effects as well but not amp sims. You will need a decent set of studio headphones something like AKG K240 or Audio Technica ATHM40 which both are under 100 . That will give you a chance to find out YOURSELF if you want to go the amp sim route or look into a real amp. 

And I say headphones and not monitor speakers because monitors are more expensive and need an acoustically treated room for good accuracy. Plus its another item left for later as you figure things out. There is no reason to rush to purchase everything at once. 
#13
Purchasing the interface and using trials in the beginning sounds like a good idea. There is also a free trial of BIAS FX, so why not?
Having more options is actually something that I really like.
I'd prefer to get monitors though, because my PC speakers are very old and don't work at certain volumes.
And I have Tinnitus, which gets louder when I use headphones, even if the volume isn't as high as the volume of a speaker that doesn't stand right next to me. Doesn't seem to make any sense, but I guess that my brain/ears like(s) to troll me..
I'll also check out the Laney!
Last edited by juvion at Apr 27, 2017,
#14
There are sone decent budget monitors that run about the price of headphones, also noone says toy should buy monitors brand new, I got a pair of Samson powered monitors for $120 few years back, they usually went for about $300 at the time.
#15
Quote by juvion
I'd prefer to get monitors though, because my PC speakers are very old and don't work at certain volumes.
And I have Tinnitus, which gets louder when I use headphones, even if the volume isn't as high as the volume of a speaker that doesn't stand right next to 

Studio monitors (not regular speakers, PA or other general use speakers) if they are accurate at all, are not good for general listening. Not designed for that purpose. In fact many monitors can be very uncomfortable for general listening. So buy some new PC speakers. Great ones are real cheap at your local thrift stores. Then you won't need the interface running all the time too. Also when using your DAW you generally lose PC audio as the driver can't be used by both simultaneously.
Monitors are another item that no one else can tell you what to get. We all hear differently. You can spend $10,000 on a pair of Genelecs but you may have trouble mixing on them. One of the studios I work at occasionally has them and I don't like them. But $200 monitors are going to be missing some things, most notably low end without a subwoofer that will add several more hundred dollars.
The larger issue with monitors is your room. You listen & mix to the room as much as your monitors. Headphones take the room out of the mix. I always use headphones to check my mixes for this reason even though I work in rooms that have been RTA. The room in my experience is the #1 reason for bad mixes not transferring in home studios. They are usually untreated, treated poorly or issues like monitors are not decoupled, items in room resonating, etc. Those things can be fixed but cost more money and take time. 
Now if you don't care about the quality of your mixes and will never share your recordings outside then no it doesn't matter. But otherwise you need accurate monitors that work for YOU and your room. In that case I always recommend waiting to save to treat your room properly, get or build proper studio stands that will decouple and spend some time listening (bring familiar UNCOMPRESSED music both good & bad mixes) to various monitors to find what gives you clarity. Monitors are not about pleasant sounding (I use Avantone Mixcubes as part of my monitoring which are awful to listen!) or comfortable. 
In the meantime you will find you will do much better with headphones. And I know experienced engineers who prefer headphones and use monitor speakers to mainly check their headphone mixes.

I also have tinnitus but use headphones. Things are buzzing real good now and I'm only listening to the news on TV. 
#16
Hm... I'll think about headphones vs monitors but I'll probably go for the bias fx route.
The standard version is currently discounted to $59 and the pro version to $159, until May 1st.
Is that a good price or do the prices drop even more in some sales? 
My plan was to buy BIAS FX (Standard) now and get an interface for ~150 euros.
I have some gaming headphones that I'd use right now (Turtle Beach PX24) and in june I'd either get decent headphones or monitors.
Just have to decide which interface I'll get ...
This one seems to be pretty popular ?
https://www.thomann.de/de/focusrite_scarlett_2i2_2nd_gen.htm?ref=search_rslt_scarlett+focusrite_389082_0
Do footswitches work with interfaces ?
Last edited by juvion at Apr 29, 2017,
#17
Quote by juvion
This one seems to be pretty popular ?
https://www.thomann.de/de/focusrite_scarlett_2i2_2nd_gen.htm?ref=search_rslt_scarlett+focusrite_389082_0
Do footswitches work with interfaces ?

Focusrite is one of the more reliable not only the device but the drivers. 
Just make sure if you order from someplace else that you get the 2nd Generation like listed on Thomann. 1st generation had an issue where you could overload the input, fixed in 2nd gen. 2i2 does not have a pad to reduce input. 
#18
Quote by webjunk
Focusrite is one of the more reliable not only the device but the drivers. 
Just make sure if you order from someplace else that you get the 2nd Generation like listed on Thomann. 1st generation had an issue where you could overload the input, fixed in 2nd gen. 2i2 does not have a pad to reduce input. 

Yep, saw that in a review.
Is there anything else I need to know about interfaces before I spend my money or can I just buy that one ?
Thanks to all of you by the way! You've been a huge help.
Last edited by juvion at Apr 29, 2017,
#19
Honestly, for those kinds of bands, software would work just fine, give you more flexibility, and just be easier to do overall.  Most of the dudes I know recording that style of music go with the software route.  Especially if you're not playing live right now.

If you were playing anything that had to have an analog sound, like lo-fi, blues, soul, or garage rock, the answer would be analog.  But your fav bands don't need that.
#20
Quote by juvion
Is there anything else I need to know about interfaces before I spend my money or can I just buy that one ?

Just need a free USB port and preferably not through a hub which can sometimes cause issues. And that port must be able to supply USB power (most do) as that interface is powered from the USB port, not a separate power supply. 
With Focusrite make sure you register on their website and accept to receive email notifications. Focusrite gives regular & monthly free plugins & software to registered users and notifies through email. Some of them are actually excellent. 
#21
If the interface has midi inputs, you might be able to get a switch that works and changes patches for you.
IK also have some Bluetooth switches that you might be able to get to work with it. Not sure if Bias supports these but Amplitube does.
#22
Quote by diabolical
If the interface has midi inputs, you might be able to get a switch that works and changes patches for you.
IK also have some Bluetooth switches that you might be able to get to work with it. Not sure if Bias supports these but Amplitube does.

Looks like it doesn't have a midi input.. :/ The search continues then.
A bluetooth switch may be an option but I guess that it'll be more expensive and in that case, I can just spend the money on a different interface.. :/
#24
Quote by juvion
Looks like it doesn't have a midi input.. :/ The search continues then.
A bluetooth switch may be an option but I guess that it'll be more expensive and in that case, I can just spend the money on a different interface.. :/

You didn't mention needing a Midi port. What do you need it for? Most devices these days are USB Midi, not Midi DIN. Except for some 30 year old keyboard like my DX-7 I never used Midi DIN. All my Control Surfaces, Midi Controllers, newer synths are USB Midi. 
And the Focusrite 2i4 has midi ports. 
#25
Quote by webjunk
You didn't mention needing a Midi port. What do you need it for? Most devices these days are USB Midi, not Midi DIN. Except for some 30 year old keyboard like my DX-7 I never used Midi DIN. All my Control Surfaces, Midi Controllers, newer synths are USB Midi. 
And the Focusrite 2i4 has midi ports. 


Because I didn't know that I need a Midi Input before. :/
I want to be able to use a footswitch for songs that switch between clean and distorted settings and diabolical mentioned that I could use a switch if the interface had a midi input.
If there's another option for the footswitch, I'll gladly consider it.
I checked the 2i4 on the website of thomann before and couldn't find any information about the midi input. After reading your answer, I looked at a picture of the back of the interface though and you're right!
Last edited by juvion at Apr 29, 2017,
#26
juvion 
The footswitch from Positive Grid I is only Midi over bluetooth for ipads & IOS devices not the desktop. Not Midi DIN. The Desktop version of Bias does not support Midi at all unless they changed it. 
#27
Quote by webjunk
juvion 
The footswitch from Positive Grid I is only Midi over bluetooth for ipads & IOS devices not the desktop. Not Midi DIN. The Desktop version of Bias does not support Midi at all unless they changed it. 

The bias Website states "MIDI / Automation support" for the pro version and I wanted to upgrade later.
It doesn't state whether the support is only for bluetooth devices or not though.
Can someone confirm whether less expensive footswiches from other brands work without an ios device or not?
Last edited by juvion at Apr 30, 2017,
#28
OK. Yes they now have Midi support in the pro. Still can't use the Positive Grid foot switch. I would get a Logidy UMI3. I have one here somewhere. It is USB Midi so don't need Midi Din plugs on the interface. Just the 2i2 will be fine and the cost difference from the 2i4 will probably pay for the Logidy. And if you only need to use two of the switches for bias, you can use the third switch for punch-ins in Reaper. I used mine just as a foot controller for Reaper until I bought my X-Touch.
Last edited by webjunk at Apr 30, 2017,
#29
Quote by webjunk
OK. Yes they now have Midi support in the pro. Still can't use the Positive Grid foot switch. I would get a Logidy UMI3. I have one here somewhere. It is USB Midi so don't need Midi Din plugs on the interface. Just the 2i2 will be fine and the cost difference from the 2i4 will probably pay for the Logidy. And if you only need to use two of the switches for bias, you can use the third switch for punch-ins in Reaper. I used mine just as a foot controller for Reaper until I bought my X-Touch.

Looks like the Logidy UMI3 isn't available in Germany..
I'll just buy BIAS now as long as it is discounted and visit the Musicstore on tuesday to ask for advice. :/

Edit:
In the end, I got a Scarlet 2i4 interface and the BIAS FX Standard Edition.
I paid 235€ in total and I'm pretty happy with the result. It sounds a lot better than my Fender Mustang I, even with 12 year old speakers haha.
Will get the professional BIAS FX version and new speakers later, but for now I am very happy with the result.
The foot controller will have to wait, as I couldn't find anything affordable. 
Building one myself may be an option.
Last edited by juvion at May 6, 2017,