Should I use real amps+pedals or use digital simulators?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by UltimaBahamut93, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. UltimaBahamut93

    UltimaBahamut93 SS.org Regular

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    Hello, new member here. I'm starting two music projects; one is symphonic black metal and the other is ambient lo-fi (both very different genres lol) Right now I have a PRS SE Custom 24 guitar and a really crappy Line 6 amp I got as a gift many years ago. I've got a Strymon Big Sky reverb, TC Triple Delay, and a Ernie Ball VP Jr for my pedals.

    I'm saving up to buy a PC that is optimized for music production/recording and I am wondering if I should continue to buy pedals and amps or if I should use simulator software. Using software would save me hundreds and hundreds of dollars and would give me a much wider range of amps pedals available to me. Spending a few hundred dollars on an amp will only get you that specific tone from that amp whereas using emulators I am free to switch them around at ease.

    I am however concerned about things such as latency and the quality of the sound. It also doesn't help that I'm not great with computers and playing your guitar through a computer using VST effects and all that is a totally new ball game than what I'm used to, so the simplicity of guitar->pedal->amp is appealing. I will have to get a digital audio interface anyway for vocals and will have to use effects when mixing and with EQ my tracks, but I can not decide which route to go. I don't plan on playing live, mainly just home recording or recording in a professional studio, as I want to self release albums.

    Because the two styles of music I want to play are so different, I feel like I would have to get a dedicated amp for each genre rather than compromise sound by getting something in the middle. And this ambient music I want to make is very reliant on effects (hence why I got a triple delay and an overpriced, but totally worth it, reverb)


    If anyone can give me some advice on this I would really appreciate it. I can't make heads or tails on this and each side has its own pros and cons. Thanks!
     
  2. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    For self-recording at home, coming from a Line 6, I would just go with sims. I wouldn't be super happy with the options available today -- but you have a low starting point coming from Line and things will probably improve dramatically over the next couple years on the sim front. Artists have looked to plug-ins as an additional revenue stream and machine learning has made the creation of plug-ins easier and more accurate, if a bit more cpu-heavy. So if you're happy with the process - sitting at your computer, clicking through all this stuff to set up a tone, building songs in parts, etc. I'd recommend that.

    However, I don't think of metal and lo-fi needing very different types of amps though. I mean, it's lo-fi
     
  3. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    Where and how is machine learning used for music plugins?
     
  4. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Both options are going to get you where you want to go. You have to decide which one will work best for the way you want to learn to get stuff done.
     
  5. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Well the neural in NeuralDSP is presumably not in reference to their teams strong Neuroscience background ;-) Mercuriall also mentioned that they use it, but naturally I'm short on details (even if I could make some very educated guesses on what I would do!)
     
  6. Mwoit

    Mwoit SS.org Regular

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    I think Neural DSP (who make the Darkglass and Fortin plug ins) have room for machine learning. There is a role for a Machine Learning engineer / scientist in their company which has been filled.

    https://neuraldsp.com/careers/machine-learning/

    https://neuraldsp.com/about/

     
  7. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    I have a feeling like it's become trendy to claim that you work with AI, neural networks, etc. But in the end we don't know if they really use it for something important yet or if it's more marketing for the time being.


    On-topic: You can try free software as a first step and if you are missing something you can still go the way of buying a real amp with pedals. Also a modeller would be a solution somewhere in the middle between using VSTs and a real amp.
     
  8. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    I have a feeling like it's become trendy to claim that you work with AI, neural networks, etc. But in the end we don't know if they really use it for something important yet or if it's more marketing for the time being.


    On-topic: You can try free software as a first step and if you are missing something you can still go the way of buying a real amp with pedals. Also a modeller would be a solution somewhere in the middle between using VSTs and a real amp.
     
  9. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Just generally there's not a lot of reason not to use a neural net for function-matching for DSPs. You can tune by hand, or tune by ML, and the ML's just going to be better at it especially given that the type of convolutional representations one can build directly from the wave give you a broader contextual window than old DSP methods (for you know, tube-y things / parasitic capacitance this is good).

    It's not "AI", but you're modeling nonlinear phenomena so better to use a nonlinear model.
     
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  10. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    buy a good all-in-one amp sim and see where you're at after that. gear will always be waiting there for you to buy, so no rush there. out of all the software that i've tried (most of the big ones available), my favorite by quite a bit is overloud TH3. VERY intuitive drag and drop layout, simple MIDI foot pedal integration and most importantly, very good sound. TH3 is nice in that you can swap around pedals very quickly to see where you like them in both order and placement before/after amp.
     
  11. SDMFVan

    SDMFVan SS.org Regular

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    Whichever option makes you want to play your guitar more. Sims are great and I enjoy using them, but when I plug into one of my tube amps and get some air moving it just makes me want to play, as opposed to tinkering with sounds. Maybe you're the opposite. Find what inspires you.
     
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  12. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Pretty much. Modelling is so 'there' now, especially for the listener/recording. Interfacing and control is becoming more friendly too. The only factor worth considering now in my opinion is your personal emotion towards it. I spent the last 10 years with zero interest in analog guitar gear (moving through free VSTs, paid VSTs, Axe FX, with not a single look at amps or pedals). My satisfaction was great. But I've spontaneously delved into a rather excessive analog rig recently as it just inspires me - and I wont delude myself into thinking there is any more to my decision than the fun factor and looks being apparently worth spending all my money ditching my nice convenient digital rig :lol:
     
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  13. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Buy a well powered computer and a good interface, then you don't need to worry about latency.

    If you don't want to tweak, buy a Mac and an Apogee Element. Supreme quality, single digit ms latency.

    If your focus is recording, I vote 100% for plugins. Amp in the room can be great, but getting a recorded tone you're happy with is NOT easy. Honestly, it's easier to get good results with plugins than trying to actually mic a cab for yourself. You'll be shocked how poorly your epic amp sound in the room translates to a recording. The learning curve of doing it for real is also steeper than the learning curve of any plugin signal chain. That's why we have professional audio engineers, lol. Whereas with plugins, you can use the cab impulses those experts have already made.

    Your best and cheapest option is Thermionik amp sims, Ownhammer impulses. Getting everything you need will cost no more than $50.

    If you want to go for a hybrid route, you can use a real amp, load box with cab impulse (Torpedo Live/Captor etc), and put that signal into your interface. Use a DI box to capture a DI so that you can re-amp later. That's adding complexity though, for very marginal benefit IMO.

    Or, another alternative is the Kemper. Tones which are album-worthy (proven by the fact that so many albums ARE recorded on Kemper). Not much tweaking needed. And if you buy the powered version, you can plug into a cab and blow your face off too.

    Really it's never been a better time to be a guitarist. All these options are awesome.
     
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  14. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    This is why I ultimately moved away from my modeler. My computer is on it's way out--and also, I don't really like using it. I don't want to have to use a computer to play my guitar. Computers die, become obsolete, but I want my musical investments to have no expiration date.

    You said that you want to have two different amps for two different kinds of bands, but I bet if you spent enough time researching you could find one that can do both. OR, find an amp that has a good distortion for the one band you like, but still with a neutral enough clean channel that you can shape your tone for the other band using pedals. That's the advantage of getting your tone from pedals--you can switch them out on a whim. I guess really that's the same thing as a modeler, but just without all the thinking and downloads and IRs and updates and signal chain for a million things you don't understand or know how to use.

    Then again, my attitude towards this might be called lazy. When I read about all this computer stuff in the context of guitars, it just looks so tedious and confusing, really turns me off, I can barely make myself read it. Recently I've been thinking I wouldn't even want an amp that had many more knobs than just drive, T/M/B, level, and master.
     
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  15. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    grab a helix and the powered line 6 cabinet, the helix has enough ins and outs that you can use whatever real pedals you have/acquire in sync with whatever amp models you choose, you also get a tonne of built in effects, and have an easy home recording solution built in for when you need/want to record. Obviously can also use any power amp and speaker cabinet as opposed to the line 6 cabinet.
     
  16. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    But his main goal is to record - so he's going to be fiddling with his computer anyway. Even with a real amp and cab, now he needs a load box and IRs, or a mic, and I can only assume he'll be using virtual drums etc etc. He'd then need to edit and add plugins to the recorded guitar tracks.

    At that point I don't see the value in using a "real" amp. Easier to record a DI into the guitar with a nice tone for monitoring, then tweak afterwards.
     
  17. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Op you already have some sick pedals from strymon so continue down that road imo.

    Maybe go compact pedal board route? You just dont need heavy tube amps anymore.
    Could get something small like the powerstage poweramp. Pair it with a sick preamp pedal like the Revv G3 and your strymons and its a sweet and compact rig with power.
     
  18. goobaba

    goobaba SS.org Regular

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    I have a Scarlett 2i4 interface and a 2012 Mac mini and the latency is crazy high. I cannot monitor VSTs in real time. I either track guitars using just the clean input sound (if I'm going straight in) or have to use physical gear to get a monitor sound. I know that a better interface/computer would help that a lot, so that may not be an issue.

    In addition, if you ever wanted to gig, a bunch of VSTs ain't gonna help.
     
  19. TheKindred

    TheKindred TimeTravel Innovator

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    he could always go adat or reel2reel
     
  20. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    I just want to make sure as I've seen cases before where people didn't know it was settings based and assumed the initial result was what they were stuck with. You've lowered your buffer setting as much as you can before stuttering right? 2012 is old , but still, I remember being able to run a single amp sim and cab impulse on low buffer back then without the CPU dying too much.
     
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