Troubleshooting VST amp tones

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by SolarGlory, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. SolarGlory

    SolarGlory Member

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    Hey all,

    I've done a ton of research into making a heavy modern metal tone out of VSTs and have copied the settings and equipment used by the majority of generic "djent tone with free VST!" videos, etc. For some reason, my tone is still poor and scratchy, lacking clarity and depth. I want a huge, fat, smooth tone, something like my current favorite band Arkive, or the majority of popular extended-range guitarists.

    Current setup:

    Ableton Live 10 full edition

    Ibanez RG8 with brand new Dimarzio D-Activator bridge and Ionizer neck pickups, new strings and new cable. (I did a sloppy job soldering and there is a ground issue in my current recordings that has since been fixed. The tone issues are the same before and after unfortunately)

    Scarlett 2i2

    Signal Chain: DI>Compressor>Tube Screamer>Noise Gate>EQ>Amp(usually a LePeu with recommended settings, though I've explored other recommendations)>NadIR(usually with Brohymn Mesas, as recommended, though I've tried many IRs)>Noise gate>EQ>hi pass lo pass

    I've scoured the internet looking for tips and alternative settings to try to remedy my tone issues, but no matter the changes to signal chain, amp settings, amp VST, Impulse Response....it always comes out sounding like amateur hour. I'd love to get some feedback to get my plug-and-play on and finally nail down a decent tone. I'm not terribly picky about what band exactly I sound like because I know it all comes down to taste, and I'm good at fiddling with settings to adjust sound to taste.
     
  2. steinmetzify

    steinmetzify CHUG & SLUDGE

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    Post a clip, let’s see what you’re working with.
     
  3. shnizzle

    shnizzle johnny

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    is the Scarlett 1st gen or 2nd gen? 1st gen has very bad di quality that´ll make any tone sound bad.
     
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  4. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    Could definitely be issues with soldering and electrical issues with your room, could be bad A/D-converters, but all that aside that's a very long signal chain you're running. Seems like a lot of plugins reacting to one another in ways you'll have a hard time keeping track of. I don't want to sound condescending cause I don't know how experienced you are, but it's been my experience that the more you learn to tweak each plugin (specifically the amp, and pairing that with the right IR) the less plugins you end up really needing, and it's much easier to tweak a shorter signal chain. A compressor, tubescreamer AND an EQ in front of the amp sounds overkill because they all do similar things when used into an amp. A tubescreamer compresses and EQs the signal, you shouldn't need the other two. If you want more EQ options than the EQ curve of the tubescreamer, then toss the Tubescreamer and use just an EQ. A Tubescreamer shelves off some lows and boosts around 700-1k so do that on the EQ and chances are you won't miss the tubescreamer, because boosting=more volume into the amp=smoother gain=compression.

    The compressor sounds redundant because if you're going into a tubescreamer and a distorted amp, at that point the compressor will mostly just bring a lot of noise and hiss, which explains why you put 2 (!) noise gates in your chain. Keep in mind that a noise gate only gets rid of noise while you're not playing, it doesn't clean up your noise while you ARE playing, so all that noise is just getting distorted and garbling up your notes no matter how many gates you use. I'm assuming the point of the compressor is to get more attack, which is what you get when you run less bass and more treble into the amp (an EQ and Tubescreamer both do that already), causing the amp to distort later so you retain clarity and punch. In other words, an EQ will do what a compressor does without adding more noise to the signal. It sounds completely bonkers but it's true, a lot of the rules of mixing don't really apply to the front end of an amp, because amps are weird and reactive and have allergies and fetishes and you just have to learn to deal with their personalities.

    I'm all for using unconventional ways of getting exciting new guitar sounds, and I can totally see the use for a wall of plugins sometimes. There's nothing inherently wrong with what you're doing but if you don't like your base tone with amp+IR on it's own, then all those other plugins are really polishing a turd.
     
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  5. SolarGlory

    SolarGlory Member

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    Thanks for the responses! Unfortunately I just made this account and it won't let me post links for a couple of days. Perhaps I'll bump this later when I am able to. Thanks for the in depth response too Johnice, I'll fiddle with the signal chain and see what's superfluous.
     
  6. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Copying settings almost never works. People have different setups to you.

    The Brohym impulses are super scooped. May not be a good starting point to you.

    Bear in mind, stuff you hear on albums is all mixed, and has drums and bass. The isolated guitar tone is probably nothing like you expect. It probably is quite thin, without much depth. If you have a thick guitar tone, when the bass and kick and snare come in, it's going to sound like muddy shit.

    As others mentioned, you need to post up some samples.
     
  7. SolarGlory

    SolarGlory Member

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    Thanks again for all the feedback! I can finally post links to the board, so here's the bump.

    Inspiration videos, where I copied my setup from:







    Goal:


    Example of my current tone problems:
    https://soundcloud.com/curefordisco/testinggggg

    My Scarlett is a 2nd gen. I've also tried tons of different recommended IRs like Gods Cab and various Mesas and Marshalls, etc.
     
  8. grunge782

    grunge782 SS.org Regular

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    1. Could you take some screenshots of your DAW volume and panning settings, VST settings, IR/Cab emulators, and EQ's?
    2. You need to either use dual tracking or quad tracking (meaning you have to record a guitar part TWICE or FOUR times. DON'T just copy and paste).

    DUAL- Pan one track hard left (ALL the way), and the other hard right
    QUAD- Same as above, then other two tracks are 70% on right and 70% on left.
    . Don't just copy and paste.)

    3. The songs you compare to are also in a mix with drums and bass. Try piecing everything together first, and then see how you should adjust your settings and eq's for mixing.

    4. I would suggest trying ignite's amp vst's and boosts. I've also had good luck with mixing some IR's.
     
  9. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems Contributor

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    How does it sound if you go direct into your interface and use only plugins? Free tubescreamer vsts are readily available.

    Perhaps the pedal buffering together with any electrical interference are the culprits?
     
  10. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems Contributor

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    Also. Have you tried downloading a high quality di track and playing it through the vsts?
     
  11. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    It doesn't sound like anything is "wrong" particularly.

    That's a djent tone - shit, thin, scratchy, sound kinda like a single coil. But, that's what you need when you double/quad track it, mix with bass etc. Those albums usually have MASSIVE bass tones. Nolly is using his Dingwall, with distortion, and it's filling out the entire low end of the sound. If you have some huge fat guitar tone with an 8 string, it's going to sound like mud in a mix.

    Even Misha's tone on the album is very thin, surprisingly low gain. You can hear some isolated guitar here:

    https://youtu.be/3akt-KyKSvM?t=503

    So really, if you want a tone to jam with, crank the gain, turn up the bass/depth until it's more satisfying. But if you need to record and use it in the mix, do the opposite.
     
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  12. SolarGlory

    SolarGlory Member

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    Bumping this, sorry if that's a no-no.

    I've gotten a bit of a better sound now but I keep getting this ugly lo-fi sound that sounds amateurish. It really comes out in my palm mutes, as seen here.

    https://soundcloud.com/curefordisco/sample2

    That thin sound with that weird buzz. Might be an IR issue? I've tried several different amp VSTs (Le456, Emissary, LeCto, even demo'd BIAS and other expensive ones etc) and dozens of IRs/loaders, including combining multiple IRs, so I can't fathom where the problem is coming from. I always end with this poor tone. In a loud mix with open strings, it doesn't sound quite as noticeable:

    https://soundcloud.com/curefordisco/sample

    But there's always something missing. Maybe this is better for a "Roast my Mix" type of post but I'm struggling to even get a sound I'm happy with at all. Signal chain is very similar to OP, a little cleaned up. Thanks for reading all of this and for all the input!
     
  13. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Sounds like utter shit. Something is clearly wrong.

    Did you try what other people, including myself, were suggesting?

    Have you tried a normal 6 string guitar? As I said above, 8 strings do sound kinda shitty most of the time out of a mix. You need a thin tone to have any note definition without mud.

    You should try simply running the guitar -> interface -> amp sim -> cab sim. All this other stuff like compressor, noise gate etc might be messing up the sound.

    Does the guitar sound normal through a real amp? At least rule out your guitar having a problem.

    Can you post a DI from your guitar here? We can try it with our own setups and plugins.

    Did you try a good recorded DI through your amp sim setup? Here's one: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8kfd00ljlrv6zjc/DI_Guitar_L.wav?dl=0

    Did you try using a known good IR? Here's one: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7ruv6gtb3kd9dk8/ML Sound Lab's BEST IR IN THE WORLD.wav?dl=0
     
  14. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied Arium Addict

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    are you using a DI box or going direct into the scarlett ?
     
  15. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    Even if you play directly into the scarlet or shouldn't sound that bad.
    I use the dreaded 1st Gen scarlet and it sounds waaay better than this regardless what amp sim I use.

    This is clearly not a question of ampsims, IRs or tubescreamers. There's something wrong in the chain.

    Cold it be the guitar itself? How does it sound through a real amp?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  16. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    How old are the virtual coupling capacitors and grid resistors? Have you measured the digital bias yet?
     
  17. SolarGlory

    SolarGlory Member

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    Another bump. After some investigating, it's definitely something in my DI. I tried on a real amp and still got most of the same noise. It also happens on either/both pickups, so I'm not sure if it's a wiring issue somewhere. I just re-did all of my solders to make sure everything was solid and not touching but it didn't make a difference. It happens with multiple different patch cables as well.

    I do still have a slight hum/buzz when I'm not touching strings, which is the basic interference/ground issue. Not sure if that's relevant, since it never comes through in recordings.

    This is really stumping me. Could it be a problem with the potentiometers? Is there a better way to diagnose the source of the problem? I appreciate everyone's time, thank you for your help.
     

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