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CJ1973
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5th August 2012
Old 5th August 2012
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Recording Electric Guitars

I am looking to get a decent electric guitar recording set up in the studio (im more a producer/synth player, but getting a decent guitar recording for my production needs is key).

I have a couple of guitars and a couple of amps, some good mics, and am looking to have a good set up for plug and play.

My thought is to go from Guitar to a splitter (thinking little labs Distro) and then send one clean signal DI through a Neve Pre into the DAW.
Then send the second signal to a pedal and then into a guitar amp. I would then mic the amp speaker cab. I would mic it with two different types of mics (57 and a Ribbon perhaps) and bring those back into the DAW through API type preamps. Then blend the 3 signals and perhaps use an AMP Farm on the DI'd signal if need be.

I have a few questions:
1. Is this a standard type common recording technique
2. For the second signal, would me going into a Preamp such as a Neve prior to hitting the pedals and then the guitar amp make a difference in tone or add a certain character?
3. Would having 3 mics on a 1x12 cabinet and then blending the 3 to get one sound and then mixing it with the DI signal work?

Would love to have some suggestions.

Thanks so much!
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5th August 2012
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Hopefully I can help..

1) I wouldn't say 'standard' but many people do it. I commonly just take a split from my TU2 which is the first pedal on my board. The clean uneffected tone goes to a DI, with the other output of the tuner going pedals - amps - mics etc. One advantage of doing this is the fact that you can GuitarRig / ReAmp things later, but it also makes it easier if you need to do any edits, as often with recorded electrics, the waveform becomes a bit of a brickwall if you are tracking overdriven guitars. The clean unprocessed signal gives you some transients to identify where stuff was played etc.

2) I haven't tried it, but I'd imagine the output of the Neve would push the pedals into distortion, as I'd assume your outputs on your pre are line level, whereas your pedals are what I call "guitar level", which is not much at all. lol. If you wanted to try that, you'd probably have to go pre -> Radial style reamp box (to get back to guitar level) -> then into your pedals. There's no reason for you to not try it, could sound amazing...however it is not common convention to do this as far as I am aware.

3) Yes, but maybe no. If you are using multiple mics on the one cab, what I often will do is get the mics in place, then give the guitar a quick muted strum on the strings, just to track a transient in my DAW. I'll then zoom in and adjust the mics accordingly to get the waveforms to time align. You could also do this later by manually moving the entire take recorded on that mic and dragging it. This is one of those things that not a huge issue if you don't do, but the closer they are the more it will translate (I find) as one sound, and not a guitar that has been recorded with two mics. Give it a try..have a play. 3 mics and a dry (to later be processed digitally) seems pretty excessive to me as at the end of the day you are recording the one source. Yes, the mics will have different personalities, but I think the gains from using lots of mics are diminished by some of the other weirdness that comes up when you have lots of mics on one source. Nothing wrong with it though, by all means give it a try, but that's just what I have found from experience. If you want big sounds, you cannot go past double / triple / etc tracking with different guitars / sounds / settings.

Take what I have said as my opinion. The great thing about this is that there is no right or wrong. Try a few things, see what works. Surprisingly, one of the best guitar sounds I have managed to pull was using an AKG C1000 on a $250 Jet City amp, via a quick and dirty one take approach. Don't know why, it just seemed to sound great once the mix was printed. Another favourite sound was achieved using a 57/414 combo on my Matchless through some cheap Sound Workshop pres... on that day it just seemed to work.

You're on the right track and off to a great start

Oh, and don't forget to tune. That's pretty important too!

-Rob
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6th August 2012
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Hey Rob

Thank you so much for the detailed information and thoughts.
I am glad I am on the right track here and as you said, experimenting is key.

With the Amp Cab (ESS 112), I am looking to place it in a 4x6 feet vocal booth, but have been advised that if I get an Anvil case and close it, i would get a much tighter sound (me thinks its about mic usage more than room at the point). I would like to know some thoughts on what a recommended sized room or square Iso cab box would be ideal for a recording?

Thanks!
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6th August 2012
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I think sometimes people over complicate recording guitars. They put up too many mics and take a DI. People are afraid to commit. I say make decisions!! Think of the sound you want and keep trying things til you find it. It won't always be the same.sometimes one mic will be more then enough... Sometimes you need a second mic. I never take a DI feed cause I take the time to get the sound right. There are few instances where I take a DI.

Sometimes people put up too many mics or take a DI they ignore the amp as an instrument and don't diagnose what ain't working. My advice is get the amp sounding the way you want it in the room. Then start with one mic... Adjust til it sounds great... Add second mic if you need more dimension...adjust til it sounds great alone and with the first mic.

So much easier to mix when yiu've been sculpting the sound out as you go.
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6th August 2012
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It's also important to remember that no matter how good a mic or room you have you can't compensate for a poor performance. It's easy to get a great sound from a great musician. Hard to make a poor player sound great.

Use your ears and don't have the philosophy that you'll fix it later.
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6th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
I think sometimes people over complicate recording guitars. They put up too many mics and take a DI.
I agree. A close mic and room mic, fine. Usually just one or the other for me.

As far as splitting the signal into all of those pieces, I think you would be better recording separate tracks with each of your different input approaches. Even if it is doubling the original part with no variation, the slight imperfections that come with playing from one take to the next will give the tracks character and fullness. Like any approach though, this is just what works for me.
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7th August 2012
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A great method that hasn't been mentioned is to record the string sound of the guitar with a mic setup similarly to how an acoustic would be recorded. If care is taken this mic can serve as a room mic as well, which offers an interesting sound... and its also interesting to isolate this track from the amp's sound.

The dynamic string sound blends very well with distorted/clean sounds, and can add note definition to heavily FX'd signals.

Super lights on a solid body wont give much string sound output, but still this technique is useful. I've even found this technique useful to liven up a dark/jazzy tone - creating a beautiful blend.

This technique is roughly equivalent to using piezo pickups and recording them to a separate channel, although obviously a quality mic will offer a much richer sound.

Not the finest example due to noisy mic preamps and a low output dynamic mic, but here is an example of the mic'd sound mixed with the dark tone:
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8th August 2012
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i've been recording electric guitars via a palmer PDI-03, which has the other advantage of being silent - a blessing here at the Legendary Third Bedroom Studios. you can take a split signal from the palmer to a cab that you can then mic, but honestly? it sounds mighty fine all by itself thru a chandler little devil pre to the daw.
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9th August 2012
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9th August 2012
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Tips & Techniques:Elec Gtr - Slipperman's Recording Distorted Guitars From Hell - Gearslutz.com

Start here.

Made me rethink some sh*t after 20 years of "miking electric guitar".

Even if you don't agree with the ideas put forth in that read, or it doesn't work for you, knowing variations of technique can save your ass.

Many people do over think miking guitar, as stated above. However this scenario most commonly happens when they try to apply miking techniques they do not have a mental grasp of.

Been there, done this.

One thing is for certain, it depends what you are recording. If doing anything heavier in timbre than classic rock, and trying to stay "current", you cannot just throw a 57 up and call it a day. Particularly not when printing to DIGITAL.

My two,
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19th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
I think sometimes people over complicate recording guitars. They put up too many mics and take a DI. People are afraid to commit. I say make decisions!! Think of the sound you want and keep trying things til you find it. It won't always be the same.sometimes one mic will be more then enough... Sometimes you need a second mic. I never take a DI feed cause I take the time to get the sound right. There are few instances where I take a DI.

Sometimes people put up too many mics or take a DI they ignore the amp as an instrument and don't diagnose what ain't working. My advice is get the amp sounding the way you want it in the room. Then start with one mic... Adjust til it sounds great... Add second mic if you need more dimension...adjust til it sounds great alone and with the first mic.

So much easier to mix when yiu've been sculpting the sound out as you go.
I agree 100%. I can't think of many scenarios where it would make sense to do 2 mic tracks plus a DI in order to get a great electric sound, but I always start with getting the sound I want in the room, and mic/pre/etc choices are all derived from that - i.e., until you have a particular tone in mind, it's hard to predict what recording chain would make sense. I almost always start with one mic, and add a second only if i then think it can assist - for example, adding a room mic once the close mic is sounding great but needs more room. But the vast majority of the time, it's one mic, and lately it's most often an e906 for gainier sounds, or a ribbon for midgain/vintage sounds - i usually end up further back from the cab with the ribbon than with the e906.
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19th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
I think sometimes people over complicate recording guitars. They put up too many mics and take a DI. People are afraid to commit. I say make decisions!! Think of the sound you want and keep trying things til you find it. It won't always be the same.sometimes one mic will be more then enough... Sometimes you need a second mic. I never take a DI feed cause I take the time to get the sound right. There are few instances where I take a DI.

Sometimes people put up too many mics or take a DI they ignore the amp as an instrument and don't diagnose what ain't working. My advice is get the amp sounding the way you want it in the room. Then start with one mic... Adjust til it sounds great... Add second mic if you need more dimension...adjust til it sounds great alone and with the first mic.

So much easier to mix when yiu've been sculpting the sound out as you go.
+1. There's nothing wrong with multi-micing, but only if you have a clear idea of why you're doing it. I'll occaisionally put up a second mic, but only if I have a clear idea of how I'm going to use it. Putting up more microphones on the hope that you'll mix a better sound than you captured in the first place just sounds like a 'hail mary'.

Also, I never DI unless I'm recording a funk DI sound, and in that case, there's no amp. Reamping, to me, is just a strange idea. The guitar player is playing the speaker and the air in the room just as much as the strings. I don't see how you're going to tailor a sound to a performance that wasn't going meant to go with it in the first place. It might work, but if it does, it seems to me that it would be either purely accidental, or require more effort than just recording the sound you want in the first place.
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20th August 2012
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I don't know if it's practical to have a plug and play setup. Not every vocalist uses the same mic from the same distance, not every acoustic guitar is miced with an SDC 8 inches from the 12th fret, and not every electric guitar needs micing with a 57 3 inches from the grill. The sound that fits the song will determine how it needs micing. I'm pretty sure you know this already! Although multiple mics are used by tone blenders, fitting the guitar into the song is just as important. Everyone seems to say they want big fat guitars, but another mic further back will give you an option to have less of an in-your-face sound. If you can make big fat vocals sit in a mix with big fat drums, big fat piano, big fat acoustic instruments then it's no problem, I just know I can't! If the electric guitar needs to be further back in the song, a bit of distance will just make that work, and that goes back to the point about whether to commit to the sound when tracking or leave multiple choices open.
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21st August 2012
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Some Thoughts

I've evolved my guitar recording setup over the years (and it certainly keeps evolving)

Here's what works great for me. I'll add that I give A LOT of priority to having a setup in place, so if/when inspiration hits, I'm able to jump into action quickly before the moment is lost. This means developing a mic/amp/chain setup and keeping it in place (then only minor adjustments when needed).

I use a Radial JD7 (for guitars, works great) and a Little Labs PCP Distro (for bass, works great). Multiple amps are miced and combined to taste when tracking (I can activate a DI track, but I never ever do this anymore). CAPTURE THE SOUND! Trying to "fix" guitar tracks later is a nightmare (for me, YMMV) and to be avoided.

JD7-1 > Sansamp PSA-1 (for blending, rarely though)
JD7-2 > FX boxes (RAT + Replica, etc) > '65 Twin Reverb > SM57
JD7-3 > Marshall Vintage Modern > Royer 121
JD7-4 > FX Boxes > Fender Hot Rod Deluxe > MD-421

All the mics > preamps (ME-1NV, 6176, API-3124mb+) which in turn feed 1 of my API 8200A line mixers > Rosetta 200. I use sends from the 1st 8200A to feed a Lex PCM92 and/or Orville for any added verb/fx, which feed a 2nd 8200A line mixer setup for FX capture > Rosetta 200. This way, I'm able to combine the amp blends as desired, print to 2 mono tracks (or 1 stereo track) and also print the verb/fx to a separate stereo track.

The 8200A's are awesome units with mirrored, transformer balanced bus outputs, so each track that gets recorded through the Rosetta 200's can also be simultaneously recorded through 2 Korg MR2000S DSD recorders. I personally love the sound of the DSD capture for overdriven guitars, and will sometimes take the extra time to convert and import these into PTools in place of the Apogee recorded tracks.

I also have an AKG 444b-uls as a room mic (also always setup), and will typically enhance this with the pcm92 in the FX track (or not, depending on how it all sounds).

I love the option of being able to play, listen, audition, blend, etc, quickly and easily and then record/print quickly.

I would advise against the "record dry track then reamp" scenario, unless that's your only option. As it was my only option for many years when living in an apartment. But, that (DI/re-amp) process was, again for me, fraught with time wasting, hassles, and ultimately poor sonic results. YMMV...

Play it > get your sound(s) > capture it > mix it


Hope this helps!

Warm Regards
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26th August 2012
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26th August 2012
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Stay away from the 57!
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26th August 2012
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Quote:
Stay away from the 57!
After years of "dissin'" the 57...I have to say that there is something just "right" about that mic.

I'd say pretty much all of my dislike for that mic had to do with what was in front of it.
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27th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by effitall View Post
After years of "dissin'" the 57...I have to say that there is something just "right" about that mic.

I'd say pretty much all of my dislike for that mic had to do with what was in front of it.
Maybe, however in last 4 years I have tried it almost always when recording amps, but there way always a mic which sounded much better.
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28th August 2012
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Quote:
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Maybe, however in last 4 years I have tried it almost always when recording amps, but there way always a mic which sounded much better.
I hate to somewhat agree with you, out of respect for my friends who use 57s but I'm in a similar boat to you as well.
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28th August 2012
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Add to the discussion. Share some of the better sounding mics that you've used and for what sounds.

I've used 57's, 421's, 121's, i5's, PR20's, 609's etc....

While I like the 121 for some things, it's not always first choice. I tend to use it on cleaner/moderate gain stuff.

The i5....Well...I have no use for that microphone on guitars. Same with the 609/906 series. I had a 609 black that I liked for live use.

The PR20 was pretty useful. No hatin' there.

Over the past couple of years something has just finally "clicked" with me and the 57/421 combo. I can't get everything I want from a single 57, but there's no doubt in my mind that it has a place. I typically setup the 57/421 combo, phase align, then eq each to take care of any nastiness I don't want, then sum and commit that to a track.

I find this combo works on everything from clean to shred.
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28th August 2012
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I got great results with the e906 on distorted death metal guitars, with high roll of engaged it worked well on some funky stuff too. The MD441 is usually good on more jazzy stuff, the Beyer M201 also works well for certain sounds, I have used the AKG 190E for some bands with harsh solid state amps with great success. Also the C414 B-ULS as a second mic usually gives good results.
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10th September 2012
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Thanks folks so far. I appreciate all your responses.

My main go to Amp head is a Matchless HC30. I have a ESS112 Cabinet to go with it an have a whole bunch of mic options as well. I do however have some issues to do with keeping the noise levels down at nights especially.

So I am looking at the following option (considering I do mostly rock influenced pop music, aka Pink/Avril etc)....

Guitar to Splitter (still unsure here but may just go with a Radial)...
Signal 1 - to DAW into PODFarm. I get to mess with this signal here and also keep a copy of the direct signal (for possible re-amping). I also have the option to throw a Sansamp character pedal here as well.
Signal 2 - Goes to my HC30 Amp Head (use of pedals here too if needed). from HC30 head, go to a Palmer Speaker Simulator PDI-03. Go from here to DAW or use 'Thru' on this incase I want signal to go to my ESS112 and use a mic or three.

What are your thoughts? Workable flexible solution here?
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10th September 2012
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Why use the matchless to Palmer? I don't find that it sounds like a real amp anyway. Personally I would just use amp farm of volume is an issue an reamp if you're unhappy with the sound.
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10th September 2012
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Quote:
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Why use the matchless to Palmer? I don't find that it sounds like a real amp anyway. Personally I would just use amp farm of volume is an issue an reamp if you're unhappy with the sound.
I don't understand. So you are saying go from matchless amp to ampfarm cabinet? My issue is noise levels so just trying to find an optimal way to do this, but still use my matchless if possible. Tx
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10th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
I think sometimes people over complicate recording guitars. They put up too many mics and take a DI. People are afraid to commit.
When the amp sound and performance are happening, the basics are all you need to communicate the emotion across to the end listener. If those things are lacking, no amount of gear will help.

If, because of space and neighbor constraints, you can't turn the Matchless up to where it starts barking a little, it probably won't contribute anything useful. Iso cab?

Just my 2 cents. Ignore as needed.
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11th September 2012
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If, because of space and neighbor constraints, you can't turn the Matchless up to where it starts barking a little, it probably won't contribute anything useful. Iso cab?

Just my 2 cents. Ignore as needed.
Thanks. I'll take 1 cent if ok.
Iso cab in terms of Rivera are an option. But I have not been a fan of iso cabs. Next option was to get an iso space built...but looking to see if I don't have to..
Also note that I do mostly pop stuff so the air factor I can compromise a little on...
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11th September 2012
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Yeh, I started along the same road when in an apartment many years back. I think what you outlined is a good starting point and it will of course evolve.

I also got the PDI-03, plus a Demeter iso-cab (I built 2 extra cabinet layers around the Demeter to really isolate the sound and put in a brighter Celestion Blue speaker).

The 8ohm Palmer is actually really cool for rhythm stuff and can blend in nicely with your other routed options. I used a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe to drive it. The iso cab method is also cool, as your pushing "some" air, but it does have a more "boxed-in" sound as you would expect. But, a little spring verb or splash of holy grail opens the sound up more.

Have fun and make some cool music!

I don't use either very much now that I'm in a place with miced amps in a room, but I did get plenty of excellent use out of those options for several years.
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11th September 2012
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Yeh, I started along the same road when in an apartment many years back. I think what you outlined is a good starting point and it will of course evolve.

Have fun and make some cool music!
.
Hi

Thanks so much. So what you are saying is the option of the following would work?
Guitar->Splitter->Signal A(DAW),
Signal B(MatchlessAMP)->PDI03(reissue ok?)-->Neve1073-->DAW

Curious to know also....
1. What would be a cool splitter option here besides the expensive 1K type products?
2. How is the PDI03 on clean stuff to semi-overdriven sounds?
3. Have you heard of an option where the Amp's signal is sent directly to the DAW and the Speaker Cabinet on a Simulation Plugin like AMPFarm is used? Is this done approach used much?

Thanks!!
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11th September 2012
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Quote:
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Hi

Thanks so much. So what you are saying is the option of the following would work?
Guitar->Splitter->Signal A(DAW),
Signal B(MatchlessAMP)->PDI03(reissue ok?)-->Neve1073-->DAW

Curious to know also....
1. What would be a cool splitter option here besides the expensive 1K type products?
2. How is the PDI03 on clean stuff to semi-overdriven sounds?
3. Have you heard of an option where the Amp's signal is sent directly to the DAW and the Speaker Cabinet on a Simulation Plugin like AMPFarm is used? Is this done approach used much?

Thanks!!

So, the Radial JD7 (or smaller JDV-mk3) have line level outputs. These would be your dry tracks > DAW for processing in Amp/Pod Farm, etc. or re-amping later (eg, the JD7 has line inputs for this purpose (along with other Radial re-amp units). Then, that's affirmative on the PDI chain > pre > DAW. I've pasted the Palmer text from the manual below.

1. The JDV-mk3 or perhaps their switchbone A/B units.
2. Sure. I used it mostly with OD gtr sounds and it's very dependent on the amp driving it.
3. Yep, if the amp has a line level output (+4), this can feed your converter line input > DAW.



PALMER PDI-03 (pasted from manual)

CONNECTIONS (Rear Panel): Switch amplifier
to 8 ohms (applies to valve type only). Using
unscreened cable, connect to SPEAKER INPUT
jack of simulator. Additionally, in live situations
a cabinet can be connected to the SPEAKER
THRU jack, whereby the internal load is
switched off. The simulator can handle 100
watts RMS input power continuously (no
speaker connected). The output signal is fed
into the mic input of the mixing desk via
BALANCED XLR OUT or FILTER OUT jack. Both
can be used simultaneously if required. The
GND/LFT Switch isolates the XLR’s pin 1 from
the chassis ground, eliminating earth loops.


CONTROLS & SWITCHES (Front Panel): The PDI-03 has separate volume controls for filter
and line outputs. Two switches select between the 6 filter presets enabling the unit to
simulate various types of speakers and enclosures. Low frequencies are affected by the
DEEP/NORMAL/FLAT switch. In FLAT position the sound is characteristic of an open-back 2
x 12 cabinet. The DEEP position reproduces the typical punch of a 4 x 12 stack. The high
end is affected by a three-way switch, MELLOW/NORMAL/BRIGHT. When using a heavily
overdriven amp, the MELLOW position produces the warm singing “American” sound,
whereas the NORMAL position has the bite of the classic “British” loudspeaker. In BRIGHT
position, the top end is enhanced lending edge to lead guitar solos and brightness to rhythm parts. Spectacular sounds can be produced by mixing the dry FILTER OUTPUT with the LINE OUTS driving effects units.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:
? Passive unit?
? Loadbox: ¼“ jack input with parallel “THRU” jack for speaker operation
? Loadbox input impedance: 8 ohm, max input load: 100WRMS (200W with cabinet)
? Output impedance ¼” jack: 10K ohm, XLR: 600 ohms
? Output Level ¼” unbalanced OdBu, XLR balanced -10dBu at 25W input
? Controls: Filtered Volume control, with 3 position bass and treble switches
? Line Out volume for unfiltered signal
? Both output signals with volume control are independent
adam hall
#30
11th September 2012
Old 11th September 2012
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litepipe View Post
Why use the matchless to Palmer? I don't find that it sounds like a real amp anyway. Personally I would just use amp farm of volume is an issue an reamp if you're unhappy with the sound.
hmmm... not my experience. i think the palmer delivers a great amp sound. i use mine with a D*-style amp and a Z-Wreck into a GAMA and i like what i'm hearing for clean/crunch/raunch. i'm not a metal guy, so i can't comment on that.

maybe you can do a smidge better micing a cab, but look how many people don't do that well. add the ability to do it at zero volume and at a moment's notice, seems like a no-brainer to me. and with the splitter/reamping concept, you have lots of options.
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