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Amp Sims, Synths, Sample Libraries vs Hardware
Old 7th May 2019
  #1
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Amp Sims, Synths, Sample Libraries vs Hardware

Hi Andrew,

I am curious, do you feel the same way about guitar amp sims, sample libraries and softsynths as you do about analog vs digital mixing outboard?

I’ve heard others mention ITB mixing is great if you have analog sources recorded well. How about when all your sources are digitally based as well? Specifically thinking of analog modeled softsynths, guitar amps and sample libraries such as strings and piano.

I don’t have the ability to track or mic sources in my apartment and am wondering if I am missing out or if one may feel as confident tracking fully ITB as you do mixing ITB.

Thank you
Old 8th May 2019
  #2
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Just to clarify, for me mixing in the box is great no matter how well or badly or digitally or analoguely (is that a word?) it's recorded.

Now on to the real question. I think in general I would say that it's hard to really reproduce a lot of the traditional acoustic instruments with synths. Not because they won't sound right, but because it's almost impossible to get all of the expression that you can get out of the physical instrument. Strangely this even applies to pianos. I used to think that piano was piano was piano, but the more I'm around good musicians the more I hear wildly different tones coming from the same piano with different players. If you want a sonic example of how varied a piano can be, there is a set of amazing solo piano performances by Keith Jarrett and on (I think) the Sun Bear concert there is one very long passage where he is playing a single note on the piano. The difference in tone and expression he can get out of one note I think would be impossible with a sample library, but only because of the interface you use to play the samples.

As far as amp sims, I think a lot of them are really pretty great. Both Failure and Deftones have made records without using real amps, so who am I to argue! The good thing about them is that they get rid of the variables of how good your room and mics are, the bad thing is that they get rid of the variables of how good your room and mics are... I think it's easier to mess with things with real amps, but that doesn't mean you can't do great work without them.
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