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Are virtual pedals (or pedal simulators/plugings) as good as analog pedals?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Are virtual pedals (or pedal simulators/plugings) as good as analog pedals?

This question comes from someone who just plays guitar for fun. However, I was wondering if those pedal plugings are used today for recording professionally.

Thanks, masters.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Some people say yeah, some people say nah.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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enorbet2's Avatar
Objectively your question is sort of like asking "Is it better to play lead on the "E" string or the "B": string?" The answer is they do similar but still different jobs in terns of how they function which affects how they deliver. Analog does not sound identical to Digital and Digital most definitely does not sound like Analog, at the very least to highly trained ears. However, both work. Modern studios must have both analog and digital gear to cover all the bases, but it is possible to "just get by" with one or the other exclusively. Personally, if I was forced to choose between all digital only and all analog only, I'd choose all analog. Thankfully nobody has to make such a choice.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

Yes, they can be every bit as good, or better. No, they won't sound the same.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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elambo's Avatar
It's an important question for many people as guitars are moving in-the-box.

Yes, they absolutely *can* sound as good, and they can even sound better. Kuassa is a good place to start for common genres (chorus, phase, flange, OD, distortion, etc.). Cytomic's "The Scream" is one of the most over-worked plugins in history, so it's awfully close to a real Tubescreamer. Kazrog used to make a close approximation to a Klon (I have a Klon and A/B'd them) but for some odd reason they've abandoned it. I loathe its amps/cabs and bypass them, but GuitarRig5 has interesting pedals and a few very cool and creative presets that are hard to get elsewhere.

I do have a pedal board filled with a smorgasbord of boutique effects from great manufacturers like Toneczar, Cornish, BJFe and Strymon yet I still tend to use plugins these days. If/When they begin to sound too clean I just add True Iron or Vertigo VSM2 or some harmonic distortion and that fullness and warmth that I'm accustomed to in the analog stuff starts seeping in.

All of that said, I think most guitar pedal plugins fall a bit flat on their faces, so be prepared to try a few. Many are just too passive to the point that it's tough to tell when they're turned on. That was my issue with each of the SKNote plugins I tried.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
It's an important question for many people as guitars are moving in-the-box.

Yes, they absolutely *can* sound as good, and they can even sound better. Kuassa is a good place to start for common genres (chorus, phase, flange, OD, distortion, etc.). Cytomic's "The Scream" is one of the most over-worked plugins in history, so it's awfully close to a real Tubescreamer. Kazrog used to make a close approximation to a Klon (I have a Klon and A/B'd them) but for some odd reason they've abandoned it. I loathe its amps/cabs and bypass them, but GuitarRig5 has interesting pedals and a few very cool and creative presets that are hard to get elsewhere.

I do have a pedal board filled with a smorgasbord of boutique effects from great manufacturers like Toneczar, Cornish, BJFe and Strymon yet I still tend to use plugins these days. If/When they begin to sound too clean I just add True Iron or Vertigo VSM2 or some harmonic distortion and that fullness and warmth that I'm accustomed to in the analog stuff starts seeping in.

All of that said, I think most guitar pedal plugins fall a bit flat on their faces, so be prepared to try a few. Many are just too passive to the point that it's tough to tell when they're turned on. That was my issue with each of the SKNote plugins I tried.

Interesting. I have never heard a plugin/digital distortion pedal which responded and sounded as good as analog to me. But I guess I'm spoilt. May have a look into True Iron or Vertigo VSM2. Will see.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
I think the Line6 HX Stomp emulations are generally very close to as good as the hardware equivalents; so much so, after comparing a few side by side, I've done like some others: have sold my pedals and rely entirely on the Stomp for FX. I don't think the Stomp would serve live performance as well as a pedalboard, but I'm only using it for practice or recording at home -- and I've recently bought the Helix Native plugin which has all the same features as the Stomp.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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elambo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri Kogan View Post
Interesting. I have never heard a plugin/digital distortion pedal which responded and sounded as good as analog to me. But I guess I'm spoilt. May have a look into True Iron or Vertigo VSM2. Will see.
Just to clarify, True Iron and VSM2 aren't used as typical guitar effects, they're used to add the sound of transformers and harmonics. That's what I was referring to when I mentioned that sometimes you need to fatten up a digital plugin. To make it less pristine. More analog. And those two really work well for that task.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
Just to clarify, True Iron and VSM2 aren't used as typical guitar effects, they're used to add the sound of transformers and harmonics. That's what I was referring to when I mentioned that sometimes you need to fatten up a digital plugin. To make it less pristine. More analog. And those two really work well for that task.
Looks like a friend of mine has those, and some other ones of the same type. He was non-committal but suggested i come over and we will experiment. Tomorrow
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwhitney View Post
I think the Line6 HX Stomp emulations are generally very close to as good as the hardware equivalents; so much so, after comparing a few side by side, I've done like some others: have sold my pedals and rely entirely on the Stomp for FX. I don't think the Stomp would serve live performance as well as a pedalboard, but I'm only using it for practice or recording at home -- and I've recently bought the Helix Native plugin which has all the same features as the Stomp.
Someone brought one of those Helix digital boards in for a show at the venue I mix at about a year ago and while I was expecting it to nail the modulation, I was really impressed with the dirt tones. In the context of the mix it wasn't missing anything - although when solo'd at soundcheck a discerning ear would probably feel it was missing something. I imagine alone in my living room a/b'ing them against the real thing would reveal how different they really are, but overall these digital modelers have come a long way.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Oh, and OP - to your original query - a well known guitarist in the area told me that almost always uses his Kemper to record nowadays over miking a real amp. He prefers the sound. He also sings the praises of the Boss Katana amps. This guy has a side business selling pedals, so I really do think he just prefers the sound of modeling stuff for what he does. I, on the other hand, do feel like "analog" - even on pedalboards - does retain (or add?) something to the tone that digital effects seem to compromise. Could be superstition, but I hear a difference. The first time I a/b'd an 1176 vs a plugin model of it was illuminating for me. The words "3D" vs "flat" came to mind... but in a mix you might be hard-pressed to be able to tell the difference.

This old-timer does ramble on...
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirjuxtable View Post
Someone brought one of those Helix digital boards in for a show at the venue I mix at about a year ago and while I was expecting it to nail the modulation, I was really impressed with the dirt tones. In the context of the mix it wasn't missing anything - although when solo'd at soundcheck a discerning ear would probably feel it was missing something. I imagine alone in my living room a/b'ing them against the real thing would reveal how different they really are, but overall these digital modelers have come a long way.
Yeah, if anything, they have nailed the stompboxes in the Helix family of pedals.
There's still some things missing (I own an Egnater Goldsmith and haven't yet found a pedal that would really do the same thing, even if it's not all that special, just a rather typical more or less amp-alike overdrive) and some things not always working too well due to some "issues".
Such as the fuzz boxes, which, in the real world, would come with a comparatively low input impedance whereas most interfaces' instrument ins default to the (amp-typical) 1 mOhm. As a result, especially when using your volume pot, these things react pretty different from the analog originals. They have tried to adress that with their hardware units by offering an analog, digitally controlled input impedance switch, but it's still not the same.

Some others of their stompboxes however are just fantastic, IMO at least. I own a very old (malaysian chip, yaddayadda) TS-808 and would go for the Helix re-incarnation every day. Probably the same for the OD-1 and DS-1 emulations. Their Prince/King of Tone emulations are absolutely kickass, too - but I have never owned the originals, so I can't say how faithful they are (there's some A/B comparisons on YT, though, from all I know).

What I don't exactly get from the original post is whether we're really talking about plugins strictly or about "emulations in a hardware box" as well. If it was about plain software plugins, the first thing I'd look at would however be the amp all these stompbox things are supposed to be running into.
And before that, it's even more important to get an interface being capable of dealing with all this, the two most relevant things being:
- A decent high impedance instrument input (alternatively, a bypassed non-true-bypass pedal or a DI box may do the trick, sometimes these even considerably pimp up existing high impendance inputs, simply because they're made for guitar players, personally I think of my Whammy IIs input buffer as a kind of a secret weapon...).
- Low latency performance. Absolutely crucial IMO if you care about how things feel under your pick. You would need an interface with a good driver (there's a huge thread about that right here on GS) and a computer being able to deal with it (read: a decently powerful one).

If we are however talking about a hardware box, supposed to be running into whatever kind of real amp, IMO it's tough to beat the HX FX, both in terms of sound quality and flexibility. The latest offerings from Mooer aren't all that bad for just the pedals, either, especially in case you're on a tight budget.

However, if all you need is a bit of variety in driven tones and have the rest sorted (such as the amp things will be running into), I'd probably still go for a handful of analog pedals. The ones from, say, Joyo, Donner, Hotone and Mooer are very affordable and many of them deliver pretty much the same sound as the originals they're "borrowing" from.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sascha Franck View Post
Some others of their stompboxes however are just fantastic, IMO at least. I own a very old (malaysian chip, yaddayadda) TS-808 and would go for the Helix re-incarnation every day. Probably the same for the OD-1 and DS-1 emulations. Their Prince/King of Tone emulations are absolutely kickass, too - but I have never owned the originals, so I can't say how faithful they are (there's some A/B comparisons on YT, though, from all I know).
If I recall, I think he was using a model of the Timmy and maybe the Rat. Sounded good enough for me to post about it a year or two later. Again, this was live. YMMV especially in a studio situation.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirjuxtable View Post
If I recall, I think he was using a model of the Timmy and maybe the Rat. Sounded good enough for me to post about it a year or two later. Again, this was live. YMMV especially in a studio situation.
I have a bunch of pedals mounted, cabled and powered on a little board next to me (even controlled by a little loop switcher) and haven't exactly used them ever since I got the Helix others than for some comparisons. Now, apart from the mentioned vintage TS-808 and the Egnater Goldsmith, they're not exactly special, but still, I thought I'd use them for recordings here and there. Didn't happen yet. I will however put that board up within hand reach - that might change things a bit as I still feel more comfortable twisting a few knobs instead of fooling around in the editor (or bowing down to the unit). We'll see.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sascha Franck View Post
I have a bunch of pedals mounted, cabled and powered on a little board next to me (even controlled by a little loop switcher) and haven't exactly used them ever since I got the Helix others than for some comparisons. Now, apart from the mentioned vintage TS-808 and the Egnater Goldsmith, they're not exactly special, but still, I thought I'd use them for recordings here and there. Didn't happen yet. I will however put that board up within hand reach - that might change things a bit as I still feel more comfortable twisting a few knobs instead of fooling around in the editor (or bowing down to the unit). We'll see.
That's a compelling testimonial. Hopefully OP will chime in and disambiguate whether he means ITB computer plugins or digital hardware pieces like the Helix. Rock on!
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Short answer - for reverb, modulation and delays plugins and digital are on par or close.

For overdrive and fuzz analog is still much better.
Old 6 days ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverb View Post
Short answer - for reverb, modulation and delays plugins and digital are on par or close.

For overdrive and fuzz analog is still much better.
Yeap. And compression
Old 6 days ago
  #18
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I wish I could agree but my experience doesn't align. We're talking about guitar pedals, not rackmount Fairchilds and Bricastis. I love my BJFe Pale Green Compressor pedal, but it's not something I couldn't get from a plugin, and in fact the plugin world offers greater options. I'm definitely not familiar with a guitar pedal reverb which excels beyond what plugins can offer. Strymon's Big Sky is amazing, but, again, not something we can't get ITB.

Overdrive and Fuzz are tougher in plugin form -- not having the ability to overdrive the input of a hardware amp.
Old 6 days ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
I wish I could agree but my experience doesn't align. We're talking about guitar pedals, not rackmount Fairchilds and Bricastis. I love my BJFe Pale Green Compressor pedal, but it's not something I couldn't get from a plugin, and in fact the plugin world offers greater options. I'm definitely not familiar with a guitar pedal reverb which excels beyond what plugins can offer. Strymon's Big Sky is amazing, but, again, not something we can't get ITB.

Overdrive and Fuzz are tougher in plugin form -- not having the ability to overdrive the input of a hardware amp.
I don't know. To me all plugin comps sound a bit the same. They compress- their primary function - probably more predictably then the analogue ones which have more linearity. But they have no tone. Which you get in a pedal by driving it harder and varying cables in and out of it.
I don't have the BJFe Pale Green Compressor but have a Mad Professor Forest Green HW Compressor (and the bearfoot version) which is a version of one? That has plenty of character and i prefer it to say a Empress comp which is clean and "boring" (but good on bass :-) ). I like comps like Wampler Ego or the old MXR because they do things to the tone.
Old 6 days ago
  #20
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by I_V_502 View Post
This question comes from someone who just plays guitar for fun. However, I was wondering if those pedal plugings are used today for recording professionally.

Thanks, masters.
Do you already own a bunch of pedals? Are you just playing for fun and want to know if plug-in pedals are good enough for that or if they’re good enough for pro sessions?

I prefer running real pedals into an amp sim... that being said, I don’t much use amp sims these days

That being said, plugin pedals are fine... the ones in amplitube, thU, bias... even the native instruments guitar plugin has decent fx... just get whatever sounds good to you without breaking the bank baby. Plugins are fine! Plenty of records made with them
Old 3 hours ago
  #21
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What part of this do some people refuse to not "get"?
Old 2 hours ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternalsound View Post


What part of this do some people refuse to not "get"?
One is the source for plenty of useful synthsounds. The other is as well.
Old 2 hours ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sascha Franck View Post
One is the source for plenty of useful synthsounds. The other is as well.

Wow, a German guy that doesn't even get it. Now I've seen it all.

Old 2 hours ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternalsound View Post
Wow, a German guy that doesn't even get it. Now I've seen it all.

Thing is, I perfectly get it.
Another thing is that, regardless of the realm (digital or analog), it's got absolutely nothing to do with producing or reproducing an amplified guitar sound.
Old 1 minute ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternalsound View Post
Wow, a German guy that doesn't even get it. Now I've seen it all.

Whats being German got to do with anything?
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