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Is Digital Amp modeling the future of guitar tone?
Old 4th October 2011
  #1
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Is Digital Amp modeling the future of guitar tone?

Guitarists wouldn't it be awesome to be able to show up to gigs and not have to lug your stack, pedals etc and set it all up and take it all down?! Imagine plugging your digital guitar (that never goes out of tune) directly in to the 20.1 channel PA (giddyup) via your bluetooth wireless device, and then finally press power on your guitar to load up your amp sims from the internal hard drive built in to your digital guitar.

This may sound a bit whacky to some of you but amp modeling is really gaining ground and that's because there's a lot of practical advantages to using amp modeling, cost being a top priority to many musicians in this economy. And more and more guitarist and bassists are becoming accustomed to modeling software and perfecting their guitar tones with the millions of VST/plugins available and millions of presets and options to tinker with.

And The disadvantages of producing tube amps the 'old fashioned' way are pretty heavy. They're expensive to manufacture and obviously to purchase, require upkeep/maintenance, heavy to lug around on tour and to jams, fuses and tubes can blow or shatter and damage the amp.

So do you think we will see an end to the conventional analog tube amp as the standard (live and studio) in this decade?
Old 4th October 2011
  #2
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gainstages's Avatar
Just like the u47, 1176, and classic guitars.... Modeling will become more and more widely used and accepted but thousands will continue to swear by their tube amps. They aren't going anywhere and If anything may be having a resurgence.
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Old 4th October 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
latestflavor's Avatar
 

in this decade? i'll say yes, by the end of it. when it won't be an argument - like using a plugin delay, mostly a toss up. some major label bands are already using the axe fx live. For live rigs the benefit is tremendous to justify the loss in tone. And if you're just doing more of a crunch tone, between that and the acoustics of most live spaces it comes down to preference and feel.

i'm not a genius techie, but my gut feeling is that as soon as we can model the tube and transformers (for real, its still a work in progress) we will completely be there, but its going to still require more processing power.

billions can be made in social media and mobile gadgets so it might be a shallower talent pool for mit geniuses in our industry - for products that musicains will invariably steal anyways. add to that apple making software a loss leader, eventually copying the technology and giving it away for free.

that's why i give it at least 5 years at a minimum for the amp to start being the exception rather than the rule, processing power wil have to catch up rather than the modeling taking some kind of leap forward.
Old 4th October 2011
  #4
Gear Guru
I have a foot in both camps. I have 'real' guitars and amps in the studio, but for live gigs I use Line6 stuff. Just got a new James Tyler Variax - the 59 model - and i'm looking forward to buying the HD Pod Rack (using the HD Pod bean now). I use the Line6 wireless stuff too ... bit of a Line6 slut really.

The technology is better than it used to be ... and it has miles to go: that is very obvious.

Totally agree that wireless changes the paradigm - and the makers have to understand this. They don't seem to get it at the moment. It annoys me that Line6 (for example) don't have a digital out on their wireless Relay. And the Variax can't be used digitally via wireless. And it would be really great to have the Pod built INTO the Variax. At least as an option ...

It's weird that we have to hang onto the past legacy ... I think it's slowing down innovation. But the future for guitar certainly looks digital: it's useable now, and it can only get better.

I totally understand the appeal of the "real" things ... and some purists will go to their graves swearing by this.

Hopefully, we'll have real tubes and exotic wood guitars with rare-earth magnets for as long as we can ... but I guess they are going to go the way of analog tape ...

What we need is a new design/aesthetic so we can move on from Leo Fender etc. I think Steinberger was onto a great thing in the 1980's ...

I would love a graphite guitar with the next generation of digital modeling onboard and ready to roll .... with wireless pedal boards that can interface with the onboard dsp ...

Immunity to hum would be essential. (OK - have a some hum samples onboard for the diehards ...)

We can only dream ...
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Old 4th October 2011
  #5
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Well what I'm suggesting is that software developers are getting pretty darn close to achieving a tube amp sound, and its quite possible that in the next couple of years, digital technology may surpass the sound quality of a tube amp; thus rendering them outdated tanks like the CRT monitor/television.

I know this thread may scare a lot of guitarists and musicians who have a deep seeded love for tube amps and everything they are, but if you think about it, this technological step forward would level out the playing field for a lot of musicians who can't afford the big tube out sound. And ultimately it would improve the general quality of music being produced as a whole, so everyone benefits.
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Old 4th October 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
"A lot of practical advantages to using amp modeling"

There are also a lot of practical advantages to using a blow up doll for sex:

- Sex anytime
- No Disease
- No commitment
- No having to meet the stupid parents/family
- low maintenance/cheaper
- No talking back
- etc.

But at the end of the day, there ain't nothing like the real thing, and there's no use in pretending that there is. That being said, there are those that would still prefer the doll.

As a guitarist, I am not even remotely impressed with anything to do with amp modeling. Convenient yes, real NO!

No blow up dolls for this guy, sorry.
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Old 4th October 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvdh View Post
Well what I'm suggesting is that software developers are getting pretty darn close to achieving a tube amp sound, and its quite possible that in the next couple of years, digital technology may surpass the sound quality of a tube amp; thus rendering them outdated tanks like the CRT monitor/television.

I know this thread may scare a lot of guitarists and musicians who have a deep seeded love for tube amps and everything they are, but if you think about it, this technological step forward would level out the playing field for a lot of musicians who can't afford the big tube out sound. And ultimately it would improve the general quality of music being produced as a whole, so everyone benefits.
I have been hearing this song since the 80's. It's getting old...

"And ultimately it would improve the general quality of music being produced as a whole"

You are forgetting to factor in playing skills. If you suck, you suck regardless what you play through.
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Old 4th October 2011
  #8
Gear Head
 

Amp emulation comes in handy for me as FX for unorthodox sources like a piano or a drum kit more so than for guitar tone emulation. I spend more time engineering than playing though.
Old 4th October 2011
  #9
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
And think of how quickly someone could learn how to play if we used digital guitars (or drums/bass/piano etc)... You could play guitar hero /rock band or w/e game it'll be at the time, and actually play a real guitar with strings and get coached along.

The world would see the most insane guitarists ever if people learned how to play guitar properly at an early age and it was widely available and not just for those who are fortunate enough to have access to the gear and be in an environment where you can learn and practice your instrument.
Old 4th October 2011
  #10
Gear addict
 
gingataff's Avatar
 

I'd say no.

Guitarists love gear too and I think the main reason that amp modeling has become successful is because it feeds the lust for a room full of vintage and modern amps.
However the desire for the original hardware remains.

The amp modeler is a substitute but not a replacement.
Old 4th October 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvdh View Post
And think of how quickly someone could learn how to play if we used digital guitars (or drums/bass/piano etc)... You could play guitar hero /rock band or w/e game it'll be at the time, and actually play a real guitar with strings and get coached along.

The world would see the most insane guitarists ever if people learned how to play guitar properly at an early age and it was widely available and not just for those who are fortunate enough to have access to the gear and be in an environment where you can learn and practice your instrument.
Extremely weak argument. Read some history on guitar greats. Most did not start on elaborate gear. My guess is that you are not a guitarist.
Old 4th October 2011
  #12
Gear Head
 

Those fractal units sounds pretty good
Old 4th October 2011
  #13
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alrod View Post
I have been hearing this song since the 80's. It's getting old...

"And ultimately it would improve the general quality of music being produced as a whole"

You are forgetting to factor in playing skills. If you suck, you suck regardless what you play through.
The difference is that amp emulation is actually being used on a broad level at this point. Look at the Piano, a grand piano is clearly the better sounding instrument in a live situation, but it's not very practical to bring it around to gigs and extremely expensive to buy...in comes the electric/digital piano and now that is pretty much the standard.

That's what I'm saying, tube amps are going to be phased out or kept for a select few just like what happened with the piano.Tube amps carry the same burdens as a quality piano, they're too expensive, too large, require upkeep, subject to its acoustic environment.

If you suck, you suck, there's no arguing there, but at least people won't be able to blame it on their gear.
Old 4th October 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvdh View Post
So do you think we will see an end to the conventional analog tube amp as the standard (live and studio) in this decade?
Absolutely NOT.

To date, programmers have been able to emulate, to varying degrees, analog gear. Native programs have overtaken DSP based hardware due to Moore's Law. But emulating a tube guitar amp? No.

As a guitarist of more than 40 years, I've tried everything that's ever been made available for recording. I've tried every Line 6 version, Amplitube, Revalver, IR's, etc. and not only do those particular products NOT sound more than 75% of those amps in which they try to emulate, they don't FEEL like a solid state amp, let alone a tube amp.

There's a certain dynamic associated with EVERY tube amp, even amps of the same namesake and model. Power tubes, preamp tubes, transformers, pickups and guitars ALL make a tremendous difference in the recording and output of amps. There are so many variables that I honestly think it'll be a full century, if ever, that the subtleties of guitar amps are successfully programmed and available.

If ever.
Old 4th October 2011
  #15
Registered User
 

amp modelling has been happening since the late eighties...I remember a unit called the GP8, then the 16...this is nothing new and no it wont replace an amp...use whatever works for you.
Old 4th October 2011
  #16
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alrod View Post
Extremely weak argument. Read some history on guitar greats. Most did not start on elaborate gear. My guess is that you are not a guitarist.
If you have music in your heart and soul you will play drums on the pots and pans and strum on a no-string guitar, but I'm just saying that it would most definitely help out those who want to learn. Private lessons and equipment are expensive and it's not always an option for a lot of families.
Old 4th October 2011
  #17
Gear Head
 

I know of many guitarists who are already doing this live with excellent results!

Some are using Axe FX, some Line 6 and others (like myself) use guitar rig with a laptop (I'm a bass player atm).

I've since gone back to using a triaxis for my overdrives/distortions but this has nothing to do with sound quality and everything to do with reliability and setup/pull down time. In fact, FOH bass guitar sound is actually much better (and repeatable) but the issue is setup time and reliability. For instance I had my laptop racked with a fireface 400 but you have to wait for it to boot, you then have to start up the host etc... (yes this can be automated, but it still takes the same amount of time).

There are also reliability issues. Firewire particularly is a flimsy connection, it doesn't take much of a knock on the lead to rip the firewire port off the motherboard. You can get around this by racking up the laptop, but its still no where near as forgiving as an XLR or TRS...

The problem that I see atm with using VST's is that you really need to take a rack along. Either you will have a rack based product that hosts your VST's or you will have a laptop with an audio interface that ideally should be racked. It completely defeats the purpose of being portable if you have to carry a rack around.

What someone needs to do is build a VST host in a small floor board pedal! V-MACHINE by SM Pro Audio seem to have started work on this but I'm not sure if it ever made it to the shelf.

I've thought about modifying my setup (rme fireface 400 -> laptop (running brainspawn's forte as vst host) so that it fits into a pedal board, but the flimsy firewire connectors, as well as harddrive etc.. scare me.

So, in my opinion its not really the processing power that needs to catch up, because the software and processing power is already *good* enough for live use. Its more that the interface needs to change before more guitarist will start using it.
Old 4th October 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike P View Post
Absolutely NOT.

To date, programmers have been able to emulate, to varying degrees, analog gear. Native programs have overtaken DSP based hardware due to Moore's Law. But emulating a tube guitar amp? No.

As a guitarist of more than 40 years, I've tried everything that's ever been made available for recording. I've tried every Line 6 version, Amplitube, Revalver, IR's, etc. and not only do those particular products NOT sound more than 75% of those amps in which they try to emulate, they don't FEEL like a solid state amp, let alone a tube amp.

There's a certain dynamic associated with EVERY tube amp, even amps of the same namesake and model. Power tubes, preamp tubes, transformers, pickups and guitars ALL make a tremendous difference in the recording and output of amps. There are so many variables that I honestly think it'll be a full century, if ever, that the subtleties of guitar amps are successfully programmed and available.

If ever.
AMEN! Tell it my brother...
Old 4th October 2011
  #19
Gear nut
 

If you want a unit that sounds and feels like a tube amp and speaker cab then the AxeFX II does that now. No question. For any practical purpose it replaces a typical rig. There is no "loss of tone" when used live. The feeling of your actual, carefully constructed guitar sound being accurately produced by the FOH is a revelation compared to the usual live compromise. However, tube amps are fun and simple and direct so they are not going anywhere. The choice depends on your mood. Sound quality is no longer an issue.

As to whether it makes better guitarists.... of course not. The gear is irrelevant compared to the commitment to the required 10,000 hours of practise.
Old 4th October 2011
  #20
Lives for gear
"I know of many guitarists who are already doing this live with excellent results!"

I doubt very much that you can name a well known professional guitarist who is doing this. I think you should make it clear that you are refering to local club gigging guitarists. Just saying...
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Old 4th October 2011
  #21
Lives for gear
"If you want a unit that sounds and feels like a tube amp and speaker cab then the AxeFX II does that now."

See blow up doll comment above.
Old 4th October 2011
  #22
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike P View Post
Absolutely NOT.

To date, programmers have been able to emulate, to varying degrees, analog gear. Native programs have overtaken DSP based hardware due to Moore's Law. But emulating a tube guitar amp? No.

As a guitarist of more than 40 years, I've tried everything that's ever been made available for recording. I've tried every Line 6 version, Amplitube, Revalver, IR's, etc. and not only do those particular products NOT sound more than 75% of those amps in which they try to emulate, they don't FEEL like a solid state amp, let alone a tube amp.

There's a certain dynamic associated with EVERY tube amp, even amps of the same namesake and model. Power tubes, preamp tubes, transformers, pickups and guitars ALL make a tremendous difference in the recording and output of amps. There are so many variables that I honestly think it'll be a full century, if ever, that the subtleties of guitar amps are successfully programmed and available.

If ever.
Yes I agree that at the moment digital amp modeling isn't nearly as good as analog/tube, but in a few years it may have all those wonderful dynamics and subtle nuances that a tube amp delivers and on top of that be able to dial in the most amazing fx and sound enhancing plugins. It's really going to be a no-brainer for a lot of people once emulation isn't emulation anymore but in fact the leader in sound.
Old 4th October 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvdh View Post
Yes I agree that at the moment digital amp modeling isn't nearly as good as analog/tube, but in a few years it may have all those wonderful dynamics and subtle nuances that a tube amp delivers and on top of that be able to dial in the most amazing fx and sound enhancing plugins. It's really going to be a no-brainer for a lot of people once emulation isn't emulation anymore but in fact the leader in sound.
Let me know when that happens. Until then, it's a pipe dream at best and speculation at worst.

Old 4th October 2011
  #24
I really want amp sims to sound good. But they sound bad :(

Only one I can stand is Garage band in my iPad's guitar amps for some reason. But it still nothing like the real thing it just doesn't sound that bad.
Old 4th October 2011
  #25
Talking Err!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvdh View Post
Guitarists wouldn't it be awesome to be able to show up to gigs and not have to lug your stack, pedals etc and set it all up and take it all down?! Imagine plugging your digital guitar (that never goes out of tune) directly in to the 20.1 channel PA (giddyup) via your bluetooth wireless device, and then finally press power on your guitar to load up your amp sims from the internal hard drive built in to your digital guitar.

This may sound a bit whacky to some of you but amp modeling is really gaining ground and that's because there's a lot of practical advantages to using amp modeling, cost being a top priority to many musicians in this economy. And more and more guitarist and bassists are becoming accustomed to modeling software and perfecting their guitar tones with the millions of VST/plugins available and millions of presets and options to tinker with.

And The disadvantages of producing tube amps the 'old fashioned' way are pretty heavy. They're expensive to manufacture and obviously to purchase, require upkeep/maintenance, heavy to lug around on tour and to jams, fuses and tubes can blow or shatter and damage the amp.

So do you think we will see an end to the conventional analog tube amp as the standard (live and studio) in this decade?
What was that you said I don't need to lug around anymore then mate!?.

What about hollographic images of performers rather that the real thing,
that way we can loose the vip toilet block.
Old 4th October 2011
  #26
Gear addict
 
DoctorG's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fremantlerecords View Post
I really want amp sims to sound good. But they sound bad :(
Got to agree. I tried, failed and bought a Fender. I could not get a good sound with the software and I can't get a bad one with the amp. If I can't use an amp then I use a passive DI into a good pre - fine for clean funk stuff.
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Old 4th October 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
I agree with most people here, oh how I have tried to love amp sims (and spent way too much time messing around with them).. But they sound fake.. Because they are fake.

I have been playing 15 years, I know how to play metal and play it well.. But doesn't sound anything like the real thing to me.

If it does sound like the real thing to you.. You need a new amp or you need to learn how to use it..!!!! !! !! !! :P !! :P
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Old 4th October 2011
  #28
I don't think amp sims sound obviously fake in every case.

I do think that in general amp sims sound a little fake, especially when you're very familiar with the tone and feel of a real amp and cab. However, whether or not sims are useful to you depends on your goals. Can you make a great sounding recording using amp sims, one that sells and that most people don't think twice about the guitar tone? Of course you can.

Will that ever replace the want for actual hardware? I doubt it. I personally prefer hardware guitar gear and think it sounds a little better than any sim I've heard. But the sound is a subtle thing to me (some people describe subtle changes as though they are as dramatic as the difference between a plastic doll and a real person, which is hyperbolic to say the least IMO) and the preference is subjective.

As far as live performers are concerned, I think it's a matter of the performer's preference and budget. The live audience hears so much crap in the venue that it usually (but not always) sounds pretty much like ass anyway compared to a fine recording. So I think you could easily use sims and things would sound fine depending on your genre and the specific tricks you pull off live. But I'm pretty sure most guitarists prefer to have actual hardware to work with, even though it's a pain to lug around.
Old 4th October 2011
  #29
Lives for gear
 

Even now the sound could pass a blind test for the listener, but for the player the feedback is lacking.
Old 4th October 2011
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvdh View Post
Guitarists wouldn't it be awesome to be able to show up to gigs and not have to lug your stack, pedals etc and set it all up and take it all down?! Imagine plugging your digital guitar (that never goes out of tune) directly in to the 20.1 channel PA (giddyup) via your bluetooth wireless device, and then finally press power on your guitar to load up your amp sims from the internal hard drive built in to your digital guitar.

This may sound a bit whacky to some of you but amp modeling is really gaining ground and that's because there's a lot of practical advantages to using amp modeling, cost being a top priority to many musicians in this economy. And more and more guitarist and bassists are becoming accustomed to modeling software and perfecting their guitar tones with the millions of VST/plugins available and millions of presets and options to tinker with.

And The disadvantages of producing tube amps the 'old fashioned' way are pretty heavy. They're expensive to manufacture and obviously to purchase, require upkeep/maintenance, heavy to lug around on tour and to jams, fuses and tubes can blow or shatter and damage the amp.

So do you think we will see an end to the conventional analog tube amp as the standard (live and studio) in this decade?
Speaking for myself and most guitar players that I know... not a chance in hell.

But to face the future, just like high end studios are disappearing and the result is crappy recordings, and as vintage great sounding well made gear is being replaced by junk with a similar name, know-nothings will eventually destroy this discipline, too.

In the 40s/50s you either had a radio or a killer sound rig. By the 60s/70s everybody had a 'stereo' (even one speaker stereos...!?!.....) but most of it was crap. Still, there was a cadre of dedicated people keeping quality audio alive. And the thrust was to bring realism to your living room. The push was for better and better sound.

But then came cassette, and by the time the 80s rolled around we were changing our focus from 'realism' to convenience.

You can track the downward spiral of quality audio from there... computers give more people access, but they don't have any background and make up the rules as they go, manufacturers see a huge market selling junk to wannabees... blah, blah, blah. Now engineers can't mix, players can't play, and the music industry has more to do with image than sound.

You can make rats-assed guitar sounds to duplicate the sound of 80s hair bands with just about anything.

Millions of presets and options just means that you're either going to get lost in the mire, or you just can't make up your mind -what- you want to sound like.
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