Modellers vs Amps

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NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 987
edited January 11 in FX
I've had a bit of an epiphany this week on the modellers vs amps debate. 

I find myself loving modellers for recording but not so much for playing. You can't beat a good old valve amp etc.
Part of it is tubes vs digital emulation and the way that each of those compress the sound. However, there is also another component that I had overlooked.

The output of a modeller is the sound of a mic'd amp, rather than the sound that you hear when you are in front of an amp.
Think of it as what you hear on a recording or at front of house through the PA, rather than what you hear coming out ot the amp when you are standing in front of it. It is more 'clinical' and less fun if you are used to playing through amps.

This is an important difference. I've always tried to match my presets against the amp sound that I hear in my head when what I should be doing is matching them against the sound that I hear on recordings. And I should not expect a modeller to sound exactly like standing in front of an amp. Even if I'm using an FRFR speaker.

Maybe you knew this already and I feel a bit dumb for not thinking about it before, but It think it bears repeating.

The other part is the psychology, because you can tell just by looking that this:

....sounds better than this

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  • simonksimonk Frets: 1311
    It’s an important distinction and you’re not the only one who failed to make it. So many people seem to pick up a Helix or similar on a whim, plug it in and cycle through the presets, then take to the internet shouting “sounds like arse and not as good as my Twin Reverb”. It’s really annoying!
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 4105
    edited January 11
    I actually prefer recorded guitar sounds to "amp in the room" sounds to be honest, even more so as you have to turn them up to a certain volume which I struggle with as once things hit a certain volume I can't actually hear them very well for some reason.

    Generally the reason I try to get certain sounds is because I've heard them on record so the other side of this is that an actual amp will always be a disappointment as it won't sound like the recording
    I may feel slightly sad, but I won't cry
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 10706
    Audiences at big shows are hearing mic'd up amps too. They aren't getting the "amp in the room" either.

    And with more and more pub bands going IEM as well - is there any point in lugging heavy valve amps around? If your ears are stuffed full of isolating buds you're not hearing the amp in the room either.

    I love the look of a wall of Marshalls - but a lot of pubs don't. They want a good show that isn't so loud it puts people off staying.

    This space is for rent.

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  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 2199
    edited January 11
    You can have the best of both worlds if you want.  Take a line out of your modeller before the can emulation and stick through a power amp & real cab, you get the feel, the audience gets a great sound.  Saying that, I'm just as happy hearing what the audience hears through my monitor.

    Even using real amps in big venues, what you often hear as a player is the mic'd up sound coming back through your foldback, unless you're far too loud
    Do me a favour and like this:

    https://www.facebook.com/MarkedCoversBand
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 235
    I'm a committed modeller, but I do love the sound of an 'amp in the room' now and again.  As has been pointed out, most of the time the audience is hearing the mic'd sound so it's really just a case of getting used to hearing what they are hearing.
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  • menamestommenamestom Frets: 2735

    I re record most things I do on the Helix with an ‘amp in the room’, either a Princeton or lately my Tweed Deluxe.  

    The Helix is a great tool and I love it but for me it’s so easy to get the perfect amp sound with a small valve combo, there’s no point trying to approximate that with a model.

    That said, I like more roomy guitar tones.  If I was close micing for a tight rhythm part I’d probably stick with the Helix.
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 4356
    edited January 11
    Thing with guitar tone is that there's nothing objectively good or bad about a deliberately distorted electronic instrument - it's all just precedent, taste, basically what our ears are used to hearing - hence the developing concept of what sounds good and bad over the decades. Largely led by the strengths and weaknesses of the technology available at the time.

    Deliberately distorting a guitar sound is only a thing because valves were the available technology to amplify electrical signals, and performers in the '40s and '50s found they had to turn up their amps to the point that they started to distort in order to be heard against the other instruments in the ensemble - especially as the drum kit evolved out of jazz/ big band playing.

    Then there's the philosophical part of the question of how a guitar sounds. What is your guitar tone? Is it the sound at the speaker cloth? The sound where your head is? The sound out in the room? Where in the room? Where on the stage? Is it the tone directly in front of the PA speakers, in which case your sound is partially up to a sound guy, a mic, mixing desk settings, PA speaker response? If you get your sound in one room, and take that rig into a different room with different acoustics but with the same gear settings, is it still your sound?

    And @thecolourbox has a point about sitting with a loud guitar amp - it quickly gets uncomfortable. Hitting your ears with 115dB+ of sound, does your perception of what's happening in the room bear any relation to what's actually coming out the speakers? In that case, where is your tone? Is it in the room, or in your mind?

    Against the backdrop of these questions, I'm totally happy to accept that if a modeller sounds convincingly like a miked up valve amp, I've got it as good as if I had a valve amp and a competent sound guy. And I don't really miss the different experience of playing a cooking valve amp in a room with no mic in sight, because that's mostly just left me with mild tinnitus.

    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 10706
    I wonder if FOH engineers are finding it easier to deal with modeller experienced guitarists - now that the guitarists are creating their tones from a mic'd perspective in the first place.

    Or maybe when the personal on stage monitor sounds right the FOH is lacking somehow.

    I've never done any FOH work so I have no clue. Especially as a bassist - when I use a real amp they've always got a good DI to give the desk.

    This space is for rent.

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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 4356
    I wonder if FOH engineers are finding it easier to deal with modeller experienced guitarists - now that the guitarists are creating their tones from a mic'd perspective in the first place.

    Or maybe when the personal on stage monitor sounds right the FOH is lacking somehow.

    I've never done any FOH work so I have no clue. Especially as a bassist - when I use a real amp they've always got a good DI to give the desk.
    I've not gigged with mine yet, but inferring from my recordings, the sound coming into my interface sounds like a miked amp. So I imagine for a sound guy, they'd treat it much the same.

    I can see how a guitarist might over-process based on what they hear through a monitor - really dialling in the high and low pass filters, compressing the sound, adding some room reverb, basically tying the sound guy's hands... but I guess since I have lots of experience of knowing what a raw miked amp sounds like, I've gone for that.


    It might be that I'd want to tweak my monitored sound to stop trebly beam-o-death or whatever, but I wouldn't change what was going FOH on that basis.


    As for soundman attitudes to guitar modellers, I suspect it'd be totally pot luck whether they viewed the gear with relief or hatred.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 4790
    There are two approaches here, and a conditional, imho...

    Approaches

    1.) Amp-In-The-Room (AITR) and Front-Of-House (FOH) are entirely different things, yet we lump them together.

    2.) These can be combined but they are entirely different things (i.e mike up an amp thought the PA)


    Now, all this in my limited experience and humble opinion etc etc

    So, what we hear as an audience and on record is FOH. The sound an amp makes, but not the 'feel'.
    An AITR sound is that full, lovely amp sound we love as guitarists. This is the 'feel'.

    The modeller won't get AITR sound UNLESS you run it through a speaker, normal guitar or FRFR.


    Condition

    So, whether a modeller can match a real amp for AITR is conditional, imho, on the speaker used. Ive run my Kemper very successfully thought the brilliant Red Sound RG12 which gives me the AITR (sort of - nothing matches the sound of an snap full tilt).

    Having just got the Carr Mercury V (real amp) has put enormous pressure on my Kemper ownership, as the AITR sound is unbelievable good and cuts through the mix like no other amp Ive owned.

    BUT, it does have a line out which enables me to run it through the PA and get the FOH (audience) sound.

    The perfect solution, for me and my needs.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 2434
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both ;) which is pretty much the conclusion I came to :)
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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 4790
    sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both ;) which is pretty much the conclusion I came to :)
    Mate, I think Ive arrived there as well !
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  • Jonathanthomas83Jonathanthomas83 Frets: 2193
    edited January 11
    sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both which is pretty much the conclusion I came to
    Sweet, what amp you got?
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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 4790
    sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both which is pretty much the conclusion I came to
    Sweety, what amp you got?
    Carr Mercury V.... stunning.

    Full review to follow :)
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 987
    edited January 11
    Last night I was sat in front of a plexi clone and Marshall 4 x 12 cab trying to tweak my Plexi preset to sound the same. I now see the error in trying to do that.

    I always (mis)took "Amp in the room" to mean that standing in front of an amp and 4 x 12 cab is different to hearing your modeller out of an FRFR speaker, and assumed that you need to play with the controls on the modeller until you get a sound approaching the "Amp in a room" sound.

    It's more nuanced than that as the difference is really that one of them includes a mic, a mic pre and possibly a power amp and flat response speaker in the signal chain and the other doesn't.

    To acheive the same tone as a modeller is realtively easy (ha ha) but would require an iso box, a mic, the expertise to mic it properly and an FRFR speaker.

    I guess that getting an 'amp in the room' tone from a modeller is possible in theory. - you could have simply use an IR that has a room mic (preferably two, mounted either side of a dummy's head). With a totally 'flat' mic (does such a thing exist?) perhaps this would achieve something close to the 'amp in the room'? There must be a reason that this has not been done though
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  • sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both which is pretty much the conclusion I came to
    Sweety, what amp you got?
    Carr Mercury V.... stunning.

    Full review to follow :)
    Nice mate, look forward to it!
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 987
    edited January 11
    sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both which is pretty much the conclusion I came to
    Sweety, what amp you got?
    Carr Mercury V.... stunning.

    Full review to follow
    Sweety?
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 4356
    NelsonP said:


    I guess that getting an 'amp in the room' tone from a modeller is possible in theory. - you could have simply use an IR that has a room mic (preferably two, mounted either side of a dummy's head). With a totally 'flat' mic (does such a thing exist?) perhaps this would achieve something close to the 'amp in the room'? There must be a reason that this has not been done though
    There are mics that are essentially totally flat, but it doesn't matter. Where you put them changes the sound they hear, so you still have to make that choice. And as anyone who's put up a room mic knows, that sound is not the same as standing in the room. Even if it was, "amp in a different room and also this room" would be the result of such an IR and your ears would pick up on that immediately.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • NelsonP said:
    sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both which is pretty much the conclusion I came to
    Sweety, what amp you got?
    Carr Mercury V.... stunning.

    Full review to follow
    Sweety?
    It meant to say @sweepy! Ha. Bloody phone. Warren replied and I was equally intrigued to find out what amp he had, so just "sweeped" over it and hoped no one would notice...so thanks for that! Haha
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 2434
    Well, I bought that sweet Hayden 5w Petite and just spent a few hours with Chris @RiftAmps speccing a build,,,,,,watch this space and the look of disdain from my bank manager 
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  • NelsonPNelsonP Frets: 987
    sweepy said:
    Well, I bought that sweet Hayden 5w Petite and just spent a few hours with Chris @RiftAmps speccing a build,,,,,,watch this space and the look of disdain from my bank manager 
    Well, that does sound sweet!

    And I'm sure it will.
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  • One trick I do for balancing out things, with the Boss GT-1000, is to send an amp only signal to power amp and a 2x12 (V30s).  I also have the sub outputs with IR 2x12 cabs (V30s) for the desk, if it's needed.  I can achieve the same stuff with AF2.

    @Cirrus, does the Helix offer the same capabilities?
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  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 2199
    One trick I do for balancing out things, with the Boss GT-1000, is to send an amp only signal to power amp and a 2x12 (V30s).  I also have the sub outputs with IR 2x12 cabs (V30s) for the desk, if it's needed.  I can achieve the same stuff with AF2.

    @Cirrus, does the Helix offer the same capabilities?
    Yes, with Helix there are a few ways to do it, you either drop a send block before your IR's and route it to one of the sends (that's what I do) or create a parallel path with one going to the XLR out with IR's and one to the 1/4 outs without, or you could do left XLR with IR and Right XLR without
    Do me a favour and like this:

    https://www.facebook.com/MarkedCoversBand
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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 4790
    NelsonP said:
    sweepy said:
    Basically, you can’t be happy unless you have both which is pretty much the conclusion I came to
    Sweety, what amp you got?
    Carr Mercury V.... stunning.

    Full review to follow
    Sweety?
    Apologies, my bad...

    I thought Jonathan was calling me 'sweet', which actually is his pet name for me... ;)
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  • Axe_meisterAxe_meister Frets: 2428
    That's where the line6 powecab comes in. 
    Best of both worlds you set up the amp without speaker simulation in the helix.
    You then set the speaker you want to hear in the room and the line out to the desk gets microphone emulation.
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  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 2199
    After last nights gig using the helix in to a valve power amp with cab I’ve decided the feel thing is overrated. Going back to direct
    Do me a favour and like this:

    https://www.facebook.com/MarkedCoversBand
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  • gearaddictgearaddict Frets: 769
    John_A said:
    After last nights gig using the helix in to a valve power amp with cab I’ve decided the feel thing is overrated. Going back to direct
    Why? Hassle with mic-ing up?
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2564
    John’s off line, so I’ll give my tuppence, and he can add more later. I watched @John_A set up, and we talked about it during the break. The Engl was just one more piece of equipment to set up. It sounded nice, but he had to balance the Engl with the monitor, and what he ended up hearing wasn’t what the audience was hearing. We both agreed that we’d prefer to put the effort into the modelled sound, and not having an amp to worry about as well. A 4x12 or Marshall stack might have had more mojo, but the band’s sound would have been horrible, and the audience deafened.
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  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 2199
    edited January 13
    Roland said:
    John’s off line, so I’ll give my tuppence, and he can add more later. I watched @John_A set up, and we talked about it during the break. The Engl was just one more piece of equipment to set up. It sounded nice, but he had to balance the Engl with the monitor, and what he ended up hearing wasn’t what the audience was hearing. We both agreed that we’d prefer to put the effort into the modelled sound, and not having an amp to worry about as well. A 4x12 or Marshall stack might have had more mojo, but the band’s sound would have been horrible, and the audience deafened.
    Thanks for that

    To add, even with the little 20W Engl running at no where near full tilt with the amp in a traditional, behind me position, to hear myself properly my stagesound was much higher volume than ideal, interfering with what everyone else could hear, and more importantly meant only about 10% of my guitar was coming out of the PA which is the thing that carries the sound to the back of the room.  I was probably too loud for people at the front while those at the back probably couldn’t hear me.
    Do me a favour and like this:

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  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 2199
    edited January 12
    John_A said:
    After last nights gig using the helix in to a valve power amp with cab I’ve decided the feel thing is overrated. Going back to direct
    Why? Hassle with mic-ing up?
    Didn’t mic, ran a line out of the helix pre IR to the amp, and Sent the XLR outs with IR straight to the PA, I think it’s worth sacrificing 5% of your on stage sound in return for 30% improvement  for the audience 
    Do me a favour and like this:

    https://www.facebook.com/MarkedCoversBand
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