Old 10-14-2020, 08:04 AM   #1
Vepar
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Default Recording a tube amp directly

Hi!

I'm wodering if anyone has some tips and tricks for recording a real tube amp directly into an audio interface.

The way i did it is this:

Laney IRT60H Ironheart, plugged into a Behringer Ultra-G GI100. That DI box is made for that so don't worry. It's not a loadbox so i also plug in the speaker into the DI box into it's passthrough port so the head has load and doesn't blow up.

The DI box then goes into my audio interface. I have to engage a few -20db pads on the DI box to make the signal not as hot, and then adjust it. Otherwise it always clips, even with interface gain knob on 1.

The problem is - i don't know what level to record the preamp at. I did the "have headroom" thing and recorded it like i would a DI signal from a guitar at -18db. I record guitars that way so that i have headroom if i need to bump something up, raise level or gian on different plugins, that way it doesn't immediately clip.

On it's own it's super quiet, everything else in the mix is way louder. But if i put a power amp simulator in the signal chain right after the recorded preamp, it makes it really pop, and i'm quite happy with the sound i got. I used the Ignite amps TPA-1 power amp simulator.

My question is - is there a better way of doing it? Is what i'm doing technically correct or do i record at a different level instead of -18db? What other tricks are there for recording a real amp besides DIbox>poweramp sim>IR loader? EQ is to taste so i don't count it, i always EQ it depending on what the mix needs so that's by default, and not always the same.

If you recorded a real amp, how did you do it?
Please share some insights, i'd very much appreciate it!

Thank you!
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Old 10-14-2020, 08:22 AM   #2
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I think you're overthinking stuff. Stop worrying about headroom sweetspots, once its digital you can have pretty much as quiet a signal from the preamp as you want and just turn it up later. Confirm this by normalizing a hot and not-hot recording then comparing the noise floors.

If it sounds good, its good. If the TPA workflow is working for you keep doing it.
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Old 10-14-2020, 05:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
I think you're overthinking stuff. Stop worrying about headroom sweetspots, once its digital you can have pretty much as quiet a signal from the preamp as you want and just turn it up later. Confirm this by normalizing a hot and not-hot recording then comparing the noise floors.

If it sounds good, its good. If the TPA workflow is working for you keep doing it.
Well maybe i am, i do tend to overthink things lol. :P

But i did think that having the singnal too low would raise the noise as i amplify it. That's not the case?

Because that's why i'm worried. Having a signal too hot would mean that it could clip if i add something that would raise it's level, while having it too low means that the noise gets amplified as well.

That's my thought process at least.
Though, a too hot signal can always be lowered, and a low one raised, i just don't know how that will affect the quality of the recording.

I'll try the comparison you suggested, thank you!

And yeah, the sounds i get with the power amp sim are great, i guess really if it sounds good it's good. :P
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Old 10-15-2020, 01:09 AM   #4
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Down side of the D.I. method is that you dont get any of the speaker breakup, which is often where the critical part of an amp sound comes from.
Stick a mic in front of thwe speaner as well & you would have the best of both worlds, on two seperate tracks, so you can mix them accordingly.

P.S. Bet you end up preferring the mic`ed signal.
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Old 10-15-2020, 02:04 AM   #5
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Purely from the engineering point of view...

For your DI method connect the speakers as normal with good solid connections.
Then bridge across the speaker leads into the DI box via a (for example) a 10k resistor in series. (Actually make it the same value as the impedance of the DI's input!)

That way you prevent most of the risk should the speaker get disconnected causing damage and
You already provide some attenuation into the DI box. Use a higher valu resistor to get more attenuation if desired. It has no effect on the amp but a speaker certainly does!

Similarly you can use a suitable resistive attenuator and feed into a line level input again to just reduce the signal to a suitable level.

Both methods (and your existing one) maintain any colouration/distortion of the sound owing to the matching between amp and speaker.

Ivan's idea to mic as well has the added advantage of using the speakers added characteristics too. Best of both worlds and you can 'mix and match'
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Old 10-15-2020, 03:44 AM   #6
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Errr, doesn't that amp (the Laney IRT60H) have it's own DI output? - in which case, all you'd need to finish up the DI sound would be a speaker / cab sim?

That said, I'd consider recording from the FX loop - and then reamping the same way.

[EDIT] sorry, looking at the manual I see the DI seems to be either from the input (buffered) or via a (built-in) speaker emulation (but after the power stage). Looks like they missed a trick there - post power, but un-emulated would have been handy. So, back to reamping.
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Last edited by jrk; 10-15-2020 at 03:57 AM. Reason: I read the fkn manual
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Old 10-15-2020, 03:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
Down side of the D.I. method is that you dont get any of the speaker breakup, which is often where the critical part of an amp sound comes from.
Stick a mic in front of thwe speaner as well & you would have the best of both worlds, on two seperate tracks, so you can mix them accordingly.

P.S. Bet you end up preferring the mic`ed signal.
I'd love to do that but i can't really record a speaker, i don't have an acoustically treated room, and that amp can get really loud even at the 1W setting. I don't want to piss off the household. :P

That's why i'm recording a preamp directly.
I, however, have no doubt that it would sound better with a microphono, i just don't have the "luxury" (lol) to do that right now.

Unless....

How "loud" does the speaker need to be to record? I imagine pretty loud to capture that breakup right?
If i can record it at some "normal" volume i'd definitely try it.
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Old 10-15-2020, 03:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrk View Post
Errr, doesn't that amp (the Laney IRT60H) have it's own DI output? - in which case, all you'd need to finish up the DI sound would be a speaker / cab sim?

That said, I'd consider recording from the FX loop - and then reamping the same way.
It has but it has a cab sim built into it that you can't turn off. And the cab sim on it is not great. Putting an IR after that makes it worse as you'd imagine.

That DI is more or less for live uses only, i use it to feed the signal to the drummer's monitor when on rehearsals. Works great for that, but not much else.

How would i record the FX loop though? Just connect the FX send from the amp to a DI box and into an interface?
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Old 10-15-2020, 03:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allybye View Post
Purely from the engineering point of view...

For your DI method connect the speakers as normal with good solid connections.
Then bridge across the speaker leads into the DI box via a (for example) a 10k resistor in series. (Actually make it the same value as the impedance of the DI's input!)

That way you prevent most of the risk should the speaker get disconnected causing damage and
You already provide some attenuation into the DI box. Use a higher valu resistor to get more attenuation if desired. It has no effect on the amp but a speaker certainly does!

Similarly you can use a suitable resistive attenuator and feed into a line level input again to just reduce the signal to a suitable level.

Both methods (and your existing one) maintain any colouration/distortion of the sound owing to the matching between amp and speaker.

Ivan's idea to mic as well has the added advantage of using the speakers added characteristics too. Best of both worlds and you can 'mix and match'
I'm sorry, i didn't really understand what you said, i'm not much for the technical stuff.

I already have a DI box that i connect the amp to.

Form 8ohm output of the amp to the DI box, and from the DI box "through" to the speaker. Isn't that what you're suggesting?

Or are you suggesting an addition to that chain?
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Old 10-15-2020, 04:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vepar View Post
It has but it has a cab sim built into it that you can't turn off. And the cab sim on it is not great. Putting an IR after that makes it worse as you'd imagine.
Yeah, sorry - I updated my post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vepar View Post
How would i record the FX loop though? Just connect the FX send from the amp to a DI box and into an interface?
Yes, depending on the level. [EDIT] You may need to return from the DI to the FX return.

But the way you're doing it - with a DI box that'll take speaker levels - is absolutely fine. As far as recording level go - there's nothing magic about -18dB, you can record as hot (or not) as you like (PROVIDING YOU DON'T CLIP ANYWHERE), particularly if you're recording at 24bit. And providing that doesn't upset any FX you're planning on using later on. But these will usually have input level controls in which case it matters not at all.

You can always do reamping when you have the house to yourself! Or even in another space.
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Last edited by jrk; 10-15-2020 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 10-15-2020, 12:40 PM   #11
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"I'm sorry, i didn't really understand what you said, i'm not much for the technical stuff.

I already have a DI box that i connect the amp to.

Form 8ohm output of the amp to the DI box, and from the DI box "through" to the speaker. Isn't that what you're suggesting?

Or are you suggesting an addition to that chain? "

Apologies will try and be clearer.

No not "through" the DI box.
Kepp the speaker connected as per normal. Then take the amps output that still goes to the speaker and piggy back a connection to the DI box.

Secondly a DI box is not essential. The amp to speaker connection is low impedance so many a preamp is of higher impedance at it's input so will not affect the amp/speaker setup. The main issue will be the high voltage that can be produced at the amp output...as you have found. A simple attenuator is all you need to reduce that level to a value that suits your preamp/DI box such as a line level input or your DI box.

Speaker drive is single ended so no real problems there, best feed into a balanced input if you can to avoid ground connections.

As far as mic recording is concerned, you may have some distortion you desire at high level output (?) but if not you only really need to turn up sufficiently to get enough signal compared to the amps hum/noise and general location acoustic noise. You could make your own anechoic screen round the speaker. (Stand all the family round it or maybe throw over a duvet or three?)

Last edited by Allybye; 10-15-2020 at 12:44 PM. Reason: balanced input note
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:22 AM   #12
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If you close-mike the amp, the room shouldn't matter too much. Just don't pull the mic like a meter away from it or anything. Agree with ivansc about the speaker breakup, it's a huge part of the sound of some of these amps and why people like them.
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Old Yesterday, 05:23 AM   #13
Beat Machine
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Default definately mic your amp

your trying to simulate the sounds of an amplifier,...
why not just use an amp,...
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