Old 08-30-2014, 09:44 AM   #1
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Default Hats off...

...to everyone on here who can get great guitar tones out of software amp sims, because I fricking can't. I have really no idea how you do it.

I've been playing around with a whole bunch of freeware stuff today (LePou, Ignite amps, old version of X50 etc) and everything sounds TERRIBLE. I get crazy amounts of hiss, lots more than with any real amp I've ever encountered. There's no top end and no clarity. It's like I'm playing on the neck pickup with the tone knob all the way down. Palm mutes sound like wet farts.

Clearly this is not a problem with the plugins themselves, as so many others seem to be getting workable tones out of them. So what's the secret?
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Old 08-30-2014, 09:57 AM   #2
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Having a clean Hi-Z guitar input on a great quality audio interface (=something other than Behringer, M-Audio and Terratec... things like TC Electronic, Presonus, MOTU, RME...) definitely helps...

I don't get any of problems you have, my problem is mainly the sustain - it's definitely not as long as it is with even hardware ampsims (I own Behringer V-Amp), let alone actual guitar amps.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:06 AM   #3
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Having a clean Hi-Z guitar input on a great quality audio interface (=something other than Behringer, M-Audio and Terratec... things like TC Electronic, Presonus, MOTU, RME...) definitely helps...
I'd say this is mission critical!

If I plug my guitar into the built-in instrument DI in my MOTU 828, I'd make the same "It just doesn't work at all" comment. Use the BSS DI box and suddenly the amp sims have something to work with.

A good hot level (just before clipping) is important too.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:09 AM   #4
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Not absolutely necessarily to use a DI... I seem to get a quite healthy signal on my Impact Twin. It should be stated in audio interface specs the impendance and all that necessary for a good guitar input.


I would ask Dimi how does he do it, too. He seems to get a bitchin' tone out of ANY ampsim out there. Even the measly Guitar Rig (which is often considered quite far from "the real deal")...
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:12 AM   #5
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Having a clean Hi-Z guitar input on a great quality audio interface (=something other than Behringer, M-Audio and Terratec... things like TC Electronic, Presonus, MOTU, RME...) definitely helps...
The gain staging sounds like a probable culprit, yeah. My interface only has a line level input (M-Audio Delta 24/96) but I've tried running the guitar through a mixer and into the line input, and also the Hi-Z input of an old E-MU APS card that I have installed. Both sound equally horrid.

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I don't get any of problems you have, my problem is mainly the sustain - it's definitely not as long as it is with even hardware ampsims (I own Behringer V-Amp), let alone actual guitar amps.
Sustain is lousy here too.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:35 AM   #6
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My interface only has a line level input (M-Audio Delta 24/96) but I've tried running the guitar through a mixer and into the line input, and also the Hi-Z input of an old E-MU APS card that I have installed. Both sound equally horrid.
Yeah... None of those inputs has any chance of working all that well.

If you scavenged up a reasonable DI box to patch into the balanced mic input in the m-audio, I bet it would at least get you into the ballpark.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:42 AM   #7
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Hmm.. i'm not guitarist or expert tweaker in that field. But I've recorded few things via amp sims or helped folks with their setup. I also second to experiment with gain staging and recommendations regarding DI interface.. it changes results significantly.

If you're planning to try something with DI i would recommend Waves PRS guitar interface.
I was very kindly surprised by it, when compared to my standard DI boxes.. it is actually DI with active preamp. Sounded perfect with both guitar and bass. It is slightly voiced with small attenuation of highs, but it works pretty well and it was step-up from soundcard DI, passive Jensen equipped box and active Klark Teknik.
Thing is, that it is no longer manufactured and it was accessory to Waves GTR3. Quite a lot of people get rid of it as they got it free via Waves bundles and had no use for it. I've bought mine for cca 40EUR. (if you came to one, get it)
More info there:
http://www.waves.com/1lib/pdf/hardwa...-interface.pdf
http://www.michalkaszczyszyn.com/en/...waves_gtr.html
I was quite comfortable with both switchable line and microphone level from it.

And general comment to achievable quality, I've not tried recent mentioned sims.. Tested only IK, Magix and Eleven rack couple years ago. IMO, it greatly depends on sound, you're after and mixes, you're trying to put into. IME, heavy and hi-gain flavors are much more convincing and usable in mixes. Where it falls short IMO, are sounds with natural amp breakup from mostly clean to mild drive.. eg. bluesy intros, rhythm tracks. There was always some flatness and modeled breakup was bit obvious. Also real amps combined articulation and natural richness, which i wasn't able to achieve by tweaking or further effecting of amps without sacrificing one aspect. But i would say, it wasn't complete disaster and it is highly dependent on mixing context.

Michal
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:42 AM   #8
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Case in point:

https://app.box.com/s/hrh7vij2ta954hh4fex6

That's Ignite Amps NRR-1, lead channel, through NadIR with a GuitarHacks cab IR. Everything else sounds pretty much the same though.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:46 AM   #9
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Having a clean Hi-Z guitar input on a great quality audio interface (=something other than Behringer, M-Audio and Terratec... things like TC Electronic, Presonus, MOTU, RME...) definitely helps...
The only 'brand' of interface in that list which might provide a cleaner di signal than the others is rme, imo, and I doubt that it would make any significant difference other than noise level. That's kind of FUD, man.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:49 AM   #10
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Case in point:

https://app.box.com/s/hrh7vij2ta954hh4fex6

That's Ignite Amps NRR-1, lead channel, through NadIR with a GuitarHacks cab IR. Everything else sounds pretty much the same though.
Sounds like a stoner rock sound using a neck pickup.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:52 AM   #11
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Are you presenting the guitar with the proper load impedance? I do see those who spend thousands of hours/dollars elsewhere when what they really need is to make the guitar think it is going into an amp. Ideally, you want 10-100 times the impedance for what the guitar is plugging into than the impedance of the guitar. I actually make these by hand (buffers) all the time. I swear I should make 1000 and sell 'em cheap.

One thing you can do... If you have a decent pedal (a Boss will usually do) that has a buffered bypass, go through that pedal first but keep the pedal bypassed. Boss and others buffer the bypassed signal which provides exactly what I'm talking about above. I know people talk about boss/tonesuck but that is from when the pedal is ON or when many are bypassed in series (the slight gain loss per buffer causes this). So if you have a pedal that is buffered bypass instead of true bypass, use it in bypass mode and see what happens.
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:56 AM   #12
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Just to be clear, that overall sound that cerendir is getting is not an impedance issue (not saying that karbo is indicating that).
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:57 AM   #13
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Are you presenting the guitar with the proper load impedance?
In the case of the mixer, probably not. As for the E-MU card, yeah, that's a Hi-Z instrument input.

Would running the guitar straight through a (bypassed) pedal and into the line-level interface input suffice?
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Old 08-30-2014, 10:57 AM   #14
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Just to be clear, that overall sound that cerendir is getting is not an impedance issue (not saying that karbo is indicating that).
I am indicating that until he can confirm via proper testing that it isn't it because that problem is exactly a low pass filter and is no different than turning the tone knob down. Doesn't mean it is, just sayin' there's only one way to truly know.

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Old 08-30-2014, 10:58 AM   #15
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Sounds like a stoner rock sound using a neck pickup.
Yeah. And that's not really what I was going for. That's a bridge pup btw.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:00 AM   #16
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In the case of the mixer, probably not. As for the E-MU card, yeah, that's a Hi-Z instrument input.

Would running the guitar straight through a (bypassed) pedal and into the line-level interface input suffice?
It should but it has to be a buffered bypass pedal, not true bypass. If the Hi-z instrument input also has the issue then that's getting close to a proper test anyway assuming its Hi-z is 10 times more than the guitar. I can't say that's it, its just the first thing you wanna rule out, also, use a short cable, a 20 footer is going to cause the same issue.

I should probably listen to the sample LOL.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:03 AM   #17
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Listened...


That's dark and you can tell it is the bridge pickup because the growl is there but no presence. Is it brighter when the SIM is completely bypassed etc?
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:05 AM   #18
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Yeah. And that's not really what I was going for. That's a bridge pup btw.
I'm guessing that your problem is the pickup. I have heard bridge pickups sound like that. It's bassy and round, not what you usually want in a bridge pickup. Still, you should be using something to get the impedance right, after the pickup issue is worked out.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:17 AM   #19
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I'm guessing that your problem is the pickup. I have heard bridge pickups sound like that. It's bassy and round, not what you usually want in a bridge pickup. Still, you should be using something to get the impedance right, after the pickup issue is worked out.
No no, it's not a pickup issue. This pickup (stock Ibby RGD) sounds fine through real amps and h/w modeling, though admittedly it's not a very bright-sounding pickup.

The thing is I tried this with several different guitars with more or less the same result.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:20 AM   #20
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No no, it's not a pickup issue. This pickup (stock Ibby RGD) sounds fine through real amps and h/w modeling, though admittedly it's not a very bright-sounding pickup.

The thing is I tried this with several different guitars with more or less the same result.
I see. Are you getting that same bassy/round sound with other amp/cab sims?
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:22 AM   #21
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Same signal chain, different guitar (Ibanez S model with some kind of X2N clone pickups, much brighter than the RGD ones)

https://app.box.com/s/1741hrufbrtlo2n1wze9
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:24 AM   #22
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I see. Are you getting that same bassy/round sound with other amp/cab sims?
Amp sims yes, cab sims... I haven't tried anything else than NadIR. Tried several different cab IR's though.

Edit: Or more correctly, I've used various cab IR loaders in the past and my experience was that the difference between them is slight.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:28 AM   #23
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If anyone here has a nice hard rock/metal type of FX chain using only freeware plugs and IR's, it would be great if you could share it. Just for the sake of determining what the weak link in my setup is.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:33 AM   #24
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If anyone here has a nice hard rock/metal type of FX chain using only freeware plugs and IR's, it would be great if you could share it. Just for the sake of determining what the weak link in my setup is.
I'd try whatever impulses the metalheads are using (assuming you want that tight response). You could also upload a dry signal, and we could see how it sounds running through another sim/cab.
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Old 08-30-2014, 11:51 AM   #25
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No no, it's not a pickup issue. This pickup (stock Ibby RGD) sounds fine through real amps and h/w modeling, though admittedly it's not a very bright-sounding pickup.

The thing is I tried this with several different guitars with more or less the same result.
The connections you have tried are grossly incorrect. You need to get the guitar signal into the computer properly or all bets are off. Even some $20 DI box will at least get you the ability to feed your guitar signal into the computer and start beginning to evaluate the sims. This is really truly the deal.

You don't need boutique gear to make this work. Talking about pickup selection when you have no proper way to get the signal into the computer will not even register.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:05 PM   #26
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The connections you have tried are grossly incorrect. You need to get the guitar signal into the computer properly or all bets are off. Even some $20 DI box will at least get you the ability to feed your guitar signal into the computer and start beginning to evaluate the sims. This is really truly the deal.

You don't need boutique gear to make this work. Talking about pickup selection when you have no proper way to get the signal into the computer will not even register.
I think he mentioned using a hi-z input on one of his sound devices.

I have ran some pretty shoddy setups in the past (including connecting a guitar to a line in), and never did any of it make a bridge pickup sound bassy and round like a neck pickup...but I have heard crumby bridge pickups which sounded bassy like that...and crumby amps that sounded like that.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:08 PM   #27
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It's really easy, plug in, no sims no nothing. It should be almost painfully clean and bright. No use bringing other stuff into the equation until you know the input is right. It need to be quite a bit off for the result I heard though. Also, change the volume knob on the guitar and see how much tone changes and in which direction assuming passive pickups. If impedance is the issue that may yield a clue since the pot on the guitar is part of the circuit where the input is.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:38 PM   #28
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The connections you have tried are grossly incorrect. You need to get the guitar signal into the computer properly or all bets are off. Even some $20 DI box will at least get you the ability to feed your guitar signal into the computer and start beginning to evaluate the sims. This is really truly the deal.

You don't need boutique gear to make this work. Talking about pickup selection when you have no proper way to get the signal into the computer will not even register.
Like I said, there's no discernible difference between a) guitar -> h/w mixer -> line input of interface A, and b) guitar -> instrument input of interface B. Interface B is 16 bit btw.

What is the difference between a DI box and a regular guitar pedal or "multi fx" pedal? Aside from the obvious things. Both should be capable of turning a guitar signal into something a line level input can work with or am I wrong?
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:40 PM   #29
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No Problems here with M-Audio, I do not really understand why M-Audio is listed together with a cheap and low quality Company like Behringer ???
Don┤t want to have RME, cuz M-Audio works great for me.

The secret maybe is a good cab sim plugin, there are lots of mediocre cab IRs or something like NI Guitar Rig - this way you want get satisfactory results.

The day I purchased Recabinet (Kazrog) my guitar sounded the way I wanted it to aound - great plugin ! and soon even amp-sims will be available !
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:45 PM   #30
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I agree that the cab IR counts for a big part of it, and that there are a lot of not so good ones out there.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:47 PM   #31
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Like I said, there's no discernible difference between a) guitar -> h/w mixer -> line input of interface A, and b) guitar -> instrument input of interface B. Interface B is 16 bit btw.

What is the difference between a DI box and a regular guitar pedal or "multi fx" pedal? Aside from the obvious things. Both should be capable of turning a guitar signal into something a line level input can work with or am I wrong?
Unless the DI box is transformer based, not much of anything.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:51 PM   #32
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Just to be clear: I'm just playing around here, trying to give software sims another shot (I had similar results last time I tried). I have NO intention of buying any new hardware to make it happen -- the latency thing itself is a deal breaker -- I was just curious what the hell is wrong with my setup.

I have plenty of other options as far as guitar sounds are concerned, and all of them sound better than what I'm getting with amp sim plugs.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:54 PM   #33
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Unless the DI box is transformer based, not much of anything.
That's typically what a passive DI is but the difference it would make would be similar for active or passive, it's just the active presents the impeadance via opamp/resistors/transistor and the passive one the transformer. Either way, if impedance were the issue, its the act of the guitar seeing the right one regardless of the method within reason. The "buffers" I build are basically active DIs minus amplification and balanced outputs. That's what makes them so handy, if there is a question, I simply drop one inline with my guitar and I instantly know its not the impedance any more. Darn handy little fellas I tell ya.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:58 PM   #34
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A good hot level (just before clipping) is important too
Hell no...

Record at -18 RMS dbfs at max.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:01 PM   #35
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Hell no...

Record at -18 RMS dbfs at max.
Just highlighting the important detail so no one thinks it's -18 peak.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:01 PM   #36
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No Problems here with M-Audio, I do not really understand why M-Audio is listed together with a cheap and low quality Company like Behringer ???
unqualified Behringer bashing time???
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:03 PM   #37
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If anyone here has a nice hard rock/metal type of FX chain using only freeware plugs and IR's, it would be great if you could share it. Just for the sake of determining what the weak link in my setup is.
Try the new Ignite Amps Emissary. Buckets of gain, really. No need for any pedal or anything. I have SD 59 (neck) and JB (bridge) on the guitar I tried it with and with JB I had to back off the gain to 10-11 o'clock. Your IR's and NadIR are fine. So, Reagate>Emissary>NadIR should give you a good metal sound within seconds (not that I like metal sounds, but good is good).

I don't think that you don't know how to get a tone out of amp sim. Something's wrong with your setup. I mean if you only took any of the amp sims you mentioned with default settings and loaded NadIR with any decent IRs it would sound better than what you got there. And about Hi-Z input, well, very few manufacturers give precise information about instrument in. Should be 1 Mohm, but it's usually less. With 500 kohm or even 400, you should be fine, but I've read that many go as low as 250 and that's not enough.

Karbo's suggestion to use a pedal is very good. Can help a lot.

Some more IRs:

http://www.ownhammer.com/free/public-beta-redux/
http://www.redwirez.com/free1960g12m25s.jsp
http://cabs.kalthallen.de/kalthallen_free.html

Cheers,
Alex
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:08 PM   #38
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Hell no...

Record at -18 RMS dbfs at max.
I tested that 'rule' years ago. It doesn't apply to my ears. There is no sense in recording hot and chancing digital clipping, though.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:20 PM   #39
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It doesn't apply to my ears.
It certainly applies to those poor converters you are trashing on the way in. That number exists due to the ~18 db discrepancy between the outside and inside the box world. AKA -18 db is +18 outside the box and near the max most converters/pres can reliably handle. Check the specs on your card, it should be listed in the manual since for some its a dB or so higher/lower.

Anyone writing a SIM should be well aware of and adjust for that, going in higher might sound OK if going into the real thing at +18 sounds good.

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Old 08-30-2014, 01:22 PM   #40
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Hell no...

Record at -18 RMS dbfs at max.
Err... for guitar it's actually better to record hotter because it reduces S/N ratio if you calibrate the track input so that it's just short of clipping when you're really hitting hard on all 6 strings at once. That's plenty of headroom as far as playing dynamics are concerned, plus most ampsims will expect that kind of signal (and you wouldn't need to deteriorate S/N ratio by increasing the input level knob on your ampsim to drive it the way it's supposed to drive the signal - we all know that the worse S/N ratio is, the more noise you get, which translates to EVEN MORE noise when using tones with lots of gain).

Last edited by EvilDragon; 08-30-2014 at 01:27 PM.
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