The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Interactive, forum-based, in-depth reviews, tips, tutorials and more!
abhor
KVRist
67 posts since 1 Jan, 2018

Post Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:43 pm

S-Gear is one of only a couple of sims that make me sound way better at guitar than I am.

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:59 pm

Anderton wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:16 pm
Also, although I like all the amps for various reasons, the Custom ‘57 is “tweedier” for me than most tweed models.
This is now the only amp in S-gear I'll use. I put Guitar Rig 4s pedals in front of it, having great results with RAT, Bigg Muff, and others. Use the S-Gear tweed as a "pedal platform". I use the Duke sometimes, at select occasions. The Park (Stealer) on even more once in a blue moon occasions, and the Jackal, and all the rest not at all. Wayfarer I couldn't get anything decent out of, really, remembering how hyped it was, when they added it.

All in all, what bugs me in tests, that all amp sims manufacturers recommends this or that in front, and you use transient limiters and so on. No such things needed in real amps. The tubes takes "care" of such things immediately, and ignores it or making some useful "gnarl" out of the sound. The dynamics of an electric guitar is as bad as it gets anyway, and doesn't need to be limited, or compressed more, before going into the amp. But your assesment of S-gear is the same as mine. However, I could not ever get to grips with their "Mod Thing". Can't get a decent chorus out of it. I get better results with using the "Delay thing" with modulation. Reverb is ok, above average, but not stunning, but very useful for guitar. I mean that if that reverb was "stunning" I could just use that one, and bring it in and on, on other tracks that did not include guitar. But it isn't a reverb plug in. Nuff of this.

Custom 57' is my favorite amp, and I'll use it for it's more trebly twangy sharp attack. Country things, as well as metal provided you hit it front with a high gain dirt box from some other sim. I do try out most if not all demos of all amp sims out there that allows for time limited try outs. And whenever something turns up I have a go a it, and compare to what I've got. The S-Gear.

Nice write up and a fair assesment of S-gear, though.

User avatar
Anderton
KVR Expert
137 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
KVR Expert

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:18 am

Mats Eriksson wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:59 pm
All in all, what bugs me in tests, that all amp sims manufacturers recommends this or that in front, and you use transient limiters and so on. No such things needed in real amps. The tubes takes "care" of such things immediately, and ignores it or making some useful "gnarl" out of the sound. The dynamics of an electric guitar is as bad as it gets anyway, and doesn't need to be limited, or compressed more, before going into the amp.
I find an electric guitar's dynamics to be extreme, because the peaks are so high. This is probably why 1) people like tubes (which shaves off the peaks), and 2) add a sustainer to increase the average level. Both lower the peak-to-average ratio.

Regarding amp sims needing to have transient limiters and "real" amps not needing them, I think you mean tube amps, right? The same issues exist with solid-state amps as with amp sims.

This reminds me of a seminar I was doing in Mexico with Bruce Swedien. He said he never uses compressors, but then he said he slams tape with the signal. I told him he does use compression - it's just mechanical compression instead of electronic compression :)

The reason I like using my transient control circuit ahead of amp sims, and A/D converters in general regardless of the subsequent processing, is that it's a mechanical limiter with many tube-like characteristics (e.g., junction capacitance that changes based on dynamics, and a rounder transfer function than standard clipping).
My educational website has launched! Read articles, see videos, read reviews, and more at https://craiganderton.org. Check out my music at YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit my digital storefront at https://craiganderton.com. Thanks!

Wild Hades
KVRist
195 posts since 6 Sep, 2007

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:02 am

Mats Eriksson wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:59 pm
All in all, what bugs me in tests, that all amp sims manufacturers recommends this or that in front
Not all manufacturers, please do not generalize.

I've never recommended anything in front of my products or the ones I developed for other companies, aside from getting the input impedance and input level right (on both the soundcard and the amp sim itself), which is the most crucial part in order to get the amp sim to react like the real counterpart and is something that 80% of amp sim users get wrong.

I see a lot of people tracking DIs with an amp sim like they would do with a mic'd amp, leaving -18 to -6 dB of headroom on the soundcard without compensating the signal attenuation after the AD conversion and then complaining that it sounds undergained or flubby. Amp sims read the input signal as voltage values, so if your pickup has 3Vpp output swing to make an example (which is pretty standard for some high output humbuckers) and you track at -6dB of peak, you're feeding the amp sim with less than half (remember that 0dB on the soundcard means 2Vpp after the AD conversion) the signal it should get for a correct response to your guitar and playing. In theory you should boost by 9.5 dB to get the input level right, +6dB to compensate the soundcard input loss and +3.5 to reach the 3Vpp.

Another mistake (at least when using circuit modeled amp sims) is compensating that input signal mismatch with the Gain control on the amp sim: this is wrong because that control is placed inside an interstage filter and changing its value does not affect just the signal level, but the frequency response too (bright caps anyone?).

Regards

User avatar
audiojunkie
KVRAF
2912 posts since 19 Apr, 2002 from Utah

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:31 am

Anderton wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:18 am
Mats Eriksson wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:59 pm
All in all, what bugs me in tests, that all amp sims manufacturers recommends this or that in front, and you use transient limiters and so on. No such things needed in real amps. The tubes takes "care" of such things immediately, and ignores it or making some useful "gnarl" out of the sound. The dynamics of an electric guitar is as bad as it gets anyway, and doesn't need to be limited, or compressed more, before going into the amp.
I find an electric guitar's dynamics to be extreme, because the peaks are so high. This is probably why 1) people like tubes (which shaves off the peaks), and 2) add a sustainer to increase the average level. Both lower the peak-to-average ratio.

Regarding amp sims needing to have transient limiters and "real" amps not needing them, I think you mean tube amps, right? The same issues exist with solid-state amps as with amp sims.

This reminds me of a seminar I was doing in Mexico with Bruce Swedien. He said he never uses compressors, but then he said he slams tape with the signal. I told him he does use compression - it's just mechanical compression instead of electronic compression :)

The reason I like using my transient control circuit ahead of amp sims, and A/D converters in general regardless of the subsequent processing, is that it's a mechanical limiter with many tube-like characteristics (e.g., junction capacitance that changes based on dynamics, and a rounder transfer function than standard clipping).
I might have missed this before, but I'm not sure what you are talking about--"transient control circuit"... I openly admit that this is completely my ignorance. Could you please explain what hardware it is that you are using? Is it normally recommended to use a hardware transient control circuit between the guitar and the amp sim? I'm always trying to learn and improve my skills and understandings, but I seem to have missed this....
C/R, dongles & other intrusive copy protection equals less-control & more-hassle for consumers. Company gone-can’t authorize. Limit to # of auths. Instability-ie PACE. Forced internet auths. THE HONEST ARE HASSLED, NOT THE PIRATES.

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1716 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:42 am

craig, thanks for all the reviews. One suggestion would be to update your first post at the top of the thread with a link to each of the specific reviews that you wrote on each one.
MacPro 5,1 12core x 3.46ghz-128gb 10.14, X32+AES16e-50, LPX, Cubase, StudioOne, DP, Reaper, VEP7, VSL Full Cube, MirPro, EWHO Diamond, Kirk Hunter, etc

User avatar
Anderton
KVR Expert
137 posts since 4 Mar, 2004
KVR Expert

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:49 pm

audiojunkie wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:31 am
I might have missed this before, but I'm not sure what you are talking about--"transient control circuit"... I openly admit that this is completely my ignorance. Could you please explain what hardware it is that you are using? Is it normally recommended to use a hardware transient control circuit between the guitar and the amp sim? I'm always trying to learn and improve my skills and understandings, but I seem to have missed this....
https://www.guitarplayer.com/gear/tech-support-march

I built this into a cable that goes between my guitar and audio interface. I'm able to get a much higher average level going into the A/D converters, without clipping, because the LEDs have an instant response time (no pumping or breathing). Some of Gibson's high-end guitars include my circuit, which you can enable with a DIP switch inside the pickup cavity.
My educational website has launched! Read articles, see videos, read reviews, and more at https://craiganderton.org. Check out my music at YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit my digital storefront at https://craiganderton.com. Thanks!

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1716 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:55 pm

interesting..
MacPro 5,1 12core x 3.46ghz-128gb 10.14, X32+AES16e-50, LPX, Cubase, StudioOne, DP, Reaper, VEP7, VSL Full Cube, MirPro, EWHO Diamond, Kirk Hunter, etc

User avatar
audiojunkie
KVRAF
2912 posts since 19 Apr, 2002 from Utah

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:04 pm

Anderton wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:49 pm
audiojunkie wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:31 am
I might have missed this before, but I'm not sure what you are talking about--"transient control circuit"... I openly admit that this is completely my ignorance. Could you please explain what hardware it is that you are using? Is it normally recommended to use a hardware transient control circuit between the guitar and the amp sim? I'm always trying to learn and improve my skills and understandings, but I seem to have missed this....
https://www.guitarplayer.com/gear/tech-support-march

I built this into a cable that goes between my guitar and audio interface. I'm able to get a much higher average level going into the A/D converters, without clipping, because the LEDs have an instant response time (no pumping or breathing). Some of Gibson's high-end guitars include my circuit, which you can enable with a DIP switch inside the pickup cavity.
Cool! Thank you! I'm off to read the article! :-)
C/R, dongles & other intrusive copy protection equals less-control & more-hassle for consumers. Company gone-can’t authorize. Limit to # of auths. Instability-ie PACE. Forced internet auths. THE HONEST ARE HASSLED, NOT THE PIRATES.

Mats Eriksson
KVRist
128 posts since 4 Sep, 2016

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:22 pm

For what is worth I think in order to make any interface cope with transients, initial peaks, you have to use lke 256 Khz sample rate at at least 128 DB headroom, for a short period of time.

And no, the dynamics of an electric guitar with magnetic pickup is not that extreme. Mind you, this is one of the main reasons guitarists are accused of from other bandmembers to always play too loud. THe more distortion, the less articulate the dynamics become. Once I witnessed a master class with jazz great Pat Metheny some 15 years ago. He demonstrated that with a pick (any) you pluck the string sideways and it limits the max output you can get. He just whacked it... as hard as he could. Then he took out a drumstick and hit the strings from above...and it scared the *** out of everyone. Not even Pete Townsend can produce that "thwack" at 120 db. The lame use of picking with the flat side of the pick, or fingers doesn't utilise the most output, since there is way more to give.

When take out my FunkFingers (inv by Tony Levin to play bass on) to play bass and not turning any knobs and starts to play with the drums, or whatever goes on, it becomes all of a sudden almost twice as loud, and it's my way of telling the guitarist that he's too loud. I can play loud too...

The main magnetic field creation is caused by the string moving UP and DOWN. From inwards to the guitar body and out from the (above) the pickup. Bassists who thumbs and slaps gets the most "oomph" out of that but are often inhibited by too low action, and strings hitting the frets, and does fret buzz. Side to side motion not so much, but the string oscillates in a "round" or elliptical manner.

The electric guitar is a feeble dynamic instrument. However, connected to any amp at 100w or more it MAY become slightly more dynamic. Like an acoustic drum kit or something.

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1716 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:10 pm

I recently acquired the IK AxeIO and I want to say that I'm pretty blown away by what it has done for my guitar tone into the computer. it improves every sim I use. Besides the fact that it has as proper high impedance input, the impedance is adjustable. There is also a gain knob for the input for adjusting the output level of the guitar to be "proper". it's also very quiet!

I personally don't think I would like having passive compressor built into my guitar cable, but never having tried it...maybe I'd love it! Anyway, the IK AXEIO is worth its price in gold as far as I'm concerned for getting guitar into the computer. I can't say enough good about it.
MacPro 5,1 12core x 3.46ghz-128gb 10.14, X32+AES16e-50, LPX, Cubase, StudioOne, DP, Reaper, VEP7, VSL Full Cube, MirPro, EWHO Diamond, Kirk Hunter, etc

User avatar
audiojunkie
KVRAF
2912 posts since 19 Apr, 2002 from Utah

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:27 pm

So, what would be the difference between using a physical/hardware limiter prior to I/O hardware vs putting a software limiter (from within the I/O hardware--like a brickwall limiter vst)? Would it be intent or what one is trying to achieve? For example, a brick wall limiter in the software would be to prevent distortion of the recorded digital signal, but a physical limiter is to essentially make the signal going into the I/O hotter going into the I/O (as well as smoothing the signal--transients)? Please expound. Thanks! This is very interesting! :-)
C/R, dongles & other intrusive copy protection equals less-control & more-hassle for consumers. Company gone-can’t authorize. Limit to # of auths. Instability-ie PACE. Forced internet auths. THE HONEST ARE HASSLED, NOT THE PIRATES.

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1716 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:37 pm

The point Craig is making is that when you go too hot into the A/D converter, you get bad digital clipping. And he feels that the meters are too slow to realize you may be getting some fast attack clipping prior to hitting the A/D converter. Perhaps.

Generally its true you want your level fairly optimized without clipping the A/D converter. So you can either just set the level conservatively or use some kind of analog limiter in front of the A/D which lets you feed it a little hotter and not worry about digital clipping, which his little cable hack does in some fashion, though myself I prefer to just get the level right and preserve the dynamics. But it would be interesting to build one of those sometime to see how it sounds.

The AXEIO has its own physical LED meter on the front of the unit which already gives me a pretty good idea whether I'm hitting the red or not before the A/D, and a gain knob to adjust it a little lower.

With 24bit encoding and 32bit processing inside the computer...there is a lot of room to handle stuff. Recording digital is not the same as recording analog where you need to get the signal as hot as possible without clipping. In those days we had to worry a lot more about tape hiss and other stuff. In digital the noise floor is so low, that you can generally just be a little more conservative with your gain setting to avoid digital clipping during A/D.

A nice natural analog compression before the A/D is not really such a bad thing...depending on what you're recording, but i just don't think its a necessity and I'd rather get all the dynamics from my guitar into the recording.
MacPro 5,1 12core x 3.46ghz-128gb 10.14, X32+AES16e-50, LPX, Cubase, StudioOne, DP, Reaper, VEP7, VSL Full Cube, MirPro, EWHO Diamond, Kirk Hunter, etc

Dewdman42
KVRAF
1716 posts since 14 Mar, 2006

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:41 pm

I think generally most guitarists using the computer should focus more attention on the impedance matching honestly.
MacPro 5,1 12core x 3.46ghz-128gb 10.14, X32+AES16e-50, LPX, Cubase, StudioOne, DP, Reaper, VEP7, VSL Full Cube, MirPro, EWHO Diamond, Kirk Hunter, etc

reggie1979
KVRAF
1847 posts since 26 Nov, 2018

Re: The Big Guitar Amp Sim Roundup + Review

Post Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:45 pm

Not a bad idea, but with AI being what they are, is it necessary? Case in point: I have a sound card with an instrument input that is "hi z" and it's fine. I've also experimented with other "hi z" devices and some good preamps with less than stellar results.

Return to “KVR Experts”