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#1683166 - 07/17/05 12:48 AM Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
younggunmn Offline
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Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 25
Loc: New York, NY
Hi all,

I guess I'll post one last question here before everyone runs over the HC (including me ;\) ). I've got a Johnson JM250 guitar head, and it has XLR outputs on the back with optional "cabinet emulation" that you can turn on on the amp. When I first read about this in the owners manual, I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical (plus it kind of feels like cheating to record a guitar without a mic ;\) ). But I decided the other day that my 'live' recording environment is not really ideal in the first place: I live in a pretty small apartment in New York City, so to block out noise and prevent pissing off the neighbors, my setup usually involves cranking my amp up, putting an SM57 in front of my 2x12 cab, and piling on all the blankets I can find -- maybe not the best acousting environment in the world. On top of that, the cab is home-built, and the speakers are OK, but nothing special.

So I tried DI the other day, and damnit if it didn't actually sound pretty decent (excuse me while I tend to my wounded self esteem \:D ). I've tried DI from effects pedals and preamps before, and it always sounded terrible, but when I used the JM250 with cab emulation, it really did sound like a mic'ed-up guitar cabinet. It was actually pretty cool because I could send the monitor output directly to my monitors, and see immediately what the recorded sound would be like. And best of all, I can record 24/7!

So anyways, I'd be interested in hearing people's opinions on using DI to record guitar, and especially if you've ever used the JM250. Does this ever get done in 'real' studios (i.e. non-demo recordings)? Any tips for either recording or post production to make it sound good? Thanks you guys!

Matt

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#1683167 - 07/17/05 01:40 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
where02190 Offline
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Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 5402
Loc: Weymouth, Ma. USA
Nothing sounds like the real thing. however as you mentioned, home made cab, crappy speakers, blankets and pillows piled on it, not ideal. Put a real cabinet there in a decent room and it'll blow away any simulator IMHO.
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#1683168 - 07/17/05 01:41 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
younggunmn Offline
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Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 25
Loc: New York, NY
That's kinda what I figured. Thanks where \:\)

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#1683169 - 07/18/05 03:07 PM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
If your acoustical situation puts you where the DI sounds better, then the DI gets the nod.

I think that most guitarists, myself included, like to get some of the speaker sound in their recordings, but that is not always possible.

I recently coresponded with a fellow who prefers the sound of Amplitube or some of the other guitar simulations for the PC over the sound of his amp, and wants to use his laptop and a bass amp on stage, instead of a guitar amp. I wouldn't, but then I've had a lot of experience in dragging around laptops on the road, and I just don't find them robust enough for serious daily road work.

As to his preference for the sound of simulators over the real thing, in my opinion the sound that you prefer from your guitar rig is an artistic, not a scientific, decision (even if you arrived at it via scientific means.)

If you wanted to mix or master recordings through guitar speaker cabinets, I might have an opinion, as there is a quality issue at work here. But what you like in the sound of your individual instrument is part of what (hopefully) differentiates you from the rest of the guitarists out there. If you can get that sound through a direct output, why not use it?

Bill
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Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1683170 - 07/18/05 03:22 PM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Matt, your situation is really an excellent example of a case where an amp simulator / "compensated" speaker emulated output is ideal. Apartment dwellers are a perfect 'target market" for those sorts of products. Do they sound as good as / better than a amp / speaker / mic combo? That's certainly subjective... but IMO, the answer is generally "no". However, even with a full blown, dedicated soundproof studio, I still find uses for my J-Station and Pod XT (and software amp sims)... not always for guitars, although I do use them for that too occasionally. \:\)
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#1683171 - 07/19/05 05:44 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
younggunmn Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 25
Loc: New York, NY
Thanks Bill and Phil \:\) That's a pretty interesting story about the guy replacing his amp with a laptop
I did some more experimenting over the weekend, and I have to say that maybe my best recordings with a mic are still better IMO than what I can get from the amp simulator. I think I might have just been so impressed that it didn't sound BAD, that I convinced myself it sounded 'better' than it actually did. It's still really nice to be able to record a decent sounding track at any time of day though \:D , and it might sound good with another, mic'ed guitar (or with different DI program). I guess it's just another tool in the shed, and at least I didn't have to shell out any extra cash to get it \:\)

Thanks again for your help!
Matt

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#1683172 - 07/19/05 10:14 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Lee Knight Offline
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Registered: 10/19/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: Encinitas,CA,UNITED STATES
I record guitarists with a real amp. Set him up in the bathroom, or the deader studio, and it rocks but...

...if I'm going to add a little spice or seasoning (me playing support guitar) the sims get the job.

And another "but"... I still take a DI when I'm tracking a guitarist because sometimes the fake IS better. Usually not though.

But again...

If I had to track an album in an apartment, I'm sure I could do a fine job with just sims.

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#1683173 - 07/19/05 11:05 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Sean Eldon Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 462
Loc: Long Island
if you're a fan of speaker emulated guitar sound you have to buy an rme fireface
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#1683174 - 07/19/05 03:35 PM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Sean Eldon:
if you're a fan of speaker emulated guitar sound you have to buy an rme fireface
Really? Please give us your thoughts regarding why. If you had said "you need a Reamp", I could see why, but a Fireface? Is there a feature on that box that is of special use for DI / speaker emulation guitar recording?
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Sound Sanctuary Recording
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#1683175 - 07/19/05 06:09 PM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Sean Eldon Offline
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Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 462
Loc: Long Island
a front panel input. yeah. a 24/192 one with high quality conversion.
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#1683176 - 07/20/05 04:52 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Oh, okay - I see what you mean.
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Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
Riverside CA
http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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#1683177 - 07/20/05 05:26 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Phil,

That is how I auditioned DSound's GT Player. Plugged the guitar into the Firefaceguitar input, through the GT software, then back through the headphone output of the Fireface. Tom Sailor periodically calls and says, "Hey man, did you try...." and it's usually a cool tip, and this was one of them. (Tom is also a guitar player.)

Bill
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"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1683178 - 07/21/05 02:25 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
I wasn't aware that it had a front panel guitar DI input - that's good to know. Thanks guys.
_________________________
Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
Riverside CA
http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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#1683179 - 07/21/05 02:32 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
zeronyne Offline
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Registered: 05/16/03
Posts: 6616
Loc: Chicago/NW Indiana
I have always thought of amp sims in general to be just another color in the palette. Just because the patch is called "Blackface" and doesn't sound remotely like its namesake does not make the patch unusable or undesirable.

Modeling plus recording a direct guitar track for possible reamping, though, is a great insurance policy. I've done that a few times, always with great results.
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#1683180 - 07/21/05 06:11 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
younggunmn Offline
Member

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 25
Loc: New York, NY
Quote:
Originally posted by zeronyne:
recording a direct guitar track for possible reamping, though, is a great insurance policy.
That's a neat idea -- I hadn't considered that...something to try out this weekend \:D

Matt

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#1683181 - 07/21/05 01:33 PM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by zeronyne:
I have always thought of amp sims in general to be just another color in the palette. Just because the patch is called "Blackface" and doesn't sound remotely like its namesake does not make the patch unusable or undesirable.

I agree. \:\) Just another tool in the toolbox.... and like any tool, the trick is knowing when it is the "right" tool for the job at hand, and how to skillfully utilize it.

Modeling plus recording a direct guitar track for possible reamping, though, is a great insurance policy. I've done that a few times, always with great results.

That's also very true.... but I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it's nice to have "options", OTOH, sometimes it's nice to make decisions as you go along and "commit" to things, lest you fall into the trap of option paralysis later. Usually for me, If there's any quesion about the proper timbre for the part, that's the time to print a DI for possible Reamp use later. Otherwise, I tend to make the call on the spot and live with it. If worse comes to worse, I can always retrack... OTOH, if it's something you KNOW the player is going to always struggle with, then planning for possible Reamping is usually a good idea.

I like options.... but I like to make decisions as I go along too. All things in balance and moderation. \:\)

_________________________
Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
Riverside CA
http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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#1683182 - 07/21/05 09:37 PM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by Philip O'Keefe:
Quote:
I like options.... but I like to make decisions as I go along too.

Well, you know me. I'm all for the idea that I know what I want going in, I try to get what I want during tracking, and I want to be done with the project by lunch! \:\) Seriously, too many options just waste time as people diddle with the tracks endlessly. Makes me crazy.

Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1683183 - 07/23/05 03:39 AM Re: Mic Guiatr vs. Johnson DI
Philip O'Keefe Offline
10k Club

Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Yup - options are great when you need one to get your rear out of a crack, but other times they're just an excuse for endless tweaking. Make a decision and track it right to begin with (or retrack it if you need to), and that will almost always save a ton of time... and it usually / nearly always turns out better that way anyway. \:\) Contrary to popular belief, musicianship does still matter. \:\)
_________________________
Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
Riverside CA
http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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