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Amp modeling vs. the real thing


danb291

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Like most people, I am about to upgrade my rig...again, and I had an interesting idea. What if I just used an amp modeler (like a line 6) as a preamp and then ran it through a power amp to my cab.

 

I've heard that the amp models sound pretty close to the real thing, but how close is it? Would I sound like complete crap on stage? The bonus is it would be so much cheaper than buying a quality head, but could the digital modeling match its quality?

 

In reality, I'd probably only use about 1/4 of the amp models, so should I just buy the real version of the one I like most or go with the amp modeler for versatility (and monetary) purposes?

 

Also on a side note, what brands of power amps are good?

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No, modeling cannot "faithfully" reproduce the sound of the real deal..but it does come close.

 

I don't really have any problem with modeling in general. I have used the bass POD Pro in recording, the Amp models on the Roger Linn AdrenaLinn, and quite reguarly use the Antares Mic Modeler software. In a recording they are a good and easy way to achieve a desired result.

 

Live, tho, I have had issues...not with the sound so much, but with the latency of the digital conversion. Latency is a problem with any digital processing, and is usually fairly imperceptible, but it is also accumulative. If use an amp modeler, and a digital fx processor, and perhaps one of the Line 6 stomp box modelers, all that latency adds up to a lag between the note you play and the note you hear. In the case of the Bass POD, using an fx model, amp model and the compressor model adds up to a noticeable latency. Now, guitarists may not even notice these things, as their rhythmic accuity is sometimes questionable in the first place (sorry gtrists), but in the bass world even a slight lag creates a drift in rhythmic punctuation.

 

I recently had a student to whom I was attempting to show/teach the finer points of the placement of the beat (behind the beat, ahead of it..) yet he could not get to laying behind the beat. He always rushed up on it, even though he really understood the concept.

Finally, I asked what he usually layed through. He said A POD. I asked him to bring it to his next lesson. Thru some experimentation we found that their was a noticeable latency in the POD when using complex models and fx or compression modeling. He had grown used to this and his playing became naturally slightly rushed to compensate. He found it quite difficult to lay in behind the beat.

 

Digital modeling has brought a plethora of sounds and tones to us, mostly in a very easy to use and affordable way. Yet, I have to question what the accumulative effect this technology has on players ability to hear and feel the nuances of both tone and rhythm. In a similar vein, digital recording technology has made it very possible for very mediocre musicians to sound quite good......

 

In the studio I had not really noticed the latency of the POD or others, yet recently I have been experimenting with a lot of modelers, and do notice the latency. This is especially evident for me using loops where pinpoint timing accuracy is essential. I have an AdrenaLinn which I can barely use with looping as the "felt" latency is so overt. But then, my rhythmical sense and feel is quite refined.

 

Some of the less expesive models, such as the original POD, Behringer V-Amp and the Boss stuff, have rather poor A/D converters and their latency, while perhaps not audibly perceptible, can be felt quite easily. Higher quality converters process much quicker, but still they do have a latency which can be exponetially increased by adding other digital processing to the signal chain.

 

Max

...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
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Max, thanks for the insightful response. And Maury, I meant no disrespect. I greatly appreciated your opinion, but unfortunatly my last post elicited only your response. As a fellow consumer, I hope you can appreciate my need to hear multiple opinions before I spend my money. Thanks again guys.
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Honestly, you will get a few different opinions, and none of them are really helpful in YOUR situation. Either folks have tried it and liked it, tried it and didn't like it, or haven't tried it. Everyone else will simply chime in with opinions about the Pod (I truly dislike playing through them under any circumstances), unsubstantiated rumors about musicians who have done what you're asking about (I was told that Hutch Hutchinson with Bonnie Raitt is playing a Bass Pod into his SVT), or completely unrelated posts (KISS played in Nashville this week.).

 

All you can really do is beg, borrow or rent the appropriate components and try them yourself. Or you can solicit opinions from people you don't know for a while, and then you'll still need to beg, borrow or rent the appropriate components and try them yourself..

Dave Martin

Java Jive Studio

Nashville, TN

www.javajivestudio.com

 

Cuppa Joe Records

www.cuppajoerecords.com

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i can tell you that sansamps do, in fact, kick ass. i had a peavey that got tone somewhere between mud and line noise and borrowed a sansamp until i could afford an upgrade. the immediate change was fantastic. it went through my peavey like a preamp and made the amp sound great, then the direct into the board sounded much better than the peavey's direct too boot.
Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh.
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The thing that makes the SansAmps great is that their audio circuits are 100% analog. In that way, they can better emulate all the amps' best qualities and quirks. The latency issue has to be taken into account with all the digital modelers. Of course, this is less of an issue with the high end modelers.

 

The analog signal coming from the bass has to be converted to digital, then after the processing through whatever unit, back to analog, ready to be sent to the amp/PA/recorder.

 

Even though I do find some latency in using the amp models of my DigiTech BP200, it's not enough to bother me. It's actually quite responsive, especially when using a bass with active electronics.

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  • 3 weeks later...

With "amp modelling" what are we really talking about?, these units are basically a DSP with knobs on the front instead of buttons, and instead of algorythm titles like "deep and dark" you click to a position that says "Ampeg SVT" or whatever.

 

The piont being that the real differences between the amp models is the frequency pionts and bandwidths of the parametretrics and band pass settings in the DSP algorythms and the basic EQ setting. The same is true of the cabinet modelling but with a little reverb thrown in.

 

Personally I think the big difference between "amp modellers" and previous midi rack gear is really just in the user interface and software.

 

I agree with the previous correspondent who said that you really just need to try it out and see if it works for you.

 

Personally I prefer a display on my digital gear cos' I find it easier to program that way.

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Originally posted by Jezza:

With "amp modelling" what are we really talking about?, these units are basically a DSP with knobs on the front instead of buttons, and instead of algorythm titles like "deep and dark" you click to a position that says "Ampeg SVT" or whatever.

 

Uhm... ever tried out a PSA-1? I have. It's not digital, except for the parameter control and MIDI capability. It's also much easier than most modelers to go through in terms of getting a good sound, in my experience.

 

All the parameters for that are manipulated using real knobs, instead of scrolling menus. You do have to scroll through a number system to get to the amp model you want, and hit a save button once you get your settings, but other than that, it's a very interactive piece of equipment. Sure, the LINE 6 units have improved vastly in the last few years, but I still find the PSA-1 to be superior for both bass and guitar. Not to mention, it sounds great for vocals, keyboards, drums...

 

Tech21 stuff in general is among the best gear I've tried, and you don't need to spend a lot of money to get most of their stuff. If I were a gigging, professional musician, I'd be able to have one or two PSA-1's and bring them to virtually any session I wanted. I can hook up to anything, and it'll sound great. Of course, to get the real amp tones, you still need to go to a power amp/speaker cab combo.

 

The PSA-1 lacks effects, but I think that's a good thing. Why gunk up the circuitry with extra stuff you wouldn't need anyway, or can get using separate outboard gear?

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Originally posted by Dr. Taz:

Right, but it can also run quite cleanly if you set it that way. I know that Ben Loy uses a PSA-1 for his rig with Mrs Grundy.

I'm glad that Ben can get what he needs from it, but I've never had any luck getting a decent clean guitar or bass sound from the PSA1. His mileage, obviously, varies.

Dave Martin

Java Jive Studio

Nashville, TN

www.javajivestudio.com

 

Cuppa Joe Records

www.cuppajoerecords.com

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