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Thread: Software Amps

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Software Amps

    Was thinking of dipping my toes in the water and checking out one of the free software amp sims out there just to check out the possibilities, but have a couple questions: 1.) does it takes loads of computing power to run these things or will any laptop that runs BIAB work? 2.) What do you use to interface the guitar with the computer - will my USB recording interface work for this? 3.) I have a 150 watt powered cabinet - can I just run the headphone out from the computer to this? If it seems like the way I might want to go, I'd probably go with a powered QSC or JBL cabinet and one of the better sims.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Ellis View Post
    Was thinking of dipping my toes in the water and checking out one of the free software amp sims out there just to check out the possibilities, but have a couple questions: 1.) does it takes loads of computing power to run these things or will any laptop that runs BIAB work? 2.) What do you use to interface the guitar with the computer - will my USB recording interface work for this? 3.) I have a 150 watt powered cabinet - can I just run the headphone out from the computer to this? If it seems like the way I might want to go, I'd probably go with a powered QSC or JBL cabinet and one of the better sims.

    Thanks for the help!
    I use this every day.

    (1.)
    My recommendation is Helian from Frettedsynth. It' s free but discontinued. You'll find a lot of places to download it. There are different versions out there that all sound differently but the latest (3.6) sounds the best FMHE (For My Humble Ears)

    To run it outside your DAW you need a VST host. I strongly recommend SAVIhost by a guy from Austria called H.Seib. Works like charm here. I'll attach a screenshot of one of my (everyday) working configurations (running inside SAVI).

    CPU usage is minimal. SAVIhost has a CPU stress gauge in it's footer and it always goes around 10% so... nothing serious for my i5 Intel buddy...

    Inside the DAW (Reaper) I use other cabinet sims as IRs, significant improvement, but mostly with distorted sounds. Still the built in ones are good enough for tracking and/or practicing.

    (2.)
    At this moment I use a Behringer UMC404HD and it works perfectly (As this unit doesn't have a high-z input I use a buffer/booster in front to adjust impedance)

    (3.)
    We're talking about studio recording situation here right? I use my regular studio monitors and mostly headphones, of which I got some. Actually - confessing - using the most conveniently to wear most of the time, because I'm lazy.. :-)

    If you're planning to use this on stage I can be of no help. I use amp-sims there constantly but in form of multi-FX pedals (like POD HD or Boss GT-1 and sorts), not having brought a computer on stage since 1989 (Atari, was a mess).

    Hope this did help....

    Software Amps-fa36-screenshot-jpg
    Last edited by DonEsteban; 07-04-2018 at 06:50 PM. Reason: forgot the screenshot

    --- The ultimate answer to almost all guitar questions: "Practice more!" ---

  3. #3
    I'd recommend the free trial of S-Gear. At least read the manual to get an idea of the amp and cab/speaker models. Lots of Fendery goodness to be had here. It is easy to use and sounds great, but modeling in general is not for everyone. I've read a lot of accounts from people who've used the high-end hardware modelers stating that S-Gear can hang with them, at least in terms of low-gain amp tone.

    S-Gear

    Here's a recent Metheny-inspired clip from one of S-Gear's forum users:




    Pros:

    • Full version is cheap at US $129.00
    • Use as a standalone application or as a plug-in in your DAW
    • Simple: Only a handful of amp types, several based on Fender-ish amp designs (57 tweed-ish, Black and Brownface, Super/Dumble kinds of things)
    • Comes with a bunch of IRs (cab and speakers) from the makers of S-Gear, as well as a bunch from Redwirez
    • There are a few presets that are useful for jazz
    • Makes recording easy
    • Not overwhelming with effects and "deep editing" options.



    Cons:

    • Third-party IR browser is a bit of a pain, but there's no need to use third-party IRs unless you're a real nerd like me. The stock IRs sound very good.


    The quality of the amp simulations is very good, especially in low-gain situations. I got rid of my Katana and have been using S-Gear for months now, almost exclusively. It was a big step up in terms of Fender-style sounds. Doable on the Katana, but took a lot of tweaking. Perceived sound quality is going to depend a lot on how you monitor. I'd recommend an audio interface that will allow you to monitor with round-trip latency at or under around 9 ms. Big bucks to get much lower than 6 or 7 ms in my experience, but I think it was worth it. I also use a FRFR PA speaker from Yamaha to monitor for the most accuracy.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the info so far. I should clarify that I want to use this for live performance. Can I use this software, then run the line out from my laptop straight into a powered cabinet?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Ellis View Post
    Thanks for the info so far. I should clarify that I want to use this for live performance. Can I use this software, then run the line out from my laptop straight into a powered cabinet?
    A line out from an audio interface, yes. Not from the headphone jack on your computer. That’s what my signal path looks like: guitar—>interface: focusrite clarett 2pre—>computer/s-gear—>interface—>powered frfr pa speaker: Yamaha DXR8.

    You could replace that last part of the chain with a power amp—>cab but of course then you are dealing with the coloration of the cab/speakers. You could also split the output so that one line goes to front of house PA and one to a personal monitor, etc.

  6. #6
    You might also consider the Atomic Ampli Firebox. It’s a pedal sized modeler. Takes the computer out of the equation except for the editing part. That way you’re only schlepping your pedal and your monitor, and not computer and interface as well. I’m happy with my S-Gear setup but I think if I were gigging I’d look at the more affordable end of the hardware modelers.

  7. #7
    I like Heptode deep crunch. Comes with cab sim button.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Milano, Italy
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonEsteban View Post
    I use a Behringer UMC404HD and it works perfectly (As this unit doesn't have a high-z input I use a buffer/booster in front to adjust impedance)
    Hola Don Esteban!

    I'd like to correct you about this statement, as it's not true.



    Here you have the UMC404HD input: you see two buttons. Line/Inst and PAD

    When you connect your guitar, switch the 1st button to the Inst position. The input is put through a 1 MOhm load, aka HiZ. The Pad serves to reduce the input if it's too hot for the gain pot to handle, something possible when connecting external devices as Analog Synths, which output is very high in many cases, specially the vintage ones as, fx, the Prophet 5 and/or MiniMoog.

    Here you've got the published specs of the UMC404HD manual as proof of my statement:



    What I'm saying here is, you don't actually need any DI box or impedance-adapting device to plug your guitar with regular, Hi-Z magnetic pickups into the UMC404HD to have the your instrument's unadultered tonefootprint at your disposal.

    For the record: I actually use the UMC404HD with Scuffham S-Gear and Amplitube 4 both as live and studio amp rig.

    Hope this helps,
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
    Milano, Italy
    https://soundcloud.com/theodore-koja...hy-bro-project
    Hy-Bro Test Sound Files

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