Plenty of people love guitar amp sims, and plenty hate them. This video doesn’t get into that; it is simply a demonstration of how you can use the ART Pro MPA II to introduce real tube saturation into your signal before processing it with a guitar sim.
There are going to be naysayers.
Plenty of musicians go a bit overboard in their search for tone. While no one would claim that a sim can recreate the exact sound of a vintage tweed amp, plenty of us get excellent results out of amp sims that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing once it is in a mix.
The purpose of this video.
I’m not here to convince you that you should sell your ’65 Deluxe Reverb. I’m here to talk to the people that are looking into the ART Pro MPA series. It will have a discernible effect on your tracks, and you will be probably be happy with it.
I recorded this using an RME ADI-8 as the D/A converter. The guitar was a custom-built Tele with single-coil pickups. I also had the low cut filter turned up to cut frequencies up to about 150hz.
How does changing the output of an amp change its sound?
Any guitarist knows that 6L6s, solid state, and EL34 amps each have their own sound. One of the cool things about Amplitube is that it allows you to switch out the output section of your amp on the fly.
Let’s take it with a grain of salt.
I’m not going to make the argument that this software is a perfect replication of what a Fender Deluxe Reverb would sound like with a set of 6L6s in it. What I will argue is that you can find a nice guitar sound with this software, and playing with the output section will affect the sound coming out of your speakers. Play around with it enough and you will find something nice.
So how does Amplitube react to you switching the output section?
I did a short video playing with the output section of the American Vintage D model of Amplitube (my personal favorite in the software.) This video illustrates some of the different sounds that you can get with different settings.
You can get usable tones from an amp simulator like Amplitube.
I know that this is a sacrilege, but it is possible to get a nice guitar sound from an amp sim. While my first inclination is always to mic up my amp, and I’d rather just do that if I am working on a very sparse mix where every little detail of the amp can be heard, guitar amp simulators like Amplitube are definitely useable.
What are the advantages of using an amp simulator?
You can set it up quickly. Placing mics up on the amp is a lot more time-consuming and allows for much more error than plugging into your interface and pulling up a sim.
You can just use it to monitor. When I’m in a rush, I like to track my guitar with Amplitube, then once I’m done editing everything, re-amping the track. I turn off the sim, route the guitar through an output on my interface and into my amp, then mic up the amp and record. It sounds exactly like it would should I have cut the track with the amp in the first place, and is much easier to edit (especially if I want to use the amp’s spring reverb.
No bleed into vocal or drum mics.
What are the disadvantages of using an amp simulator?
When used improperly, they can sound horrible. I’ve had sessions that were started with scratch tracks using Amplitube and the guitars sounded terrible. The only way around this is to have a nice bank of presets that go to as soon as you launch it.
They will use some CPU resources.
Snobs. You’ll get purists that will turn their noses up at you and claim that your guitar sounds like crap without even listening to it. Again, people listening with their eyes instead of their ears.