Based on my own experience as a guitar player recorded 7 albums with Software Amp Simulators.
There is no Modeling technology that has come close to a cranked 100 watt tube amp… Yes, nothing matches the dynamic response of tubes, and the saturation when the tubes overload and glow….
That’s not 100% true.
Amp sims vs micing an amp debate is not the point here 🙂
Over 16 years, the guitar amp modeling technology became a replacement solution of the old fashioned recording process – micing a real amp.
Now in the present time there are hardware independent modelers like Kemper KPA and Axe-FX. You can see many bands and solo artists are using them live now.
The technology have fundamentally changed the way of playing and recording.
Many big mixing engineers and recordists are moving to ITB mixing ( in the box ) and using only DSP modeling in their DAW’s.
The digital plugin world gained much respect into the recording musicians society and now you can see and hear modellers on many albums and even using them in a live situations with laptops.
Compared to how it used to be in the past, the guitar amp sims made the recording process much easier for many players who are in need for a great sound, but also living in a small spaces on a tight budget, without possibilities to record a real amp.
The Modeling delivered a new level of realistic sounding – dynamic experience and results which could be compared to real amp micing techniques.
The best software amp simulation plug-ins today are based on DSP tube modeling algorithms, carefully crafted to recreate the same feel and frequency response. The Speaker Cabinets in the modelers are getting more and more attention. The time based variation of the moving sound wave coming from the speakers is getting better and better.
Best Guitar Amp Modellers are recreating the “SAG”
“Sag refers to the drooping of the power supply voltage in response to large transient signals, which lends a certain dynamic “feel” to the tube amplifier that is not generally found in solid-state amplifiers.”
So, I assure you there’s no limitation. Know your tools and gear
and you will achieve your desired guitar tone in a few steps.
There are a few factors that are important to get the best sound from your guitar amp modeling software.
- Audio Interface
The most important thing is getting the best audio interface with the best Analog to Digital conversion . That’s where you get the dynamics and the smooth transitions from crunch to more gain and “breakup” tones.
Your audio interface is the big and the only factor that will give you “that” sound.
No matter how good is your custom guitar and what pickups you put in, the audio interface will destroy your joy in a no time and will give you a bad time using Guitar Amp Simulators.
You should look for an audio interface with dedicated Guitar input, so called Hi-Z input. It is designed to preserve the tone of your guitar, to keep the full spectrum and dynamic from your pickups and guitar.
The best choice will be the one with 1 Meg Ohm instrument input. This impedance will preserve the highs of your guitar, simply said.
Most of the the time if your guitar sounds dull and your attack is with flubby low end, then your are using a Low Impedance audio input!
You will notice this when your guitar sounds darker and lifeless!
I would recommend a FOCUSRITE SCARLETT interface. Here.
It is a quality interface with great features in this price range .
My current audio interface is TC Electronic Desktop Konnekt 6 24Bit/192kHz Firewire. , which is a Firewire port based interface.
From TC Manual:
Hi-Z guitar / line inputs
Equipped with the same instrument inputs used in TC’s high-end guitar processors, Desktop Konnekt offers studio quality guitar recordings. These two hi impedance inputs will surely match the quality of your guitar, maintaining the tone and sound on the recording. Impedance 1 Mohm
The device gives me great results and a great pickups response.
I have been using it since 2012, but if I have to choose a new one,
it will be the SCARLETT.
I’m using 64 ASIO Buffer Size for best timing when recording and 128 most of the time when “Jam”.
When mixing big projects I may raise it up to 256 or 512.
Also don’t forget the latency depends on your CPU power and how well is the ASIO driver written.
2. Using DI Boxes and a mixer.
There are many brands and types of DI Boxes and every brand sounds different.
Some of them are using different transformers and this changes the character.
Read more here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DI_unit
Best and easy solution is to get a dedicated audio interface!
3. Check your guitar cable. Find the best one. This is a part of your chain.
- Setting up your Audio Interface Levels and your DAW for playing and recording with amp simulation plugin
My Gain Knob on the TC Interface Hi-Z input is set on 11 o’clock
- DI Direct Signal Audio Samples 16 bit
- 1. Normal Chord Strum: The highest peak level is around
- Hard Pick Attack on E String: The highest peak level is around -3.4dB
Big Stack Audio Sample as an example with the settings showed above with Kuassa Creme Amp Simulation Plugin
DI – Direct audio of the guitar
Processed with Kuassa Creme
Download the preset for Kuassa Creme: Kuassa Creme Big Stack Preset