Plugins, things to look out for (and listen for)

I randomed into Paul Third’s youtube channel which looks to cover a lot on aspects of plugins to look out for. This one covers looking for harmonics and aliasing.

And in case you missed it a couple of years ago, White Sea Studio did a good video on plugin aliasing, followed up by looking at the bs claims of some plugins, which caught him a lot of flack. I contacted him back then to cheer him on, and he said that he was catching so much shit over it that he was thinking about stopping doing that.

But Paul Third goes further, more in depth. Definitely worth a watch.

This comment…

This one is great.

There’s defo a lot of snake oil around with vintage GUIs being slapped on EQs and comps with different response curves.

I bought a Pod HD500X a few months back. It has a pedal level FX loop too when the old X3 Live has a line level for some weird reason. While the software distortion still isn’t great, an analogue distortion/crunch pedal with it into an almost clean amp sounds like the real deal. To me at least, you’d probably still set it all on fire and drive it off a bridge! :smiley:

I think Neural DSP might have nailed cloning amps to software now

Their Soldano SLO-100 model seems to be pretty accurate

Pete Thorn did a head to head with the real amp here

I grabbed a few of their plugins at the half price BF sale
I owned the Soldano pre back in the 90s
Good to have it back without spending 7k

The only sounds I’ve been using on me recordings [apart from hardware]

[reference “What are you recording right now” thread]

that require money [i.e not free or donationware]
is S-Gear. And maybe Gtr FX Box 3 which is about $30 AU

‘I made’ my own drum machines out of various free sample sets which are sfz format, Reasamplomatic and MT Powerdrumkit 2.

So e.g, separate instances of Sforzando for kick, snare.

Arguably the best free toms which are better than most commercial ones and equal to any [imo], which are on most me latest tracks, and probably all me tracks from here on in, are the SM toms that can be easily searched I think. They’re somewhere in the Reaper forum, Reasamplomatic format, works fine, I hook it all up using MIDI note filters so I can program the whole kit or most of it from the one MIDI file.

A big thanks to Suleiman and others at the Reaper forum involved in that project. The rest of that kit is good too.

The bass gtr is a free sfz somewhat deeply sampled inst where I had to retune a couple of hundred of those samples. There’s a lot of articulations in that inst. I haven’t really done it justice. I run that via Sforzando as well. I never tweak Sforzando at all, just run the Sfz’s on it.

For percussion, mainly crashes, rides, China and splash cyms I use MT Powerdrumkit 2 which is donationware with a nag box to start it every time you open it in a project, or until making a nominal donation, no other restrictions though.

As yez know, sometimes stuff sounds good in itself but takes up too much space in a mix, beefy cyms for example. If the kick and bass are working well, then generally no need for excess low frequencies on cyms. If using appropriate dynamic ranges in the MIDI drum file, it’s possible to effectively gate the cyms from ringing out too long, esp in busy sections with much cym action.

I wasn’t ever going for a particular overall sound in mind but rather for decent mixes where everything could be said to sound ‘good’ even if nothing in itself is particularly great [those toms are pretty great though ime, Sgear…] Which obviously requires creating frequency ‘corridors’ to ensure that each inst has some clarity.

If you want to save some time and/or money and you figure my drums, bass or whatever should suffice, PM me, templates available, no money required.

A big part of it is the speaker response. Dynamic IR’s or IR/model hybrid seem to be a big improvement. Celestion has a dynamic IR thing now. I was impressed with what I heard from it, but it may be a different story using it in person. I wouldn’t touch a hardware modeler with a ten foot pole until they include good dynamic IR stuff. Also, not for vintage Fender amps but for Marshall, I was impressed with what I heard from UA’s Ox, but that thing is too expensive for only that purpose. And I seem to remember hearing a comparison of the Celestion IR software burning down the Ox, making the Ox obsolete for speaker IR purposes. UA uses a hybrid IR/model btw. And comparisons of the Ox as an attenuator loadbox to other much lower cost attenuator loadboxes have shown it to be not very good.

On the amp side, aliasing is a biggie causing a bunch of nasty hashiness, murkiness in lower frequencies, and general lack of definition across the spectrum. How some amp sim coders deal with aliasing is getting rid of upper harmonics to prevent aliasing (S-Gear definitely comes to mind). And then in the transitional decay from crunchy to clean there is a crackly thing going on (for all amp sims), which I have long suspected is both quantization error noise showing itself under the heavy compression of so much clipping (vastly reduced dynamic range) in combo with aliasing. Fender seemed to recognize this when making their ToneMaster modeler amps and seemed to be trying to deal with it by doubling the bit depth by stacking converters. This stuff is way less apparent for higher gain stuff since it is largely masked by the constant density of harmonics going on, to the point that it doesn’t seem to bother most high gainers. But getting into tonal territory of vintage amps, blackface Fender and Marshall plexi’s and JCM 800’s, it’s very offputting, where there should still be a ton of harmonics without nearly as much gain as for example a Soldano type amp. But having rich harmonics at clean to low’ish gains (relative to more modern high gain amps anyway) makes the aliasing (and what I think is probably quantization error noise) very apparent because the artifacts aren’t being masked as with high gain sounds.

It is often said that guitar amps are lofi devices, but even though they do have high distortion characteristics (even clean Fender), the better classic designs put out solid highly defined signals (fuck fidelity), rich harmonics, nice transitional decays from heavy clipping to clean, and pleasant electrical reaction to playing dynamics.

And goddammit, I really wish my programming and math skills were up to par, because I hear what is wrong with amp modeling but don’t have the chops to do anything about it. And in the real world, it’s surprising how close for example a vintage Fender amp and Marshall amp can sound. It has much to do with speakers/cab, first gain stage (for crunchier stuff), and tonestack curves. All this 50 shitty amp models in a package is a bunch of bs. One or two configurable amp models done right (without aliasing and likely quantization noise) with a good dynamic speaker IR could kill that sort of thing.

Nah. I just sold mine shortly after having bought it. Ha ha. Each to his own though. My ears are picky on guitar sounds that I can get on with without ending up in the endless loop of trying to de-crapify a guitar sound. Life would be much easier if it weren’t that way, so consider yourself blessed being happy. I can still fool myself once in a while, but it doesn’t hold.

Yeah I’ve avoided the modelling portion of multi-effects up until now, just didn’t sound right to my ear. I had that HD500X also and it’s effects were pretty decent, their wah and whammy were great unlike the Boss GT series. But I always used my Mako preamp/Diezel Herbert for the actual amp sounds.

I did try out the HD500X AC-30 and Uberschall models, they had enough of that character as a preamp into my amp’s tube return to make me look for something closer to the real thing. I got the Mako after that which nailed that Uberschall tightness on it’s Dorado channel for brutals. I found a Morgan AC-20 profile on the Kemper that nailed that sound, hopefully the QC model is even better.

The IRs are/were indeed the weak point but I think ML Sound might be getting closer now with his player that scrolls through multiple IRs dynamically as you move the mic position around. The fact that you can use multiple different mics virtually in real time is a pretty great recording tool, even just to set a standard to beat with your own micing. I’m noticing there’s quite a few modern metal albums getting tracked completely through Neural software now so they’ve arrived for that community at least.

You dont have to change the whole chain over either, for your playing pleasure
you can use the amp portion as different preamps and go back thru a tube power amp and cab.

Thats what I’m doing now with my Quad Cortex, same as with my Mako preamp previously,
split my guitar with a Lehle box feeding both the Diezel input and QC input,
then run the QC output (with cabs off) into the foot switchable FX Return of my Diezel,
which feeds my Recto cab

So I audition the digital sounds with a real amp/cab against a real preamp or 2
footswitching between them as I play

I haven’t had any time to do more than check the clean sound of the stock VH4 against my Herbert clean
It was really close sound wise, and same feel wise
I was really happy with that test

A little tweaking might get it exact, but both sounded great as is
When I can play and footswitch between them, and not know which one is which, l’ll be happy :smiley:
Anyhoot, so far so good

I’ll be testing the Neural amp models I just got the same way, into the Diezel and cab
Once I figure out the routing in the MOTU interface
Just prefer the amp in the room sound if I’m not recording

@brainio If I find a pushed Super that sounds bang on authentic, I’ll give you a holler

Celestion Speakermix Pro looks pretty tempting, at least for the Marshall amps. For my super the hard part is getting a reactive loadbox for it, since it needs a 2 ohm load. And I would still be leery of a loadbox with that amp, since if the original output transformer smokes, that is a big part of it’s sound.

Cool, I’ll check that out
If it has a trial I might compare it to Mikko’s Mega Djent (Oversized Recto with V30s)

I did not know that about Supers
ONLY a 2 ohm output?
That is unusual for tube amps

I have a Suhr reactive load and it only does 8 ohm min/100W max
It sounds great
I have to be careful with my Herbert into it as it’s 150-180W (4 x 6550s, 2 x EL34Bs)

That Waza does 150W but a 4 ohm minimum I think

Yeah off the top of my head I can’t think of one that does 2 ohms
The perfect reactive load not there yet

There is a diy reactive attenuator / loadbox project for which the designer was kind enough to knock up a 2 ohm design for vintage Fender amps. I really want to try it, but it worries me. I should probably just go for it already. It has shown to give equal or better performance than any attenuator on the market. And it’s like $120 to knock one up.

Awesome. How many watts does it take?

Is that one of those amp building sites? Got a link?

It’s a long ongoing thread, but John posts the final designs in the beginning of the thread. How I understand it, the design started from a design by Randall Aiken, and John H evolved it and continues to try and improve it in small ways as well as assisting builders with specialized needs.

What should be particularly of interest there is that John H publishes impedance curves of the designs so that you know what the attenuator might be doing to your amp, where some attenuators can be overall dangerous to amps or dangerous under certain conditions, not to mention the resulting frequency response of attenuators that have questionable impedance curves.

That attenuator design can be adapted for higher power handling requirements. It seems that I have read other people doing so in that thread.

Cheers bro
The builder community is really awesome now
Very sharing, and so much great info

Yea, one of the pros of the internet, despite so much being fucked up these days. It can be easy to forget that we are connected to tons of very cool people.

Damn I might have to grab that, it looks way too much fun

You get 10 free DSRs with it
What would you pick?

So far I’ve got:

Vintage 30
G12M Greenback
G12M-65 Creamback
G10 Gold

Is there something else you would grab first @brainio ?

Is the G12H Anniversary 30W any good?

I’ve pretty much always used V-30s
T-75s and EV-12Ms first, then M-70s, then settled on V-30s and Greenbacks

A Jensen type would be cool, but there’s none

Might have to grab the 3 bass speakers to make up the 10

I would pick something pretty similar to your picks actually. Maybe subbing the G12M25 for the EVH or getting both. The EVH is a better speaker to my ears, but a lot of metal heads seem to not like it. And I forget on the G12H Anniversary. The classic G12H 30 has a deep bass and extended highs and sounds great. One modern variant was super bright and not well liked by many people, but that one may have been dropped from the current Celestion lineup. If you can demo them first I would definitely do that. I would probably do the same on bass speakers, but I know nothing about Celestion bass speakers so it would be hard to pick without hearing them first. If you go for it let me know what you think.