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'amp in the room' setting


shanecgriffo
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I could see someone making cab IRs out of this mic & pre from Slate Digital: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/VMS

 

Both the mic and the pre were engineered to be completely flat so, essentially, this could be the closest way of getting the "true cab" sound since the mic and pre wouldn't add color to the sonic tone of the cab in the room.

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I think the problem here is that not enough of us know how to use multiple mics, different distances, etc etc to create our own version of an "amp in the room" sound.

 

Speaking as an electronics engineer I completely understand the complexities of coming up with something simple that can give me the sound of an amp in the room without being reliant on microphones to sample the sound of the cab I want to replicate.

 

What strikes me as interesting is that (luckily for me) I have a Kemper too and it can do this very well with the Pure Cab function. How it does this I do not know - sounds like a clever balance of knowing what EQ parameters to tweak and an understanding of phasing / filtering issues that typically come up when micing cabinets or trying to EQ them after.

 

Surely sound engineers / producers that work in this area are experts at knowing how to remove the coloration that mic's introduce - its why they use multiple mics and move them around when recording in the first place surely - so that they can get that "amp in the room" sound. Can their expertise not help out here?

 

Or perhaps the frequency response curve of a microphone (which is always measured and documented) can be inverted and applied to the sound as an effect block? We then get the impulse response of the cab - but without the sound colouration of the mic? Surely even the impulse response of the mic can be removed too?

 

The trick is not to worry about the reverb of the room that the cab is being played in - this can be added in using reverbs to simulate a room / studio. Its how to remove the coloration that the mic introduces. There is a section in the Kemper manual that talks about the Pure Cab feature and it does it very well. Mics make a distorted amp sound harsh. My SM57 makes my amps sound harsh. Micing my cabinet does not sound in anyway like my cabinet normally does unless I do considerable tweaking in my DAW afterwards. 

 

Surely though in the world of DSP where we can digitally model a diode or a pre-amp valve from an amp (presumably by taking electrical measurements before and after), we can model a speaker cabinet too either using electrical measurements, acoustic measurement, or just applying inverse frequency response curves of a mic?

 

How do Kemper do it? Its probably an approximation of where typical harsh frequencies occur and EQ'ing with special DSP algorithms that don't introduce phasing problems.

 

Imagine 50 years ago someone saying they'll create a black box that can impersonate 50 different valve amps. We'll its a reality now. Microphones are a necessary evil to capture the sound of an amp (as things stand) but they are actually a horribly inefficient way to do it due to all kinds of reasons. The time has come to model a cab without being dependant on mics to do this.

 

That will be the day that amp modelling has truly broken through and becomes the ultimate tool for playing and recording and getting to a place where we aren't all trying to work around the complications and frustrations of microphones. The amp can be modelled, the cab can be modelled, and microphones can be modelled - that will give us all the flexibility we need to capture old recorded tones, or play live like the amp is just in the room.

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I can understand where "amp in a room" tone would be preferable for practice, or for listening pleasure when jamming around, but everyone realizes that no recording or amp mic'ed up through a PA is putting the "amp in the room" tone out there, and most people's perception of the sound is based on distance from a sound source that is probably much brighter, harsher, and "fuzzier" (at least talking crunch to high-gain). You can't just walk up to a real amp and turn the knobs so it sounds good 10' away and off-axis and expect a microphone at a close proximity to the speaker to somehow put that sound through whatever reproduction equipment you're using without EQ and post-processing. You can easily simulate it with 'verb's and EQ's, but most of the time you lose all of the definition and punch that you get out of close-mic'ing in the first place. I can't really see that practical use outside of what people wanna hear when they are jamming alone at home, which you can do by adding a 'verb and darkening the tone with some EQ. 

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This weekend, I messed with the Helix dual cab blocks with the same cab with different mics and settings. I got some nice amp in room effects increasing the mic distances and early reflections.

 

A dynamic or ribbon mic 2-3" from the cab with early reflections up abut 20% and a condenser at max distance and early reflections at 75% was pretty nice.

 

I definitely gained some appreciation for the HX Cabs and their controls.

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8000 dollars - thats a bargain! Line 6 - the answer has been found...

 

I do get that what I'm suggesting is not easy, and might not make much sense, and maybe can't be done. But I'm pretty sure everyone thought amp modelling couldn't be done and thats my point.

 

If all it takes for now is a bit of EQ and mics placed at distance then that could be a preset mic combination or an effect block of its own with a few parameters to tweak maybe? Maybe someone can do an IR of 2 appropriate mics at head level about 5 feet from an amp??? 

 

I think there are an awful lot of us amateur / hobbyist guitarists that would seriously love a basic amp in the room preset that basically just allows us to have a good warm tone that sounds like an amp in the room so we can play away using the Helix at home etc. - be it on an FRFR speaker or just headphones. I think that's basically what Pure Cab does on the Kemper - and it sounds good.  

 

roscoe5 - I'll give your idea a go.

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I totally get what you are saying, and actually that head could probably do it..... I don't have the spare cash or know how however.

 

You walk into Guitar Center, you plug  a guitar into an amp.... you love how it sounds... that is the sound you are looking for. 

 

You never walk into Guitar Center, plug a guitar into an amp, ask them to hook up a Shure 57 mic at 2 inches off the speaker and run that into another system and then go listen to THOSE speakers. 

 

I too would love an EAR IR.

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I too would love an EAR IR.

You were issued two of those at birth...;)

 

 

I envision similar discussions 100 years from now, long after the last driver-operated cars disappear from the roads...somebody will be pining for the "good old days when you had to steer".

 

I have less noise, less maintenance, and less crap to drag around. I couldn't care less that it doesn't sound identical to my old Marshall 4x12...

 

We're all pretty much looking to emulate a certain sound (if not a specific artist(s)), suitable to whatever style of music we're playing. And where did we all first hear those sounds? On somebody's album...and what made those sounds? A guitar, an amp, one or more speakers in a box, and a mic sitting in front of it all. I'm not chasing tones anymore. I have them...can't say that about any other amp/cab or combo I've ever owned. Last thing I want is all this tech and some combo of settings that makes it sound just like the stuff I had 20 years ago.

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I love the sounds I'm getting out of this, and maybe an EAR IR would not be as cool as I think, but.... I spend so much damn time changing mics, distances, altering tone etc etc etc, it seems when I'm playing with just an amp and a speaker that it doesn't seem to take as long dialing in the sound I'm looking for.

 

If it never happens I'll be cool with that but golly.... I'd sure love to give it a try.

 

:P

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I guess to get a true amp in a room sound, if you really want to go for all out realism, not the sound of a an amp being miked in a studio but a true stage amp sound, you would have to hook an external mike up to the Helix and mix in all the ambient stage noise from other instruments and vocals that sits in the background from the mike feed from an amp in an onstage setup. That is a degree of realism I truly do not feel I need to achieve. :D  Being a bit facetious here but that actually is part of the "mike in a room", or at least "mike on a stage", sound due the fact that you can't totally isolate the amp mike onstage unless you set up the amp & mic in a baffle box or some other contrivance.  

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roscoe5 - you're definitely onto something here.

 

I just tried several rock amps in the Helix with a dual cab setup like this:

 

Greenback 25, 4038 condenser, 4 inches, 40% room reflections

Cali V30, 87 ribbon, 12 inches, 75% room reflections

Room reverb set at 2secs, 50% mix

 

And oh my god - even a quick setup like this is so much more like an amp in the room, a loud amp in a room anyway! 

 

I used a Brit 2204 amp in front of it, added an EQ after the cab (boosted the 8khz by 3dB) and before the room reverb and it f'ing rocks.

 

It even starts to sound a bit like my Friedman BE100 - in the room - but with headphones on.

 

My kids can now sleep and I can crank it and never the twain shall meet.  

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Cool.  Yeah.  I've yet to find a single mic on a cab that sounds like a cab in the room to my ears.  Dual mics help.

 

I just tried your mixed cab types and settings with the Brit 2204...very nice!  That is a smoooooth sound.

 

That 8k +3db after the HX dual cab block is a nice touch too.   I hadn't thought of doing that before.  I'm actually able to get a little closer to the "better" sound of IR's with EQ after the Helix Cab. I nudged 125k +2db too. 

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Can someone help me? I'm searching for a tool to blend IR's that's free. I don't know why but my mixIR version 1 doesn't work anymore.
I do have a torpedo Reload from Two Notes but with BlendIR program the file is a .tur and not a .wav
I'm asking because I've found a my personal amp-in-the-room-feel with a blend of different IRs. I had this file for the Axe Fx but I don't have the .wav file anymore and I really want to recreate my mix because using 2 IR slots on the Helix in parallel takes one signalpath and I really need this path for FX.
thanks

 

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Can someone help me? I'm searching for a tool to blend IR's that's free. I don't know why but my mixIR version 1 doesn't work anymore.

I do have a torpedo Reload from Two Notes but with BlendIR program the file is a .tur and not a .wav

I'm asking because I've found a my personal amp-in-the-room-feel with a blend of different IRs. I had this file for the Axe Fx but I don't have the .wav file anymore and I really want to recreate my mix because using 2 IR slots on the Helix in parallel takes one signalpath and I really need this path for FX.

thanks

 

 

 

You can mix with NadIR from Ignite Amps.  But I don't think you cant export a mixed wav IR file like you can mixIR.  I havent tried it in a while though since getting mixIR.

 

http://www.igniteamps.com/en/audio-plug-ins

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But what will you use to monitor the sound? Headphones? PA Speakers? They, in turn, will colour the sound in their own way, just like a guitar cab/speaker do. And they won't sound exactly like a guitar cab/speaker.

 

At the end of the signal processing chain there HAS to be a cab/speaker of some sort to produce the analog audio signal that the human ear hears. There IS NO SOUND without it. If it's not a physical guitar power amp and cab/speaker then it's something else that does not sound exactly like the physical guitar cab/speaker. The way to get the 'amp in the room' sound is to...... well ....have an amp in the room.

 

If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?

This. However, yes a tree does make a sound. The friction, and vibration are still very much there, regardless if a person is there or not. To think otherwise shows a level of arrogance much like thinking all life revolves around us, or that we are the center of existence.

I know I am harping here. But without friction, or vibration. There would be no gravity to have the tree fall. :)

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thanks!

but I really need to export the file. NadIR looks good but isn't doing the job :-(

 

Ran a quick Google search and found some old 2011 download links if you want to try to reinstall mixIR1.  They seem to still work.

 

http://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/how-to-mix-impulse-responce.36388/

 

Windows: http://www.redwirez.com/ir/mixIR-win.zip

Mac OSX (intel only): http://www.redwirez.com/ir/mixIR-osx.zip

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i do have MixIE 1 and downloaded it again too but there's always an error showing that the files aren't found. I know how the program works and had no problems with it a few years ago when I purchased the BigBox from Redwirez but now....

thank you for your help, I'll try it again tomorrow.

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The dual cab block is a 50/50 blend, so you can get even more flexibility using 2 actual cabinets and use an A/B split to change the blend to your taste.  I tend to use an SM57 up tight on a 1 x 12 cab and a 121 Ribbon on a 4 x 12.  I usually end up with a 30/70 blend preferring the bigger, thicker sound from the Royer and mixing in the 57 to get the exact amount of attack and percussiveness I am looking for.  I don't know what the DSP hit between the dual cab vs 2 actual cabs is, but it is one more beautifully flexible feature I love with my Helix!

 

Cool.  Yeah.  I've yet to find a single mic on a cab that sounds like a cab in the room to my ears.  Dual mics help.

 

I just tried your mixed cab types and settings with the Brit 2204...very nice!  That is a smoooooth sound.

 

That 8k +3db after the HX dual cab block is a nice touch too.   I hadn't thought of doing that before.  I'm actually able to get a little closer to the "better" sound of IR's with EQ after the Helix Cab. I nudged 125k +2db too. 

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I think the DSP cost is the same for two cab blocks vs one dual cab block.

 

I just use the level controls on each cab in the dual block to mix them. The AB Split you mention is a good method too.

 

I guess you could test this by seeing if the DSP in a preset fills up earlier with two cab blocks vs. a dual cab block. Or... DI could just tell us  ;)

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Or... DI could just tell us  ;)

BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I spit out my soda when I read that! 

 

DI is in the Line 6 "Break Room" (a strip club near the Line 6 headquarters) right now laughing with all the other guys about that post!   :lol:

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So I've been doing some more experimenting on this and here is my conclusion at this point - more of a general conclusion about amp sounds on the Helix versus the Kemper - not just specific to getting an Amp in the Room sound. I'm lucky enough to have both of these things (for various reasons) so thought I'd share these learnings.

 

The Kemper has a way of truly sounding like a real recorded amp. Most likely this is because it is actually profiling the sound of a genuine real world mic'd up amp. 

 

The Helix is a pure digital recreation of an amp + cab + mics (obviously) and I genuinely have to say it does this very well. The ability to tweak and adjust all kinds of settings is tremendous. 

 

The dynamics and feel of both of these are great too. 

 

I play both of these through headphones when I want to play at home in the evenings and can't use my real amps. I have the Kemper setup with about 3.5 of the Space effect on and Pure Cab setting to 10 too. The Kemper literally sounds like an amp in a studio being played back through headphones. The Helix actually sort of sounds more accurate - but almost too accurate - no matter what mic / EQ / compression / early reflection settings I have setup. Its like the attack / upper mids is just a little too aggressive / bright.

 

An analogy might be that its as if the Kemper sound has been recorded using good old fashioned tape - ie. there is some compression and smoothing of the sound and there is a super natural bass sound that comes through. And there also seems to be some sort of "distance" between the amp sound and what I hear in my headphones.

 

I truly believe the Helix just needs some sort of effect (like a combined Space / Pure Cab filter in the Kemper) and maybe some kind smoothing to just take the edge of its "too accurate" modelling and help create the illusion of "a real amp being recorded".

 

Maybe the Helix could have a model of one of those famous mic pre-amps / compressors added as an effect block to help model what I believe sound engineers actually use post microphone when mic'ing up a cabinet. Could this possibly be a feature request?

 

I don't think I'm unique in how I hear the difference between these two units as I've read others say similar things. At the moment I still prefer to use my Kemper for "digital" amp playing / recording to DAW. But I would much rather be using the Helix due to absolutely everything else about it. 

 

In the meantime - if anyone truly knows how to use a DAW / plug-ins to help tame the accuracy of the Helix please let me know as that could be a workaround as well. 

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[...]

I play both of these through headphones when I want to play at home in the evenings and can't use my real amps. [...] The Kemper literally sounds like an amp in a studio being played back through headphones. The Helix actually sort of sounds more accurate - but almost too accurate - no matter what mic / EQ / compression / early reflection settings I have setup. Its like the attack / upper mids is just a little too aggressive / bright.

[...]

 

So you're referring to the 'amp in the headphone' thread ;)

 

I really can't find a specific 'Kemper sound' or 'Helix sound' (recorded or live, using headphones or speakers or whatever).

If there's something that seems 'too accurate' (artificial?) to me, I have ways to eliminate this on both devices.

 

The idea and concept is different. And you can benefit from both!

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  • 8 months later...

Reviving an old thread (sorry) I love that "amp in the room" sound and am happiest when going directly into my tube combo's "effects return" jack from the Helix. To me, nothing else sounds as good. Would still love to go full FRFR if I could figure out how to get that same sound, though.

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Reviving an old thread (sorry) I love that "amp in the room" sound and am happiest when going directly into my tube combo's "effects return" jack from the Helix. To me, nothing else sounds as good. Would still love to go full FRFR if I could figure out how to get that same sound, though.

 

You might experiment with combining IRs.  I know OwnHammer in particular provides IR's that capture both the front and rear of open back cabinets.  You can combine those in parallel paths and adjust the level of split between the two to maybe get close to what you're wanting.  I suspect, however, that what your ears are tuning into are the reflections from around the room which are reaching your ears at slightly different times.  There may be a good formula someone has found to get this effect, but I've never really tried.

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Reviving an old thread (sorry) I love that "amp in the room" sound and am happiest when going directly into my tube combo's "effects return" jack from the Helix. To me, nothing else sounds as good. Would still love to go full FRFR if I could figure out how to get that same sound, though.

 

 

you won't get that sound without an amp and a room.

 

Guitar speakers move air to your ears very differently from a FRFR cabinet. It's always going to be that way. Physics.

 

When you hear an amp sim through an FRFR, it isn't designed to compete with our sound like an amp in the room.

 

It is, rather, designed to sound like the amp miked up in the NEXT room played through an FRFR.

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you won't get that sound without an amp and a room.

 

Guitar speakers move air to your ears very differently from a FRFR cabinet. It's always going to be that way. Physics.

 

When you hear an amp sim through an FRFR, it isn't designed to compete with our sound like an amp in the room.

 

It is, rather, designed to sound like the amp miked up in the NEXT room played through an FRFR.

 

Is it that the "amp in the room" experience is a combination of both hearing and feeling the sound pressure from the speaker? Part of the fun of a live concert is the visceral feeling of the sound hitting you in the chest. On many occasions I've A-B'd a subtle effect like a compressor or an EQ and felt like it definitely sounded better one way, only to realize the only difference was a little extra volume. On embarrassingly many occasions, I thought the same thing when the effect I thought sounded so good wasn't even in the actual chain, and the mere belief that it was made me think one of the two identical sounds was better than the other. But if a simple boost in volume, or even a mere belief, can seem to make a sound seem better, especially once it starts thumping you in the chest, can't we be experiencing the same thing from the way speaker cabinets hit us?

I recall a recent post from someone answering a question about P/A style FRFR vs cabinet style FRFR powered speakers, and they pointed out that PA's are intended to send an even signal across a wide horizontal area but in a narrow vertical area, i.e., the front of an audience, while a cabinet is meant more to punch straight forward (or was it evenly in all directions?). My assumption, and I think what commentators like PeterHamm and others are saying is that a cabinet physically sends sound pressure waves into a space that your ear hears and feels in a certain way, while a PA speaker is literally designed not to do this, but to send the sound to your ear in a different way and with a different feel. You couldn't EQ or IR the Helix to change the physical properties of the PA speaker to make air move in a way it was not designed to do.

Sorry to add another unfortunate metaphor to the mix, but I'd say it's like having a flashlight and you want it to spread light all around the room like a lantern. So you go out and buy the exact light bulb they put in lanterns, use the same voltage batteries, install the same on-off switch, and replace the lens with the same material as the lantern is made from. But if you are still shining it through a flashlight, you might get the same color light and brightness, but it's still going to just shine a circle on your wall rather than evenly around the room, and look significantly different to your eyes, or as my grandfather called them, your "looking ears."

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.

Sorry to add another unfortunate metaphor to the mix, but I'd say it's like having a flashlight and you want it to spread light all around the room like a lantern. So you go out and buy the exact light bulb they put in lanterns, use the same voltage batteries, install the same on-off switch, and replace the lens with the same material as the lantern is made from. But if you are still shining it through a flashlight, you might get the same color light and brightness, but it's still going to just shine a circle on your wall rather than evenly around the room, and look significantly different to your eyes, or as my grandfather called them, your "looking ears."

 

This is a great metaphor for the difference between PA style FRFR speakers and cabinet based speakers.

 

First, that thump in your chest feel at concerts isn't coming from the stage.  It's coming from the FRFR speakers at the FOH.  The stage sound from the amps and cabinets on stage likely barely reaches the first row in the concert.  The thump in your chest at a concert typically comes from the high volume and, of course, the massive sub woofers.

 

As for the flashlight and lantern the analogy works because they are designed to do the exact same things as speakers versus cabinets.  A lantern is designed to throw light in all direction as is a cabinet.  It's not really designed to throw light a long distance in one direction, like a flashlight or a PA style speaker.

 

The analogy falls apart a bit when talking about the specific characteristics of cabinets and speakers in that cabinets radiate in all directions, but mostly forward unless it's an open back cabinet.  By all directions I mean forward, but evenly both vertical and horizontal.  The reason this doesn't work so well for PA's is because sound energy gets wasted going into the ceiling and floors.  Speakers conserve this energy by having a very wide horizontal beam, but a relatively narrow vertical beam.  This is the concept behind line array systems.  The reason those speakers form something of a semi-circle when mounted at a concert is because the top most speaker focuses it's sound energy toward the back of the concert hall, and the lower most focus their sound energy progressively toward the front of the audience which allows a more even distribution across the entire audience.

 

The other artifact of speakers versus cabinets that's different is that the sound tends to disperse frequency ranges differently at different angles (off axis) from the center a cabinet, whereas PA speakers are designed to have an even distribution of frequency ranges at off-axis angles from the speakers.  This is why your cabinet sounds different if you stand off to the side rather than straight in front of it.  It's possible that some FRFR cabinets incorporate these types of compensations, but I can't say for sure whether they do or not.

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[...]

The analogy falls apart a bit when talking about the specific characteristics of cabinets and speakers in that cabinets radiate in all directions, but mostly forward unless it's an open back cabinet.  By all directions I mean forward, but evenly both vertical and horizontal.  The reason this doesn't work so well for PA's is because sound energy gets wasted going into the ceiling and floors.  Speakers conserve this energy by having a very wide horizontal beam, but a relatively narrow vertical beam.  This is the concept behind line array systems.  The reason those speakers form something of a semi-circle when mounted at a concert is because the top most speaker focuses it's sound energy toward the back of the concert hall, and the lower most focus their sound energy progressively toward the front of the audience which allows a more even distribution across the entire audience.

 

I thought it might have been you who made that comment about sound radiation. Your point about frequency distribution is interesting. I can't think of any way a modeler could somehow create a signal that would cause a PA to suddenly distribute frequencies in a different way than it was designed to do. If we absolutely want an amp-in-the-room sound we need to plug the Helix into a powered cabinet.

Based on everyone's ideas, it sounds like we can recreate the resonance and time-based artifacts of amp-in-the-room sound, but not the frequency distribution (I'm sure I'm over-simplifying, though). So I wouldn't call it a fool's errand to try to get those time-based sounds, but absolute reproduction of amp-in-the-room with a PA not designed to do so must be impossible.

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It's the "microphone" used in the cab sim that changes everything. As PeterHamm said, it's designed to sound like an amp mic'd up in another room. Even a real amp mic'd up in another room won't sound the same as having the amp next to you because microphones don't "hear" things the same way our ears do. When you're next to the amp, you can also feel the air being moved by the speakers. There's no way to replicate that.

Basically, it comes down to getting used to the way a guitar amp sounds in a recording environment. Once you get used to that sound, it gets easier to deal with the lack of immediacy. I've gotten comfortable with both sounds but every time I use an amp at a gig, I always miss the flexibility that a modeler through a powered full range speaker gives me. That and the necessary tube amp volume required for it to feel good to play is often impractical for the gig. You end up being asked to turn it down and unless you want to get fired, you do turn it down and end up with an anemic and uninspiring sounding rig. So for me, unless it's a simple jazz gig, I'll take the Helix through a powered PA speaker anytime.

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Based on everyone's ideas, it sounds like we can recreate the resonance and time-based artifacts of amp-in-the-room sound, but not the frequency distribution (I'm sure I'm over-simplifying, though). So I wouldn't call it a fool's errand to try to get those time-based sounds, but absolute reproduction of amp-in-the-room with a PA not designed to do so must be impossible.

 

A recording isn't designed to reproduce the amp-in-the-room sound either.  In fact, other than standing near a live guitar amp you won't ever hear the amp-in-the-room sound and likely never will.  It's just something you get used to when you play through an amp and take it for granted.  That's why it's really only a special sound to the guitar player.  Chances are much greater that what comes out of a Helix into a typical FRFR speaker is exactly what your audience is more used to hearing in their headphones or stereos or even in concerts.  The oddity in all of this is that keyboard players don't seem to care so much about it.  They're perfectly fine with a studio based sound rather than a stage based sound.  But then they've had many more years working with modeled and sampled sounds than have guitar players, so they've just adapted.  We seem to be about the last ones to the party (other than drummers of course).

 

For a lot of us it's not a big deal, particularly if we're used to working in recording studios.  For some it's just something they can't live without when they play.  Fortunately the Helix provides ways of addressing it by going through a regular amp and cab if that's what you really want.

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The oddity in all of this is that keyboard players don't seem to care so much about it.  They're perfectly fine with a studio based sound rather than a stage based sound.  But then they've had many more years working with modeled and sampled sounds than have guitar players, so they've just adapted.  We seem to be about the last ones to the party (other than drummers of course).

 

 

That's not really surprising. With the exception of maybe some diehard Rhodes Suitcase players, most keyboardists have really required a full range system for their sounds.  And unlike guitar players, they're also not trying to get the tube power section of an amp to saturate. They want it well below that point as power tube saturation isn't really part of most keyboard players' ethos except for maybe Hammond B3 players. Even though Leslies have low and high frequency drivers, not sure you could call them full range and certainly not flat response.  There may be some exceptions but for the most part, it's not. Most keyboardists just don't have a tactile relationship with the amplification system like guitar players do.

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Us guitar players deal with tone in two distinct contexts. One is in the "amp in a room" where we're using a guitar amp and cabinet on stage behind us. This is unique in a lot of ways: that we're listening to something behind us, that the guitar speakers are very directional and the we are far enough off axis to miss a lot of the brittle, fizzy high end, its in a room, and its often really loud even interacting with the guitar strings. The second is recodings and concerts we attend. These are usually mic'd guitar cabinets where we are hearing the sound of the speaker close up, but processed through mixing and mastering in the song as a whole. This is an entirely different world.

 

Now It curious that we are able to interact with these two different contexts, switching from one to the other, and not complain about this vs. that loss. Its probably because this is the reality of how we hear things and learn what we like and don't like. We can easily translate between these context without much dissonance because we're very use to doing it.

 

Helix is somewhere between these, and that's what's odd about it. Its not an amp in the room because the cab and IR models all involve a microphone and what it hears based on its placement in front of the speaker - a place we never put our ears. And from the our perspective as performers, its not a mixed and mastered sound either. Its somewhere in between.

 

This is both a compromise and an opportunity. Instead of focusing so much on reproducing the "amp in the room" as a reference goal, why not be a bit more flexible and listen to Helix through our FRFRs as an opportunity to experience sound a new, interesting and flexible way? If we focus on what Helix is producing and how it contributes musically instead of how it reproduces something else, we might find new opportunities for exploration.

 

I've been experiencing this with my new JVT-69S for example. Its a pretty nice instrument, but it doesn't play or feel as nice as my Strat Deluxe or '67 Les Paul Deluxe (humm interesting how so many thing I really like in my life are deluxe). But the JVT is its own instrument, with a flexibility and different tones that open things up for new possibilities as well as convenience. For example, I found myself using the Spank models during last night's gig just to get a different Strat sound for different songs. Certainly the magnetic pickups sound "better". But the modeled sounds are different, and sometimes different is good.

 

We should all explore and embrace diversity as a way of opening discovery, learning, and creating opportunities we might not otherwise experience. To me, diversity brings interest and joy to life, not fear.

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And unlike guitar players, they're also not trying to get the tube power section of an amp to saturate. They want it well below that point as power tube saturation isn't really part of most keyboard players' ethos except for maybe Hammond B3 players.

 

My, my...how soon we forget overdriven Hammond B3's as a staple of music in the late 60's and 70's.....   ;)

 

But they still get it, just digitally through FRFR's nowdays..

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Us guitar players deal with tone in two distinct contexts. One is in the "amp in a room" where we're using a guitar amp and cabinet on stage behind us. This is unique in a lot of ways: that we're listening to something behind us, that the guitar speakers are very directional and the we are far enough off axis to miss a lot of the brittle, fizzy high end, its in a room, and its often really loud even interacting with the guitar strings. The second is recodings and concerts we attend. These are usually mic'd guitar cabinets where we are hearing the sound of the speaker close up, but processed through mixing and mastering in the song as a whole. This is an entirely different world.

 

Now It curious that we are able to interact with these two different contexts, switching from one to the other, and not complain about this vs. that loss. Its probably because this is the reality of how we hear things and learn what we like and don't like. We can easily translate between these context without much dissonance because we're very use to doing it.

 

Helix is somewhere between these, and that's what's odd about it. Its not an amp in the room because the cab and IR models all involve a microphone and what it hears based on its placement in front of the speaker - a place we never put our ears. And from the our perspective as performers, its not a mixed and mastered sound either. Its somewhere in between.

 

This is both a compromise and an opportunity. Instead of focusing so much on reproducing the "amp in the room" as a reference goal, why not be a bit more flexible and listen to Helix through our FRFRs as an opportunity to experience sound a new, interesting and flexible way? If we focus on what Helix is producing and how it contributes musically instead of how it reproduces something else, we might find new opportunities for exploration.

 

I've been experiencing this with my new JVT-69S for example. Its a pretty nice instrument, but it doesn't play or feel as nice as my Strat Deluxe or '67 Les Paul Deluxe (humm interesting how so many thing I really like in my life are deluxe). But the JVT is its own instrument, with a flexibility and different tones that open things up for new possibilities as well as convenience. For example, I found myself using the Spank models during last night's gig just to get a different Strat sound for different songs. Certainly the magnetic pickups sound "better". But the modeled sounds are different, and sometimes different is good.

 

We should all explore and embrace diversity as a way of opening discovery, learning, and creating opportunities we might not otherwise experience. To me, diversity brings interest and joy to life, not fear.

 

My take on all of this is that certain groups have a very hard time moving on toward something different than what they've always known.  Change is hard, but as Frank Zappa said, "change isn't just inevitable, it's necessary".

 

Guitar players and drummers seem to be that the top of the list for such things...drummers probably even moreso than guitar players.  And there may be some truth to the idea of a tactile visceral thing going on in both cases.  I can't say I've ever experienced it, and maybe that's why i've never been put off by actually seeking a more "studio" sound than "amp" sound in live gigs.  What drives and excites me is achieving a really well articulated, precision sound in a live environment...one that competes pretty effectively with a polished studio sound.  But I do agree that's a pretty scary leap for some people which makes it hard for them to embrace it.

 

I do think we're just at the beginning of performers at the upper end of entertainment echelon making that transition, which will probably help alleviate the fear of it from people in the trenches.  It's interesting to me to note how many of the drum kits used in big name bands are really driven by triggers through sampling machines nowdays, and we're even seeing the beginnings of this same type of transition with some bigger name bands and guitar players.  In those cases they've pretty much had to do it in order to have a competitive sound with the bands that have embraced it...and in the end that may have been what Uncle Frank was referring to as being necessary.

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[...]

 

We should all explore and embrace diversity as a way of opening discovery, learning, and creating opportunities we might not otherwise experience. To me, diversity brings interest and joy to life, not fear.

I'm in agreement. Truth be told, I do not prefer playing through a tube amp over most modelers I've ever used, and I prefer using a powered speaker to a cabinet. I started using modelers pretty quickly after I switched from acoustic to electric guitar, so I guess I never got used to playing through a traditional tube amp, at least not an expensive one.

 

What I've been curious about since before even the Helix was whether someone would ever come up with an amplifier model that is not based on a tube amp, or anything else that has been used to amplify guitars in the past. Or anything that actually exists for that matter. I don't know what this theoretical amp might look like, but I'd like to see someone smarter than me explore the idea.

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