In the digital age, we’re all quickly getting used to instant gratification. We’ve got tons of power at our fingertips with our laptops, and we’re always on the move.
Adding a good amp sim to that mix gives you an entire recording studio of gear with a few clicks. This works wonders when traveling since being on the road can often mean crowded rooms, thin hotel walls – situations where you just flat-out won’t be able to crank up an amp and play.
Simulators are reaching near-perfect emulation to the real thing, and blind tests continue to prove it. A well thought out amp sim is going to take into account tonal variations between gear, how the knobs affect the sound, and even how different pedals in the chain are going to add coloration.
Professionals who work with the real gear build these simulations, and their quality shows.
Sometimes you want “larger than life” tone.
It’s why we love snares with enough body & reverb to sound like shotgun blasts.
When developing amp simulators, we’re taking the same approach. With real amps, you’ve got tons of limitations:
- Too many pedals creating “tone suck”
- Too much (or not enough) head room
- Tube Biasing
- Power Fluctuations
But we don’t have to fight that in the digital realm. We emulate circuits, add to them, and grow them until we get the results we want. The result is always that “larger than life” tone that sounds good no matter how you tweak it.
Even the most high-end studios are keeping amp sims loaded on their computers today. Budgets aren’t unlimited, and as much as we’d love to see a wall of amps, it’s not realistic for most projects.
What is realistic is having something that will let you audition all of those sounds when tracking to find the right one. If you find one you like, you’re then able to go out and buy or rent the equipment needed for the real thing.
Not so surprisingly, these amp sim tones make it into the final recording one way or another, and it usually has to do with the guitarist or engineer loving the sound so much, there’s no point in re-tracking or re-amping it with the real thing.
Ease of Use/Comfort
At the end of the day, recording workflow is a big piece of any successful engineer/producer’s career. With amp sims, we can streamline a process that otherwise takes up our valuable time. It opens us up to working on things that can’t be as easily emulated in-the-box.
It also gets us closer to the artists were working with. By using an amp sim, we can sit down with the guitarist and have an open dialogue about the sounds were getting. No cold talkback mic and a face-to-face situation where we can be honest about the sound we’re getting – adjusting it on the fly.
There are plenty of reasons pros are using this stuff, and it translates easily to everyone trying to capture good recordings at any point in their career. Go ahead and try it out for yourself, it’s never been easier!