Has Amp Modeling Technology Hit the Ceiling?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Ken, Nov 1, 2005.


  1. Ken

    Ken Member

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    It seems that the digital method (amp modeling) of re-producing amp tones has not really shown any substantial improvements in quite some time, which indicates that maybe the technology has reached its limitation.

    Outside of tweaking the current technologies that have been in place the past few years, I have not seen anything new on the horizon that makes me feel that we are ready for the next big thing in amp modeling.

    I understand these companies, like Line 6 bring out the ads (marketing) to make you think they are progressing, but these only seem like very minor tweaks intended to keep sales moving forward.

    Anyone have any information to offer, if indeed this technology is showing any promise to get us "Tube Lovers" to make the jump? :eek:
     
  2. TieDyedDevil

    TieDyedDevil Member

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    Rumor has it that one of the big names in modelling is going to start offering floorboards in different colors. Colors, dude! Collect them all! :p


    Seriously, though...

    I agree with you. The trend has been to layer more features and complexity upon the same tired old technology. The only company that's bucking the trend is Vox with their ToneLab products. They're using a completely different technology that doesn't rely on DSP for amp modelling.

    I think modelling has run out of steam because the DSP-based technology was based upon the (flawed, IMO) premise that you can model the dynamic behavior of a guitar amp using some steady-state approximations. Doing it right (by creating an accurate circuit model rather than a simplified transfer function) is difficult, expensive and probably way beyond the reach of DSP technology.
     
  3. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    the only mod amps i can stand are the Vox amps

    There is no second for me, i prefer tubes and always will
     
  4. electronpirate

    electronpirate Member

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    I disagree.

    I think that it's just getting started. The best ones have already added a small tube.

    I've had (and would still have if not for the 'too many amps' from the wife) a Valvetronix. Very versatile, very 'responsive like a tube amp'. Loved all the tones except for the Mesa Rect. emulations.

    Also since the Line6 and Valvetronix have done a pretty decent job (opinions may vary!), and tube amps have become MUCH more versatile (Herbert, Superly, etc) the clamor for additional technology is just not there yet.

    EP.
     
  5. rwe333

    rwe333 Supporting Member

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    I thought the now-discontinued Yamaha DG-series was pretty happening for some sounds...
     
  6. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    The market always goes where the profit is. Modelers have been out for quite some time now. There isn't a major manufacturer that doesn't have some type of "effect" in one of it's amps. Remember that the GP is not the market, GC is the market. All those amps you hate and make fun of outsell the amps you drool over by a huge margin. What's next ? Tube amps from China and beyond. Look at Vox, Epi, Peavey and the rest. Their just the tip of the iceberg. It's called change , and it's a good thing. I can hardly wait for $500 hand wired p to p amps to start coming from overseas.
     
  7. Ken

    Ken Member

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    That's the thing about the Modelers...They Model a sound but do not really get the essence of the dynamics, warmth and feel. I guess right now you can only get that from the good old vacuum tube!

    And thats at the heart of my post...I know some play and like modelers, but I was talking more about technological improvements that would make someone like me sell my Bogner Shiva and buy the modeling amp.
     
  8. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    I agree totally. Whether one likes the amp modeling or not, there seems to be no selection of non-rack-based multieffect units that focus on the effects only. They all have to include the amp modeling that you must bypass to use the effects with your amp. And in some units, the bypassing doesn't come without tonal penalty.

    Regarding the original comment on amp modeling, I don't think it's hit a ceiling, but perhaps a temporary plateau.
     
  9. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    I believe one would be more inclined to keep the Bogner and buy the modeler. Although I prefer my tube amp, sometimes the modeler hits a spot my tube amp won't do. To me, modelers are not amp replacements necessarily, but are in some sense a different form of instrument that complements the choice of tones.

    Amp modelers remind me of the time when digital algorithm synthesizers from Yamaha hit the market after people were acclimated to analog synths. The digital algorithms were horrible at making rich acoustic instrument tones. But they were great at certain less natural tones, or purer harmonic tones like certain kinds of bells, etc. Synths eventually relaxed their pursuit of an algorithmic approach to generating tones and went toward manipulating samples of the real thing.

    I wonder if amp modelers will eventually somehow become sample based. ;)
     
  10. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Not an amp as such but I thought NI's Guitar Rig was a major step forward in modelling technology.
     
  11. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    My view is that some of them sound good at low volumes.
    On stage they have a nasty habit (haven't heard the Vox stuff) of coming over as weak, thin and completely failing to cut through with any authority.
    This seem to be the most simple problem to solve:D

    Best, Pete.
     
  12. electronpirate

    electronpirate Member

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    If you have the chance, check out a Vox VTX. It has the punch of a tube amp, at very reasonable volumes. It cut through in a two guitar - keys band nicely. The other guitarist (playing pedals and a 5150 II) was frequently jealous that I could go from a Voxy ballad tone, to a ballsout Marshall with a step.

    Keep in mind, with ANY modeler, that a decent part of your tone is high wattage moving a speaker cone, so it's very tough to get that without cranking.

    Add a +1 to that about the effects as well. There are so many crappy multi-effects things out there. I want one that can do many things, with NO distortion models, and don't want to pay 1k+ for it.

    I have gone through SO many iterations of effects. I had the Vox (decent FX), to tube and a G- Major (okay, but never quite seemed to give me what I wanted), to just plain pedals (better, but sort of dull after awhile), now I have an Xpression on the way, and hoping that it will scratch the itch (credit the Herbert demo video with this new revelation.)

    EP
     
  13. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    It's well within the reach of DSP technology from a few years back. The thing it's not within the reach of is the DSP guys that are working in the guitar amp modeling business. The cell phone people hired a huge amount of DSP talent over the past decade, and so the price of hot DSP guys is very high.

    At some point, someone will get around to it. It's not that different from the old days - the guys designing guitar amps from tubes were getting ideas from the RCA Radiotron Designer's Handbook; the guys writing that book were doing things twenty years before that are fancier than almost anything that ever got into a guitar amp.

    What I'm saying is that the limits of technology are really not the things that limit guitar amps. How many guitar players and how much they're going to pay is the thing that limits it.
     
  14. rastaman

    rastaman Member

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    I love the sound and smell of vacuum tubes!!
     
  15. VacuumVoodoo

    VacuumVoodoo Member

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    There are things happening in Sweden in this area, check these guys
     
  16. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

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    My experience with modeling amps is 100% limited to recording and I must say that it has been very positive. I always receive great comments from other players and producers on my guitar sounds.

    Unfortunately for live gigging guitarists, I think that the areas that have progressed the most are in the software now available. In my own experience, I feel that using Line 6 Amp Farm gives me much better sounding results than a Pod or one of their amps. Of course, I have a few little tricks signal chain wise and some real high end mic pre's and A/D convertors that can make a huge diference in the end result. I also think that this points out the fact that maybe not enough attention and quality is going into the analog portion of these products. This is something I think is starting to be of concern to companies like Waves, who have had PRS design an interface as a front end for there software. I personaly use a VHT Valvulator as the front end because I like the fact that I'm going through a good old tube, but any good buffered FX box will do wonders.

    In an effort to wean myself off of Amp Farm I've been buying a lot of new and old amps and putting a new recording rig together. It will be interesting to see how much better going back to real amps actually is (or is not).

    Kenny M.
     
  17. telelion

    telelion Member

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    I'm with the ones who said why isn't there a simple affordable effects floor unit without the modelers. A pick-up and go unit for gigging when you leave the boutique pedals at home or for just playing with your Pro Jr. at home. Ideally Boss would package a few of their highest regarded stomp boxes together but they probably don't want to and admittedly it would cost a bit more but it would be nice to own as a backup. Ibanez used to have such a product I believe with a TS and a few other effects. I would think Zoom or somebody would see the market for making a decent unit very affordably that covered the basics.
     
  18. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    I have to take back what I said about the guys doing this stuff.

    At Linkoping, (because they have Lennart Ljung), they know pretty well what they are doing with system identification. I have some differences with their way of doing things, but they are mostly high quality guys.

    EDIT: I just checked - their math guru is Fredrik Gustafsson; he would be doing things in a way that would make a lot of sense to me.

    I will be very interested to hear what they've come up with.
     
  19. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    Why the wink? I think you're right on

    /rick
     
  20. hunter

    hunter Supporting Member

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    Just did a gig this weekend using a Roland Cube 60. Uses Roland's COSM modeling method (no I don't know what that is). I used two models, the "Brit Combo" (AC30) and the "Black Panel" (Twin). Not crazy loud stage volume but we had a full band including B3, and a horn section. I didn't use any pedals and controlled the amp with the guitar volume. Decent tube amplike feel (especially the Blank Panel - very Fendery). Not thin or weak at all. And in a tiny box too.

    So I find there is at least one working modeling amp out there.Have to get a few more gigs on it to really say for sure though. I realize the question was has modeling hit the ceiling. That I don't know but I do still see signs of improvement so my guess would be no. Even if the modeling is peaking out, the method of packaging and implementing (gig quality parts, cabinets, speakers, effects support etc) has got room to improve.

    In the timeline of amp development modeling is brand new. Look how long it took for the high gain multichannel amp to emerge. About 20 years after Fender started amp production in earnest. Gotta give the modeling guys some time.

    FWIW I have also gotten a lot of good use out of a DG Stomp too. For recording, the convenience is tough to beat. I haven't DI'd the Cube yet but I'm thinking it is gonna work well that way.

    hunter
     

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