If modeling is “just as good as the real thing” these days, why is analog still super popular?

JPIndustrie

Member
Messages
1,371
Because its not..

I just pulled my Mesa Mark IV from the basement as I was getting ready to start practicing with a band again.. this is after 1-2 straight years of just using plugins/HX stomp/etc

Minute I plugged in the sound was just indescribable ...

no replacement for true analog tone
 

MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,694
I have actually considered getting a lower wattage tube head like the PRS Tremonti 15 watt thingy and a 2 note captor for recording at home. I don't really use too many tones. A good clean, good mid gain, good high gain, and a boost/low gain drive pedal is all I really need. I am perfectly happy with the sounds I am getting from my modelling software for recording, but the advantage to ME would be consistency. I can take the amp out to rehearsals or gigs and still get the same sounds as I get when I record. I don't think it will increase the quality of my recorded sounds, but i can craft a sound and carry it with me, which is appealing. I suppose a modeler could do that too.

It's just a thought.....perhaps a Kemper would be even better but I am trying to work out how i would monitor it onstage. the FRFR thing does not seem cool to me, but it has cab sim baked into the profile so running a traditional guitar cabinet makes no sense. Hmmmm.
 

Silent Sound

Member
Messages
6,232
Honest question. I hear of so many people these days ditching their amps and pedals and getting a Helix, Kemper, or a Fractal unit, and claiming it’s “just as good” as the real stuff. So if it’s really that great these days, why are tube amps and analog pedals still selling really well?

Just wanted to get peoples opinion on this matter. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m just curious why real amps and pedals are still really popular, when apparently digital has “caught up” to the real deal according to a lot of people.
Are tube amps and analog pedals still selling really well? I'm not seeing that. I'm not seeing modelers sell really well either, though.

Anyway, if there's one thing I've learned about guitarists, it's that they listen with their emotions and money, not their ears. And then they hop online to defend the stuff they own. There's very little objectivity. It's just a million people screaming out into the void about how insecure they are not being, which is pretty much the hallmark of insecurity.

The fact is, few people actually listen to a guitar's tone when they listen to a song. And the majority of the music we do listen to has some pretty atrocious guitar tone, which is necessary to make a good mix. So if you actually have decent ears and can actually recognize decent tone when you hear it, then you'll realize that there's very little decent tone out there, and when you do hear it, it pretty much ruins the song.
 

GreatSatan

Member
Messages
2,025
to my ear, some stuff sounds musical and some doesn't.
digital always seemed a li'l flat and grey to me, lifeless. whereas analog is in full color.
 

ntotoro

Member
Messages
836
Some people like to use crazy “hybrid” rigs.

Analog and/or digital pedals in front of a tube amp and modeling for time-based effects in the loop of a tube amp. Guess it does take all types.
 

thebard42

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,024
I love my Kemper, but I do hate the work flow, I much prefer a more modular solution. Some of the other platforms allow more options, but there is something great about running analog (or digital for that matter) pedals into an amp (or Kemper).

Also, if you don't have good PA support or a soundman that is competent, then running a modeler direct can be a frustrating experience.

It boils down to different tools for different applications.
 

ESW.

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
594
I'm super happy with my Axe-FX III, but I think it's much easier (and intuitive) to use analog gear because there are so few variables to contend with.
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,265
I think I've got a nice combo of options going that pay homage to all the tech!

I have a Kemper which I've had for a while now. I could live on this alone and be good. I can effectively cover live, rehearsals, and recording. I like the sound and feel in all three scenarios.

I have an all analog board with the Tech 21 British as the "brain". It's basically just that and some different flavors of overdrive and fuzz. No time based effects and no wah. I can run that direct to a PA as a backup to the Kemper or, I can turn of the cab sim and send that to the last component of my rig...

I have a Fryette Power Station...tube power amp + attenuator...into a Port City Vertical OS 2x12 with Greenbacks. That can either take a direct profile from my Kemper or, I'll run my analog board into it. This is for the occasional "let's feel a tube amp" time or if I get a chance to get outdoors and I want to feel and push volume. FWIW, I like the feel in the room of the analog board a little better but I get effects with the Kemper.

While I still want a real Plexi-style tube amp, I wonder to what end? I have all these other ways to get that convincingly recorded or live and I can't really crank things in my neighborhood. I'm also not in a band right now and that's unlikely to change anytime soon with COVID.

I love these threads for "modeling is for kids and sounds like mediocre crap i.e. no real man or musician would use one" or "tried the <insert top of the line modeler> and then I tried my all tube equivalent and the all tube equivalent absolutely destroyed it". The absolutes and superlatives are pretty rich!
 

ndtealmusic

Member
Messages
1,407
I totally get the appeal of "going digital," and I have no issue popping a few digital pedals in the modulation, delay, and reverb slots. Or even digitally controlled analog drives. The hitch for me with going to a multi-fx unit like a Helix or GT-1000 or the like really just boils down to a few points.

1. Option paralysis. Some guys claim these units "cure" their GAS. In reality, it just packs the entire pedal and amp selection from your local Guitar Center into a single unit for you to tinker with endlessly. YMMV, but I'm a tinkerer. I seldom settle on a single setting for too long on any pedal, so limiting the avenues within which to tinker is better for my practice time.

2. The buzz. The vain part of me speaking here. There is a legit buzz you get when you get a new package in the mail and plug it in for the first time. It might be short-lived, but...shoot. I'm an addict.

3. Setup. The claim is often that setup is quicker and easier and blah, blah, blah. I've learned to shop for amp heads that have onboard speaker emulation and XLR outs. Alot of which are crap. But the right one is gold. My go-to was a Laney L5 Studio. It was an appropriate volume at home, but it sounded huge just running direct to the house. All in all, two extra cables to plug in. And a mere 17 extra pounds. Big whoop. Oh, and it saved me from worrying about whether I wanted the Marshall sound or the Box sound from one day to the next.

There's more, but I have an appointment to get to.
 

griggsterr

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,014
Saw him in Austin last October. While setting up he said he forgot his pedalboard at home. He runs to his car and comes back with an Xotic SP Comp and says "I found this on the floor of my car". He was using a Two Rock amp (not his PRS Sig) and sounded phenomenal. Basically guitar into amp most of the night.
He seemed like the kind of guy that could forget his pedalboard. Also he was a very lucky man indeed if he also had another cable and that comp had a good battery in it.
 

mtmartin71

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,265
I totally get the appeal of "going digital," and I have no issue popping a few digital pedals in the modulation, delay, and reverb slots. Or even digitally controlled analog drives. The hitch for me with going to a multi-fx unit like a Helix or GT-1000 or the like really just boils down to a few points.

1. Option paralysis. Some guys claim these units "cure" their GAS. In reality, it just packs the entire pedal and amp selection from your local Guitar Center into a single unit for you to tinker with endlessly. YMMV, but I'm a tinkerer. I seldom settle on a single setting for too long on any pedal, so limiting the avenues within which to tinker is better for my practice time.

2. The buzz. The vain part of me speaking here. There is a legit buzz you get when you get a new package in the mail and plug it in for the first time. It might be short-lived, but...shoot. I'm an addict.

3. Setup. The claim is often that setup is quicker and easier and blah, blah, blah. I've learned to shop for amp heads that have onboard speaker emulation and XLR outs. Alot of which are crap. But the right one is gold. My go-to was a Laney L5 Studio. It was an appropriate volume at home, but it sounded huge just running direct to the house. All in all, two extra cables to plug in. And a mere 17 extra pounds. Big whoop. Oh, and it saved me from worrying about whether I wanted the Marshall sound or the Box sound from one day to the next.

There's more, but I have an appointment to get to.

Thoughtful post and great points. I'm with you on all of them. The Kemper is > than an AxeFX in this regard, I found. It's workflow helps you avoid the tinkering.

FWIW, I think if you can simplify and get rid of time based effects and not make them a part of your core sound, tube amps are much simpler. Once you get into time based effects in your signal chain, and you like Marshall like amp distortion vs. pedal distortion on top of a clean Fender, then the compromises and cable spaghetti start piling up.
 

randombastage

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,628
I have never, in all my years of modeler/amp sim tweaking started a thread, or even found one, on how to get my amp sound to be closer to the 'amp in the room sound'...
 

howdy-doo

Member
Messages
344
Wow 8 pages already! I'm only on the first so I'm sure someone has said it, but the difference in my opinion (for the current top end modellers / profilers) is the amp in the room thing and knowing you aren't playing through a 'real' amp.

The amp in the room is solved pretty easily, just stick it through a standard cab or use something like the kemper kone on the kemper. The 'knowing you're playing through digital' type thing is much harder. People have an expectation, quite rightly from what we've all experienced in older generations of digital, that digital is bad, different, at least not as good as analogue. I'm convinced that when you play through digital with higher expectations or preconceived notions you pick up on the little niggles of an analogue amp, niggles that you just would just accept or even not notice when playing the real thing because that's just the amp, but because you're playing digital, no it's too fizzy, too present etc etc.

I've played through analogue for years, I've now played through digital for years. In a double blind test I'm convinced you'd be hard pressed to pick out the digital one from a line up of random amps all (including the digital one) through a real speaker, it's just got too good.

As to your actual question, why is analogue still so popular? Who knows for sure, but I think it's a mix of nostalgia for classic amps and preconceived notions about digital. At the end of the day if enough people say digital isn't good, whether they've tried it or not, the idea picks up traction and influences people. It's not as if it's hard to get an analogue amp still, so many will see that as the 'safe' option.
 

griggsterr

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,014
I'm pretty committed to the whole digital and modelling thing.
Do they sound and feel exactly like really good tube amps. Heck no. BTW, there are many many tube amps that also sound like crap. I could start a whole thread on famous tube amps that suck.
But the modelling digital world for audio period cannot be denied it's too convenient, predictable, transportable, indestructible, lightweight too ignore. And at this stage it's too good to ignore if you are in need of at least 2 of the things I listed.
 

ben777

Member
Messages
698
Whatever you like is fine.

There's this online stereotype that:
- Tube amps are always way too loud
- Tube amps are always way too heavy
- Tube amps blow up tubes constantly and fail constantly
- You need 10 tube amps so you can switch amps for the tonez (cause you can do that with modelers)

I have had none of this experience. My tube amp is simple, it's not hard to move, it's never broken or been unreliable, it works at all the ranges of volumes I need, etc...

It seems like here on TGP most people have actually owned/played a tube amp. If I go look on Reddit there are tons of players who have never tried one and you constantly see posts about people being shocked that the tube amp is actually playable at home and sounds great and doesn't weigh 75lbs.

It's a weird world.

Analog is simple... simple is good. Turn it on and practice. Practice is good.

I barely even touch any of the knobs on my Tube amp. It sits there and I turn it on and play. It's extremely satisfying that I just leave everything where it is and it's all good.

Quite a few of my pedals I use with my tube amp are digital.. I'm not against digital, and I have a modeling amp too (THR) that has it's uses. But there is nothing modeling does that I actually *need* either. I keep my digital pedals simple FWIW... no alternate functions, no presets, etc.. everything needs to be able to be dialed in and then just leave the knobs where they are. If anything the Reverb pedal is the one that gets adjusted for different music.
 

McShred

Member
Messages
2,939
Because, as others have said, modeling just isn't as good.

Modeling is pretty darn good, and in many cases its good enough, but no one ever sat next to a modeler and the real thing and chose the modeler on sonics alone.
 




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