If Only for Headphone Play / Recording, Unit or Software?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Longer, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Longer

    Longer Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't see myself going digital for live shows, but I like the idea for headphone practice and recording.

    With this being the case, and with software so much cheaper, wouldn't software be the best solution?

    If so, which software should I look into?
    If not, why, and which unit should I look into?

    Thank you!
     
  2. Sleepyhouse1422

    Sleepyhouse1422 Supporting Member

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    I started with an apogee jam and s-gear for the exact same situation. I planned to only used headphones at home and use amps/pedals for band situations. I tested the free trial of helix native and wasn’t overly impressed but after reading so much good things I felt I wasn’t getting the benefits due to my interface. I decided to make the leap to a helix as a trail with return option and couldn’t be happier. I recommend starting with s-gear if you are looking for basic “rock” tones as it does not have much in the way of effects.
     
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  3. Longer

    Longer Silver Supporting Member

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    Thank you.
    So the interface was the reason to move away from software?
    Could you go into more detail on this please?
    Thanks again! you
     
  4. Lord N

    Lord N Member

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    Depends on what you buy. Do you have a capable computer? Interface? DAW software? It can quickly add up.
    There is a lot of good free software out there though.
    S-Gear is paid and highly praised. Currently 130$.
    Then there is Amplitube, Revalver, Overloud TH4, Bias FX, Helix Native and on and on.... most (all?) have a free demo/trial period though.
    Software is great for recording as well as playing but it highly depends on the quality of the audio interface.
     
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  5. Longer

    Longer Silver Supporting Member

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    Great to hear.
    I have an ultra fast laptop with a Audient 22 interface. Guess I'll try the S-Gear and see if it fits my needs.
    Thank you!
     
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  6. Lord N

    Lord N Member

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    Np! It's a good amp sim for clean and rock'ish type of tones, if you are a metal head then another amp sim might be more suited.
     
  7. Doode

    Doode Member

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    Yep. I'd first start with these and the free versions and trials of the payware. They're much more versatile* and maybe sound better than budget hardware modelers, but maybe you don't like the workflow.
    For recording, I think software sims are great. But having to fire up your computer to noodle a bit might prevent you from noodling.

    * In terms of getting a sound. For realtime control, you will need additional hardware, whereas most hardware modelers have a couple of footswitches and maybe even an expression-pedal.
     
  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    You can look into phone apps, there are a few but I haven't used them so can't say which is the best.

    You can get one of this type of unit, a used Line 6 POD, Digitech RP series, or whatever and they often have headphone/recording out capabilities (you'd need to verify for your exact choice), or run it into one of those portable/mini amp boxes (Orange has one that about eight inches square, Fender, Gibson have comparable) that you could run one of these units into that and use the headphone out capabilities.



    .
     
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  9. Sleepyhouse1422

    Sleepyhouse1422 Supporting Member

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    Sorry for the late response. I think I was searching for the “next best thing” when I switched to the helix. I ha ent don’t much testing between it and the apogee jam interface but I might try that in the near future. Looking back I think I could have stayed with the apogee jam and sgear/helix native but am utilitizing the helix with a pedalboard through amps. I think either will be satisfying though headphones.
     
  10. Ejay

    Ejay Supporting Member

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    Vst like sgear is gonna serve you well.
    Question yourself If you want the “logistics” of a software solution. Booting up a pc, starting your daw....its a couple of minutes...but to some its to much.

    If you got a pedalboard in the house, you could consider one of those mooer amp pedals....super cheap, sound half decent, good backup when your amp fails on a gig.
    If you have a preamp on your board..maybe a mooer radar.
     
  11. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    If you're just playing at home I'd say software. And if you play out and have a decent laptop... I'd still say software. I have one rig for absolute everything now.
     
  12. slugworth

    slugworth Supporting Member

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    If you already have the computer and interface running at low latency, software trials are your best bet to see what you like. I like Amplitube the best and Helix Native second best. Mercuriall Spark and Revalver are great low-cost options. If you own (meaning, have an active registration for) any Helix hardware, they let you get Helix Native for $99.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that hardware units are much easier to resell used. So if you are concerned about resale value at all, that is a solid PRO for hardware and CON for software.

    IMHO the best bang-for-your buck for hardware modeling right now is HX Stomp, where an extra $99 also gets you Helix Native. The best tone is AX8 or Axe-FX 3. If you are operating on a very tight budget and want hardware, you could get a Digitech RP360 for peanuts. It has very good Deluxe Reverb and 5150 amp models, plus a surprisingly good rhythm section for practicing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  13. primemover12

    primemover12 Member

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    You'd probably get along really well with a good interface and some software amp sims. I used to alternate between two very loud real world rigs (a Fender blackface and a 5150); and amp sims slowly replaced them completely in my playing.

    There's about a half-dozen great amp sims out there, another half dozen good ones, and like 50 others that range widely.

    To recommend the best one, we'd need to know what kinds of tones you're after.

    I was after basically three sets of tones: very high gain Vai/Satriani lead sounds, glassy Fender cleans, and edge-of-breakup Vox and tweed sound. For these purposes, I'd recommend the following:

    Peavey's ReValver 4. Far less popular than the others on this list, but I think it does the best at modeling the real interaction between guitar and amp (it's the only software option that actually models the strength of your pickups rather than just the loudness of the signal you feed it). The 6505, the Basic 100, and the Fox are excellent amps. And you get an enormous amount of mic, cabinet, and effects options with the $99 bundle. Peavey's development team is smaller than others, so updates come a bit slower, but I have it on good authority that a new release is coming quickly. Every bit of it is endlessly tweakable. You can switch out preamp tubes, power amp tubes, change bias, adjust variation in components in pedals, and even mess with cabs. A few other modeling companies offer this level of detail, but at like 3 times as much money, and their amps still don't sound as good (looking at you, Bias).

    S-Gear 2.7. This is the standard TGP recommendation. It's a small set of tools that are very well made. It's the software equivalent of buying a Two Rock amp and an Echoplex and then insisting your rig does everything. It doesn't. But what it does do, it does so beautifully. S-Gear has five versatile and highly usable amp models, a chorus/flanger, a delay, and a reverb. You can get very credible tweed, blackface, plexi, and Mesa Mark tones. And unlike many software packages, the presets in S-Gear are pretty usable right away. Want a weird comparison? I think of S-Gear like the grocery store Trader Joe's. People are absolutely rabid fans of TJs because they do their thing better than almost anyone else. But their thing is a pretty narrow business and, as a result, even if you love Trader Joe's, you'll end up having to go to other grocery stores to buy the stuff they don't sell. Likewise, if you love S-Gear, you'll probably end up having to get other software to simulate pedals (there's none in S-Gear) and other outboard effects. Still, for what it is, it's amazingly good.

    Amplitube 4. This is the Coca Cola of amp modeling software in that it is so well known as to feel almost generic at this point. And like Coke, they've got a million brand extensions and options. The software is available a la carte or in bundles. I'd recommend trying things out on the custom shop (you can demo anything for like 48 hours, I think). Make a list of what you like and what you don't. If you like one or two things, you might want to buy them. But it adds up quickly and the bundles become much smarter options fast. IK Multimedia runs sales regularly and the discounts are sometimes enormous. So if you want Amplitube, buy a bundle, and wait for a sale. I spurned Amplitube for a long time because the 5150/6505 sim is total garbage. But that's because it's a very old model still held over from the previous version of the software. The recent models--the Mesa collection, the Fender collection, the Orange amps, and most of the Marshalls--are significantly better. Amplitube has also become my go-to for random guitar parts that won't figure prominently in a song but add some flavor. That rhythm part that I want to have a swirling, tremolo sound? The chunky power chorded part that's going to sit behind the lead guitar? A heavily phased, weird Trower thing I want to do in an outro? Amplitube has so damned many stomps, amps, and rack effects that I can usually find something that'll do what I want. It's the swiss army knife of amp sims. Like a swiss army knife, it's not going to be the best knife, corkscrew, nail file, or screwdriver you've ever used--but if you just want one thing that has all the tools; this might be the one you want.

    I'm not a fan of Helix Native or Overloud, but you can find plenty of people who love them as well.

    There's more options like these that, in my experience, are overpriced or not up to the standard set by these three. They include:

    Bias Amp & Bias FX (overpriced, ****** user interface, and sound a bit more compressed/brittle)
    Guitar Rig (outdated models)
    Pod Farm (outdated models and shockingly overpriced at this point)

    Finally, there's a lot of smaller packages modeling single amps. Some of these are quite good (like the LePou plugins, which sound very strong for their age) and others are kind of crap. Most are free, so try them out and see for yourself.

    My last piece of advice is that, as ever, marketing and results don't necessarily match up. Don't take the avalanche of big name people recording demos of a sim as proof that it's the next great thing. If you watch long enough, you'll see those same big names pimping some other amp sim next week.
     
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  14. Longer

    Longer Silver Supporting Member

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    Thank you everyone for taking the time to share such great information. It is truly appreciated!
     
  15. Tony Foran

    Tony Foran Supporting Member

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    How does Garageband compare to the others ?
     
  16. primemover12

    primemover12 Member

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    Garageband isn't solely a modeler. It's a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that comes with a number of virtual instruments and plugins. Among these is Apple's "Amp Designer," which features a couple dozen amp models. I don't think I've ever heard anyone regard them as exceptional, but they'd be ok for starting out and getting used to modeling.
     
  17. Tony Foran

    Tony Foran Supporting Member

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    Ok, thanks. I can never get any pleasing sound out it and didn't know if the others were better.
     
  18. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    One thing I'd like to point out that for user experience it's a lot more fun to turn real knobs than virtual ones with a mouse and likewise you don't usually have to worry about latency or the quality of your audio interface with hardware units. I would just go try a Yamaha THR10 and see how that works for you as it's super easy to use and gives you little speakers for when you don't have to necessarily use headphones. I feel headphones are always the worst option for playing guitar no matter how good they are.
     
  19. primemover12

    primemover12 Member

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    I've personally never had any luck with it, but I haven't played with it long enough to know if there's great tones hidden in there or not.
     
  20. paulvcarter

    paulvcarter Member

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