My #1 Modeling Tip

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by db9091, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. db9091

    db9091 Member

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    Turn down the $#@#% volume.

    Why?

    a) Hearing Loss
    b) Gain Staging

    The first is obvious but it helps to get a dB meter and check out your loudness (headphones, monitors, amps, etc.) Most of my hearing damage (not related to age) came from headphones.

    Gain Staging is important especially for effects. Either on-board, or in a DAW's plugin. They won't sound optimal if the input is too hot. Some may be blaming an FX for sounding bad when it's really due to running a signal too loud into it. Especially in DAW's plugins. It may help drastically to low the signal from one plugin -> plugin and only make it louder at the end.

    I read a definite number of folks not initially liking their modeler from just going out too hot. On my modeler, going out -12dB to an Audio Interface seems optimal most times. You gotta play with these things to learn what's optimal, but in a DAW you can use a visual meter plugin to see what's going on if the plugin doesn't have one built-in. Staying below -10dB seems to work well going into any FX so that the output sounds like the FX is meant to.
     
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  2. Imerkat

    Imerkat Member

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    I can tell this is a wide-spread issue when sharing presets with others. Though i think modelers like the Amplifire have the opposite problem where the factory presets and the like are too low and causing high floor-noise when i turn up the monitor.
     
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  3. db9091

    db9091 Member

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    Never toyed with Amplifier, but I wonder how much the guitar's input affect this then.
    Do they have an INPUT setting?
    I'd imagine they have to handle everything from Active inputs to weak single coils.
     
  4. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    There is definitely a difference between preset volumes depending on who created it. Some presets in the Google share were absolutely cranking and others were quiet as a mouse. I find I like to crank things in the preset a bit and use the knob on the Atomic versus reaching behind my FRFR and adjusting volume there. I know it's not the "right way" to do it; but it just works better for me.
     
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  5. Imerkat

    Imerkat Member

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    Definitely does not. It's why I have to keep in mind which guitar i used to create a preset.

    I'm definitely guilty of this, my presets were created with a different output guitars. didn't dawn on me they only sound leveled to me and not others lol
     
  6. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    Ehhh I have some hotter pickup'd guitars and some not so hot and I never found a big difference in volumes between them.
     
  7. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    If you're talking about linear effects (i.e., those that contain no compression or distortion), then there are only two issues of concern: clipping and signal/noise.

    See above. If a signal is strong enough to change the sound quality of a linear effect, then clipping is occurring.

    That is an extreme measure. If you have no means to identify clipping, it's a safe way to go.

    "-12dB" is a ratio of 1:4 and is meaningless by itself. 1:4 relative to what?

    Again, the important thing is to avoid clipping.
     
  8. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    Yep. And there are important considerations in setting signal levels that many preset creators have not taken into account.

    That's an incomplete explanation. "Crank things in the preset a bit" relative to what?
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  9. JohnB

    JohnB Member

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    It's one louder, isn't it?
     
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  10. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    Meaning I don't set my presets so that I crank the actual Level knob on the amplifire to configure the avoidance of clipping. I run the master and level parameters up a bit in the presets. My powered speaker is cranked and I use the Atomic level knob for volume control. I never get it much past about 40%. Once Atomic gets their bulk editing capability game up to (my) speed where I can tweak presets on a global basis; I will revisit that thought process.
     
  11. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    Sooner or later, that will bite you.

    "up a bit" compared to what?

    Not good, for two reasons. First, you're amplifying any noise in the monitor's input circuitry by the maximum amount possible. In order to get the best signal/noise performance, you want to maximize signal and minimize gain (voltage amplification, not distortion).

    Second, if you inadvartently switch to a preset that is much louder than the one you're playing, you run the risk of causing an explosive sonic event. That may or not hurt your monitor, but it can certainly hurt your ears, and you can be reasonably certain that your audiences will not be entertained. Especially if you're playing a ballad. :waiting

    There is no possibility that "bulk editing" will ever help you on this one. Since the required level setting for a preset will depend on settings in multiple blocks in a preset, you will always have to adjust on a per-preset basis. Why you see this as some kind of big deal is a complete mystery. It takes a few seconds per preset to deal with.
     
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  12. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    Master volume up; amp level up beyond the 0db mark. Louder compared to a ton of presets on the share and TAF and factory stuff. MBritt, Singtall and Fremen stuff are in the same ballpark, level-wise.

    I run 2, 3 presets (if you are pushing it). No inadvertent switches will happen unless there is a issue with the unit as I have no external switching configured.

    Bulk (perhaps Global should be the term I use?) editing/changes would help in this regard. As it stands now; I would have to go through this process on EVERY. SINGLE. PRESET. Which, whether you think it or not; is a huge pain in the a$$ and a big factor in my decision stick with 2/3 presets in a variety band that could probably get away with at least 10 presets, if not more.

    Mass preset editing on the Amplifire is a headache. Whether it is any worse than any other device; that could be argued I guess. With all the deep parameters, a push button and a couple of arrow keys make the software editor an absolute necessity.

    If you want to boil down the mystery of my choice to use the volume knob to, you know; control the volume; I just refuse to have to walk over across the room to my powered monitor (or to the mixing board, when we outsource sound) to adjust volume when there's a d@mn volume knob on the unit at my feet. You can disagree with me all you want but that's how I roll.
     
  13. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    Also; I get your logic @Jay Mitchell . My desire and the ease of keeping the control at my feet just trumps things at this point.
     
  14. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    That's a tone-affecting parameter that needs to be set on a per-preset basis.

    That will be the case with clean presets set optimally. Gainer ones may end up set lower in order to match.

    No.

    No "bulk edit" feature can ever possibly change that.

    Completing the process with 10 presets would take no more than 10 minutes. And it will be time well spent.

    There is no such thing as "mass preset editing." I have no idea what you think you want, but your statements make it look as if you're expecting the impossible.

    It is not. What "other devices" do you have experience with?

    It is a convenience, and one that I always use in preference to the device UI. The same holds for both generation Axe-Fxs. "Absolute necessity"? Hardly.

    You have obviously misunderstood the result of taking my advice. As I have clearly pointed out before, the method I have described makes it possible to do exactly what you claim you want to do. The thing that will change is that you will have to make a lot fewer adjustment to your volume when you select different presets, and you will never encounter clipping no matter where you set the Amplifire's level knob.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  15. db9091

    db9091 Member

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    To answer Jay,

    "-12dB" relative to my modeler's full volume scale. It differs between modelers.

    It's a qualitative number to get people experimenting and using A/B to find the optimal point for their gear.

    As you point out, you don't want clipping, and you do ultimately want to give yourself more headspace to mix and then master with.
     
  16. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    There are multiple issues when you talk about ideal levels inside and among several different pieces of hardware. You definitely want to stay away from clipping within devices and at the interfaces between them.

    You can clip (digitally) inside the modeler. Operating with the signal level (important: this is not a level parameter setting) at -12dBFS (dB re: Full Scale, the correct reference here) average level is certainly safe for overdriven guitar sounds, but it may be marginal for very clean ones. It is not possible to meter the digital signal levels in some modelers, so you can easily end up flying blind. In that case, the level-setting methodology I have described will insure that you don't drive the modeler into clip. It only requires a clip indicator, as opposed to a level meter.

    You can clip the input of your sound card as well. Once you've got levels set optimally in the modeler (definitely do that first), you need to set input gains on the sound card so you never clip its inputs. Having gotten this far, you will now be able to get unclipped signals into your DAW and plugins.

    Rather than experiment, I would recommend following a fixed, reliable procedure to set gain structure. Then, you can record tracks with full confidence that you won't ever have to do them over to clean them up (signalwise; playing is another subject). Once you've got clipping anywhere on a track, you can never remove it. This was one of the first things that recording studio apprentices were taught back in the day.

    If all your individual tracks are unclipped, you can create as much headroom as you need for mixing simply by adjusting mix levels. If you do a mixdown and find you've caused clipping in the mix (but otherwise like it), just reduce levels of all the individual tracks by the same amount and redo. Once you've recorded clean tracks, it's all processor arithmetic and you can take as many do-overs as you like.
     
  17. 3dognate

    3dognate Supporting Member

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    Good discussion... I think that everyone in the modeling world needs to understand the bare essentials of setting output levels and input gains to get the most out of their modeler and amplification system whether that is a guitar amp / power amp + cabinet / Powered monitor / Mixer and FOH system / IEM.
    For preset leveling... before I got my AX8 I was using HD500 / Kemper / GSP1101, I'd run the output to my mixer or XLR input of my Audio interface.... pick a baseline preset. I'd pick a target preset and run the output level (not preset level) so that I could get -0 db on the mixer/DAW meter with a reasonable input gain setting on the mixer/interface. Then I would flip through presets and adjust their output to be the same -0 db level. And then adjust from there by ear.. (High gain presets always seem to need a couple of extra db so cut through the mix.)

    But with the HD500 I'd pretty much have to max out the master volume on the unit to get enough signal always, the other units all had more than enough signal on tap. Like the AX8 I set the output at 12:00 and that's plenty for any device I've used... I've no idea how much output the Amplifire has available. But that's one way to do it... Run the amplifier wide open and run the monitor's input level up to where the limit light flickers... mark that sucker so that you know where max level is for your specific use... and control your level from the modeler and never touch the monitor level. And you'll know that you are not sacrificing any available volume from your powered speaker AND you'll have the lowest possible noise floor...

    I don't set mine with my AX8 wide open, that would make the usable range of the input level on the monitor too narrow. So I back it off to noon and get a much more usable range on the knob and volume adjustments are not too touchy.

    I pretty much always have a mixer or audio interface between my modeler and monitor... but the principal is exactly the same for a channel strip's input gain as it is for a powered speaker's input attenuator (some powered speakers and most power amplifiers) or gain control. (if it can add gain it's a gain control... if it only cuts it's an attenuator different but for our discussion can be treated the same.)
     

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