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analog modeling observations

Discussion in 'Recording' started by DonnyThompson, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I've been digging into Samplitude's analog modeling suite for a few weeks now, and I can say with total confidence that it is exactly as it is described - modeling.

    BUT.. what I've also found is that while it's not the same as using the real outboard pieces that they've been designed to emulate, they do have their own interesting textures and not altogether unpleasant sonic signatures.

    The "glue" that they provide is not the same type of glue you'd get by using a real LA, but it's still a glue that can be useful when used sparingly.

    What I have discovered is that their analog modeling does sound better to me than many of the other third party plugs that I've heard and worked with.

    Several weeks ago, I worked with a client at his home recording room,( I really don't like to use the word "studio" because it's really not a studio... it's a spare bedroom withe a PT based rig...) and he has several of the Slate analog GR modeling plugs. After working with both the Slate plugs and Samplitude's stock analog modeling plugs, I can say that I find the Samplitude versions to be much more natural sounding, more "musical"... where the Slate plugs sounded somewhat, well, strange to me..."fake" is a certain description I could use, but it wasn't just that. The reaction of the plugs was odd...It was almost as if I had to approach them and intentionally not use settings that I would normally have used on the real gear, back at the time that I was using them. Basically, I was never able to get any real pleasant sounding glue or analog smear with the SS plugs, as I have been able to get using Samp's plugs.

    Now, to be honest, any of these plugs, regardless of manufacturer, will all sound awful if they aren't used correctly and sparingly! You cannot approach these GR modelers with the same process, mindset and expectations that you would if you were using a real LA, 1176, dbx 165, etc. These plugs don't react the same way, and, they are not as forgiving, either. The sweet spots are nowhere near as wide and available as they are on real analog GR units, and it doesn't take much to push these modeling plugs to some very nasty places if you aren't careful.

    I think that one of the problems with these modelers is that so many of their users have never worked with the real units that they are designed to model, and in turn, they don't know what it should sound like, so they add these processors in heavy increments and think that the resultant sound is the way it's supposed to sound. They have nothing to compare these plugs to, so they kinda take a stab in the dark as to what settings they use, and very often they think that what they get sounds good, when it really doesn't. Add to this the multiple levels of use of these processors on the track levels and you can go from clarity to over-driven, over-compressed mud pretty fast.

    If you approach these on their own, and as they are for what they are, they can do a good job.. but you can't use them the same way as you would the real thing(s), they simply don't react the same way.

    I have a vintage dbx 165 in my rack that I occasionally use to add GR to a vocal, or snare, kick, etc., and I can tell you that I have yet to come across an emulation of this piece that reacts even close to that of the the real one in my rack.

    You need to approach and use these modelers differently. They can be very useful tools, and for what they are, they can do a really nice job... but you can't look at them or use them in the same way as you would the real pieces that they are modeling.

    Flame Shields Now Engaged.

    FWIW

    d/
     
    kmetal likes this.
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I'm definately one of those people that uses emulations of things I've never used the hardware of. And it's always puzzled me why manufacturers always try to say how close it sounds to the real thing, as if it matters. Relativlye few people have used numerous pultecs, or neve, student machine, and even fewer have used enough of them to long enough to for a valid opinion on the authenticity, so it's always been a mystery to me why they do tHat.

    Besides a lot of the beauty of these machines is the things that got broken, and improperly fixed, or someone's idea to beef this or that up, or whatever.

    A lot of the emulations tend to be of these pristine, very well kept, units. And those aren't always where the magic is. But how would I really know? I don't.

    When I think plugs I think "in the style of" or w "tendencies" of the units they emulate.

    Not talking tone, but pure functionality, I wonder if the actual GR for example, compares digital vs analog. Not talking sound but pure technical, if they work in similar fashions w similar settings, or not. When people discuss these things it's always about the tone, which I get, but that's kinda an unfair comparison. Well, it would be if manufacturers didn't just outwardly lie about things. Not that tone isn't important, but it's two things built completely differently, doing the same thing (compression). So I think It's important to assess both the performance and the tone, when comparing these things. Nice post Donny!
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm with you Kyle. But its sells.

    The name "Analog Emulation" is marketing bunk targeting the naive. If the plug-in works, then cool, glad it does but it isn't emulating a BAX, MEQ-5 , LA2A etc... I do believe it is however emulating the image mostly then the basic design/knobs. I think an LA2A plug-in will be slow like any opto comp and I suppose the designer is adding a bit distortion to fool you into thinking its adding tube distortion.

    Same for the BAX, and so many other EQ. Once you know how these all work (the real deal), buying a plug-in with the "LA2A" coded preset is nothing more to me than a bunch of crap.

    Through my testing, a good analog front end is unmatched. I would never consider plug-ins to replace that.
    As Donny is experiencing, Samplitude does 95% of everything my "analog rig, better. The imaging ITB is definitely better.
    I just love my hybrid rig for capturing audio. I love my DAW for mixing. All I need are the basic plug-ins that come with this DAW. Its superior to all other DAW's I've used to date.
     
  4. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I can get some great sounds out of modeling plugins - but I have no idea if they sound "authentic" or not, since I'm one of those folks who never had the real thing.

    But I can get great sounds out of what I do have, which is a bunch of bit-flippin' software.

    My 'new' signature guitar tone is entirely based on Guitar Rig 5. Can't wait to be able to play that VST plug live! Great sound ... but it ain't nothing like a Marshall (which I do have one of and love it!)
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I prefer the concept of emulating my analog workflow, not the sound.
     
  6. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    I have never used the real deal hardware , so I dont know what Im missing .

    I have got plug ins that even on bypass make the track sound thin e.g. the EQ 1 on pro tools , which I used to use for H/LPf
    One day I deleted an instance that was set on bypass and the sound just got fuller and nicer , so I will only use that on something
    that needs to be thinner sounding....lol , probably will never use it again .

    I do like experimenting with them but have come to the conclusion that most / all of the time the raw signal sounds better
    Now Ive got to get better at capturing the source with a better end game plan in mind .
     
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    That was revolutionary to me when I realized that! It seems like all plug-inshave that kinda of effect to some degree. The digital eqs I don't notice that are in digital boards, and in DAWS that have a channel strip type thing built in for each tracks. That's when bypassing or enabling hasn't had an audible effect like that to me.
     
  8. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    Funny , I got to thinking I should go through all my plug ins and see how much the sound changes , luckily I dont have
    so many .
    So I soloed an acoustic guitar track that had a little smooth and some clickeness fingerpicking to test each one .

    Now i have a better idea of which ones do what on bypass, and Ive got some 'stay away from' ones for direct tracks.
    I guess its another endorsement for parallel processing too.

    Up until now I have been listeninig to a track in the mix and just reaching for a plug that I thought would do the job required without realizing that it altered the sound.
    Sorta like chasing the tail geeeez , No wonder my session used to end up with
    too many friggen plug ins .... ( thats a good excuse hehe )


    Wondering if other DAWs have different results for the same plug ins .


    Im on Pro tools 11 on mac , and the most transparent of my bunch was the Boz T bone ( tilter ) and the Flux bitter sweet .
    In the Dynamics my winners were the Massey ct5 ,L2007 and PSP old timer.

    The stock channel strip on PT11 is probably the worst of my lot.:eek:

    I did figure stuff like , I could put my psp noble q on hi hat track on bypass to tame the harsh top and
    I could put the TDR VOS slick EQ(free version )bypassed on electric guitar and its like a hi pass filter and more focus on mids.

    Just wondering ,Is there a place where we can look up the latency for these plug ins if there is any ?

    When I take a track out from my 002 rack and back in it has a delay of about 1.2ms .
    I used to hate the phasing from that delay until I figured that I had to shift it manually .....lol
    I havent noticed it when sending some signal ITB to an aux track.
     
  9. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    Apologies if Ive gone too far off a track there :rolleyes:
     
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i'm sure if Chris or Donny only had a itb set up with plugs, they could still do good works.

    this stuff, is what it is. i want to hear a good song.
     
    pcrecord, kmetal and dvdhawk like this.
  11. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    I hear ya Kurt, and I wanna Learn how to record a good song on my DAW , so I came here (y)
     
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I think latency is based on CPU power, buffer settings, and drivers, I me guessing there is a minimum latency you could expect, but as far as I know, there isn't set latencies on a per pluggin basis. I could be wrong on this, is partially wrong.

    For me it just came down to picking some fave go to plugs, and just using them as needed. It's always a sacrifice adding stuff, analog or digital. You fight signal to noise ratios, bad cables, or aliasing, or CPU power. So between busing, channel strips plugs (ssl channel), and more awareness, I've cut my pluggin usage down to a third of what it was 5 years ago. I feel like it's a good mentality to be in reguardless. Over processing or over editing mixing or micing is usually a detriment to time frames, budgets, and the end product. But, that said, if the bass needs all 6 slots full w plug-insand extreme settings I wouldn't normall use, and it's getting the sound I need, then game on.

    Lately I've been into layering verbs and delays on the same aux/bus to kinda create my own interesting ambience. Usually they're mixed so low I can't tell on regular systems, but it's fun to spend some time in the studio playing w all the cool textures.

    The best advice I can give you, is take some time and learn what mic placements work well, and just simply record until you have a good take, don't settle. Filling in the holes w good micing technique, and arrangement will go a long way. The basic rule is u can't mix what's not there, so you wanna make sure u capture as much of what you do want, and as little of the stuff u don't, as possible.

    If there is anything I can get done on the way in, i do, eqing, compression, hpfs, ect.
     
    Smashh likes this.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Just some observations on this subject.

    Having plug-ins on 'bypass' does NOT shut down their processing by the cpu. Graying them out will. ie: make inactive. Some plug-ins induce much more latency than others. It is a plug per plug basis. In PT the latency of the track is indicated at the bottom of every track with the numbers in red meaning you have surpassed your cpu's ability to compensate. ALL PT native and LE do not have automatic latency compensation but you can do this manually. You can also bus your plug-ins to an Aux fader and use this as a driver for your track. There is little or no latency this way.TDM and HDX have automatic delay and latency compensation both going in and coming back out. Most time based plugs induce a bunch of latency as do the instruments and sound plugs.

    Lately I've been using Brainworx, Nomad Factory, and T-Racks plugs along with my other favorites. The Brainworx EQ's are really good and don't seem to exhibit any phase inducements that others do. Plus they are very very powerful and do a lot with very little application. The Nomad Factory plugs are nice sounding and again, very powerful. The T-racks are things I use at mastering.
     
  14. Smashh

    Smashh Active Member

    Great topic this , getting more aware of the plug ins now , long overdue for me , thanks .
    Ive got 2 plug ins that use the delay compensation, on has 183 reading. I guess it must eat up the cpu, but it sounds great when I turn the knobs.

    Id like to get to a place where I can quickly make decisions on
    what Im gonna use on which tracks and know that it won't crash the session.
     
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    @Davedog : Do you master in T-Racks stand alone software ?
    I used to use it for all my (pseudo-masterings) but at one point I was comparing to commercial CDs and I found I coudn't get clean levels like most have.
    I switched to Ozone and found it has less distortions and harmonics when pushed.
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'll say this quietly and consider it a secret weapon. Sum to a capture DAW and you will never look back. Plug-ins and most hardware suddenly become a joke.
    If you can invest in a DAW with tight midside code on the capture DAW, even better. Its all smiles after that.
     

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