My frustration with gear

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Andii, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

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    Right now I have the exact tone I want. It sounds perfect to my ears. The problem is no one else will ever hear it. I can't capture the sound on a recording. I have come extremely close, but it just doesn't sound like it does in person. It's not because I'm amatuer either. Most of the albums that I listen every day have the same problem.

    This is the problem for any guitarist really: When you play a show they put a dynamic mic in front of the speaker and presto! instant telephone quality sound is reaching the ears of your audience. There is no denying this. Every show I've ever seen had the guitars ruined by this.

    I'm guessing all of the best tone I've heard has been digital direct in gear like the axefx and the pod. Some examples of amazing tone are Bulb and Meshuggah. Another that put me in awe was someone on this forum whose band name was Pigweed IIRC. The recording sounded like I was hearing 4,000 bucks worth of tube gear in person. Some recordings that were recorded with a pod sound better than almost every recorded amp sound ever made. Veil of Maya's album was recorded with a pod and it sounds amazing.

    So here I am following tradition using vacuum tubes and huge speaker enclosures that weigh over a hundred pounds all so the audience can hear about 20% (live and 80% on a recording) of the actual sound that I am producing. Yes tube amps sound better, but no one will ever hear it. The whole concept of traditional gear is absurd when you think about it: speakers recorded with a microphone.

    Most albums that were recorded with amps and mics just sound alright, just good enough but by no means amazing.

    I think bands like Meshuggah, Exivious and Cynic have the right idea. They plug right into the board and everyone can hear them clearly. When they record they plug straight in and it sounds perfect every time.

    I think I'll be using an axefx and a powered pa speaker soon. I want my audience to experience my sound like I do: like they're sitting in front of a 4x12 cab. The technology is here so I think I'm going to take advantage of it.

    My concerns: Computer parts fail a lot. How long will an axefx, something that is not cheap, last? How much do they stand behind the product when it comes to them wearing out? How much is it to have it serviced and how extensively can they repair it?

    Any words of advice?
     
  2. widdlywhaa

    widdlywhaa SS.org Regular

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    i've been having this argument for a very long time.... probably to an even greater extent.

    on the one hand yes tube amps sound AMAZING under the right conditions.

    on the other hand i've come to find them tempermental.... it's like the slightest thing makes most tube amps sound different.

    Like when my last band was together and we played a show with a band called Destroy Destroy Destroy! from knoxville tenn.

    crappy little shit venue, bad sound, and bad sound guy, bad hum, everything was jsut sub par.

    I used my Gt-8 into the return of my old clunker Randall SS head.

    their gutiarists were both rockin 6505+'s which every other time i've heard them in a controlled environment were extremely monsterous. but this night they just sounded monsterously bad.

    but my cheap little gt-8 rig just sounded like it always did, granted it's not the greatest sound in the world but it gets the job done and i like to think i've done a pretty good job getting it to sound good.
     
  3. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    It looks like this thread should be called "questions about axe-fx customer support"

    I'd call or email the company and ask them the questions you listed at the end of your post.
     
  4. Harry

    Harry Doom man of Doom. Contributor

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    The whole plug into the board thing is great when you're Meshuggah or a band of that level, because chances are they can get a good PA system hauled in when there isn't a decent one at the venue.
    But if you're not that kinda pro band with that kinda backup, I wouldn't constantly rely on "plug into the board" because some venues just have crap monitoring and you really do need a proper backline rig in case of that.
     
  5. Scali

    Scali Banned

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    Whatchu talking 'bout, Willis?
    The average guitar speaker is capable of about 80 Hz to 5-6 KHz. You'd need a pretty shitty microphone to not be able to catch that frequency range accurately. It's not that hard to find a microphone that can handle 50 Hz - 15 KHz.
    In my experience, a microphone can actually improve the sound, partly because of its natural compression (there's a reason why guitarists and drummers still often prefer dynamic microphones, even though they could afford expensive super-sensitive condenser microphones), and partly because if you carefully position it, you can 'mask out' certain harsh parts of your tone.

    Digital gear merely tries to mimic this speaker/microphone interaction and give you that great studio-quality tone. Ofcourse they try to mimic such a setup under the most ideal circumstances... but it's still the sound of tubes, speakers and microphones that they're imitating. With the real gear and some good engineering work, you can get the same results, or better.
    But yea I agree, modelers can sound great, and they're much more foolproof, so if you just want to plug-and-play and sound great, modelers are the way to go.
    Just saying that your theory of 'telephone quality' because of mic'ed speakers is not right.
    Back when I was gigging mic'ed up, I preferred to bring my own microphone. I had a small stand which would allow me to set it up just the way I always have it, so I got pretty consistent results.

    As for reliability... digital electronics are WAY more reliable than anything tube-related. Tube amps are under a lot of stress because of high voltages/high currents and high temperatures (and especially rapid changes in temperature when powering up or turning it off, then going into the cold outdoors).
     
  6. John_Strychnine

    John_Strychnine I Was Once Groove.

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    It's weird, the Meshuggah thing, Obzen was actually recorded with a line 6 vetta II into the vetta cab and Miced up! and is an absolutely awesome sound.

    As good as their tone is live with the axe fx DI'ed to the pa live, that tone on Obzen is god like.

    Alot of the guitar sound is based on the bass sound with those guys though.
     
  7. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

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    I certainly will. This thread has a lot of info in it, it couls have been named a number of things, I guess the main point was that I like the sound of digital gear over miced amps and why etc.

    If the sound was so shitty that they couldn't put a direct in signal out to the audience for me I guess that's where the powered PA speaker I mentioned comes in. It would also serve as my monitor as I would also put the kick drum triggers through it. This means that I will not have to worry about the monitor situation no matter what.

    I have honestly never heard a good sound come from a dynamic mic. All of my favourite guitar album tones incolving real amps were achieved with condensers. You mentioned that you often like the miced sound better, my problem is my tone sounds exactly how I want it to right out of the speaker. Dynamic mics do indeed work at the correct frequencies for guitar, but the response curve is never anywhere close to being flat and the lows are way down there in the curve so far that they almost aren't there. Dynamics change the sound a lot and that's where the practice of angling and pointing the mic to get the best sound comes from. Condensers pick up the frequencies between 20hz-20khz. That wide range isn't needed for guitar but the response is flat meaning that nothing is lost like with the dynamic where the curve has dropped really way down in the low frequencies. What comes through a condernser mic is very similar to what you would hear if you put your ear where the mic is. The mic positioning for and condeser is exactly where it actually sounds the best instead of the positioning acting as an eq, that in itself provides an advantage.

    I actually think of Catch 33 when I think of their tone because it's my favourite tone of theirs. Most of the tone on obzen came from the bass mixing with the guitar. The guitar tone on the album is pretty bad unless you have Dick, because the bass makes it absolutely godly sounding. Some may find that unbelievable, but for example at 6:22 in Bleed and at 3:03 in Obzen the guitars play by themselves without the bass and you can tell how thin the guitars really are. They made the one of the best overall sounds of all time by mixing the guitar and bass together so perfectly. Every time they hit a note you can hear the bark of the longer bass scale, it's amazing. On Obzen there is no guitar sound, there is a whole sound of everything working together.
     
  8. Scali

    Scali Banned

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    Well, there's plenty of legendary guitar recordings done with dynamic microphones. The Shure SM57 and some dynamic Sennheisers are probably the most common mics used for guitar.
    In the end, what you prefer is all personal taste, but you can't deny that condenser mics can produce good or even great sounds.

    Well, I don't know about you, but my experience is that the sound of my amp varies a lot depending on the position of the amp, the position of myself on stage, and various other factors such as the room ambience.
    If all the stars are in alignment, so to speak, yea, I hear the tone exactly how I want it... but usually that's not the case. However, since I use close-micing, and the position of microphone relative to speaker is always pretty much the same, I get a pretty consistent mic'ed tone.

    Yea well, that's just how it works. Guitars have nothing to do with flat frequency response anyway... Your guitar doesn't have a flat response, your amp doesn't, your speaker doesn't... so why should your mic have one? You just adjust everything so it fits together.
    With my amp and microphone I know how to set them up so the mic'ed sound is pretty much the same as what I'd hear myself, when I'm at the 'ideal' position in the room.

    I disagree. A microphone works way differently from an ear. The brain compensates for position/angle/ambience for a great deal, a microphone doesn't. The position/angle is far more important than the actual frequency response/curve of a microphone. There isn't much of an advantage to using a condenser mic in this sense.
    I want my microphone to be close to the amp, because at a distance it picks up too much reflected sound, and not enough from the amp itself, making the sound get swamped in a sea of reverb and all. However, if I put my ear close to the amp, it sounds very fizzy and rather harsh... It sounds better when I'm at a distance, preferrably not in a direct line of the speaker. My brain automatically 'filters out' the ambience because I concentrate on the sound of the amp itself, so what I hear is far more defined than what a microphone captures at that position (not to mention a microphone capturing too much of other instruments and ambient noise when it's not that close to the amp).

    Besides, if you prefer condenser mics, why don't you just use those to mic up your amp when you play live?
     
  9. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

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    I set my tone up with my head level with the speakers and it sounds exactly the way I want it. When you set it up any other way you will put too much ear piercing harsh frequencies in and if you're not standing above the voice coil your ears are toast. As you said though personally you use the mic to eq that out. I try to mic up the exact soud of the cab and you fix it with the mic. We're just different. There is no wrong way to make music.

    This thread was not meant to be about mics and positioning though. I just think it's time to stop lugging around huge and heavy gear for me personally because I don't think it's worth it in any sense for me. I also like unrealistically tight guitar sounds for live and recording. I'm glad all the modeling stuff has come so far now.
     
  10. MF_Kitten

    MF_Kitten Set up us the bomb

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    the clue would be to use at least two microphones on the speaker, instead of one. that alone makes it sound lots better. you could also use two different mics to do this, thus putting out two different characteristics that bend together.

    that´s how they get awesome recorded sounds on albums. using many mics, and mixing condensers with dynamics and all.
     
  11. Scali

    Scali Banned

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    Well, my amp is never at ear level in the first place. I don't think I could even make it sound good at ear level, because I don't think I can dial out those harsh frequencies completely. Just keeping the amp below ear level is practical and works fine. Then I set the microphone at the right angle, and it gives me the same sound.

    Well, get yourself an Axe-Fx or whatever then, and see if it works for you :)
    I can go either way. I use a modeler as multifx with 4-cable method on my tube amp. For recording, I sometimes use the modeler direct, and I could also just plug it into a PA if I don't feel like taking my amp.
    The amp also has a speaker-emulated output which sounds pretty good, so I could also plug the amp into the PA if I don't want to use a mic. I've also done some recording through the speaker-emulated output in the past, and that worked out okay.
    There are many ways to get a good sound, they all have their pros and cons.
     
  12. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

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    I've actually tried mixing different mics and didn't care for the results. It's easy for slight phase variations to hurt the sound. Any time that is done on a recording I can hear it. It sounds wierd.

    Really what I'm after is something that transcends the good sounds on albums. Like your tone for example. It's better than the tones on a lot of the albums I listen to. I don't think something like that could ever be made with a real amp and mic. I just think it sounds better recorded. I have digital lust. Modelers fail at sounding like a real miced up amp, but that's why I like them.
     
  13. yacker

    yacker SS.org Regular

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    Just going to throw something out. Even if you go the route you're looking to go...running a digital amp modeler, be it axe-fx or whatever, through a PA speaker is going to be far from a flat frequency response from the sound you originally created. Have you ever considered that the PA system could be the source of your woes and not microphones? I've always considered the sound of a mic'd amp running through the PA to be supplemental to the original sound...not so much the sound itself. There's something about running a guitar sound through a two-way or three-way speaker that just isn't very guitar like.

    Another thing to consider is that no matter how amazing a guitar sound is by itself if it sounds like crap with the band then it sounds like crap. Unless of course you play solo electric guitar by yourself with no other sounds on stage. So the argument about such and such a meshuggah album having a good band sound vs a good guitar sound is a bit....well disturbing. I've always found the digital modelers to be in pursuit of amazing solo guitar sounds and not so much amazing sounds that function great in a band context. After all, which is more likely to sell a unit while it's sitting at a store?
     
  14. Shaman

    Shaman SS.org Regular

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    Nope, having more mics doesen't make anything sound more professional or better, just different.

    For example, Andy Sneap, who has recorded some pretty daaamn amazing guitar tones, usually uses a single 57.
     
  15. Scali

    Scali Banned

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    Very true. Sometimes I have a sound that works great in a certain song, but if you listen to the sound all by itself, you may think "Hum, that doesn't sound all that great". It just falls into place with the rest.
     
  16. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

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    The pa is not the source of my woes because all of my sounds are heard on studio monitors. PA speakers are full range, I've heard some that were flatter than the average studio monitors. I really think the supplemental sound that you mentioned is interesting. The problem is the people in the audience hear that and none of the amp.

    PA speakers are really loud speakers. If you listen to a cd through them it sounds really good. They usually sound way better than home theater/consumer stereo sytems. When a good sound goes to them it stays good. Bad micing is the cause of the bad guitar sound through the speakers.
     
  17. Scali

    Scali Banned

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    Not really, though. PA amps and speakers are made to go VERY loud, but compared to the better home stereo systems, they are pretty poor in terms of frequency response, dynamic range and that sort of thing (although at least they still aim at full frequency, flat response, unlike guitar amps).
    But yea, most CDs don't come anywhere near challenging the frequency response or dynamic range of modern hifi equipment, because of the compression war and all that, so it's not like you really notice the difference between PA and high-end home audio in most cases.
     
  18. yacker

    yacker SS.org Regular

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    PA speakers are full range....I'll give you that, but they are far from flat frequency response...FAR. Cd's aren't the best example of any sort of frequency comparison because most cds are mastered to sound good on anything you throw them on....that includes crap car speakers over the radio with all sorts of extra compression added, so obviously a cd will sound good over a PA system.

    A PA system is nowhere close to as flat in response as a set of studio monitors though, and even studio monitors are EXTREMELY expensive for the truly flat ones. Most people have never even heard a pair of speakers with a truly flat frequency response...much less been in a room that wouldn't alter that.

    Maybe you'll try out the type of setup you're looking for and love it and if you do that's great. I honestly think the odds are against you though, at least from my personal experiences. The whole idea of running a digital rack processor through a PA system sounds so awesome on paper, less to carry, quicker setup time, loads more flexibility. However, in practice I've never even found it to be remotely pleasing to my ears.

    How exactly do you know the audience isn't getting the sound you are wanting them to hear? Are you judging from the monitor feed or do you have a wireless and go out into the crowd while playing to listen?

    For somebody who's saying their current sound is perfect for them, I think trying to reinvent your entire setup is a bit much and you will be disappointed in the long run. You should probably look into better avenues for capturing your current sound....otherwise I don't think you're really as happy with it as you say you are.
     
  19. Andii

    Andii MAMMALHAMMER

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    Right now I'm trying to get what my rig is making(sweet love to my ears) onto my recordings.

    Here is the best guitar sound I have ever gotten with my gear. Note this is not me on the guitar I played drums on this track but it's my studio gear amp and settings etc:
     
  20. Shaman

    Shaman SS.org Regular

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    I think unnaturally tight, clear, focused etc. tones are the way production values are heading towards.

    If I would make "an average metalhead" listen to a track with well tracked, good sounding natural drums, they would propably sound bad to him, because in modern metal, the drums are sampled to hell and back.

    Samples got more and more common in the 90's, and nowdays it is very rare to hear a metal album, or any album for matter, without any samples on the drums.(Listen to the new Alice in Chains singles on youtube for example... you don't need to be an expert to notice the sampled snare etc.)

    And since this has been going on for "so long", super sampled/unnatural sounding drums is what people these days consider to be the best sounding ones, since that is what their ears are used to.

    Maybe this is the direction guitar tones are heading towards, you never know.
     

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