First software only tone - Does it actually sound good?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by LostTheTone, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    I am trying to build a good, heavy distortion for A standard tuning, entirely in software. I am new to playing a seven, and relatively new to recording guitars generally, so I thought I'd post up where I've got to so far and see what people think.

    I'm mostly a singer, and I want to make some instrumental backing tracks for myself so I can practice more meaningfully. I don't demand spectacular professional tone, but I do want something that's credible; good enough that I can feel good sharing demos and cover versions with other people.

    The only guitar I have to work with is my SubZero Generation 7 which is cheap, and the pickups are limited (you can read the full story over in this thread) but I've done my best to work around it. The clips I posted up in the other thread were through my analogue set-up, but that isn't really working for me for recording.

    I want to be able to tweak the guitar afterwards so I can mix it with vocals and programmed drums, so it's helpful to have literally everything inside my DAW. I don't have a huge amount of experience here, but after a lot of frustration I have something I am reasonably happy with.

    DISCLAIMER - I am a mediocre guitarist. I picked something which has a mix of very low notes, chords, palm muting and fast chugs for demo purposes but I know I can't play it perfectly, it's a work in process.

    The Industrialist New Distortion Tone

    If you are interested, the unprocessed guitar track is here.

    What do you think? Am I going in the right direction? What would you want to change?

    For the sake of space I'll stick the technical stuff in a spoiler:

    The signal chain is complicated so stick with me:
    • Dynamic compressor - Turning down frequencies below 150hz
    • Regular compressor - Pulling down the peaks to get more consistent signal level
    • Amplitube - TubeScreamer into Triple Rectifier into 1x12 bass cab
    • Parametric EQ - Little cut to frequencies around 55hz
    • Light reverb - For wetness
    • Another impulse response - This time Celestion Vintage 30
    • Another dynamic comp - Again, turning down sub-150hz, because they were still booming
    So, as you can see... Bass response has been a real problem.

    The pickups are not very cooperative, and the response is quite different at the low end (too hot, too flabby) which makes creating a single tone hard. In the end I decided to force the issue, by manually yanking out flab, and then pushing it through a compressor. Without that even pedestrian levels of gain splattered out into white noise. With excessive bass removal you can push it enough to really call it a distortion, but the amp gain is only at 6 and the TS is at 0.

    The only other way I could get a sound that worked without all that EQ was at far lower gain levels, and the response was weird as hell. The low notes were barely driven at all, and sounded like I was playing bass, while chords further up were merely crunchy and not proper metal noises at all.

    I am open to the idea that there is too much gain on this tone. Through my IEMs it sounds baller, but through speakers there is some fizz that I'd associate with too much gain. Could also be achieved with some EQ on the high end to tame the excesses.

    Can't think of anything else really... By all means ask if I have left out any details that might be useful.
     
  2. BillMurray

    BillMurray SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Location:
    London
    I'm not experienced enough to recognize immediately if that tone is any good or certainly whether it will sit well in a mix.

    It would be better if you recorded two separate takes, pan one hard left and the other hard right.

    It sounds quite small and thin to me.

    What software are you using?
     
  3. steinmetzify

    steinmetzify CHUG & SLUDGE

    Messages:
    5,707
    Likes Received:
    2,291
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Location:
    In the shadow of a mountain near SLC UT
    Agreed with this. Double track it and you might have something.

    That's a shit ton of work to get a usable guitar tone tho, like said above, what are you using? Is this just for recording or practicing or what?
     
  4. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

    Messages:
    2,416
    Likes Received:
    2,406
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    IMO Scrap the effects chain. Change the 1x12 bass cab for a 212 or 412 guitar cab. Usually something with Greenbacks is a safe starting point.

    Id try starting with the parametric eq to high pass (low cut) 18dB-36dB slope at 80hz and add a high shelf around 3k of about 3-5dB. Then go into the amp sim/412 IR. Then add the dynamic comp and set a band centered around 250hz. If it’s still too boomy then add another EQ and high pass more aggressively, like 100-120hz if necessary. If the high end is fizzy then low pass around 6k.
     
  5. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    Amplitube for guitar stuff, as a plugin to Studio One. They came free with my bits of audio hardware, no other particular reason.

    It's somewhere between the two. Yes, it's to be recorded but I'll be using it as backing to do vocal practise and demos over. I don't want it to be bad or distracting, and it needs to work in a mix, but people aren't going to be judging me on it. No matter how good it is, it won't make me sing better.

    Having sat down this morning I have to agree that I've taken too much out of it, and over complicated it. I will start over today.

    I'm not wedded to the IRs by any means, the ones I used were just because I clicked through lots and they seemed to help at the time. I do have a greenback IR but it always seemed to sound worse when I put it in.

    However, I don't know almost anything about IRs - Should I be picking an IR first then tweaking everything else to fit?

    What should I be looking for from an IR in terms of sound? So many (supposedly) good IRs have quite dramatic changes in EQ that I could potentially match up from the rest of the set-up, but each time that's a lot of work and it doesn't feel practical to click through like 300 GodsOwnCab IRs and re-twiddle the whole setup each time.
     
  6. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

    Messages:
    2,416
    Likes Received:
    2,406
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    No you should be able to find an IR that doesn’t have harsh frequencies, though you might end up tweaking the tone a bit after you find one you like. It’s time consuming at first, but it’s worth going through your IRs to find what works with the amp your using, so you can quickly select from them in the future. It’s also useful to stop playing for a couple seconds in between selections so your ears can reset. Almost nothing will ever sound good, because you’ll autofocus on the differences between the previous and current.

    If scrolling through your IR list isn’t appealing: maybe check out Wall of Sound. I find it way easier to navigate since you’re moving a mic around a virtual cabinet instead of picking from a list. I think it comes with a couple free cabinets, and you can audition anything in their store, and rather quickly find a cab that would work for you. I think cabs are $10 ea (which comes with 4-6 mics and all the possible placements, so probably 200+ IRs) and they sell cab packs by studio, genre, speaker type etc. which is a better deal IMO.

    Also, checked out MLSoundLab as he has a few free Amped sims from Fluff and Stevie T that sound pretty good right out of the box, and come with useable IRs. The Fluff is a 5153 EL34 and the Stevie T is a Friedman I think.
     
    Themistocles and LostTheTone like this.
  7. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    Can you expand on that a bit?

    Amplitubes cab sim section does allow you to move the mics around, so I can just do this if I want to without new software, but I have literally no idea what difference that actually has on the final sound. That's also the problem I've had with using the Gods Own Cab pack - It has loads of IRs in there, like LOADS but they aren't labeled in a way that I can translate.

    I know it's a "use your ears" exercise, but in theory what is supposed to happen by moving the mic to the edge or the top corner or whatever? Are there any guides you would recommend for this stuff?

    I just loaded up Amplitube to poke at it - The cab section is actually even more in depth than I thought. I can change each speaker within a cab, I can choose types of mic, I can have multiple mics and then mix them, I can put it in different rooms and... I am just out of my depth. I have the tools in front of me but I just don't understand what they are supposed to do.

    Edit -

    Oh great... I also have mics in the room in addition to the mics on the amp, and I can mix all the signals and also the DI and... I feel like a dog being shown the instructions for Ikea furniture.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  8. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

    Messages:
    2,416
    Likes Received:
    2,406
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    Oh okay if you’re not familiar with the basics the Wall of Sound will confuse you as well. Basically the closer the mic to the speaker, and closer to the center of the cone: the brighter and hairier the sound. As you move away from the speaker the highs round off, but it happens quickly. Typically the preferred starting position is right at the edge of the dust cap, so an inch or so off center, and an inch or so off the speaker. Adjust a little more, either toward or away from the center, or distance, to get a balanced sound. Combining a bright mic like an SM57 with a fuller bodied mic like the Sennheiser 421 or Royer 121 is a very popular combo as well. You get the low mids from one mic, and presence and sizzle from the other.
     
    LostTheTone likes this.
  9. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    That is extremely helpful - I will see how I get on with it.

    Thanks for a quick and concise write up!
     
    DudeManBrother likes this.
  10. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    I’ve taken another swipe trying to use as few additional gizmos as possible and come up with something that is hopefully better.

    Controlled Demolition Tone Demo

    Admittedly with dodgier guitar playing on my behalf. You get whatever I was practicing at the time

    This is substantially stripped back. It is all inside Amplitube with nothing added in StudioOne and it is a fairly basic TubeScreamer into Triple Rectifier into a 4x12 slant faced IR. I did fiddle with that though, and changed out the speakers from V30s to Greenbacks.

    I left the amp dials largely in the middle, except gain (at 8) and bass (at 4). There’s a parametric EQ insert too, because damnit the bass loves to boom with these pickups, but no other trickery.

    Mostly I tried to fiddle with the mics to patch things up. Generally just pulling them back and forth and side to side and messing with the mix. In the end I got the fizz out by slowly balancing away from the SM57 mic.

    Seems to work. Sounds ok.

    What say you, people of the internet? Better or worse?
     
  11. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

    Messages:
    2,416
    Likes Received:
    2,406
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    Sounds way better
     
    LostTheTone likes this.
  12. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    Cheers dude, your help has been appreciated.
     
    DudeManBrother likes this.
  13. steinmetzify

    steinmetzify CHUG & SLUDGE

    Messages:
    5,707
    Likes Received:
    2,291
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Location:
    In the shadow of a mountain near SLC UT
    Yeah dude that’s MUCH better. KISS.
     
    LostTheTone likes this.
  14. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    445
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2019
    That's nice, man. One thing I've noted most people do when just posting a guitar tone without other instruments is to high cut everything above a comfortable frequency to remove some of the higher frequency content, which sounds a bit buzzy. But it's important not to overdo it, because that high frequency content is usually what makes it cut through the mix.

    In a mix, you'd also low cut to make sure that you're not competing with the bass and drums. Good job!
     
    Themistocles and LostTheTone like this.
  15. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    I'm discovering some of this already - Even just laying guitar over a minimal programmed drum track has forced me to make some tweaks so the cymbals and bass drums are separate within the lows and highs, and not just adding together with the guitar to over saturate it. All this just so the guitar sounds like it did before I started adding other stuff o_O

    I'm thinking I'm not going to add a bass track unless it is doing something very different to the guitars. I don't own a bass, so I would only have synth anyway, and since the goal is vocal demos I think it'll be wiser to leave the low end alone than try to become a master producer and balance more elements.

    The next challenge is adding vocals of course. I've done a good amount of vocal recording, but always for someone else to mix, so I've restricted my efforts to compressor, low cut, and very rough EQ work, definitely not tweaking instruments to make it fit.

    Any advice or resources people have found useful for mixing heavy screamed vocals would definitely be helpful. There's lots of guides out there, but it's not always easy to know what is actually good advice!
     
  16. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,430
    Likes Received:
    1,378
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2018
    Please post a link to the DI so I can run it through my own plugins

    I can hear the DI on Soundcloud but can't download
     
  17. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    South east England
    Here's a link

    I'd certainly be interested to hear if you can make something out of it, and especially if you have a different approach to tightening up the sound.
     
  18. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,430
    Likes Received:
    1,378
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2018
    Oh wow, that is a shitload of low end on that DI. And almost no high end.

    It's also a really noisy DI. Ton of noise at the beginning, and it's especially noticeable in the palm muted parts when you start the faster second riff.

    I'll run through some plugins and see what I can make from it
     
    LostTheTone and nightlight like this.
  19. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

    Messages:
    2,416
    Likes Received:
    2,406
    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    https://voca.ro/16aimFeBSjet

    I did a real quick take with your DI through the bx Diezel Herbert sim and pro Q3, plus a parallel aux with an exciter and eq for some top end and bite.
     
    LostTheTone and nightlight like this.
  20. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    445
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2019
    Listening on my laptop, that sounds pretty good.

    @LostTheTone, some quick questions:
    1) What is the level you are hitting when you are recording the DI?
    2) When you play through Amplitube, what is the output level?
    3) Do you have a preamp control on your interface? Are you using that to get a suitable DI signal?
    4) What kind of cable are you using? One thing I learnt the hard way is that some cables can seriously affect your guitar's tone.
    5) How much gain do you have in Amplitube? Gain on recordings is often far lower than we think it is, too much gain makes guitars sound tiny.

    From your first clip, it's as @Flappydoodle said: there appears to be a lot of low end, whereas the high end seems to be muffled. These are some things to look into.
     
    Flappydoodle likes this.

Share This Page