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Tone versus Feel. The real amp in the room.

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
What’s even the point of striving to emulate “amp in room” ?

A whole generation of guitar players has started out with modelers, plugins etc. They have never known the sound of a loud amp in their bedroom any more than they knew VHS tapes, Blockbuster video, pagers, dial up modems etc

A guitar modeler sounds like an album and that is what a “proper” guitar sounds like, becasue it’s all they knew.

It honestly seems pointless to try to emulate what could be scene as an increasing niche market, made up of aging boomers who are still yearning for the amp tones they grew up with.

That is fine and good to like that sort of thing, but it’s becoming more and more niche as modelers etc become the norm, and the sound of modelers is more and more accepted.

A real acoustic piano sounds different than a keyboard with samples as well, but how many guys are dragging a piano on stage ? How many people still have them at home ? Most people have just a keyboard controller these days, cheap, no upkeep, sounds good.

All my buddies who play keys are happy with an 88 key weighted controller though, they play fine and hear themselves through monitors.

Don’t see keys players saying they need the feel of an acoustic, they simply perform and get the job done, being glad they can put the controller into their car and take it home.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
Amp in the room is an experience not a corollary to the recorded capture of it. Do you think Jimi ran by listening to his recorded tracks? Or do you think his recorded tracks *tried* to capture what he felt and did in the moment?
Surely all can agree there is a difference. Why not try to emulate it? We have come so far... is that not the next step?

Who says the raw sound is the “better” sound though ?

I spent my whole upbringing trying to make my guitar tone sound like the albums I liked, I didn’t want the amp in room sound. I wanted album tone.

It’s like seeing a movie shot. Who cares what it looks like as they are filming it, green screen background etc. I want to see the finished product once all the special effects are added.

I grew up with loud amps, but these days I just see them as devices which would damage my hearing to get the tones I want. There is no emotional connection to them, they just seem kind of obsolete and functionality inferior for my needs. Before I would of said it was awesome because it would loud and vintage, tastes and opinions change I guess.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
If you want amp in room from a frfr speaker, just get a couple of them and point them different directions and use a resultant IR. Ie; playthe sound of a rear captured Ir from the monitor facing backwards. Sounds amazing like the actual thing, but I can’t see anyone building a monitor speaker like that because it would cost and weigh a lot, and what functional point would it have on stage etc ?
 

chris

Legend!
Is that part of my ignorance on advanced amp settings like sag, MV, compression, etc? Or is my hope unrealistic? Not trying to open an old can of worms... just seeking to understand how best to get there.
it's almost literally the physical speaker which creates part of the tone. you hear the speaker that creates the tone directly. not a mic on that speaker then through another speaker.


as mentioned in many threads, the solution is simply to use the Axe through a real speaker cab. that real speaker cab's speaker will create part of the tone, and you'll have exactly what you want.
it is how your ears react to and perceive that speaker which is creating the tone in real-time. rather than a mic on one specific spot on a speaker that doesn't change (IRs).
Playing a traditional amp isn’t rocket science. It has a feel and sound that follows me no matter where I roam and play.

Sure, the high end may vary when I am off axis but the feel does not. I think that sort of interaction can be modeled.
You’re missing the point that your head isn’t exactly still, while a mic recorded at a single position is (an IR). The real guitar amp is actively creating a part of the tone and where you listen from changes the tone drastically.

If the real guitar cab listening position didn’t change so drastically, you could point a mic anywhere on the cab and it would sound the same.

Yet we know millimeters can make the difference between good and bad tone. That’s exactly what your head/ear position is doing in real time, which people don’t realize.
Head position and stillness has nothing to do with what I am talking about. If it did a properly captured IR heard through headphones would capture the moment. It does not.
You sorta just proved my point.

Staying still is what makes an IR not sound like a real guitar cab.
From day 1, the Axe-Fx is known to create the tone of a mic’d guitar Amp, just as you’d listen to it from a control room.

As mentioned in this thread and hundreds of other threads on this same topic, to get the “real cab” feel, use a real cab. That’s it. Simple.
I’m ready for the next level of modeling magic. Are you?
I think it can be done.
Saying this doesn’t mean it’s possible at this time. Saying this doesn’t mean people are avoiding doing it.

You thinking it can be done without understanding the issue of why it can’t be done, and simply comparing it to “well amp modeling didn’t exist” doesn’t make this suddenly a possibility.

It’s probably just not going to happen for consumer use.
We’ll see who is ultimately right.
why is this a competition? i never said it absolutely will never happen. i never said you are "wrong."

it's not possible now.
physics are physics. when someone creates the next technology or CPU that allows even more computations per millisecond, we may get closer.
It means that the physics of emulating tubes, once considered impossible, has been achieved. I think the next thing is achievable too.
While I ask about that next step, you seem to be compelled to tell me that it is not possible.

Am I missing something? Reread the thread.
I re-read it.

Seems I said it’s not possible right now, and at worst, may not be implemented at the consumer level.
 

shatteredsquare

Power User
All you need is early reflections set up equivalent to how far away you want the thing to sound from you...you need micro delays, but a few of them, it's pretty simple, the old cab room sim was good for it, I've been able to recreate it with parallel comb filters, and also with some spatial audio plugins, but it's hard to tune unless you can get in super fine, the sweet spot is inside of 3 to 5 ms, and you need to be able to set the ratios of the micro delays to equate to the handful of surface reflections that mix at your ears along with the direct. haven't had time yet to build it in Reaktor, if you set up the delays right it becomes an audio equivalent to a soft light filter, everything gets smoothed out and the phase cancellation and comb filtering effectively auto EQs everything.
 
Who says the raw sound is the “better” sound though ?

I spent my whole upbringing trying to make my guitar tone sound like the albums I liked, I didn’t want the amp in room sound. I wanted album tone.

It’s like seeing a movie shot. Who cares what it looks like as they are filming it, green screen background etc. I want to see the finished product once all the special effects are added.

I grew up with loud amps, but these days I just see them as devices which would damage my hearing to get the tones I want. There is no emotional connection to them, they just seem kind of obsolete and functionality inferior for my needs. Before I would of said it was awesome because it would loud and vintage, tastes and opinions change I guess.
What an excellent post! Movie shots. For me, I care what it looks like and I love what it took to create.
 
All you need is early reflections set up equivalent to how far away you want the thing to sound from you...you need micro delays, but a few of them, it's pretty simple, the old cab room sim was good for it, I've been able to recreate it with parallel comb filters, and also with some spatial audio plugins, but it's hard to tune unless you can get in super fine, the sweet spot is inside of 3 to 5 ms, and you need to be able to set the ratios of the micro delays to equate to the handful of surface reflections that mix at your ears along with the direct. haven't had time yet to build it in Reaktor, if you set up the delays right it becomes an audio equivalent to a soft light filter, everything gets smoothed out and the phase cancellation and comb filtering effectively auto EQs everything.
What a whisper in my ear. Thank You!
 

unix-guy

Legend!
I spent my whole upbringing trying to make my guitar tone sound like the albums I liked, I didn’t want the amp in room sound. I wanted album tone.
This!

This is what I've said countless times in these types of discussions... Using slightly different words, but the exact same point.

Did you start playing guitar because of KISS? Van Halen? AC/DC? Metallica? Kings X?

I'm betting it was one of them, or someone similar? For me, it was KISS.

Did you want to sound like their amp in the room? Nope! Because you never heard it... Neither have most people. Nor will they ever...

What you have heard and were inspired by is the recorded tone, or maybe the live tone (still mic'd), you almost certainly didn't hear their guitar cabs, only the PA.

Once people get this concept they can typically move beyond the whole amp in the room paradigm.
 
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jon

Fractal Fanatic
Agreed - we've never heard what Steve Vai's amp sounds like in the room....imagine it would be pretty loud though!! LOL!!

I only know the sound of my heroes through their recordings, and occasionally when I get front row of the stage.

The only way to currently get the sound of a cab in the room is to use a cab. End of discussion really.

I do agree that I can see 'cab modeling' coming in the future.....but it's going to require a unit with the capacity of the current axe fx to do it....and that's going to be a pretty niche market....

I personally hate the cab in the room thing....yeah it feels a little better but all those troublesome low frequencies bouncing around and sympathetic vibrations and all that.....not to mention the nightmare it is to the sound guy if it's loud.....no thanks, had enough of that with real amps.....my tweaked tones require the soundman to simply adjust my volume and I'm set for the gig, and im happy, he's happy (sometimes it's a she) and the audience is happy
 

unix-guy

Legend!
we've never heard what Steve Vai's amp sounds like in the room
Well... I did when I attended Vai Academy last year and jammed with him and the band ;)

But it was LOUD and also there were plenty of monitors on stage AND I was super nervous, so yeah...

I liked how his "amp in the room plus the PA" sounded out front. Don't know how much was his cabs vs FOH, though. His tone in-person was much more my taste than his album tones - warmer, and less cutting.
 
This!

This is what I've said countless times in these types of discussions... Using slightly different words, but the exact same point.

Did you start playing guitar because of KISS? Van Halen? AC/DC? Metallica? Kings X?

I'm betting it was one of them, or someone similar? For me, it was KISS.

Did you want to sound like their amp in the room? Nope! Because you never heard it... Neither have most people. Nor will they ever...

What you have heard and were inspired by is the recorded tone, or maybe the live tone (still mic'd), you almost certainly didn't hear their guitar cabs, only the PA.

Once people get this concept they can typically move beyond the whole amp in the room paradigm.
It from was hearing the walls of guitar and rooms of drums on the Black Sabbath album Paranoid that I knew I would play one or the other. It was the killer stereo tone that drew me in to guitar. So yea, recordings got my attention. When I first played guitar, it was something else altogether. Feels man...it was alive under my fingers.
 

AlbertA

Power User
You can probably look at earlier threads (think earlier Axe-Fx II days) where I've stated this ad-nauseum, but here I go one more time:

Let's get some basic facts down first.
  • When you play an amp and cabinet in your room, One probably plays at least around 2m away or more (6 feet away from the cabinet) on average. For a typical guitar cabinet, we call this the "Far field" - we'll get to that in a moment.
  • Closer to the cabinet - like when you are mic'ing one, is called the "near field".
  • So far so good, right? We have a far field and near field.
  • OK, now consider that a typical guitar speaker driver is usually a 3-D cone section with a 10"-12" diameter - it's not a super small point - just keep that in mind as we discuss near-field vs far-field.
What happens in the near field?
  • To get a picture in your mind, imagine a microphone near the speaker driver. Now imagine a straight ray arriving at the microphone from every point in the 3-D cone.
  • As you'll quickly realize, these "rays" or lines are not all equal in length as shown in this simple illustration:

  • All these different waves arriving at the mic contribute to the frequency response (this is why you'll see combing effects, as waves will cancel and reinforce at various different frequencies.
  • Now imagine moving the microphone. Now the rays arrive at different ratios than the previous position, changing the frequency response dramatically. This is why people spend so much time finding just the right position for the mic, small movements have dramatic effect on the frequency response.
So then what's the FAR field?

  • That's when the difference in length of all those rays are essentially so minute that for practical purposes they all arrive at the essentially the same time, hence the frequency response is not altered dramatically as in the near field.
  • For a guitar cabinet and it's typically frequency rolloff at around 5KHz, a player is typically in the far field of the cabinet.
There is also the fact that the directivity typical guitar cabinets is really bad. This means high frequencies fall off rapidly as you move away from the center. This is what causes typical "ice pick" sound as you stand at the same height as the cones in the cabinet. But typical player position is offset at around say30 degrees from center (i.e. cabinet in the floor, pointing at feet).

All of the impulses in the Axe-Fx are near field captures as others have mentioned. This is because the typical studio recording chain, involves near micing a cabinet - this is mostly what you hear on records.

Hopefully now, you understand why this couldn't possibly give you an "amp in the room sound". It's because you don't typically play with your ear right next to the cabinet. You are in the farfield - the frequency response is very different.

To achieve an amp in the room sound however, you need properly captured farfield IRs.
  • You may ask, why can't I simply move the microphone back and capture an IR like that?
  • Because the reflections from the room will distort the cabinet capture. These are early reflections, and no capturing this is not capturing the "room"- just a few first early reflections which is enough to alter the frequency response of the resulting capture dramatically.
  • You need a properly sized room where you can guarantee there will be no reflections for at least the first 20 ms or so, which is enough to capture the frequency response of a typical guitar cabinet
  • Why no room though? Because you want the amp in "MY ROOM" sound. You want the contribution of the room you are playing in. So that being the goal, the IR should only capture the contribution from the cabinet alone, nothing else.
How big a room do I need then to properly capture a farfield IR? Let's do some back of the napkin calculations:
  • Distance from mic to cabinet ~= 2m
  • Speed of sound c = 343m/s
  • We need the earliest reflection to arrive 20ms or so after the direct sound.
  • trfz = time for reflection free zone > 20ms
  • The shortest reflection then should travel at minimum: dmic + c*trfz = 2m + 343m/s*20ms)/1000ms/s ~= 8.9m
  • In a room with L, W, H dimensions, placing the cabinet with the microphone dmic away (use 2m) from it, then doing some simple geometry - assume they are placed in the room where the mic and the cabinet are the foci points in an ellipsis where 2a = L.
  • The reflection distance in such an ellipsis is then L.
  • So L > c*trfz + dmic
  • W > 2*sqrt((c*trfz/2)^2 - (dmic/2)^2)
  • H > sqrt((c*trfz/2)^2 - (dmic/2)^2)
  • L > 8.9m
  • W > 8.6m
  • H > 4.3m
This means at the very least you need a empty space of 8.9m L x 8.6m W x 4.3m H (in meters) or 30 ft. L x 29 ft. W x 15 ft. H

Now you should see why you won't see any commercial IR offerings that include proper farfield captures. First, the requirements are fairly big (neutral recording mic with calibrated frequency response you can compensate for, proper technique (i.e. Ground plane measurement), room dimensions).

Second the audience size for such IRs seems minimal. The economics probably don't make sense. I thought about renting a gym for some capture sessions but I'm pretty sure the rental fees, equipment, acquiring the cabinet, etc, would not make it economically feasible.

Having said all this, I've heard a properly captured free field IR (At around 30 degree offset, typical of player position) with a CLR (which is a pretty good FRFR) and to my ears that's an entirely convincing amp in the room sound (YMMV) - so yeah I disagree with Fractal on it being impossible to achieve - difficult perhaps, not impossible.
 
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Jimmy C

New Member
Hi all,
Loads of talk about the difference between the mic’d sound of the Axe FX III versus playing the amp in the room and why that sounds different. I am OK with the sound differences and appreciate both but I think the gap could be lowered.

The issue for me lies in the tactile feel of playing an amp versus the Axe. Certainly I grant that part of it is due to different SPL levels but it is more than that for me. Even at low levels, I get a “connected” feel or “feedback feel” from my traditional amps and even from my non-traditional amps like the Yamaha HR-100HD that seems to be missing in my Axe FX to studio monitor setup.

This is not to say that the Axe sounds bad but rather than that I’d like to feel that connection.

Is that part of my ignorance on advanced amp settings like sag, MV, compression, etc? Or is my hope unrealistic? In many ways I am satisfied with the Axe but I would love to have a single parameter that varied how much feel or amp connection the Axe displayed. Not trying to open an old can of worms... just seeking to understand how best to get there.
I get ya, and I will likely never embrace FRFR, IRs, cab sims...etc etc. I embraced MODELLING years ago when I bought the Vox Valvetronix and gigged with it in the early 2000's. It was a modeller but set up like a proper amp and speaker. Then I got a Line 6 Pod HD and gigged that for years through a Mesa tube power amp. Now I'm using a Helix and an AX8, again through a tube power amp and real cab. I have never had to deal with missing the amp in the room FEEL, because I've had it all along plus enjoyed the benefit of the ultra versatile modellers as the front end, and effects built in. Axe FX III next!!!
 

manu68

Inspired
Very interesting thread (not the first one on the subject, but always interesting)

I will not explain again which have been explained really well.

My own experience (and nothing else)
I play at home (in a room :D) with backtracks, and i have both studio monitors (8 inch coaxial speakers) and real cab (power engine 60 line 6 with 12 inch speaker).
Well, If I play loud in my 12 sqm room , the experience is pretty similar on both solutions.
Playing the backtrack thru the studio monitors and my guitar thru the real speaker gives the best result (feeling i am playing with a band).
But both solutions are really pretty close for a bedroom player.
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
Coming in at the end of the conversation - all I can say is - I have an amp in my room and I have an axe fx in my room ( with a real 2x12 cab) - and no matter what I do to the real amp, the axe always sounds and feels better to me. IMHO.
 
Coming in at the end of the conversation - all I can say is - I have an amp in my room and I have an axe fx in my room ( with a real 2x12 cab) - and no matter what I do to the real amp, the axe always sounds and feels better to me. IMHO.
What do you use as power amp solution for the axe?
 

hippietim

Fractal Fanatic
I bought a 1x12 side ported cabinet from this guy http://www.trmguitarcabs.com/index.html (the side port cab is about 1/3 down the front page). I had the intention of using the Celestion F12 X200 with it. It finally came but I think it's defective. I went ahead and put a Celestion Century Vintage (basically a Neo Vintage 30) until I can get a replacement for the F12 X200 speaker. Running the AxeIII into this cabinet with a Duncan Power Stage 170 is hilariously fun. I was just scrolling through the factory presets with cab sims off and this rig sounds killer. Believe me, there's all kinds of amp in the room happening.

Here's my finished result (the finish is pretty poor, I have no patience).

seusscab1.jpg seusscab2.jpg
 
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