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EliasMooseblaster

Silent recording with a valve amp via the FX loop?

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What with all the associated risks, I'm resigned to recording my next project at home. The obstacle is that my biggest window of free time is the couple of hours after Mooseblaster Jr has been put to bed - a time which is not very compatible with micing up an Ashdown Little Bastard plus cab - so I started looking at dummy loads, so that I could use the signal from the post-preamp DI and record silently.

Then I saw a suggestion on another website that suggested a dummy load may not be necessary: just keep the output volume at 0 (and the cab connected, obviously), and take a feed from the "send" socket on the effects loop. That way I get a signal that's been through the preamp, and the power stage still "sees" an 8 Ohm load.

Am I missing anything here? I just have a nagging feeling that the idea is too good to be true, and there's some crucial electrical tidbit I've not considered which will blow up one of my transformers after all. Has anyone tried this and lived to tell the tale?

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You won't get the sound of the power section (if it is valve as well) or your cab with that.

A good VST plugin would be far easier.

 

All of the NeuralDSP plugins are available as a time limited trial, as is Helix Native.

Some free ones about too.

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You don't necessarily have to keep the volume at zero, depending how the amp is laid out. Usually if you plug in to the send that prevents any signal from reaching the power amp unless you also plug into the receive jack.

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19 minutes ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

You don't necessarily have to keep the volume at zero, depending how the amp is laid out. Usually if you plug in to the send that prevents any signal from reaching the power amp unless you also plug into the receive jack.

That is also useful to know - thank you! I take it there's nothing wrong/dangerous with not completing that send/receive loop then? (That's my main worry!)

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, EliasMooseblaster said:

That is also useful to know - thank you! I take it there's nothing wrong/dangerous with not completing that send/receive loop then? (That's my main worry!)

Really shouldn't be unless there is something seriously weird with the signal path through the amp. From the power amp PoV it would be the same as having nothing plugged into the amp and no-one would suggest that this is a bad thing. The only thing I would check is that the loop is series rather than parallel (or switchable to series) as in the latter case there will always be signal passing through to the power amp section.

However as has been said without the power amp section and your cab(s) the tone from the pre-amp alone may be rather strange. If it was me I'd record the bass straight and add the amp sound later at the mixing stage.

Edited by BigRedX

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Could you record the bass direct and then re-amp it ?

You'd only need to have the bass loud once (theoretically) as you'd have the take the way you wanted it before you used the amp, rather than having to have the amp loud every time you did a take.

Might be a problem if you're recording a 25 minute opus, but for a short song you might be able to get away with rattling the furniture for just a short while !

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I may be wrong but I think the LB DI is pre-volume control so you can DI to the recording set up without worrying about the cab making noise. Keep it plugged in, obviously, but keep the volume control down.

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16 minutes ago, Merton said:

I may be wrong but I think the LB DI is pre-volume control so you can DI to the recording set up without worrying about the cab making noise. Keep it plugged in, obviously, but keep the volume control down.

I am now kicking myself that I didn't even think of that! I have a sneaking suspicion that you're right about it being pre-volume control, and I have already worked with the DI tone and found it to be pleasing. (In fact, it was mixing with this DI tone that made me think about silent recording in the first place...) I should probably try this first before faffing around with effects loops.

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On 05/08/2020 at 16:26, EliasMooseblaster said:

I am now kicking myself that I didn't even think of that! I have a sneaking suspicion that you're right about it being pre-volume control, and I have already worked with the DI tone and found it to be pleasing. (In fact, it was mixing with this DI tone that made me think about silent recording in the first place...) I should probably try this first before faffing around with effects loops.

No the DI output on the Little Bastard is actually tapped off the output transformer. Which means you can get output tube/transformer saturation and distortion from the DI signal when you push it hard. This is a very unusual feature and very cool IMO. The LB is actually my favorite bass "DI" and I've got some other pretty high end DIs like the Zod DI (REDDI clone) and the  Radial JDV.

Unfortunately this also means that there won't be any signal from the DI output with the volume all the way down. Any tone control settings will also affect both the signal going to the cab and the DI output, which isn't always ideal. The mute switch won't work either as it shuts down the DI signal.

I use my LB for home recording with an iso cab and an attenuator. This works great but probably not for everyone. A load box would require less space/setup and I'm sure it would sound great.

But taking the signal from the effects loop should also work fine. You won't get the output section but neither will the DI output on an Ampeg SVT which is preamp only and people use them all the time. The SVT will provide a balanced XLR output of course, which the effects loop won't, but I don't think that should be a huge problem for home recording? But you won't get that fat output transformer/tube sound unless you use the DI output.

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4 minutes ago, S.F.Sorrow said:

No the DI output on the Little Bastard is actually tapped off the output transformer. Which means you can get output tube/transformer saturation and distortion from the DI signal when you push it hard. This is a very unusual feature and very cool IMO. The LB is actually my favorite bass "DI" and I've got some other pretty high end DIs like the Zod DI (REDDI clone) and the  Radial JDV.

Unfortunately this also means that there won't be any signal from the DI output with the volume all the way down. Any tone control settings will also affect both the signal going to the cab and the DI output, which isn't always ideal. The mute switch won't work either as it shuts down the DI signal.

I use my LB for home recording with an iso cab and an attenuator. This works great but probably not for everyone. A load box would require less space/setup and I'm sure it would sound great.

But taking the signal from the effects loop should also work fine. You won't get the output section but neither will the DI output on an Ampeg SVT which is preamp only and people use them all the time. The SVT will provide a balanced XLR output of course, which the effects loop won't, but I don't think that should be a huge problem for home recording? But you won't get that fat output transformer/tube sound unless you use the DI output.

Surely that also means the DI level is affected by the output volume of the amp? That can't be a good thing.

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6 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Surely that also means the DI level is affected by the output volume of the amp? That can't be a good thing.

It's not a good thing, no. But amazingly lots of amps are this way including the 1st generation Darkglass M900!

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Posted (edited)

Amplitube SVX is free at the moment- guaranteed to work!!

Edited by paul_5

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18 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Surely that also means the DI level is affected by the output volume of the amp? That can't be a good thing.

Perhaps not ideal but I don't see it as a problem really. Many highly respected DIs (like the REDDI) have adjustable gain to be able to push it into the sweetspot so not really that different from using the LB as a DI in that respect. Just set the volume where the LB sounds great and adjust the input gain at the mixing desk/micpre. You would have to do the same with a miked cab too. The LB doesn't have a preamp gain control so the sweetspot for the required level of saturation/dirt will only be found at one specific output volume anyway. And I don't see how it would be possible to get the DI signal off the output transformer and NOT be affected by the volume of the amp.

Personally I think it's a much bigger problem that the DI signal is also affected by the tone controls. A cab will color the sound and ideally require different tone control settings than a DI signal. Which means that the LB isn't ideal for recording amp+DI. But as a (sort of) standalone DI it sounds absolutely superb and the reason for this is that you get all the good stuff from the output tubes/transformer. Actually, I sometimes use it as a DI only and get the miked signal from a different amp. It requires quite a bit of setup but I still do it sometimes because of the superb DI tone from the LB.

The LB may not be the most practical (or powerful) amp but the DI output is really good if you're willing to go through all the hassle of using it. I actually like to think of it as the best DI I've ever tried with a little amp thrown in for free. I just wish they had found a way to mute the speaker signal without muting the DI output. Or even equipped it with a built in load box to allow silent DI recording. That would have been absolutely amazing.

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16 hours ago, stewblack said:

If all else fails.... 

preview_1.jpg.1c1930dc0f17d94fc76ff08d3b5613b0.jpg

They are certainly cheap but I believe they're copies of the older version of the SansAmp Bass Driver DI without the mid control. The mid control on the SansAmp V2 makes all the difference. The older version without the mid control was too scooped sounding to be very useful for most genres IMO. The V2 is much more versatile.  I use mine a lot more than I had expected. It's great for a quick and easy way to a very decent recorded tone when I'm feeling lazy and don't want to spend a lot of time on setup.

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On 21/08/2020 at 18:36, paul_5 said:

Amplitube SVX is free at the moment- guaranteed to work!!

Where are you seeing this? I went to the website and it’s asking for £99. 

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On 22/08/2020 at 12:59, S.F.Sorrow said:

They are certainly cheap but I believe they're copies of the older version of the SansAmp Bass Driver DI without the mid control. The mid control on the SansAmp V2 makes all the difference. The older version without the mid control was too scooped sounding to be very useful for most genres IMO. The V2 is much more versatile.  I use mine a lot more than I had expected. It's great for a quick and easy way to a very decent recorded tone when I'm feeling lazy and don't want to spend a lot of time on setup.

Yep, that was one of the reasons I sold my Behringer. It was quite handy for silent practise (running it into a little mixer with a headphone output), but whenever I tried to record or use it live, I just felt like I was working too hard to counteract the mid-scoop. Replaced it with a Hotone B-station and, whilst it's not going to rival the Little Bastard for tone, it certainly makes some much more satisfying sounds than the old BDDI.

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