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xilddx

Digital Modelling vs The Real Thing

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I know this has been done before, but I keep reading people saying things like "it's got that nasty digital sound" or "it's sounds too digital". I simply can't tell the difference between a well programmed digital model and the real thing. I have pretty good ears for tone too.

I get gorgeous tones through my POD X3 LIVE direct to desk, with both guitar and bass, and I am genuinely puzzled why people think they can tell the difference. The response from the POD valve amp models is just like a valve amp (and I've owned a few Peavey, Fender and Marshall amps), eg. you can clean up a dirty sound by rolling off the instrument volume pot, or picking more lightly, etc.

So what is the the difference? Are my ears dead or something? Or is it just the purists being pedantic?

Edited by silddx

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If you're comparing listening to the recorded sound of a rig with the modelled sound of a rig, then I reckon no-one can tell the difference.

To try and talk about modelling in the context of live performance is difficult, because obviously you have to amp up the modelled sound, and maybe the PA is crap, or there's no wedges etc. or maybe you're using in-ears which I would imagine are lacking in ball-shaking low end.

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Perhaps you're not using the right sort of gold-plated mains plugs or oxygen-free, uni-directional, unobtanium-alloy interconnects?

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='861876' date='Jun 9 2010, 10:44 AM']If you're comparing listening to the recorded sound of a rig with the modelled sound of a rig, then I reckon no-one can tell the difference.

To try and talk about modelling in the context of live performance is difficult, because obviously you have to amp up the modelled sound, and maybe the PA is crap, or there's no wedges etc. or maybe you're using in-ears which I would imagine are lacking in ball-shaking low end.[/quote]
It's more or less your first point I wanted to discuss, but I've never had any real problems live either. But you're right in that it's down to the PA / monitor situation.

I just think there's a lot of negative nonsense spoken about digital modelling.

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[quote name='silddx' post='861893' date='Jun 9 2010, 10:57 AM']It's more or less your first point I wanted to discuss, but I've never had any real problems live either. But you're right in that it's down to the PA / monitor situation.

I just think there's a lot of negative nonsense spoken about digital modelling.[/quote]

Yeh. There's one member in particular (maybe they'll come along later) who claims they can tell if an Ampeg is being used by listening from outside the venue, and would be able to tell it was a "real" ampeg or if it was a modeller - the mind boggles.

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some i agree with. i've knows people use line 6 guitar amps which sound awful and digital is the perfect wort to explain the sound, they sound too abrupt... much like a cheap distortion pedal. however i know that a good digital model can sound every bit as good as the real thing, i've worked with a few vst models and even a few bog standard garageband models which i would never be able to tell from the real deal. its all about quality of equipment.

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[quote name='Colledge' post='861902' date='Jun 9 2010, 11:03 AM']some i agree with. i've knows people use line 6 guitar amps which sound awful and digital is the perfect wort to explain the sound...[/quote]

I disagree! "awful" is the perfect word to explain the sound, and generally it's down to the way the player has his settings.

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There was a survey done not too long ago where, if my memory is correct, we were asked to tell the difference between modeled and real sounds. I wonder what happened to that and if any results were published...

Personally I cant tell the difference. No, thats not quite right, I could tell there was a difference but couldn't tell you which was the modeled sound. I do remember when digital modeling was fresh that there was a big difference... the amp simulators on the Zoom 506 spring to mind as being only a very vague approximation of the amp it was trying to emulate. As with most things Digital the technology keeps advancing and the perceived difference between the real and digital will get smaller. There will come a time when the convenience outweighs that difference, and I think that that time is approaching fast, just as digital cameras are now becoming the weapon of choice for professional photographers over film cameras. There will always be the purists that prefer the real thing, and of course I can see no real problem in them continuing to do so, but when I cant tell the difference then I'm not going to worry about it. Indeed I've been thinking of a good, 'uncoloured' power amp and a Pod X3 as the next rig of choice. :)

Edited to say that I think that many peoples experience of cheap / early amp simulation gives them a biased view against using modelling. It will take a while for this perception to die down, just as the perception of Skoda was still bad for a few years after VW bought them up and started making great cars with budget prices.

Edited by SteveO

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I've done some listening tests on this and I can definitely tell with regards to guitar, but a very well programmed digital modeller does sound amazingly authentic. It's harder to tell with bass due to the nature of it. I think the digital modelling of valves can be very accurate but there really is no subsitute for micing up the real thing. For example, I would never go into the studio with my band with only a Pod...

As for being able to tell if someone is using an Ampeg from outside the venue, I'll call BS on that every day of the week!

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I use a Bass Pod as part of my rig, but its not to emulate any particular amps. I just look at it as a very versatile programmable pre-amp.

I don't care whether or not the models resemble the "real thing" and TBH most of the time I don't really know what the amps that are being modelled are supposed to sound like. I just use the ones that give me the sound that I want with the bass that I am using.

The quest of the "uncoloured" sound is a complete waste of time. Everything colours your sound from the way you make the strings vibrate to the room that you are playing in. The trick is for your equipment and playing technique to colour the sound in a way you find pleasing and to achieve the correct balance with the other instruments playing.

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Someone on TB posted a blind AB test between a Variax on the Fender Jazz setting and an actual pre-CBS Jazz- the consensus was, if I recall rightly, that the Line 6 sounded better to most people.

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With some models, they don't necessarily nail the sound they're going for, but this doesn't mean that they sound crap in comparison, and it deffinitely doesn't mean they sound "digital".

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[quote name='BigRedX' post='861939' date='Jun 9 2010, 11:32 AM']I use a Bass Pod as part of my rig, but its not to emulate any particular amps. I just look at it as a very versatile programmable pre-amp.

I don't care whether or not the models resemble the "real thing" and TBH most of the time I don't really know what the amps that are being modelled are supposed to sound like. I just use the ones that give me the sound that I want with the bass that I am using.[/quote]

That's exactly the way that I use my pod when I do use it. You're never gonna get an authentic Ampeg 8x10 sound through a pod that is going through a ported 2x12 cab, however, the sound that you do get may be fantastic and suit the style/band/venue etc...

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[quote name='Dubs' post='861935' date='Jun 9 2010, 11:29 AM']but a very well programmed digital modeller does sound amazingly authentic.[/quote]


I think this hits the nail on the head. As a sweeping statement *most* musicians are not techno geeks and thus expect to twiddle a few knobs and sound like SRV. However, modelling just doesn't work like that - infact even big valvey amp stacks don't either.

The POD *can* sound amazing in the right hands - but a lack of experience - or indeed a lack of reading the manual in the first place will only grace you with a turd to polish.

I would quite happily turn up to a studio session with just a POD (X3) - because I am confident that I can get the tones I want from it and you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between live or model.

- oh and finally, none of the sounds I use are stock ones... Eeeeesh!!! - I'd rather get the POD with no default sounds on! lol

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In my limited experience I've occasionally heard small digital glitches on effects heavy patches for guitar, but so far been very impressed with all the bass modeling amps I've tried. Dunno how closely they compare to the real thing but they seem a really convenient way of getting lots of usable sounds.

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[quote name='BigRedX' post='861939' date='Jun 9 2010, 12:32 PM']The quest of the "uncoloured" sound is a complete waste of time...[/quote]

:) Didn't mean to open that can of worms again. My reasoning was that to have a piece of kit like the pod emulating loads of lovely cab / amp combinations and then running it though an Ampeg (for example) and everything coming out sounding like an Ampeg kinda defeats the object.

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I've just used a Line 6 Lowdown 750 on a session and a few gigs and I'm very pleased with the results. The SVT model sounds pretty good to my ears. I haven't A/B'd it (and nor could I be ar$ed to), and its been a few years since I owned an SVT but from what I recall it seems to capture the vibe very well - particularly when using the drive control to get it a bit furry. Even if there is a discernable difference from an SVT, the Line 6 sounds good in its own right. So much so I think my Orange TB might be going the journey.

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[quote name='wateroftyne' post='861963' date='Jun 9 2010, 11:53 AM']Assuming the TC RH450 is digital modelling, I'm sold on that particular effort...[/quote]

Yup, it's preamp is in the same DSP domain as the POD. It sounds great! When I bought my first Hartke Hydrive - I ran it with the RH450 - a very capable head that doesn't sound 'digital' at all.

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listen to the harmonic content especially around 1k.

digital clipping is extremely harsh on the ears

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[quote name='Dubs' post='861935' date='Jun 9 2010, 11:29 AM']I've done some listening tests on this and I can definitely tell with regards to guitar, but a very well programmed digital modeller does sound amazingly authentic. It's harder to tell with bass due to the nature of it. I think the digital modelling of valves can be very accurate but there really is no subsitute for micing up the real thing. [b]For example, I would never go into the studio with my band with only a Pod...[/b]
As for being able to tell if someone is using an Ampeg from outside the venue, I'll call BS on that every day of the week![/quote]
I've done an EP and an album in a very good studio and only took my POD. At first the producer was very concerned and told me he wanted me to go through his lovely old compressors and DI with just the bass. He reckoned the POD's compressor would be no match for his old rack compressors. In the end we did three simultaneous recordings to three separate tracks, one his way, one POD dry output and one wet. he went with the POD on most of the songs. Next session I did there he admitted the POD was great.

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[quote name='umph' post='861982' date='Jun 9 2010, 12:18 PM']listen to the harmonic content especially around 1k.

digital clipping is extremely harsh on the ears[/quote]

Digital clipping is a totally different thing to digitally modelled distortion. Digital clipping occurs from overdriving a digital unit, which is generally a bad idea. (unless i'm wrong, I know you know your amps etc).

EDIT: It's like, you wouldn't wnat to clip the input on a digital recorder, it'll just sound horrible and seriously hurt your ears. Compare that to a tape recorder, which might sound nice if you over drive the input. This doesn't mean that you can't digitally model the effects of the tape recorder using your digital set-up.

Edited by cheddatom

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[quote name='umph' post='861982' date='Jun 9 2010, 12:18 PM']listen to the harmonic content especially around 1k.

digital clipping is extremely harsh on the ears[/quote]
TBH though, I'm not concerned about people like you because you are one in a million who can hear something like that.

Can you really hear extremely harsh harmonic content digital clipping, especially around 1k? I'm amazed if you can.

Edited by silddx

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[quote name='cheddatom' post='862004' date='Jun 9 2010, 12:37 PM']Digital clipping is a totally different thing to digitally modelled distortion. Digital clipping occurs from overdriving a digital unit, which is generally a bad idea. (unless i'm wrong, I know you know your amps etc).

EDIT: It's like, you wouldn't wnat to clip the input on a digital recorder, it'll just sound horrible and seriously hurt your ears. Compare that to a tape recorder, which might sound nice if you over drive the input. This doesn't mean that you can't digitally model the effects of the tape recorder using your digital set-up.[/quote]
I'm no techie but that makes perfect sense to me.

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