Login or Sign Up
Welcome, !
Join the HC Newsletter
Subscribe Now!

Are Amp Sims the Answer to Your Live Performance Dreams?


by Craig Anderton


Programs like Line 6 POD Farm, IK Multimedia's AmpliTube, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, and Waves G|T|R model a complete, computer-based guitar effects rack. As long as you're able to get audio in and out of your computer, you can create and edit your “rack” onscreen, with a degree of flexibility that's hard to do with conventional setups – but there are both pros and cons to taking the software path.


WAVES' GTR processor models both the amp and several different effects.


Pro: Owning the amount of gear that's virtualized in these programs, let alone creating a setup using that gear, would be insanely impractical.

Con: There's always a slight delay between the time you play a note and the time you hear it, owing to the computer and audio interface's latency (delay caused by processing time). Mitigating factor: Today's fast machines can deliver latencies below 10 milliseconds. This is about the same delay as moving ten feet further away from a speaker, and is virtually unnoticeable.


Pro: With a software-based system, there are no issues about getting individual effects devices to work together (impedance matching, levels, etc.).

Con: When playing live, toting around a desktop computer can be a drag, and a laptop usually has to be “babied.” Mitigating factor: Products like the Muse Receptor, are road-worthy plug-in hosts that are more convenient than desktop computers and more rugged than laptops.


Pro: The cost of a computer and suitable program is much less than buying the hardware needed to create an equivalent setup.

Con: You don't have the same kind of hands-on control associated with most hardware, unless you buy and set up a control surface.


Pro: For studio work, this type of program is a dream come true. No matter what sound the producer wants, you'll probably be able to provide it.

Con: Your audio interface has to work with guitar. Mitigating factor: Some software FX packages include an hardware interface optimized to work with both guitars and computers, and more audio interfaces include special inputs specifically for electric guitar and bass.


Pro: You can get a lot more sounds and flexibility than with traditional setups.

Con: Nothing has exactly the same sound and feel as a tube amp. Mitigating factor: When sitting in a mix, few people (if any) can tell that a modeled amp sound isn't the real thing.


Bottom line: For live use, you might still want to go with a hardware modeling box or conventional amplifier setup, although computer-based solutions are becoming increasingly attractive. But in the studio – assuming you like the sound and feel – the sky's the limit with this new breed of guitar-oriented programs.



CraigGuitarVertical.jpgCraig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.

No comments
Join the discussion...
Post Comment
More Cool Stuff
  Chandler Limited and Abbey Road Studios add TG Opto compressor and T...
Cort Gold Series D6 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar When you're going for the gold, ...
sign in
contact us
*Indicates required fields
Name *
Email Address *
Issue Type *
please wait