Peavey ReValver 4 ACT Combo and ACT Rack
Every guitar tone, ever ... for less than $50
by Chris Loeffler
Peavey ReValver 4 launched to great reviews in 2014 as an incredibly useful, guitarist-oriented amp and effects software modeling suite at a price point significantly lower than the competition. ReValver 4 continues to be a strong contender for affordable direct-to-HD recording, and has since added 19 amps, 21 pedals, 10 effects, 48 cabinets, 36 input models, and 12 presets to their growing library of sounds available for purchase. While Peavey remains committed to expanding the ReValver 4’s digital offerings, they’ve also decided to hand the keys to their proprietary sampling algorithm over to ReValver 4 users with their new ACT Combo and ACT Rack releases.
Based on Peavey’s ACT (Audio Cloning Technology) modeling software, both Peavey ACT Combo and ACT Rack require Peavey ReValver 4 and are downloadable through the Peavey Amp Store or via an in-app purchase for Windows and MacOS.
What You Need to Know
The Peavey ACT Combo is designed to clone guitar tones in recordings or from a live amp and import them into ReValver 4 as a standalone preset. Using the same ACT technology to a different end, the Peavey ACT Rack profiles existing tones and EQ structure and applies them to parts recorded with ReValver 4 to mirror (or modify) how the track sits in the mix with the rest of the recording.
The Peavey ACT Combo analyzes the tone and profile of real amps and cabs recorded into a DAW (I tested Pro Tools and Logic) to create a model of the captured tone. You can use multiple microphones to capture various aspects of an amp’s sound for later blending. Imagine running a classic two-microphone setup (one at the edge of the speaker cone and one six inches away) and blending them just like you would for a recording to have the right amount of punch and presence. This then becomes a preset tone unto itself.
To record an amp, you need to run an audio file generated by ACT Combo into your amp that plays a series of notes, feedback, and chords with varying levels of sustain and attack. This file can be dialed in to a preset profile of the instrument you intend to play (Les Paul, Strat, etc.) to better tune the performance of the profile, but this isn’t necessary. I found using specific inputs did give me a more reliable and accurate preset in the end. This setup obviously requires a way to record live amps, which means at least a microphone, an audio interface, and a DAW, but most players considering ReValver 4 likely already have these tools.
As mentioned previously, ACT Combo can also create a tone preset from any recording where the isolated guitar track is available (or at least 10-20 seconds without accompanying instrumentation). Talk about the future - you’re literally stealing the tone of recorded artists! Using the EQ match recordings or DAW tracks is a very simple process, and yields immediate results. Additional tweaking can of course be applied to the resulting preset, as you may find the quality of the tone desirable but the EQ a bit limited in the context of your use and mix.
The ACT Rack, by contrast, is more of a post-recording application to not only correct and EQ a guitar part in the mix, but also capture it as a preset for reuse in later tracks. The core application of this is that a guitar part, recorded in isolation, may sound fantastic on its own but becomes lost or thin once other instruments are mixed in. Rather then re-recording the part or having to dive deep into EQ and compression tweaks, ACT Rack analyses the tone and EQ profile of any previously recorded guitar part (yours or someone else's) you believe would better fit in the mix - thus allowing a complete or blended remodel of the tone that needs help. It’s re-amping taken to the next level.
In practice, this is accomplished by busing in the track you’d like to copy and selecting “Learn” within ACT Rack to apply its EQ profile to the original guitar signal. Once this is done, a visual frequency chart shows what’s being changed, you can volume-match the original and enhanced versions, and A/B between them until you achieve the proper blend between the original and EQ. The finalized profile is then saved as a tone preset in ReValver 4 for use on other tracks, or even in Live mode.
So knowing what ACT Combo and ACT Rack do, the question from people who haven’t used ReValver 4 is likely, “But do they sound good?” Obviously, the quality of what goes into the modeling software is the biggest factor in how it sounds and performs, but I found the various models I attempted, from a Champ clone amp just starting to break up to a cranked Verellen Meatsmoke, very much hit their mark. There were quirks and small details that seemed glossed-over in the resultant models, but nothing that stood out as unpleasant or unnatural, and certainly not something missed in the context of a recording with other instruments (especially considering a less-than $30 price tag). There are plenty of examples of how accurate Peavey ReValver 4 can sound (download it for free), and you can feel confident about the pay-for models.
Tone matching works best when the guitar track you want to model or reference is an isolated track.
The Peavey ACT Combo and Rack, while separate products, complement each other and use shared technology in very different ways. While the ACT Combo brings ReValver 4 into the world of amp modeling devices like Kemper and can capture the tone of any physical rig (or prerecorded) for use within ReValver, ACT Rack further refines those tones within the context of a recording mix. There's a bit of a learning curve to harness the most powerful aspects of ACT Combo and Rack, but capturing and creating tones is quick and easy once you go through the process. If you're looking for powerful tone-capture for recording demos or for laptop playing on the go, nothing touches ACT for the price.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.