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Yamdiddle

What do the pricey Amp Sims like Kemper and Axe Fx have that I can't do on modern PC?

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For the price of the Axe FX II, which is like $2000 last time I checked, I could build a REALLY powerful modern day gaming PC with like 4.0GHZ quad core and two 880 GTX 4gb video cards with 16gb of RAM and everything.

 

I already own Guitar Rig 5 with the Rig Kontrol 3 usb pedal board. Is it really worth it to spend a thousand or so on a separate piece of hardware for guitar amp/effects modeling, or can I get the same raw hardware power, speed, and modeling software if I just build a new gaming PC and "acquire" the latest software like the newest Amplitube and Native Instruments packages?

 

How about those $200 POD things that are about the size of a loop pedal?

 

Right now I have an Asus gaming laptop from 2010, do I even need something more powerful to run these simulated amps, or is my hardware good enough for the latest stuff? Is it because the Axe FX isn't bottlenecked in terms of latency by not having to go from a usb device to the PC and back to the usb device to my headphones like I do with my Rig Kontrol 3?

 

I just got an 8 string guitar with passive pickups (Agile septor 827) and I'm looking to see what my best options are, and which things are must-haves, and what some good and much cheaper alternatives are. I'm thinking maybe all I need is a good pair of studio monitors, but I'm wondering if I should follow what Animals As Leaders did and get some PA speakers, a subwoofer, and Axe FX II. I reallly really want a tight low end to come out, and I want it to sound like high quality shit. So I'm not sure if I can accomplish that with my current hardware and just get the big studio monitors and maybe a subwoofer, or PA speakers and sub, or Axe FX II and studio monitors..... or what.

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You didn't mention if this is for recording or live.

 

If its for recording you can use your current computer. Most interfaces have zero latency monitoring.

 

If you plan on using a software plugin as a substitute for hardware in a live situation, keep wishing.

When you route the signal through the computer and try to run a plugin live you are bypassing the interfaces

zero latency monitoring and sending the signal through the CPU and it takes time for it to be digitized, have the computer do its mathematics, send the signal back out through the interface to be amplified by the speakers.

 

You can get a good quad computer latency pretty low, maybe 100us but that's enough to where the delay is annoying, like the amp is on the other side of the room while you're sitting right next to it. "and" the software isn't all cracked up to what they try and make people think it is. By their adds you'd think the thing could do the job of any amp out there. In reality its real tweaky and if you can get one or two decent tones after a weeks worth of tweaking, you'd be doing good.

 

I have Guitar rig 5, tried it out, If I used more than one effect at a time it would crash the computer sag, freeze or crash. Those all in one plugins are real oinkers when it comes to sucking CPU power and found it to be useless. I can download Voxengo Boogex for free and it does a better job using 1/10th the CPU power. It hasn't got a fancy GUI, but I'll take a simple plain Jane plugin any day if it works well.

 

Plugins are by no means easy to use. Guitar pickups have different output levels and frequency responses and just the slightest variation makes a huge difference in how well the software works. Maybe in 5~10 years they might get good enough for using live. Right now they are a pretty lame gimmick.

 

What I use are analog preamps and effects units. they are essentially the front end of the amp and you can add all the hardware based effects you want. From there its just a matter of a power amp and speakers (or straight into a daw or recorder.

 

That Axe FX II is a bit pricy. It may be a good unit, I don't know. I would hope works as an interface for recording, but I wouldn't buy one new. If I had the cash, I'd find one used for half the cost. I do have many guitar preamps and effects units already though and really don't need to spend that kind of money. If I did there are better units available.

 

 

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The axe fx II has TWO count them...TWO Tiger Sharc Processors that do only one thing...crunch numbers. They are totally dedicated to the task they are set for...in this case one processor is for the effects and one processor is for the modeling.

 

There is a reason for the cost!

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The area where spending four to six grand on a high end computer (Multicore (6-8) Corei7 with 24-32 gigs of ram and large hard drive arrays with a powerful video card) fails is you don't have the years of software development the AxeFX people have put in on their system. Amplitube has its moments but if you really want an AxeFX then get an AxeFX. The problem there, though is many artists are using custom patches or modified public domain ones. You can't just email Tosin Abasi and ask him if he'll send you a zip file of his custom patches. But I'm pretty sure if you did get the Axe you would have plenty of options to find the sound you are looking for.

 

At the same time, do you really want to play out and do gigs dragging a computer onstage. It seems the Axe might be more optimized for playing out due to the way it's packaged. Also there's the looks factor, it's kind of hard to look bad-ass onstage with a Dell up there.

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I myself use to use Guitar Rig 5 along with Pod Farm 2.0 and neither of them satisfied me fully. I heard great things from them by other people, but I myself never got a decent tone out of them -- mind you I was still a beginner when I used them, so I'm certain now I could get a decent tone from them. I upgraded to the Axe-FX II XL and loved it the moment I got it out of the box. There is a learning curve, and some will argue most of its functions are pointless, but it has everything you could ever need: Flangers, delays, reverbs, amps, cabs and countless more. Plus, you get free upgrades for life, and these upgrades are always adding in new effects and improving the impulse responses of the built in cabinets.

 

Plus, if you like to tweak your sound precisely, this machine is perfect for you. Every single knob you can ever imagine is in every single amp, cab and effect. It is a tweaker's dream come true. Also, one feature that made me buy the Axe-FX especially was being able to tone match. That feature alone has made my tones pop out. Plus, if you really like the sound of a certain microphone setting, you can capture it and never have to use the real amp again!

 

But all of that is if you want to record. If you are going to be playing live, then I suggest you simply invest in a good-tube amplifier and a decent cabinet. Heck, if you have the space and option, just record using a real amplifier and cabinet; nothing is ever going to replace the natural sound of those.

 

Guitar Rig and Amplitube are powerful, and they can pump out decent tones, but the Axe-FX II is a professional machine that will make amazing tones out of the box. As I said, Guitar Rig and Amplitube are fine (especially if you are trying to save money) but if you want to make the investment, get an Axe-FX. I never tried the Kemper Profiling Unit, so I can't recommend that, but do research and figure out if either of those units are for you.

 

Computer wise, you sound like you have everything in check. I ran Guitar Rig 5, Amplitube 3 and Pod Farm 2.0 on my old gaming PC that had 8GB of RAM and a middle class processor and I never experienced any issues. If you have the option, upgrade to a better PC, but you should be fine for now.

 

As for what you should get, definitely get studio monitors, especially if you are recording. A PA system is good for a live environment, but studio monitors will allow you to make great mixes. I myself recommend the Rokit 6 G3 studio monitors since it's what I use, but there are plenty of options out there. Also, if you are getting monitors, you might also want to invest in a desktop computer unless you have a place to set your laptop on and keeping it stationary.

 

But as for the amp sims, I suggest listening to tones people made and reading all of the features and differences between the all. If you want to stay on a low budget, Guitar Rig 5 should be a fine option. I played with Pod Farm, but never really liked it -- Amplitube was much the same. But if you want to spend a bit of money, go with the Axe-FX or Kemper.

 

That was quite a bit. I hope it helps.

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But all of that is if you want to record. If you are going to be playing live, then I suggest you simply invest in a good-tube amplifier and a decent cabinet. Heck, if you have the space and option, just record using a real amplifier and cabinet; nothing is ever going to replace the natural sound of those.

 

Truer words were never spoken.

 

Nobody has ever designed a boutique tube amp to try to sound like an AxeFX, POD, or a Kemper. Think about why this is the case.....

 

For the money you are considering spending on a PC that will be obsolete in a year, you could buy a VERY nice amp that will never be obsolete, and you'll never make internet claims about "it sounds just like my friend's tube amp....".

 

JMO - YMMV.

 

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Truer words were never spoken.

 

Nobody has ever designed a boutique tube amp to try to sound like an AxeFX, POD, or a Kemper. Think about why this is the case.....

 

For the money you are considering spending on a PC that will be obsolete in a year, you could buy a VERY nice amp that will never be obsolete, and you'll never make internet claims about "it sounds just like my friend's tube amp....".

 

JMO - YMMV.

 

​Welcome to 2017 and the Kemper STILL sounds better and has infinitely more flexibility than your tube amp. Most of your heroes are probably using Kempers or AxeFXs on tour and in the studio. I've had your attitude before too, before the technology got here.

 

 

 

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Nobody has ever designed a boutique tube amp to try to sound like an AxeFX, POD, or a Kemper. Think about why this is the case.....

That's the case because it doesn't make any sense!

 

 

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On 6/14/2017 at 11:57 PM, Grant Harding said:

Welcome to 2017 and the Kemper STILL sounds better and has infinitely more flexibility than your tube amp. Most of your heroes are probably using Kempers or AxeFXs on tour and in the studio. I've had your attitude before too, before the technology got here.

Flexibility?  Yes, there's no question about that. 

Sounds better?  I can't see that even now, perhaps never.  Given that the entire purpose of the Kemper is to copy the sound of a great amp, even if it were perfect it would sound just as good as the amp, not better.  I am sitting in front of a Kemper toaster as I write this, and while it does indeed sound very, very good, it's not "better" than my Bogner XTC, JCM800 or MP-1.....but if I want a sound other than those three amps in my collection, the Kemper is the only way to get there without buying yet another tube amp.

I am contemplating buying a Kemper for pit gigs - the size and flexibility is perfect for that sort of work.  I won't get rid of the tube heads yet, though.  For band gigs, the XTC just plain feels better to me and pulls more creativity out of me.  YMMV.

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In a situation where there's a lot of time and a controlled environment I'd always choose a real amp. There's still something extra when it's all done right. 

The provocative comment about sounding better than a tube amp is for the following reasons:

1) Given the normal rushed set up and changeover process in most venues, it's more likely that the Kemper is going to sound great through the PA than a tube amp with an SM57 chucked randomly in front. 

2) Part of sounding great to me is being able to paint a wide variety of tones throughout a show - Vox, Fender, Bogner, Friedman, etc. This is the only amp that lets you easily jump between them. 

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