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Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Mixedup » Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:05 pm

Just stumbled across this interesting advice from Bob Clearmountain on his mixthis.com site...

Normally, I don't like to comment on how to record stuff, the general rule being "there are no rules". In this case, I'm making an exception as I've recently had to try to deal with guitar tracks recorded through The Pod (from Line 6). These are the most unmixable sounds I've ever encountered... PLEASE beg, borrow or steal a goddamn guitar amp!!


Some food for thought there, I reckon!
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby BigElectricCat » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:16 pm

Mixedup wrote:Just stumbled across this interesting advice from Bob Clearmountain on his mixthis.com site...

Normally, I don't like to comment on how to record stuff, the general rule being "there are no rules". In this case, I'm making an exception as I've recently had to try to deal with guitar tracks recorded through The Pod (from Line 6). These are the most unmixable sounds I've ever encountered... PLEASE beg, borrow or steal a goddamn guitar amp!!


Some food for thought there, I reckon!

Doesn't it always get almost religious with these arguments?

For what its worth I love playing my Marshall tube combo. However, if I'm demoing a tune or working late at night I'm quite happy to DI and use Amplitube 3. I once owned a Behringer V-amp 2 and enjoyed it before it blew up. I sometimes play the Iphone Amplitube thing. Nothing beats the feel of PLAYING a tube amp but on sounds only in a mix context (especially blended in with real recorded amp tones) the amp sims are alright. Just tools and tones, right?
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby 4TrackMadman » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:04 am

When I worked full time in a studio a preacher brought in a church boy band (strange but I've seen stranger). Now, these guys had a producer and he was the soundman at their church.

He suggested the label (stranger even that they were signed!) buy each one of these guys Gibson LP USA and Fender USA, Jazz Bass USA and a processor. The Fender guy ended up with a POD XT Live, other guitarist Boss GT-8 and bass the bass version of the GT-8. At that point the "producer" set each one of these guys' tones and that was it - they weren't allowed to weak or do anything. So they walked in the studio with a rigid setup and I could do was record them the way they are. I tried to raise objection as the sound was rubbish but they were told that was their sound so they just wanted it to tape.

Ironically - I could do all I wanted with the board controls and they wouldn't care. So I tried to dial in something a bit more pleasant.

I tried that during mixing even firing some of these sounds through a speaker (band wasn't there). Still - nothing got up there where I would've liked to hear it.

On the other hand with the right tweaking I can coax some usable (wouldn't say grammy) sounds out of modelers. Recently recorded a track with Boss GT-6 and a lot of guys want to copy that lead tone.

Same thing with the POD - I could mimic Vai or Satriani but nothing that I was 100% happy with.

On the other hand - active pickups guitar (in this case BCRich) into a 5150 and a sm57 and I had the right channel taken care of on the last project I recorded. A lot of people asked me how I miked that amp
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Bazza » Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:12 am

There is no food for thought.

I reckon I could provide some "difficult to mix" sounds on most pieces of kit.

Quit moaning and get on with the job.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Matt Houghton » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:15 pm

Bazza wrote:There is no food for thought.

I reckon I could provide some "difficult to mix" sounds on most pieces of kit.

Quit moaning and get on with the job.

He wasn't moaning, and neither was he slating all modeling, or even all Line 6 modeling; merely pointing out that the mix results he'd got when guitar parts had been tracked via a Pod could *always* have been significantly better had more care and effort been taken when tracking - ie miking an amp/cab - particularly given that demo takes often make their way on to the record. Good as some modeling stuff now is, I'm inclined to agree with him, and particularly for more exposed/prominent parts.

...and I'm guessing that someone with a discography like Clearmoumtaim's already knows how to 'get on with the job'.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby agent funk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:15 pm

Well I would have thought someone that experienced would have tracked the unprocessed sound simultaneously in case the sound was wrong, and then re-amped it later. Maybe he wasn't present at the tracking stage, or maybe he has no experience with amp modeling. In either case, as someone has already pointed out, it is possible to get "un-mixable" sounds out of any real amp as well. If they got such a bad sound out of the Pod they most likely would have done the same with the real amp. I have no trouble mixing mine.

I think Mr. Clearmountain should try one out himself at the tracking stage before he passes judgement. Far more likely it was set up wrong or maybe the guitarists sucked anyway!
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby dubbmann » Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:18 pm

i've been a huge clearmountain fan for nearly 30 years due to his work on bryan ferry's solo albums; he and bob ludwig have impeccable ears.

that said, i'd love to hear what the sounds were that sucked so bad; i don't have a pod, but i do have other boxes and almost always record directly into my DAW or recorder. i don't have a problem with the output, and i like to think i've got a fairly decent set of ears (and sennheisser hd600s to monitor with).

i don't play 'heavy' gtr (a la robin trower or gary moore), which if i did i'd probably pop for a good tube amp. if that was the type of track BC was complaining about, OK. but i tend to agree w/t other SoS'ers who've posted here that i'd first look to the skill o/t player and the skill o/t programmer o/t pod sounds.

will have to start checking out BC's blog though....

cheers,

d
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby monkfish » Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:37 pm

Which gen Pod was it?
Fair enough, few of us with access to the kind of gear and environment he can command would choose modelers as the first port of call but so few of us can these days! Pods and their ilk are here and they are not going away and the technology is improving all the time.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby narcoman » Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:44 pm

I've not heard ONE guitar sim which sounds great. Good, sure. Usable even. But great? None of them - not even close.

And that's the point - if you're aiming for the best something can possibly be then Guitar Rig, Amp farm or whatever and etc will not cut it. For the same reason than orchestral sample libraries are "hey that's pretty good".... Because pretty good ain't "it".

I get a LOT of Guitar Rig and Line 6 stuff sent to me. Fortunately most people send me the DIs as well (as they've consulted with me before recording) and , by jupiter, then get re-amped very jolly quickly. UNLESS the sim sound is exactly what you want (and sometimes it is - even for me) they just do not cut it as real amps. You mix what you mix......
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby monkfish » Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:03 pm

I've just checked out the original blog post, it was in 2007 and sparked a war on several forums lasting several years. I think I'll sit this one out and go make some music instead.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby maxiemixer » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:07 pm

Being a mixing engineer And a guitar player I can understand what mr. Clearmountain has to say. I have an AMP FARM in my pro tools rig and I often use it. And often I run into the same problem as soon as I try to change the sound as I would do with a recording with mics and amp. My idea is that once you've got an impression of a sound in ampfarm or similar processor it acts much like a jpeg picture. It sounds ok until you try to get a bit more details from it. And at that point you get "boxes" a sort of digital boxed sound. So my advice is that if you really have to use it, just make the extra effort to get the sound esactly as you want if. And get it WITHOUT all that bass frequencies that all this simulators introduce to make you feel the air. I have to say that eleven (the avid guess on that matter) has a bit more attack and sound a bit more realistic but still a real amp beats virtual everyday. But you have to master the art of amp miking (almost a lost art this days).
I think that is a more general problem...
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:34 am

I found this quite fascinating. real vs modelled shootout It's a blind shootout between real and modelled amps. See (hear?) if you can really truly hear the difference.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby narcoman » Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:49 pm

I played it differently. Didn't always pick out the real one but sure as hell picked out guitar rig EVERY time. Terrible stuff that there Git Rig.....
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Music Wolf » Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:32 pm

I picked out live 3 out of 6 times (both times for the Fender). That was listening on laptop speakers. For the times I got it wrong the live amp would have been my second choice.

This surprised me as I wasn't expecting to spot the real amp as often as I did. As I went through the test I was actually identifying the real amp by a process of elimination, spotting obvious traits of modelled sounds. That's probably because I'm more familiar with modelled amps that real ones. I was definitely trying to spot the real amp rather than saying which one I preferred. I think that I could only honestly judge the 'best' sound if I'd been told in advance that the different sounds were either all real or all modelled. Similar reason why I like my JMP-1 and Vox ToneLab pre-amp / modellers - they have a real valves in them so they must be good, right?

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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby agent funk » Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:00 pm

If you picked at random 3 out of 6 would be expected by chance alone.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Music Wolf » Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:22 pm

fletcher wrote:If you picked at random 3 out of 6 would be expected by chance alone.

Sorry but that's completely wrong. There were 5 different samples in 4 out of the 6 tests and 7 each in the other 2. That gives you 32 different ways to get three 'right' answers out of a total of 30,625 possible outcomes = 0.1% by chance alone.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby agent funk » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:51 pm

oops, sorry hadn't taken a look, only read the thread.

also had forgotten a which will now have to be a

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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Mixedup » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:06 am

Music Wolf wrote:I picked out live 3 out of 6 times (both times for the Fender). That was listening on laptop speakers. For the times I got it wrong the live amp would have been my second choice.

I go the same results 3 out of 6, and the real thing always there or thereabouts. However, I would probably have aimed for a different sound than any of those for the parts that were being played!

You have to admire what they set out to do there, but it's impossible to do this sort of test. There are simply too many variables in there for me that could affect how the amp sounds: guitar and mic choice(s) and mic position.

Certainly things have come on in the modelling field since BC wrote that bit of his blog. And I use modellers, too — mainly Softube VAR, VBR and the Two notes thing... but where volume and space and time aren't an issue, I'd still rather get a decent sound on an amp with a decent selection of mics any day of the week. And when I do that, I *do* find it much easier to mix. Perhaps that's just that I've spent the time thinking about the sound before I come to mix, whereas it's too easy to dial a preset on a modeller and think "It's near enough, we can fix that later..".
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:20 am

narcoman wrote:I've not heard ONE guitar sim which sounds great. Good, sure. Usable even. But great? None of them - not even close.

There are some tracks on AC/DC's Black Ice album that use a modelling plug-in, I'd disagree wholeheartedly that it's impossible to get a "great sound" from a plug-in.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:23 am

Mixedup wrote:Just stumbled across this interesting advice from Bob Clearmountain on his mixthis.com site...

That comment is 10 years old.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby ElecTrika-MixTek » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:31 am

narcoman wrote:I've not heard ONE guitar sim which sounds great. Good, sure. Usable even. But great? None of them - not even close.
I'm inclined to agree; I never really liked digitally modelled sounds recorded directly. Now, having said that, I like to play my GT-8 through a good amp and splitting the difference, you know, miking it up it a good compromise. And also maybe it's just me but I have an aversion to a lot of the presets on those things, as I find them very careless.

Even with my GT-8, very quickly I saved a preset with no effects (almost a bypass) as my base sound so I could feel the direct effect through an amp before adjustting the tones.

Even after all this time and technology I always go back to a good guitar through a good amp and rarely hear anyhting as good via modelling. The tone isn't there and mostly I feel modelling does something inherently ugly to the sound. Something hard and unauthentic if left without a natural analogue electric stage.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Mixedup » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:31 am

TheChorltonWheelie wrote:
Mixedup wrote:Just stumbled across this interesting advice from Bob Clearmountain on his mixthis.com site...

That comment is 10 years old.

Yes, I hadn't realised that when I first posted. The only date I could find on that page was that it had been updated in 2009, which isn't so long ago. I still reckon the subject's worth debating though... as evidenced by the other folk commenting here.

I've certainly heard some very suitable sounds in a mix that I know to have been achieved using modelling plug-ins/hardware. But that's a slightly different question than whether those sounds are easier to mix with or not. I've certainly had plenty of poorly tracked miked guitar cabs to mix, where I'd rather have had the DI. And I still reckon that were I sending a track for mixing I'd at least include the raw DI alongside the modelled sound if I were using a POD, VAR etc.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby The Elf » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:50 am

narcoman wrote:I played it differently. Didn't always pick out the real one but sure as hell picked out guitar rig EVERY time. Terrible stuff that there Git Rig.....
But it sometimes just works in the right context. I even use Cubase's amp simulator from time to time and the same happens there too - sometimes it just 'works', regardless of its DNA, and no amount of 'authenticity' makes any meaningful difference.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby narcoman » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:26 pm

TheChorltonWheelie wrote:
narcoman wrote:I've not heard ONE guitar sim which sounds great. Good, sure. Usable even. But great? None of them - not even close.


There are some tracks on AC/DC's Black Ice album that use a modelling plug-in, I'd disagree wholeheartedly that it's impossible to get a "great sound" from a plug-in.


You can get a "useable " or even quite good sound. A great sound - no. There are no "great guitar sounds" on that particular record. Sounds okay - but not great and certainly not in the league of the sonic offerings of "High Voltage" or even a record I hate, "Back in black". BUT that doesn't change anything - ( I have my doubts about the amp sim claim, by the way.) - because there is an element of subjectivity in this debate.

There is also a big difference between great tones and showing it was used on a multi-million selling record. The too are entirely different things. I've made and mixed a fair few recordings in the millions league but I couldn't use that as evidence that my way would be better!!! It's a subjective debate, but you won't use an amp sim with me.

I've got £20k+ of amps sat here - from vintage to modern - and no sim comes anywhere near. That little thing of moving mic's inches at a time to change the tonality...all matters. I've heard moderately acceptable JCM800 or Soldano sounds from sims - but never a VoxAC or Fender twin or Matamp or early Orange or Farfisa or Constellation.... Rooms change amps a LOT.

When I'm recording a guitar it needs to have unique personality and you are as likely to get that from an amp sim as you are a skilled operator of VSL (clue - you can't).

As I say, useable and good. But never great.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Wossname » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:59 am

narcoman wrote:I've not heard ONE guitar sim which sounds great. Good, sure. Usable even. But great? None of them - not even close.

I've spent quite a bit of time evaluating the different ampsims lately.

Using a Blackstar HT-Dual to feed a cheap Line6 usb interface I would claim to get *real good* 'feel' and sound from most any of the sims.
They don't necessarily sound like whatever they claim to be emulating, but I was able to get really good clean (and on-the-verge-of-breakup using channels on the HT-Dual) using these. My favourite so far is the Randall amp i Overloud TH2.

TH2 even has a usable Roland Dimension chorus clone - nice!
I'm still using the Roland RE-201 plugin for Echo though; none of them does that well, imho (but the Guitar Rig RE201 clone is almost there:)

(I've not testet hi-gain sounds, as I don't play that kind of music :-)
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby matt keen » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:21 am

Well a pod or anything similar doesnt sound like this
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby narcoman » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:24 am

darn right !!
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby forumuser815440 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:14 am

First: I love POD's in all shapes and sizes. I Like the new Fractal and I use Amp Farm and Guitar Rig on a regular basis... So I thought I would suck at this. I mean, I thought I would guess none of the real amps in that test. I had 5 out of 6...
I still liked a lot of the other examples but I did not find it hard to spot the real ones. Most emulations sound to even in the low's, mid's and highs. Of the emulations I liked Amp Farm best.
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby agent funk » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:19 am

No, but I don't have one

For the record I do prefer the real thing, but the point is calling the amp sim "un-mixable" is a bit unfair. The real amp, esp tube, is much more inspiring to use as a player, but sometimes we just have to work with what we have! It takes too long to pull the amp out and mic it up anyway - maybe worth it sometimes. However I have never felt the need to re-amp (with a real amp) yet. What's played is still the most important thing for how something sits in a mix - not that all engineers realise this
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Re: Bob Clearmountain v Line 6 POD

Postby Ramirez » Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:34 am

I haven't much experience with modellers, but I have to say that the little Fender Mustang I I bought a few months ago has really taken me by surprise.

I enjoy playing through it more than with any amp I've played through before (including JTM45, Princetons and other 'proper' amps). I rarely mess with the high gain models on it, but the Fender models are really nice. The Bassman growls, rasps and farts quite incredibly with a neck P90 and the gain up, and I'm pretty sure that if I'd have got that sound from a valve amp, I'd have been thinking "there's no way a modeller could do that". The cleans are also delightful, and I find the amp much more useful than the Fender HRD and Marshall JCM I have at my disposal.

It does, however, sound much better mic'd up than when solely using the amp & cab sims direct into the DAW.

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