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The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

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The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Kinh » Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:39 am

I'm after something affordable and not so loud, something like vox pathfinder 10.
The question I have is: am I able to get a pro sound with a 10w practice amp such as this? And if not, which non-valve amp is the best?
I need a fuller tone than what I got atm with my eleven rack and guitar rig. So mostly distorted rock tones I'm going for.
Was thinking of running the eleven rack into the new amp and running it into my interface to give more tonal options. The mic Sure sm57. Also can someone tell me what is so special about miking an amp that makes it sound better than an XLR stereo direct from something like an Eleven rack? Especially if you got good converters on your interface.

Also, another question..
I only have 2 ins on my interface at one time which means I can either go
direct input + microphone or
Mic 1 front of amp+ Mic 2 back or
Mic 1 front of amp +Mic 1 front
Which would give me the best tone, given I have several plugins I can process the DI through.
Thanks.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby CS70 » Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:48 am

You can absolutely get pro tones from anything, simply because it’s it the gear but the player. To mic an amp nowadays is no longer “better” at all... it’s one of the ways, and harder than using a good modeler: you need to understand (and correct) the room, the mic or mics and their position, the amp and still play like a pro. And of course mix it properly. It’s loads of fun of course, but productive it isn’t.

If you can’t get what you want from the eleven, tell what’ you feel it’s missing and we can see why..
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Murray B » Sat Jan 16, 2021 12:50 pm

I think that there is case for having an amp in the recording process - but for me this is for the interaction between the amp and the guitar rather than trying to capture the sound of the amp.

So in that regard anything that you can set up with the relative amount of gain stuck in front of the guitar to create the feedback in the strings would work. Small amps can help here especially when you've got neighbours ;), then take a DI into your plugins?

I use stock Apple guitar amp plug ins / models and get results that work for me (they don't always sound perfect in isolation but work in a mix fine). Other forum members with more experience of particular ones might recommend some of course.

The eleven racks were highly regarded so I'm also puzzled as to what you aren't getting that you need. Describing a sound in words is notoriously difficult though. Maybe some audio examples of what you've recorded versus the sound you want might help?
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:07 pm

I find getting a good sound easier with a miked amp, but it's gotta be valves for me. My Headrush Gigboard is, apparently, based on the Eleven Rack. Sounds pretty good to me, especially through my 18 Watt combo but I haven't got around to A/B-ing it with my pedals.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:57 pm

I rarely mic up an amp these days - and I guarantee that I've never been pulled up for not getting a good guitar sound!
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:05 pm

Lots of people do get a great sound using modelling devices* or plug-ins. I prefer plugging into an amp, it's immediate, simple and, for me, just works with no fuss.

* As I said above I have a Headrush Gigboard, I've not fully got to grips with it yet but I bought it to replace a pedalboard rather than for going straight into a PA or recording desk.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:30 pm

Hmm. This really depends what you're doing. If it's just a question of getting a quick 'close enough' distorted guitar sound, a plug in should work well. If, on the other hand, the whole basis of your music is distorted rhythm guitars, it's going to be harder to get what you expect to hear...

You do hear stories about people getting good results from certain combinations of real amps running into modelled speakers, or from modelled amps running into real cabs etc. But the reality is that these things are all a facsimile of what they're emulating - that being a great amp and speaker 'in the sweet spot'.

Now here's the problem from your perspective - Even a low wattage valve amp is going to be LOUD. If it isn't loud, the problem is that the speaker doesn't compress and distort, and the cabinet doesn't vibrate. The recorded sound can wind up being rather 'limp' - a bit like a bad model actually.

So it comes down to the question of how much noise you can really afford to make. If you're after modern rock tones, you could get small EVH, maybe a Friedman set on low power etc and a good cab. While those things are never quite the same as their big brothers, they do work well. But not at 'room' volume. Again, it's always going to be loud. Furthermore you might find that a single 57 doesn't quite get you the thump that you're after, and you may then need to add a second mic, with all the complications that that involves. That's another post.

Your next best option might be to start with a head, a dummy load, and a speaker impulse response. That's going to be quite good, depending on the quality of all those bits, and your choice of speaker impulse. Strangely, most of them are terrible, while a few seem to work well. I'd have thought that most would be quite good, and some unusable, but apparently not.

If you can't afford to go down that road, I'd keep trying plug ins until you find one that works for you. I have to say that Eleven would be pretty low down on my list. But be warned - none of these things are perfect.

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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby CS70 » Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:49 pm

There’s also a big difference between a sound that works in isolation and pleases the player and what ends up to be the mixed

But until Kinh doesn’t reply about what he feels it’s missing, is hard to tell.

His second question suggests it would be harder to find a good recorded tone fir him quickly, if that’s his main goal.

If it’s to learn how to mic and amp in a room, of course, any of the mic positions he mentions would work.. or not, depending on what he after.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby John Egan » Sat Jan 16, 2021 4:22 pm

For my money, the "best" tone is the one that fits the song best. All of the options discussed will do a perfectly good job, but it's up to you to decide on the best fit for the job in hand.
I usually prefer the sound of valve amps, but decent modern gear is all capable of giving good results for recording.
I don't know the Vox Pathfinder, but I have used a Vox Night Train 1x12 combo with good results and not too long ago, these could be found going for very reasonable prices. Currently, I use a Fargen townhouse 5w head with the matching 1x12 cab and this has no problem getting a tone which pleases me. My other option is my Selmer Treble and Bass 50 head (which I have had since 1965), usually through a Mesa Boogie Cab Clone dummy load. I must admit to finding it hard to distinguish reliably between miked up speakers and DI. Both do the job reliably.
Regards, John
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby N i g e l » Sat Jan 16, 2021 4:40 pm

What about somthing like the Yamaha THR ?
A practice amp with modelling and effects + USB out giving clean & effected channels to the computer.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby CS70 » Sat Jan 16, 2021 5:40 pm

N i g e l wrote:What about somthing like the Yamaha THR ?
A practice amp with modelling and effects + USB out giving clean & effected channels to the computer.

I haven't used it in anger for recording, but a friend has one (two actually, different models) and I've tried the without liking them much - it was a bit "flat" in response - different sounds, but no different feel between the various amps emulations. But it could just be the small speakers which are built in.

Still, the OP has the eleven rack which even if older, still blows most of plugins and middle-level emulations out of the water, due to the physical input impedance change for different amps.. I doubt that the pathfinder or anything short of a Kemper or an Atomic or Axe FX etc could be "better". But all these (including the THR) are absolutely workable to take a sound on tape.

I know of many a well known record of the period where the guitars were made with the POD 2.0...
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:20 pm

I use my Yamaha THR pretty much all the time because my only alternative is my Peavey 30W valve job. Which sounds nice but I really can't hear anything else when it's going!
But I'm not much of a guitarist so not so bothered about tone or feel, it just needs to fit into the track for me.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Kinh » Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:47 am

CS70 wrote:
Still, the OP has the eleven rack which even if older, still blows most of plugins and middle-level emulations out of the water, due to the physical input impedance change for different amps.. I doubt that the pathfinder or anything short of a Kemper or an Atomic or Axe FX etc could be "better". But all these (including the THR) are absolutely workable to take a sound on tape.

I know of many a well known record of the period where the guitars were made with the POD 2.0...
The eleven rack I have sounds great through a headphone and speakers but record and play back, for some reason it loses some of it's bite.

My equipment is SG + strat with 69 pick ups. I do mostly Jpop style music so the guitar in most cases isn't driving the track, it's more in the background but sometimes I need the guitars to sound like a band so I struggle with that natural acoustics type sound which emulators can't seem to reproduce. This is the reason I've been looking into amping as it would give me more options in terms of mic placement which eleven and GR dont.
But I'm gathering by these replies the the actual tone of the mic will be pretty much the same, if not worse than what I already have?
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby Murray B » Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:22 am

Thanks for providing a little more detail about what you are looking to achieve. Are there some examples of tracks with the sound you are looking for?

An Amp and a mic might get you where you want to get, but I guess most responses here indicate that you should also be able to get what you need from the Eleven Rack or plug ins.

There is a wealth of experience and knowledge available from the folks that have replied to your query, although I’m more of a Musician than a recording engineer. If you can provide some links to your recordings and reference songs you might get some specific advice on how to proceed to get the sound that you want with the kit that you have.
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Re: The best practice amp for recording and why miking amp is best for tone?

Postby CS70 » Sun Jan 17, 2021 12:16 pm

Kinh wrote:
CS70 wrote:
Still, the OP has the eleven rack which even if older, still blows most of plugins and middle-level emulations out of the water, due to the physical input impedance change for different amps.. I doubt that the pathfinder or anything short of a Kemper or an Atomic or Axe FX etc could be "better". But all these (including the THR) are absolutely workable to take a sound on tape.

I know of many a well known record of the period where the guitars were made with the POD 2.0...
The eleven rack I have sounds great through a headphone and speakers but record and play back, for some reason it loses some of it's bite.

Level! That’s the only difference. When you record, you hear the sound via direct monitoring and the rig output level etc determines the gain in (actually attenuation but it’s irrelevant). When you playback, it’s your master fader which does (assuming you haven’t changed anything else). Most likely your system is not calibrated so that the 11r max rig level matches your playback 0dbFS (or whatever relationship you like and you can consistently reproduce). Jack the guitar track volume up and the bite will be back.

If you use the digital ins, the PCM stream is what it is and any other effect is psychological (it’s not uncommon to love a tone when you play but have to work on it in a mix).

An alternative, if you’re using the analogue ins of your interface, it might be that the additional AD conversion step (with respect to the direct monitoring) robs the signal of something... but with anything past 1995 it really shouldn’t, unless your gain is totally whacked off. You _never_ go anywhere the yellow/red on the meters when recording, right?

My equipment is SG + strat with 69 pick ups. I do mostly Jpop style music so the guitar in most cases isn't driving the track, it's more in the background but sometimes I need the guitars to sound like a band so I struggle with that natural acoustics type sound which emulators can't seem to reproduce. This is the reason I've been looking into amping as it would give me more options in terms of mic placement which eleven and GR dont.
But I'm gathering by these replies the the actual tone of the mic will be pretty much the same, if not worse than what I already have?

Good modelers generate sound based on top notch amps in good state, miked with great mics in great rooms by people of good experience.. to replicate that sound you probably need all of these, so it’s hard to do. Doable for sure, but if you use a cheap mic in a bad room, it’s unlikely you will get anything better (but certainly something different).

What modelers may struggle to do is to mimic the interaction with the specific guitar and the response to player actions, rather than the sound itself. That’s because most modelers see in input a data stream generated by the same input electronics + converters, regardless of the guitar; and the details of modeling may not be as complete as to replicate the exact behaviour of the real amp. So it’s the playing feel that occasionally suffer, with you doing something on the guitar and expecting a certain response and that not happening.

If it’s simply a matter of sound, a good modern emulator will sound pretty much as it should.
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