can’t help but giggle inside when people talk about how good plugins are
My impression (not from a Lexi 224) is that a lot of the difference we perceive is because of the ease, immediacy of use and the way we can explore the options and zoom in the one we want.
For example, I much rather use real guitar amps than emulations, and physical-box emulations much rather than software emulations.
But I'm well aware that good guitar emulations are indistinguishable from a sonic point of view. There is no electric guitarist in the world that can consistently tell a Kemper or an Axe or an Helix from the real things in a true blind test, with no prior information.
Sure if one knows a specific AC30 intimately, he/she may be able to recognize it, but take two random AC30s that you don't know, one real then other emulated, have someone else set them up similarly and play without knowing what's attached to guitar.. no way you can tell what's what. You could with a POD, but not anymore.
And yet I still like "real" amps better (to the point that I have a small warehouse full of them
Why? I get better sounds. A paradox! Because from the above, the exact same sounds could be found within the emulation.
I don't usually think that much about it (I'd rather play) but if I do, the difference must lie elsewhere than the sound.. and indeed it does. A real amp is often a thing of beauty - I love the lights and the colors and the shiny metal and the feel of the knobs. It puts me in a good mood. Turning physical knobs allow me to explore a huge range of sounds very quickly, without looking. Controls in amp are often interrelated - changing one changes what the others do as well - and I can make complex, multi-parameter changes in less time that it takes to say "Fractal Audio Systems". No wonder I find better sounds on real amps!