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High-Tech Guitar Effects

August 19, 2011

toppWhether you’re gigging or recording, tweak your tone to perfection with these new amp sims and accessories

Hit Rewind. More than 22 years ago, Tech 21 had an interesting product idea: something that would let guitar players obtain the sound of various cranked tube guitar amps, yet feed directly into a P.A. or tape recorder—and SansAmp was born. Then in 1998, Line 6 introduced Amp Farm for Pro Tools TDM, which popularized stuffing guitar amps into computers. But, new ways to process and amplify guitars didn’t end there. . . .

Hit Fast Forward. Today, Tech21 and Line 6 continue to evolve. IK Multimedia parlayed the success of the first native amp simulator into a complete line, Native Instruments formed a separate division just for guitarists, Waves teamed up with Paul Reed Smith on the G|T|R plug-ins, Peavey added soft amps to their hardware versions, Avid fed their Eleven plugin steroids and turned it into a rack computer interface and stage multi-effects, while plenty of smaller companies—Studio Devil, Softube, Scuffham, iZotope, and others—have joined the quest for the ultimate software amp. What’s more, programs like Cubase, Sonar, Logic, Digital Performer, Samplitude, Mixcraft, and others now bundle software amp sims with their DAWs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Hit Record. Today’s advanced computers can handle complex, detailed amp and effects simulations in near-real time. And as many guitarists have learned, not only can software amps create sounds you’ve never heard before, but work with conventional amps or effects to give the best of both worlds.

Hit Play! The argument over whether amp sims are as “satisfying” as a real amp will persist, but there’s no question that sims have made tremendous strides in fidelity, ease of use, and efficiency. Even the skeptics admit that when listening back to a recorded track, it’s difficult (and sometimes impossible) to tell the difference between the model and the “real thing.”

Yes, we’ve come a long way—now let’s find out what’s taking us further.



More from this Roundup:

Peavey ReValver MK III.V
Avid Eleven Rack Expansion Pack
Scuffham S-Gear
Line 6 POD Farm 2.5
IK Multimedia AmpliTube Custom Shop
Softube Metal Amp Room
Ableton Amp
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