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iOS guitar amp sims vs. Kemper or whatever

Hi,

Just a reality-check here (after having plunked a few $$ on Nembrini apps.)

How do iOS guitar and bass amp sims compare with those on any other platform? Or is it beyond the pale to even bother comparing anything on iOS with Axe Fx or Kemper?

Thanks,
Joe

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Comments

  • edited September 8

    I mean.. the fact alone that a 20 Dollar iPad app is actually in competition to a 2000 high tech device should answer your question. Could the kemper be better? Sure… but by how much though? (I’m too in my nembrini honymoon phase with Cali reverb and soundmaster)

    Im just very excited for the new Yamaha dhr12m coming next month…. Could end all of this discussion very quickly

  • Hi @joegrant413 . Most amp sims are just that, math models of the circuits of the modeled units. This goes back to Amplitube and Amp ONE. Some of them, like Nembrini, are very good. But an alternative is the Rigs offered in Overloud THU. These are based on sampling the response of actual amps and fx, and building a nonlinear model to reflect these responses. Another big factor in actual amp sound is the cabinet, and a carefully selected cab IR is probably the best way to nail that. Check out the long thread on Overloud THU for a lot more info.

  • edited September 9

    So is it possible that the software modeling approach practically trumps the hardware platform? And I'm assuming the dedicated Kemper / AxeFX hardware platforms beats the iOS platforms for the job.

  • Just a quick YouTube search found this comparison:

    I don’t think the desktop/iOS apps top Kemper/AxeFX, but they get you pretty close for a heck of a lot less money.

  • @SNystrom said:
    Just a quick YouTube search found this comparison:

    I don’t think the desktop/iOS apps top Kemper/AxeFX, but they get you pretty close for a heck of a lot less money.

    With the right effects and EQ, the sound of iOS apps can be better than the AxeFx for sure.

  • If > @joegrant413 said:

    So is it possible that the software modeling approach practically trumps the hardware platform? And I'm assuming the dedicated Kemper / AxeFX hardware platforms beats the iOS platforms for the job.

    By "trumps the hardware platform" do you mean analog amps or hardware modelers?

    Between things like the Kemper and Axe-FX devices and the in computer type software, the Kempers and such have some advantages. The software that does the modeling knows things that the computer versions can't know. They know what the analog input buffers are like. They can set the sample rate to the most useful value and they know exactly how much processing they can do and control the I/O latency. They can also do things on the analog side of things to better enable using analog effects before you hit the A/D stage. In the computer setting, that stuff has to happen before the audio interface and the modeling can't do anything or even know anything about that.

    To go to a greater extreme in this kind of example, the Boss modelers that use hex inputs can go even farther towards modeling guitar types for example because they know the response from the pickups and the A/D path.

    Once you are in the software domain, the modeling systems that include their own effects have an advantage because they have more information to model the interactions between pedals and the input stages of an amplifier model.

    To kind of get the best of both worlds, I've gone to using an Engl 530 tube preamp before I hit the audio interface to my iPad or computer. That way I get natural response to my guitar and pedals and can use the modeling to do the power amp, cabinet, and mic parts. Lots of times I'll use only the preamp and don't do any amp models at all, particularly if I'm going to mangle the guitar with other effects on the iPad anyway.

    But, this all depends on what you are trying to get. There are going to be plenty of songs out there where at least one of the guitar tracks is taken from a DI and the mix engineer/producer tossed a relatively crap amp model from Waves or NI or even GB but then made it work in the mix to help fix up something that was well recorded using a great amp and mic setup.

  • I think amplitube 5 sounds great. 4 sounded really good but 5 is a major step forward. This is on Mac, not iOS. iOS amplitube is still version 4 as far as I know. I’ve heard guitar players use keeper and axe fx in detail on gigs as well. As with anything instrument related, the instrument itself (in this case the amp signal chain) is part of the equation but the musician is the most important part. A great musician playing the right part for the right song is going to make any modeler that sounds good already sound great. A poor musician will make very expensive tools sound very silly. So for someone who is a great musician, the differences in amplitube, axe fx, kemper, overloud, nembrini, and anything else on that list, will be more minor. One Guitarist I’ve done sound for on occasion still uses an original bean shaped pod for his pre-amp effects, and while that has some hiss to it and maybe sounds less accurate than newer products, he plays so well that it matters less. But put me on guitar on any equipment and I don’t sound good. Sometimes it’s questionable about my bass playing as well…(my main instrument).

  • A bit of reality check here.... currently I would not be playing any amp sim live with guitar. I could send my bass playing via an iPad to the house system at my church, but probably not.

    At home, I have a couple of JBL EON PAs to play. But most of the time I'm playing into headphones. And I'm doing more recording and song writing lately.

    So, practically, any guitar & bass sounds will most be heard in headphones and audio recordings.

  • @joegrant413 said:
    A bit of reality check here.... currently I would not be playing any amp sim live with guitar. I could send my bass playing via an iPad to the house system at my church, but probably not.

    At home, I have a couple of JBL EON PAs to play. But most of the time I'm playing into headphones. And I'm doing more recording and song writing lately.

    So, practically, any guitar & bass sounds will most be heard in headphones and audio recordings.

    Honestly in either situation you will be happy with iOS amp sims. Just keep the IRs in there. As many have said, Overloud Rigs and Nembrini chains are it! Just a matter of cutting out as much latency as possible, though I have not had a problem with either and iPhone 8 Plus or iPad 2018 (6th gen).

  • edited September 11

    Another alternative is an analog amp sim pedal. I use an Ethos Clean 2 after pedals, and send it to my mixer. This is my main guitar rig (I don’t play out).

    My setup doesn’t let you add iPad effects in the chain, but you could do that. I often add reverb after the mixer, which works great.

  • Shockingly, the $40 Joyo American Sound pedal is pretty good as a Fender amp sim.

    https://guitarburger.com/pedal-reviews/joyo-american-sound/

  • @joegrant413 said:
    Shockingly, the $40 Joyo American Sound pedal is pretty good as a Fender amp sim.

    https://guitarburger.com/pedal-reviews/joyo-american-sound/

    Joyo have been well received and reviewed on the forum. Not just the American one either.

  • So I've been trying out some of the THU stuff via my recent model iPad mini running the latest iOS. Some very impressive sounds

    BUT

    This app is least reliable app I've used in awhile! It just blows up sometimes. I'm not playing live, but I couldn't rely on this in a live setting. In contrast, about 5 or more years ago I was using iOS apps regularly when playing bass live in praise band.

  • Nembrini has been reliable so far. And it loads up well and and hasn't need re-loading if I'm using AUM.

  • @joegrant413 said:
    So I've been trying out some of the THU stuff via my recent model iPad mini running the latest iOS. Some very impressive sounds

    BUT

    This app is least reliable app I've used in awhile! It just blows up sometimes. I'm not playing live, but I couldn't rely on this in a live setting. In contrast, about 5 or more years ago I was using iOS apps regularly when playing bass live in praise band.

    FWIW, I think this is unusual. I haven't heard of people having stability issues with THU. I run int on my iPad gen 6 (2018 iPad) and don't think I have ever had a crash with TH-U. Nembrini is also great. So, if you are getting the sounds you want you are set.

    It might be worth being in touch with the TH-U folks to see if they have any ideas. You might try deleting and reinstalling just in case some sort of configuration file has become corrupt that will reset if you delete and reinstall.

  • Thanks, that give me some hope and a couple of options.

  • I’ve owned a Helix, plenty of real amps and now the iPad. I think the differences are minimal and hard to tell anyway if there’s a cab involved. I’ve always wondered about taking a 3000€ boutique amp to a show where you end up sounding through whatever mic and shifty PA the club provides. Apps like Nembrini are just great, I don’t think it makes financial sense to spend 1000% more to get a 1-2% improvement. Then again music and GAS is not about making sense but rather personal so that 1-2% might mean the world.
    I did find @NeonSilicon comment very interesting and it makes a lot of sense.
    I often wonder why we keep measuring a guitar sound/processing in terms of how close it is to a tube amp… Probably cos it’s what we’re used to so it’s become a reference. Do we need amp sims, is emulating a device from the 50s still the only way?.

  • @mistercharlie said:
    Another alternative is an analog amp sim pedal. I use an Ethos Clean 2 after pedals, and send it to my mixer. This is my main guitar rig (I don’t play out).

    My setup doesn’t let you add iPad effects in the chain, but you could do that. I often add reverb after the mixer, which works great.

    Wow, I still have mine ,could not never get to sell it at decent price , great pedal , though I now use HX stomp with IRs

  • @joegrant413 said:
    Hi,

    Just a reality-check here (after having plunked a few $$ on Nembrini apps.)

    How do iOS guitar and bass amp sims compare with those on any other platform? Or is it beyond the pale to even bother comparing anything on iOS with Axe Fx or Kemper?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    Nothing , I mean nothings , sounds like the real thing ie tube amps

    But those Fat boys are a pain to carry and also recording

    Enter plugin emulations and digital pedals

    If you have played with real tube amps and then compare them with plugins , especially on iOS , they are a joke

    But ,
    If you don’t think of them as emulations, simply as Fx they are not bad, very enjoyable to play

    The closest I got to the real thing , In my personal opinion is using Irs

  • @hisdudeness said:

    @joegrant413 said:
    Hi,

    Just a reality-check here (after having plunked a few $$ on Nembrini apps.)

    How do iOS guitar and bass amp sims compare with those on any other platform? Or is it beyond the pale to even bother comparing anything on iOS with Axe Fx or Kemper?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    Nothing , I mean nothings , sounds like the real thing ie tube amps

    But those Fat boys are a pain to carry and also recording

    Enter plugin emulations and digital pedals

    If you have played with real tube amps and then compare them with plugins , especially on iOS , they are a joke

    But ,
    If you don’t think of them as emulations, simply as Fx they are not bad, very enjoyable to play

    The closest I got to the real thing , In my personal opinion is using Irs

    Totally agree

    Never heard the difference between plugin and digital hardware appart preset on hardware are often better. On the other hand real tubes amp sound totally different , and far better to my ears.

  • .

    But those Fat boys are a pain to carry and also recording

    Enter plugin emulations and digital pedals

    If you have played with real tube amps and then compare them with plugins , especially on iOS , they are a joke

    But ,
    If you don’t think of them as emulations, simply as Fx they are not bad, very enjoyable to play

    The closest I got to the real thing , In my personal opinion is using Irs

    @hisdudeness ,

    I totally agree that being in the room playing the guitar driving a Deluxe Reverb to breakup or playing a large cab with a Marshall is at a level of glorious experience you can't get with iOS sims going into a PA system or whatever.

    But does your statement go as far as saying it's a joke to compare recordings from real tube vs. iOS sims? (Assuming someone knows what they are doing to record both.)

    Thanks,
    Joe

  • I watched a brief Facebook video recently where the guitarist was playing some Pink floydish stuff, it sounded very nice, lots of nice comments by other people then one guy asked..

    “ oh man, that sounds fucking awesome ! “ “ What are you playing through ?”

    Guitarist replies “ it’s just my Spark Pearl amp, thanks for listening “

    Original guy “ Ohhh…sorry , I’m a valve purist , I’ve tried lots of different amps and just can’t nail it , I just need to know how to get that tone the traditional way!”

    His ears were happy until his eyes saw the label.

  • I don't think it is the case that better amp sims are a joke compared to real tube amps if you think of the recorded sound. I think people often are comparing an amp sim coming through monitors or headphones to the experience of sitting in a room next to a tube amp -- rather than listening to that tube amp captured through a mic -- which is VERY different.

    I think the current better sims sound pretty good in that regard.

  • @joegrant413 said:

    .

    But those Fat boys are a pain to carry and also recording

    Enter plugin emulations and digital pedals

    If you have played with real tube amps and then compare them with plugins , especially on iOS , they are a joke

    But ,
    If you don’t think of them as emulations, simply as Fx they are not bad, very enjoyable to play

    The closest I got to the real thing , In my personal opinion is using Irs

    @hisdudeness ,

    But does your statement go as far as saying it's a joke to compare recordings from real tube vs. iOS sims? (Assuming someone knows what they are doing to record both.)

    No I meant playing your guitar through sim amp vs tube amps
    You absolutely miss the flawed nuances of tube amps

    Ofcourse,
    Recordings/post processing/reamping that’s an art in itself

  • @espiegel123 said:
    I don't think it is the case that better amp sims are a joke compared to real tube amps if you think of the recorded sound. I think people often are comparing an amp sim coming through monitors or headphones to the experience of sitting in a room next to a tube amp -- rather than listening to that tube amp captured through a mic -- which is VERY different.

    I think the current better sims sound pretty good in that regard.

    Agree. Long term tube amp user here who recently switched to recording with iOS apps and/or Line6 Pod Go (pared down Helix).
    Once you record it and stick it in a mix the difference is definitely not significant (to my ears at least) and it’s 100x more convenient than micing up an amp (or 2 for stereo) and re-amping is a doddle.
    For playing with a band my Pod Go through a 2x10 cab has replaced my ‘73 Vibrolux Reverb and Tweed Deluxe clone plus about a dozen pedals. I can’t get exactly the same sound and feel as the Fender amps but I can get close enough that I get lost in playing, plus if I want the tones of a Vox, Marshall, HiWatt, Orange, etc they are there at my fingertips (along with more FX than I would ever need).
    It doesn’t look as cool as a road-worn real amp but I’m less interested in impressing people with that kind of crap any more.

  • edited September 15

    @joegrant413 said:

    .

    But those Fat boys are a pain to carry and also recording

    Enter plugin emulations and digital pedals

    If you have played with real tube amps and then compare them with plugins , especially on iOS , they are a joke

    But ,
    If you don’t think of them as emulations, simply as Fx they are not bad, very enjoyable to play

    The closest I got to the real thing , In my personal opinion is using Irs

    @hisdudeness ,

    I totally agree that being in the room playing the guitar driving a Deluxe Reverb to breakup or playing a large cab with a Marshall is at a level of glorious experience you can't get with iOS sims going into a PA system or whatever.

    But does your statement go as far as saying it's a joke to compare recordings from real tube vs. iOS sims? (Assuming someone knows what they are doing to record both.)

    Thanks,
    Joe

    In a home recording environment or even a mid-range studio, IMO you get far better results with an amp sim than with a real amp. And amp sim has no phase issues, good mic placement and it’s tweakable after the recording, it’s undeniable that there’s more character and magic in a BigMuff into a driven Deluxe, but in a production, in the context of a song, the benefits and flexibility of an amp sim overweight the real amp. Obviously not the case if you’re recording with Albini, but we’re talking iPad people here…
    So I’d clearly differentiate the performing experience from the recording result.
    Best f both worlds if you can record real amp + di signal (to amp sim), then you can choose, mix, enhance…

  • @tahiche said:

    @joegrant413 said:

    .

    But those Fat boys are a pain to carry and also recording

    Enter plugin emulations and digital pedals

    If you have played with real tube amps and then compare them with plugins , especially on iOS , they are a joke

    But ,
    If you don’t think of them as emulations, simply as Fx they are not bad, very enjoyable to play

    The closest I got to the real thing , In my personal opinion is using Irs

    @hisdudeness ,

    I totally agree that being in the room playing the guitar driving a Deluxe Reverb to breakup or playing a large cab with a Marshall is at a level of glorious experience you can't get with iOS sims going into a PA system or whatever.

    But does your statement go as far as saying it's a joke to compare recordings from real tube vs. iOS sims? (Assuming someone knows what they are doing to record both.)

    Thanks,
    Joe

    In a home recording environment or even a mid-range studio, IMO you get far better results with an amp sim than with a real amp. And amp sim has no phase issues, good mic placement and it’s tweakable after the recording, it’s undeniable that there’s more character and magic in a BigMuff into a driven Deluxe, but in a production, in the context of a song, the benefits and flexibility of an amp sim overweight the real amp. Obviously not the case if you’re recording with Albini, but we’re talking iPad people here…
    So I’d clearly differentiate the performing experience from the recording result.
    Best f both worlds if you can record real amp + di signal (to amp sim), then you can choose, mix, enhance…

    totally agree.

    We did an EP where we recorded guitars from a Fender blues deluxe drivet at proper volume, and recorded with both close mics (SM57) and a Neumann U47, using Neve preamps... all good and well. Sounded great in the room.... but the recordings never really worked in the context of the song (glossy synth pop). I think we wound have gotten much better result of recording with DI and using ampsims (either hardware, IOS or VST). Recording amps is a diffucult task, with both mic placement, mic choises, room characteristics etc etc.

    All my bass tracks (i am a bass player mostly) are done with a good tube DI and then using Ampsim if the song calls for it. Trying to record real amps is way overkill for my genre and professional level.

  • I play through an analog sim pedal, into a mixer. It sounds great, and it sounds the same even at low volumes.

    Best of all, the recordings always sound exactly the same as the live version.

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