Amplitube 5 vs Real Amps...Why?

There’s something that VSTs can’t seem to capture. Real amps seem to respond differently to guitars than VSTs do. I can’t explain technically what it is, but I would love a technical discussion.

A guitar player can do a ton of nuanced things with his pick, how he slides on a string…all that stuff seems to be picked up differently on a real amp. It’s like the VSTs don’t respond well to the dynamics (not compression lingo) of a player…so either the VST has a volume of very soft or very hard. You can’t seem to capture the dynamics of a guitar player well, so a lot of expression is removed from the sound. I can’t explain what the hell I’m talking about but I’m hoping someone has an idea…This explanation is terrible lol

BTW, I play through an Axe so I dont know shit about real amps

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I haven’t played with a real amp in 5 years, and I haven’t tried Amplitube 5 specifically, so I can’t contribute with a direct A/B comparison.

But I can tell you that there are plenty VSTs out there that do an excellent job at capturing dynamics.

As they say, a video is worth 1000 words per frame :smiley:

So here is a little demonstration of dynamical response in one of my favourite amp simulators called Audio Assault Sigma. I set up the crunch channel such that when I pick softly I get a clean sound, and when I pick hard it goes into overdrive. Not my best playing but hey - it shows what I need to show for this discussion :slight_smile:

Again not sure how it compares to a real amp but I find it plenty satisfying for my purposes

I’m also a follower of this website that you may find interesting to get an overview of all the possible high quality amp sims out there:


Sgear amp sim does a pretty good job too. I found it to be the best sounding out of the ones I’ve tried.

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Are you playing these virtual amps through studio monitors? Something else?

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To be honest, I found that for most VSTs the limiting factor is the quality of the IR used. Pre-packaged plugins like Amplitube, ReValver, BIAS or anything else may not come with the cab sound that you really want. The difficulty there is that there are about as many possible IRs as there are possible microphone positions… nevermind if you take in account every microphone possible, every cabinet, every speaker, every pre-amp used to collect the IR and so on; it’s about as much of a rabbit hole as pedals.

Even old and not fancy sims like LePou plugins do a very honourable if not an outright great job at simulating a guitar amp if you’re using decent IRs, dynamics included. All of which assuming you have an half-decent listening device (not headphones in most cases).

I’m going to say this with a huge caveat - I have yet to play any sort of modeler that I can plug in and record directly through, that “feels” the same as an amp in the room.

The huge caveat, of course, is if I were to set my rig up on another room, mic it up, and listen while I plauyed through my moniors, it ALSO wouldn’t feel the same.

I’m not sure what it is - maybe the lack of low end response that a 4x12 can impart that a studio monitor doesn’t, or the sheer amount of air a cab can move, or maybe t’s the slight milisecond delay that you’re getting from on one hand all the signal processing or on the other the run of cables and the ad/da conversion in my interface/computer before it comes back out through the speakers. No clue. I do feel like I play better when I’m standing in front of and reactig to an amp, though.

On the other hand… I once played an AxeFX II belonging to Cliff at Fractal through a Carvin poweramp and the Mesa 2x12 I used to use at the time, at a get-together for another guitar site, where he pulled up some sort of Blackface type clean tone, and it felt and sounded good enough that if I hadn’t known it was a modeler, I’d have wanted to know what I was playing through just because it straight-up ruled. So, I really think it’s not modeling, per se, but something to do with the lack of a cab.

Indeed as @Lukhas pointed out the IR is very important for the overall sound and feel of the simulation. Typically IRs are capturing a microphone very close to the speaker, so they sound nothing like an amp in a room - they sound more like what the person at the mixer would hear.

There are however “Room mic” IRs that may sound/ feel closer to what you like.

Of course you could even try to capture an IR that will simulate your cab sound propagated to your the spot in the room where you usually play

I know someone on another forum who dislikes amp sims, but whenever he has to record anything he ends up using a digital AiO pedalboard because he cannot realistically record his amp in a way that makes it sound as good or better than his midrange floor processor. He swears he has a killer sound in the room, but he just cannot record that.

It reminds me of Ola Englund’s “In the Room” series, where he tries his best with multiple mics to capture the sound of a setup in the room. The range of different sounds from a single amp depending of the microphone and its placement is pretty interesting.

Most IR loaders worth talking about (harsh but true) allow you to load at least two IRs; SLT Ignite’s Libra allows you to load up to 8 IRs. That being said and as I’ve written earlier, it’s really a slippery slope and you’re going to end up trying thousands of possibilities and not get anywhere. Two blended IRs is good enough IMO to get started, it helps getting rid of some of the harshness of a single mic setup.

I think it goes beyond the IR though - maybe if you were running a modeler with a “room IR” through something like a floor wedge or a sound reinforcement speaker rather than studio monitors, but I think it ultimately has a lot to do with how an amp cabinet moves air, and how a studio monitor can’t replicate that. The real tragedy here is I have a buddy who DID go deep down the “room IR” rabbit hole with his AxeFX back when he used to own some sort of reference-grade large format speaker to play it through, but I never got a chance to run up to his place to try it out, before he eventually abandoned that approach and just opted to use a poweramp/cab for jamming/“in the room” playing, while running seperate outs with speaker emulation for recording. Then again, the fact he went back to a real cab may itself be pretty meaningful here.

Again, though, I don’t say this as a knock against modeling technology - it’s important to remember that a modeler ISN’T intended to replicate the sound of an amp in a room. It’s supposed to replicate the sound of an amp, through a specific cab, captured by a specific mic in a specific position, and possibly run through some sort of preamp and with some sort of studio FX gear like compression and EQ applied downstream of all of this. It’s supposed to, essentially, sound like a recording of a guitar, and not a guitar in the room.

And with that in mind, even free amp VSTs are surprisingly good, when used with a decent IR - the LePou Lecto got me surprisingly close to the tone I go for from my Roadster, and the Lecstacy or whatever it’s called got me some really awesome modded marshall sounds when I played around with it a bit, and is still one of the plugins I’ll occasionally reach for on bass or for an iintentionally distorted effect. It’s insane what you can do with software alone these days, in a recording environment, and both of those VSTs - which are NOT even remotely close to high end or cutting edge, these days - are good enough that in a pinch I wouldn’t hesitate to record with one.

It’s just trying to do something very different than capture the experience of plugging into an amp to rock out, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind.

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This actully doesn’t surprise me at all - odds are, a killer “in the room” sound is one that isn’t going to translate well to a recording.

That sounds kinda insane and nonsensical, until you consider that a killer recorded tone is one that is being “listened” to from within an inch of the cab, maybe 6-12" off the ground, while a killer “in the room” tone is being listened to maybe 6’ off the ground, and probably 12’ away. This has the effect of really smoothing out the high end and taking away a lot of harshness, so going out on a limb I’m guessing your buddy’s tone is harsher and fizzier than he likes when he tries to mic it up.

Micing an amp and getting a great recorded tone out of it comes with a STEEP learning curve, but part of that process is first recalibrating expectations and remembering that your mic and your ears are in VERY different positions.

…similarly, while you can get great results out of a single mic (and if you, rhetorical you and not you specifically, are just learning how to mic an amp, this is 100% where you should be starting and not moving on to multiple mics until you have a pretty good grasp of getting a solid tone out of a single mic), using two mics on a cab really seems to “flesh out” the sound of the amp, and make it less filtered and more three dimensional. I don’t really know anyone who routinely uses more than that, though - you can do it, and I suppose in certain circumstances maybe you could do this for effect and get some interesting results with a third very unconventional mic position - dammit, now the wheels are spinning - but standard practice is, if you’re doing more than slapping a single SM57 on a cab, it’s a SM57 with some other mic positioned to supplement and support that SM57’s core tone. In my case, I leave my cab mic’d up with a SM57 positioned to sound as good as I can get it alone, and then a MD421 positioned in phase with the SM57 to fill it out some. I’ve got a SE Electronics VR1 ribbon I need to spend some time experimenting with, though - it’s fairly dark, and I tend to dial in a pretty dark lead tone anyway, but I’ve heard some crushing rhythm recordings done with one of these and a SM57, and for a brighter, heavier rhythm sound, this could kind of own.

Just came across this video which shows a sort of “halfway” solution: A “clean” tube preamp pedal that you can use before hitting your audio interface.

It does not solve the “lack of cab moving air” complaint, but it addresses the “I wanna hear some real tube” complaint :slight_smile:

EDIT: one could however argue that there already are excellent tube preamp simulators in software form. So will this be really much of an improvement? Not sure :slight_smile:

Yeah, I’d say that judged by their preamp/poweramp simulation alone, an AxeFX II or III or a Kemper are good enough that this wouldn’t likely make a big difference over any comparable solid state DI box - modeling technology has gotten awfully good in a studio environment, and I doubt I’d “feel” a tube somewhere in the circuit.

Really, what I SHOULD be doing when recording, but just can’t be bothered to, is using the DI input and output on my Apogee to also record a DI signal, in addition to the SM57/MD421 I leave on my amp, and just leave that muted while tracking, so I have the option of going back and reamping it down the road if I want, either with a real amp or some sort of sim. It’s a good compromise solution since it does still feel like playing a real amp since as far as the amp is concerned it’s just a couple connections the signal passes throug, but it also means you’re not wedded to a tone when you record a take.

The downside of course is that one of the things I like about tracking live amps is that it DOES force you to commit t a guitar tone during the tracking phase, and if mid-mix you can go back and revisit something as fundamental as the sound of your guitars (which has massicve downstream implications for everything else, and a lot of the tracking phase is getting all the peices to “fit” in the first place, IMO), that’s a rabbit hole I’d be worried I’d never get out of, lol.

But, I want to be 100% clear - I think a quality modeling setup can abslutely hold its own with a real amp in a professional studio enviroment, and is probably an easier solution in a home studio environment. IT just doesn’t really replicate the feeling of standing next to a 4x12, even at fairly low volumes, which on a psychological level can impact how you play (it does for me, to an extent). Thats not a knock against modeling, though - a software VST isn’t designed to do that, and a hardware unit like an AxeFX isn’t either if run direct and monitored through studio monitors (and, in my experience, feels VERY amp like if pluggd into a clean poweramp and real cab).

So, I think that’s my answer to the OP - a modeler doesn’t move air like a real amp, because it’s not being played through a real cabinet, and near as I can tell that’s what a lot of the tactile “feeling” of a real amp vs a modeler comes from.

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Sure, amp sims are not the real thing, but they are incredibly useful. Amplitube 5 was just coming out and I am in the market for a new plugin so I downloaded Neural DSP Nameless trial. Wanted a reference before possibly parting with my money.

Neural does everything from clean to murder. Quite unlike anything I’ve tried before. It has been a while since I played real amps, but I really can’t tell the difference. (I also have never played an amp as expensive as Fortin…)

Amplitube 5 is out now. I tried that also. It is much better than 4, but only halfway to Neural.

As with so many plugin users, I can’t really explain the difference to real amps, but Neural seems to capture transients of playing. It makes electric guitar acoustic and amplifies it. Extremely unforgiving, but also blissfully real. Especially low gain area in the plugin is just filthy!

Amplitube 4 rack effects work really well, just don’t put anything in front of Neural. It’ll sound 100 % Amplitube like that.

What does IR stand for?

Blockquote What does IR stand for?

Impulse Response. It’s speaker load emulation.

That said, I’ve never played any digital modeler that interacts like a real amp, feedback interactivity is something that can’t be emulated. You can get the sounds mostly, even the feel mostly, but not 100%. Dave Friedman put it best for me, it’s like 2D where a real amp is 3D. It’s a snapshot, a copy, a facsimile. There is nothing wrong with it and you can get really good sounds and make great recordings with it, and even use it live and no one in the audience would ever know it wasn’t a real amp. Some players (like myself) use the amp as part of a symbiotic relationship (player, guitar, amp) and just don’t get jazzed about playing any other way. It’s purely a preference thing. Some guys like just a guitar an amp and no pedals, some guys love pedals (I certainly do), and some guys love modelers for the freedom it gives them in creating lots of different sounds.


I agree here – committing to a guitar tone is the thing. If you’re not getting it after trying for a while, the idea of DI’ing and coming back is just a security blanket or consolation prize.

Capturing a guitar amp sound is one of those things…if you get 95% of it exactly right, the other 5% can still really get in the way. And there’s not a lot in the mix that can really save it, either. If you get it REALLY right, honestly, you just put the faders up and you don’t have to do a whole lot to get it sounding good – getting it sounding “great” is then the part about managing nuances and working around the edges.

I don’t do as much heavy stuff as I used to, but here’s one (produced/engineered/mixed):

It’s a basic SoCal detuned hard rock groove. That sounds like the guitarist’s Dual Rec, although I had a tweed Fender (possibly used for the clean parts) and a 5150 at the time.

So the keys to the sound are the usual stuff: pocket playing, solid intonation, tight doubling, etc.

But the thing no one’s talking about here is the phasing on the mics. Even Ola, who you can tell is getting a good sound in his room, didn’t work out his phasing between the mics. That’s why the low end is bumping in an interesting way but the highs are swirly – the frequency the comb filtering starts is dependent on the differences in mic distance from the source (oversimplifying, of course, since a guitar speaker is not a hypothetical point source), and those low end frequencies are less affected at these distance differences. Did you notice that his mics are both pointed at the center of the cone from roughly the same distance (from the grille cloth)? The sound will definitely begin hitting the Rode before it gets to the 58. With the angle of the speaker in mind, that mic is effectively a few inches closer.

Sound travels roughly 1 ft/ms (1000 ft/s), so the wavelength of 1000 Hz is around a foot. That means that two mics on the same source with one a foot further out will have phase nulls at 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz, 3000 Hz, 4000 Hz, etc. If you plot this on a semilog graph, you get something that immediately reveals how scary it gets as you go up the spectrum. Even differences of a few inches get you nulls in the critical high mids as well as a mess in the highs and presence region.

If your answer here is, “combining mics transparently is a huge PITA,” you are right! Trust me when I say that it’s something that engineers sweat a LOT. Chris Lord-Alge said that the phase reverse button on the SSL is red for a reason (he was talking about drum mixing, which is really a separate issue, since there are inherent compromises).

OK, but if you want to multi-mic, I will give you one of the O.G. tricks of all time for guitar amp recording:

Set up a single close mic and get a decent starting point – something that’s speaking well without any weird artifact resonances.

Set a second close mic up, from the same distance and probably on the same speaker for starters. Then chunk away and match the levels hitting your DAW as closely as you can. Flip the phase ON YOUR PREAMP on one of them – you should be instantly transported to a land of weird, swirly audio, since you are now listening to the DIFFERENCE between the two mics. Whatever you are HEARING here (OUT of phase) is what is CANCELLING when you mix the two IN phase.

I would be really wary of introducing ANY plug-ins yet. Latency differences even on the millisecond level will destroy this process.

Keep the phase flipped on the one. Run the studio signal into a pair of headphones and turn them up so you hear that swirly phased-out amp hiss (don’t play your guitar while doing this!). Now, if you move the second mic, you will hear the swirl change – again, what you are HEARING here is what is CANCELLING when you are phase IN. So the object is to move the mic until the hiss sounds neutral (with no tunnel-y phasey weirdness) and LOW in level. Lock that mic into place and pray that when you let go, the mic stand doesn’t sag half an inch and destroy your beautiful phase-matching.

OK, assuming you still have that neutral, low level phase OUT hiss, turn your headphones off (don’t want to fry them!) and pick up your guitar back in the control room. Play a chord and then flip the phase IN. If you get it right, by the way, the two mics are now mixable, and you can choose the blend (more center= more sizzle, more cone= more grunt).

I know it’s complicated. Acoustics is physics, and we haven’t even covered the electronics part. Believe it or not, this is the “quick and dirty” version. My favorite way to match timing is to record transients and then move a mic so that when you zoom way in on Pro Tools to the sample level (sub-millisecond), the transients line up EXACTLY. By the end, I’ll be nudging the mic a millimeter or two. But it can really get those highs to speak nicely.

The good part here is that if you match some mics on a cab, you can do your whole session with that matching – even switching amp heads out for different tones. Then when you track 2 or 3 mics on each take, you can legitimately work the blend to taste later without taking a sonic “hit” for it (like by reamping or something). Or with the right kind of front end, you can do the blend in the analog domain and run single tracks into Pro Tools. Session guitarists might use something like a Chandler Mini-Mixer for this.

By the way, once you get past this one, I have to mention that those all-in-one preamp+converter USB powered interfaces might not get you all the way there. A/D conversion is a HUGE key to this process.

Sorry for the long post.

Slipperman’s writing on this subject is legendary. Just don’t read it out loud in front of a 5-year-old or anything, with all the curse words…

Also, when you’re working with volume, PLEASE be careful with your ears! I have a Wal-Mart set of ear muffs (like at the shooting range) ready in the studio at all times. I highly recommend this.

This sums up my experience to a T, so much that I suspect Drew himself was in the room with me :slight_smile:

A slight tangent:

Often times, the proximity of the source is the greatest shock to a guitarist recording first time through a single (mono) sm57 right against the grill (of an amp). Doesn’t really matter if it’s through a large room or a stuffy iso-cab if it’s recorded like that, and if it becomes the only signal you depend on.

The beauty of that honest (and too honest if I may add) signal is the clarity it adds to another ambient mic, or to another identical stereo mic. The latter can also be achieved with studio plugins like stereo reverb, flanger/chorus, or directional mixers, with a particular emphasis on early reflections and diffusion.

It goes the same for vocals, drums, and other sources as well. Mixing/producing is at least 70% of what you do with this sound. By itself it sounds very unnatural to the ear because there is no information about the space, besides the fact that there is none.

This doesn’t just go for mic’d up amps but just as well for di’d signals, reamped signals, “loaded-down” amp signals, and what not. Especially amp loads need more ambience than mic’d amps. At some point, some sort of signal processing becomes a necessity more than a choice. The engineer’s job (once he has captured the signal) is to recreate on tape the perception of the ear as he hears it, not what the mic hears.

(I actually like a big condenser mic dead center of a room for a solo pianist or a quiet trio, as it keeps things brutally simple, but this I assume is not what we have in mind.)

In short, find some way to add the sense of space (via delay lines including reverb/tracking, faux or real stereorizers) if you want that amp in a room sound (be it from actual amps or not).

As for the amp vs. modeling debate, personally speaking I have never played a modeler that would beat that one holy grail amp of mine but I know of 99 million other amps that I would never use over a good modeler.

One difference is the volume and the other difference is the volume.

Even at equal loudness the amps feel and sound louder end of story. There’s a very visceral feeling of a large bottle superlead on 10 going through lo-fi guitar speakers that a modeler through a flat response PA will never give you (and it’s not supposed to).

And when you have a room big enough to fire that up, often times that’s all the ambience you need from a performer standpoint (again, the engineer recreates your ears at the desk).

I will say however, the modeling rig when done right is very easy on the ear and very easy to play (and switch about mid-set). They can also sound very close upon playback (compared to the “real” thing). But sometimes the real thing is just more fun to play. I’ve always done both quite happily.

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This goes along with what engineers call “translation.” What would be a great guitar tone in the context of what you’re doing? Find a way to put a clean version of that up on the speakers – let’s say I was doing a hard rock record with Les Pauls and Marshalls. I’d maybe import “For Those About To Rock” or something FROM A CD (or other lossless 16-bit import) into Pro Tools, and then play it from a stereo track with the master fader at 0 dB (unity gain). OK, then what you’re hearing is the mastered album, at the mastered level, through your playback converters. This is “apples to apples,” not “apples to oranges.” At this point, you’ve got to figure, if you got THAT tone (or something really close but plus your nuances), you’d ultimately be pretty happy. If you’re checking out guitar tones and not vibing from playing AC/DC back in a clean way through your setup, then the difference is somewhere in the setup, and you either have to calibrate your perception or switch setups.

By the way, one of the best approaches to getting a killer tone is to try to get it sounding big on small monitors.

Playing back through YouTube or from YouTube rips is going to be inconsistent, and the tone will be colored. Also, the master level will be altered – it’s really important to get these things down in context insofar as where they fit into the overall dynamic range that your mixing format allows.

So, with that in mind, figure that the playback of the classic, mastered material is “maximum vibe.” No, it probably doesn’t sound like you’re on stage with the amp blaring at you (hopefully, you’re not working at those volume levels anyway). If you need that vibe for showing clients or for cutting a track here or there, then you’d have to looking at getting some big time mains speakers – by the way, even then, I’d recommend using your monitor switcher and staying on the small speakers 80% of the time so you don’t get ear fatigue. But plenty of pro studios don’t have anything bigger than maybe Genelec 1031’s or something.

Really, I’d have some great broadcast masters going – clean CD-quality (not bullish*t mp3’s) imports – running through your D/A’s into the speakers while you’re setting up or whatever to calibrate everyone’s ears. If they want to drive down Sunset blasting the rough mixes later in the car with the enormo-sub while you stay in the studio and save your hearing, fine.

Frankly, the studio is a different beast. You can’t just sit there working at rock concert volume all day – you won’t be able to critically listen after a while (and it’s not exactly good for you long term). Other than putting in earplugs and letting the guitarist have his or her moment of high volume to get some vibe on a critical track, you’re really stuck at that 86 dB kind of level – healthy volume but not exactly “loud.”

I kind of want to address ambience too, but I’ll run the risk of being wordy. Small amps are great for recording for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is that they can lose any sense of “smallness” once the close miking is going on. If you’ve ever played a tweed or BF-era Fender, you know that each one has a sweet spot (I mean, all amps have a sweet spot…) – like maybe around halfway up or whatever. And the smaller ones – Champ, Princeton – will have healthy volume but won’t be peeling paint off the walls. If the reverb is off, it’ll be dry as heck, too. But do you hear it, like, “ewwww…dry!” or is it just…nice? You’re hearing the amp in the space of your room at that point. For tracking, if you pan the small amp miking to one side, to one monitor, with no ambience, how close can you get to that? If you’ve got something with maybe an 8" woofer, like 1031’s or 824’s or whatever, if you get it right, that monitor will start sounding a LOT like the amp when you turn the monitor up a bit. But I will warn you that you have to have a bunch of things right and nothing getting in the way for this to happen. It really is an art AND science. And then, even to make the amp sound “natural” but in-context, a slap and a reverb each at -26 dB to -30 dB should start to get you there. Psychoacoustically speaking, the level of these ambiences are very low in real-world situations (and situations which are made to reflect the real world, or build illusions which incorporate elements of it). If the sound isn’t built on the ambiences, then the ambiences shouldn’t make or break you – you should really know you have “it” or are “getting there” before any reverb/delay is added.

And I really believe this part is best left up to the engineers generally, not because of the technical know-how but because I believe this is a fundamental part of the artistic process that I would like them to own and be a part of. It generally makes for a better sounding record imo.

The only reason why I suggested other bootleg devices was to sort of recreate that vibe if you’re a bedroom guitarist running through a standard recording computer setup- which has almost nothing in common with a professional studio and the input of the sound engineer. At that point, you gotta do what you gotta do. As long as it gets the playing going, I’m all for it.

I would like to extend this concept and even say one should observe the mix 70% of the time at 70% of the volume and 70% of the space one would normally enjoy it at. Excessive volume can wreck the perceived tone of the mix and it often happens that a once good sounding mix at high volume is so so at lower volumes but not so much the other way around.

I also think the advice about smaller amps is sound, but the only minor caveat is that one should record it because you like the tone, not because it is small and can sound big under the right conditions. Like you, I believe in committing to tape, and if your vibing with a big bottle amp with a hefty cab, you should still first try to get that on record properly before downsizing- because smaller transformers and speakers just don’t sound the same (but they can sound very good as many others have demonstrated).

We are assuming a professional studio are we not…which can handle both loud and small amps, then ultimately it is a matter of choice and that choice I think should be left up to the artist/writer if he has any strong preferences (and if not, the engineer has his say on amps- and everything else down the chain). Luckily I’ve never had to be in a situation in which the engineer wasn’t competent with both.

Definitely, except small point: replace the word “engineers” with “producers.” A lot of times the same person wears both hats, though.

Tone is king, for sure. A small amp stands a chance of getting a lot “bigger” with close miking – that’s not necessarily going to happen when you put a single speaker of a 4x12/100W amp under a magnifying glass. So it becomes a bit of “engineer psychology” where you bias yourself towards the smaller stuff, all other things (perception) being equal. The lower volume at the sweet spot is easier to manage, too. Dynamic mics can start to splatter at higher volumes, and this is something that becomes more evident downstream as you go to mix (i.e.: you start painting the mixer into a corner without really realizing it). Really, this is a function of the alternating EMF waves coming from the voice coil actually moving the magnet in the dynamic mic (remember, “dynamic mic” = “speaker in reverse”). So at that point, you’re not just miking the speaker, you’re coupling the EMF. It’s not always an issue, but if you jam that 57 right up to the dust cover of the Celestion after you remove the grille…

I agree that 100W Marshalls are classic for a reason, though.

I think we’re putting a spotlight on different factors and trying to figure out how to optimize them. I mean, if you give me a Digi 002 and an iMac from ten years ago, two 57’s, and a $300 large diaphragm condenser, a closet for isolation with some padding to throw around, and tell me which days the next door neighbors are working, I could probably get you 80-90% of the way there, using the same techniques that apply all the way up to the “big rooms.”

Choice is up to the artist if he/she is producing him/herself. Otherwise, it’s up to the producer, and the artist can either deal with it, express opinion and try to sway the producer, lobby for co-production, or find another producer. I know this seems like a “chain of command” straight out of the Army, but I learned really quickly that you absolutely do NOT express opinion from the engineer’s chair unless asked. Too many cooks spoil the stew. The producer might be on a winding path that is not immediately apparent to you, and your one job is to be supportive of their journey. Otherwise, you’re the cinematographer telling the director how to make their movie. Sure, if there’s a rapport involved, there might be a discreet text sent during the session or something, but only in a situation with some history, and only as a suggestion. Once you get this flow right, the producer will tend to ask things as necessary: “how should we mic this to make the acoustic more transparent on the high end?” “is the gain level making the sound squashy?” “can you tighten up the doubles while I take the Porsche for a spin, call my divorce lawyer, and grab Thai food for us?”