April 14th, 2023 | John Dines
So, you want to record at home? You’ve got a decent computer running your choice of DAW, you bought an audio interface, so you’re good to go, right? But what do you plug into it? This is actually one of the few areas of guitar gear where there isn’t necessarily a universally accepted answer.
There are lots of ways to solve this problem and they range from uncomfortably virtual to complicated and expensive. On the one end, there are all sorts of amp simulation plugins available these days, with varying levels of realism. Sure, many of them are pretty convincing but, if you’re a latency freak, you want gear that can be taken to a gig, or you just like to twiddle real knobs, the plugin route might not be for you.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are big, expensive reactive loads for you to connect to your big, expensive valve amp. These will get you great recorded tones at headphone volume but, well, you’re still going to need plenty of space and even more cash. Just not practical for the average home producer. What’s more, you may well end up needing a different amp for each tone, which is even more out of reach for ordinary players.
Here at Origin Effects, we’re somewhere in the middle. We love real, analogue gear but we also believe that you don’t need to spend thousands on hot, heavy valve amps to sound good. When we designed our Analogue Amp Recreations, the goal was to pack the whole signal path of a vintage valve amp and reactive load into a stompbox. So, using our RevivalDRIVE Compact, let’s take a look at how to get great direct-recorded guitar tones with just a pedal or two.
Step 1 – Getting connected:
This is about as simple as it gets. Just plug a guitar into the RevivalDRIVE Compact’s input jack and connect the output to your interface. The RevivalDRIVE has enough output to drive a line level input, so you don’t even need to have a dedicated instrument input on your interface. In this article, we are using a Universal Audio Apollo Twin X audio interface.
Step 2 – Load an impulse response:
The RevivalDRIVE is giving us the whole sound of an amp, but we still need the sound of a speaker cabinet. Luckily, cabinet impulse responses (IRs) are everywhere these days! An impulse response is an audio file is a tiny audio file which, when loaded into an IR loader, imparts the frequency response of a speaker cabinet onto your signal. Impulse responses are also used to make very realistic reverbs, so your DAW most likely has an impulse response-based reverb plugin already. Simply get hold of some speaker IRs from your favourite corner of the internet and drop them into your DAW’s IR loader. Hey presto, speaker simulation!
For the purposes of this article, we are using Apple’s Logic Pro X DAW. We’re using RedWirez IRs in Logic’s Space Designer reverb plugin.
Step 3 – Room reverb for realism:
Now we’ve got our amp and cab, how about a touch of room ambience to liven things up a bit? If we were just practicing, we could add another reverb plugin on the channel strip but, as we’re talking about recording, it makes more sense to add this on a bus. As we add more layers of guitar in our production, we can use aux sends to this bus from their individual channel strips, giving the impression of lots of layers of guitar in the same room. This cuts down on processing power too!
Check out the audio clip to hear our “amp and cab in a room”. Remember: this is one pedal and two reverb plugins!
All very nice and amp-like so far. Just for some variety, let’s hear the same RevivalDRIVE Compact with a cleaner setting, a different IR, a different reverb and the addition of a delay send. Because our Analogue Amp Recreations can take pedals just as well as a real amp, we’re also adding a Cali76 compressor in front.
As you can hear, it’s possible to get great direct-recorded guitar tones with just a pedal or two, while preserving all the realism of proper analogue gear. With your favourite guitar, a judicious choice of IR and perhaps a couple of your favourite pedals, an Origin Effects Amp Recreation might just make you forget about plugins and real amps altogether. And you can take it to a gig when you’re done!