Stop the presses!
Ableton 8.2 is out, and Amp & Cabinet have been added to the effects roster:
I’m a big fan of guitar amp modelers. Ever since I first owned my Ensoniq ASR-10 (which had a built-in amp emulation effect), I’ve gotten a huge kick out of running just about everything through them – except guitars. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve certainly used them on guitar, it’s just not where the big fun is in my book. Amp emulators are amazing for adding grit to drums, thickening up synth parts, tweaking out vocals, etc.
And by the way, it’s not just amp emulators that are good for this sort of thing – actual amps work wonders! It’s just that setting up a rig to do “re-amping” (sending a signal out of a mix, bumping its impedance down to instrument level, sending it into an amp and recording the signal back through a mic) isn’t always practical…
I gotta say that the first look at Amp totally cracked me up. In a world of overblown plug-in graphics, it was pretty funny to see the classic Ableton flat style applied to an amp head graphic:
Anyway, the first thing I usually do when trying out this sort of effect is to run some generic sounding drum loops through it and see what happens. My first response was “wow! that sounds terrible!” – loads of high frequency crispiness – not what I expected to hear from an amp sim at all…
That’s because Amp is designed to work with Cabinet:
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Cabinet emulates the sound of running a signal through a speaker in a box, and recording it with a microphone. One of the most noticeable aspects of a speaker cabinet is that it acts as a low-pass filter and removes all of the really high stuff. Aah, that’s better.
It’s not that you can’t use them separately – you most certainly can. Depending on the signal you are running through Amp, you’ll get very different results, including some that work very nicely without Cabinet. (With drum loops, I got some especially good results using Amp in Heavy mode with no Cabinet.)
But even so, the first thing I’m gonna do is rack them up together and save a preset: