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As a guitar player, is audio interface your only option?

Pancreas

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I suppose this depends on whether you're using your studio monitors for playing guitar or not. If you have a regular guitar amplifier or have a separate FRFR cabinet/powered cabinet, then it doesn't matter.

The future of electric guitar playing is modeling, where AI simulates/models the tones created by actual physical tube amplifiers. There are even DSP plugins that can do this, and although they don't sound as good as physical modelers, they're affordable and you only need your computer, audio interface and speakers.

Examples of physical modelers are the Axe FX 3, Quad Cortex, Helix, etc.

With a physical modeler, you can either use your studio monitors or a separate powered cabinet. With the plugins, you have no choice but to use your studio monitors.

This means you need an audio interface for pretty much your whole computer sound needs.

If you use an audio interface, you can't use anything else, as your powered studio monitors would be connected to it. Problem is many audio interfaces are lacking in the sound department. The one I have Motulite Ultralite MK5 is pretty decent but is nowhere near the level of audiophile DACs.

It's most affordable to use your studio monitors for guitar playing and everything else, rather than buying an actual powered FRFR cabinet for guitar playing only, even more affordable if you only use plugins, though the better tone, presets, and quality of actual physical modelers can't be denied.

Plugins cost $80-150 whereas physical modelers tend to cost more than $1500

Here is a video of all the tones/amp you can do with a physical modeler that costs $2300.

 

Bamboszek

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Problem is many audio interfaces are lacking in the sound department. The one I have Motulite Ultralite MK5 is pretty decent but is nowhere near the level of audiophile DACs.
What is the issue with Motu sound quality? There is no way that you can distinguish between 110-115 dB SINAD of Motu vs ~120dB of state-of-art DACs.
With the plugins, you have no choice but to use your studio monitors.
That's not true either. Have you heard of reamping?
though the better tone, presets, and quality of actual physical modelers can't be denied.
While standalone modeling amps are easier to use, more convenient at live performances and etc. sound quality are on par or even better at VST plugins.
Amplitube 5 is really solid. Line 6 Helix uses exactly same algorithms in standalone HW and in plugin.
 

Cbdb2

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There are good modelers for a fraction of that cost.

I never liked these units (could always tell it was a modeler) till recently. I have this pedal type for bass guitar and love it. Includes a drum machine and a looper and has stereo out. You can also download 3rd party patches.
For $200US you don't need to buy an instrument ADC, computer(except to run the editor software), or plug ins. And it never crashes
 

DVDdoug

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...Is an audio interface your only option?
You need an interface or ADC for almost ANY (digital) recording).

There are also some decent studio-style USB "podcast mics", which essentially have an interface/soundcard built-in, or at-least the recording-half of a soundcard.

Or there are stand-alone solid state recorders. If you are doing something like digitizing vinyl or cassettes, sometimes the input on a regular soundcard in a desktop/tower computer is OK. Most laptops don't have line inputs.

The mic input on a regular soundcard or laptop is usually low quality, and in any case they are not compatible with "pro" stage/studio mics. It's also not compatible with a guitar pickup.

Pro studios sometimes record (electric) guitar directly, sometimes they put a microphone in front of the cabinet, and sometimes they record both in parallel. Of course, the "direct" connection can come out of an effects pedal.

...I read a story about some famous band (I don't remember who) where the guitar player insisted on recording from his amp with a mic. Somehow the recording engineer convinced him to allow recording direct also. The engineer ended-up using the direct track with a sim in the final mix and the guitar player never knew. A lot of "things" go-into a mix and he's hearing it on monitors so it's going to sound "different" and it's not surprising that he couldn't tell.

Plugins cost $80-150 whereas physical modelers tend to cost more than $1500
Right. You may not be able to afford the amp of your dreams but you can probably afford a plug-in simulation, or several different sims for lots of variety. And assume you are recording at home, a lot of the highly-desired and highly-preferred amps sound best when overdriven and LOUD. You can use a sim without bothering everybody in your neighborhood and everybody in your house/apartment! ;)

The future of electric guitar playing is modeling, where AI simulates/models the tones created by actual physical tube amplifiers.
Yes. Sadly, guitar players will no longer be needed... :(

P.S.
There's a lot of "mythology" among musicians... It's almost as bad as the audiophile community... Jim Lill has a YouTube channel where he does lots of interesting & practical "scientific" experiments with guitars, amps, and microphones, etc. I'm not sure if it will answer your questions but I find it interesting and I'm not a guitar player!
 
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Pancreas

Pancreas

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What is the issue with Motu sound quality? There is no way that you can distinguish between 110-115 dB SINAD of Motu vs ~120dB of state-of-art DACs.

That's not true either. Have you heard of reamping?

While standalone modeling amps are easier to use, more convenient at live performances and etc. sound quality are on par or even better at VST plugins.
Amplitube 5 is really solid. Line 6 Helix uses exactly same algorithms in standalone HW and in plugin.

One big downside of the plugins is that the computer needs to be on to use them. It's hard to justify $1500+ when the plugins can do the same

The plugins ain't that cheap though.
 

AnalogSteph

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Problem is many audio interfaces are lacking in the sound department. The one I have Motulite Ultralite MK5 is pretty decent but is nowhere near the level of audiophile DACs.
That's a bit like complaining about the family station wagon not having hypercar acceleration times. Audio interfaces proverbially speaking have many more mouths to feed and as such can't go overboard in the performance department quite as much. They're still likely to outperform whatever is in your monitors. There's a bunch of upper-midrange interfaces nowadays that basically are as good as almost anything you could buy 20 years ago. It's not like our needs have changed since then. >110 dB(A) worth of dynamic range with levels dialed in and <-90 dB worth of distortion, and Bob's your uncle.

As an aside, if you are working "in the box", the interesting part in terms of the end product is the input / preamp / ADC anyway. Strictly speaking, the monitor output only needs to be good enough for the one recording to be able to do their job. Some entry-level jobs only just about get to that point, though average performance has been improving for years now (5 years ago when the Scarlett gen2 was ruling the low midrange, I would have agreed that performance of this segment was a bit meh, not so much nowadays). An Ultralite Mk5 should be a fair bit beyond it already.
 

Timcognito

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That's a bit like complaining about the family station wagon not having hypercar acceleration times
Mine does.
1699131510728.jpeg

Well not like a Lamborghini, but 0-60 4.3 sec.
 
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Pancreas

Pancreas

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That's a bit like complaining about the family station wagon not having hypercar acceleration times. Audio interfaces proverbially speaking have many more mouths to feed and as such can't go overboard in the performance department quite as much. They're still likely to outperform whatever is in your monitors. There's a bunch of upper-midrange interfaces nowadays that basically are as good as almost anything you could buy 20 years ago. It's not like our needs have changed since then. >110 dB(A) worth of dynamic range with levels dialed in and <-90 dB worth of distortion, and Bob's your uncle.

As an aside, if you are working "in the box", the interesting part in terms of the end product is the input / preamp / ADC anyway. Strictly speaking, the monitor output only needs to be good enough for the one recording to be able to do their job. Some entry-level jobs only just about get to that point, though average performance has been improving for years now (5 years ago when the Scarlett gen2 was ruling the low midrange, I would have agreed that performance of this segment was a bit meh, not so much nowadays). An Ultralite Mk5 should be a fair bit beyond it already.

so the mk5 outperforms the genelec 8030c?
 

Cbdb2

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Pro studios sometimes record (electric) guitar directly, sometimes they put a microphone in front of the cabinet, and sometimes they record both in parallel. Of course, the "direct" connection can come out of an effects pedal.
To record guitar (unless its active) directly into a mixer you need an instrument DI box to match impedances.
 

Ricardus

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To record guitar (unless its active) directly into a mixer you need an instrument DI box to match impedances.
Which any decent studio has a half a dozen or so lying around.
 

AnalogSteph

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so the mk5 outperforms the genelec 8030c?
Very likely so, yeah. According to specs, output noise level should be at -104 dBu(A), so with the Genelecs set to minimum sensitivity (+6 dB, giving 94 dB SPL @ 1 m for 0 dBu in) that would be at -10 dB SPL(A) @ 1 m, or about 15 dB below the Genelecs' specified noise floor. (According to Amir, measured dynamic range might fall 2-3 dB short of spec at 121 dB AES17, but so what if noise is only 12 dB lower, it's still irrelevant.)
At the same time, max +21 dBu out would equate to 115 dB SPL peak, which the speakers aren't even close to achieving. So you would have a good amount of dynamic range to spare on both ends, with a fair bit of wiggle room for setting input sensitivity (anywhere from +6 to 0 dB would be perfectly fine). The Genelecs realistically give you barely over 100 dB total.

There is a modest amount of "ESS hump" in the output but it's all going on below -80 dB in terms of SMPTE IMD, I doubt you can hear any of that. At other levels, I doubt the Genelec's electronics can hit more than the 90s in terms of SINAD (and neither do they need to). And let's not even get started in terms of acoustic driver distortion.
 
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