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Is FR the only important measurement? Real life testing.

cheapmessiah

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So I've been watching this guys videos for a while, he is an empirical data kind of scientist, and in this video regarding guitar amps he has the holy grail of audiophile terminology, applied to guitar amplifiers, debunked in its entirety.

This is not exactly revelaing anything we didnt know here at ASR, but its a good video to refer to those audiphiles that dont believe in math or data charts since it has empirical listenable data. Its not exactly hifi audio related, but amps are amps, and audiophoolery is audiophoolery, so it kind of overlaps with ASR's ethos. And if anything its an entretaining video to watch on amplification myths.

 

isostasy

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I'm 13 mins in but not sure I can watch til the end.

First thing out of the way: Where does tone come from (at least, the most important component of it)? Your fingers.

This video is so irrelevant to hi-fi listening though. A guitar amplifier is one step in a massive chain of components modifying a messy overtone-ridden sea of sound generated by your fingers/plectrum. I'm bothered by the way he talks about the 'distortion' and the 'eq' of a guitar amp as though they were discrete, when they're not. Other things which distort your signal:

- the strings you're using: winding, material, thickness, tension
- the pickups you're using: active, passive, humbucker, single coil, P90, 1, 2, or 3, in bridge, middle, neck, or mixture, coil-tapped
- the tone and volume settings on your guitar
- the pedals you're playing into

Here's how a good guitarist chooses an amp: they plug in and play and decide whether they like it or not. They do not read what people say on forums, nor do they think that if they isolated every part of the amp and tried to standardize each part they could get the sound they wanted, because that would be a massive pain. You accept that you have a unique chain running from your mind, to your fingers, to your audience's ears, and you are creating something, and your amp is a tool to help you achieve that, so you pick the one you like. There's no point applying data to such a thing because guitar amps are not instruments for replication or measurement, hence stories of rock artists kicking in speaker cones to get the tone they want.

Who am I kidding, no they don't, they just get an amp modeller and fiddle with it until they like it.

Anyway, this is not at all how we approach hi-fi amplifiers. I get where you're coming from but I don't think this is a useful tool against audiophools.
 
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cheapmessiah

cheapmessiah

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I'm 13 mins in but not sure I can watch til the end.

First thing out of the way: Where does tone come from (at least, the most important component of it)? Your fingers.

This video is so irrelevant to hi-fi listening though. A guitar amplifier is one step in a massive chain of components modifying a messy overtone-ridden sea of sound generated by your fingers/plectrum. I'm bothered by the way he talks about the 'distortion' and the 'eq' of a guitar amp as though they were discrete, when they're not. Other things which distort your signal:

- the strings you're using: winding, material, thickness, tension
- the pickups you're using: active, passive, humbucker, single coil, P90, 1, 2, or 3, in bridge, middle, neck, or mixture, coil-tapped
- the tone and volume settings on your guitar
- the pedals you're playing into

Here's how a good guitarist chooses an amp: they plug in and play and decide whether they like it or not. They do not read what people say on forums, nor do they think that if they isolated every part of the amp and tried to standardize each part they could get the sound they wanted, because that would be a massive pain. You accept that you have a unique chain running from your mind, to your fingers, to your audience's ears, and you are creating something, and your amp is a tool to help you achieve that, so you pick the one you like. There's no point applying data to such a thing because guitar amps are not instruments for replication or measurement, hence stories of rock artists kicking in speaker cones to get the tone they want.

Who am I kidding, no they don't, they just get an amp modeller and fiddle with it until they like it.

Anyway, this is not at all how we approach hi-fi amplifiers. I get where you're coming from but I don't think this is a useful tool against audiophools.
You should watch it till the end, you didnt understand how he equalized all of the external factors to produce the same tone with very different amps, the general concensus has agreed that this differences beween amps were set on stone, and to justify those differences missleading wording and baseless axioms have been used for years and all of that comes from a general missunderstanding of the importance of frequency response.

If that isnt an example of exactly what ASR is trying to do for hifi products then what is?
 

Blumlein 88

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Maybe someone already does this, I'm not in the guitar world, but if someone makes a digital front end for a clean amp, and you have DSP plug ins like plenty of DAW software and recording hardware has to emulate hardware classics, it would be a highly valuable product, if you convince guitar players of the truth of it.

OTOH, I think as an art, picking your poison and working with it, learning to make it work, learning to get a result despite limitations has value too. If you can dial up anything from a menu list, I'm not sure you will stick with a particular sound to make artistic headway to any depth. In all sorts of human pursuits having best of everything can kill creativity, art, and enjoyment vs imperfect tools or less than utopian conditions.

A cliche: Music is art, and audio is engineering is true. However, electric guitars and amps are another of those intersections where it is a bit of both. I would assume originally, electric guitars and the amps were intending to sound like an acoustic guitar only louder. Apparently that didn't last long as quite quickly electrics had their own sound. Distortion and tone were just more tools in the palette of an artist to work with. If we approach guitar amps like some do hifi, the best amp and guitar body would be one that sounded most like a clean acoustic guitar of quality.
 
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cheapmessiah

cheapmessiah

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Maybe someone already does this, I'm not in the guitar world, but if someone makes a digital front end for a clean amp, and you have DSP plug ins like plenty of DAW software and recording hardware has to emulate hardware classics, it would be a highly valuable product, if you convince guitar players of the truth of it.

OTOH, I think as an art, picking your poison and working with it, learning to make it work, learning to get a result despite limitations has value too. If you can dial up anything from a menu list, I'm not sure you will stick with a particular sound to make artistic headway to any depth. In all sorts of human pursuits having best of everything can kill creativity, art, and enjoyment vs imperfect tools or less than utopian conditions.

A cliche: Music is art, and audio is engineering is true. However, electric guitars and amps are another of those intersections where it is a bit of both. I would assume originally, electric guitars and the amps were intending to sound like an acoustic guitar only louder. Apparently that didn't last long as quite quickly electrics had their own sound. Distortion and tone were just more tools in the palette of an artist to work with. If we approach guitar amps like some do hifi, the best amp and guitar body would be one that sounded most like a clean acoustic guitar of quality.

The DSP on guitars has been present for 20 or so years, but until recently it wasn't good enough because of computing power, and the best options were very pricy. Now a days the whole chain can be emulated, amps, effects, even the frequency response of speaker cabinets, the microphones and their different placements in the recording of the real apparatus.

And also yes, people tend to pick the tools that help them get their vision of the art piece to fruition. But the video is more about the missunderstanding of how those tools work and how they can be used.
 

gitaarwerk

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I have watched multiples of his videos. They are pretty cool! I did buy myself a nice tube amp before... and it seems that its perhaps money not well spent. On the other hand, its a cool thing regardless. On the part of the guitar sounds where it comes from... that's spot on as well. I've always shrugged about how different a guitar can be. In the end, it's often just the pickup change, tension of strings.. some strings, and how it looks and feels. The latter is often subjective. It's the fun part, but also, like any camps.. there are extremist amongst them. I like a Fender custom shop, its not always playing better than some other guitars I have who are a 10th of the price, but its also the whole brand image, look, etc to it. I think if you admit that, its fine, and you pay mostly for that. It has resell value as long as people are like that ;)
 

gavagai

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You accept that you have a unique chain running from your mind, to your fingers, to your audience's ears, and you are creating something, and your amp is a tool to help you achieve that, so you pick the one you like.
It's a very romantic point of view that, for instance, don't apply to classical violinists and classical music critics.
Studies have shown that they do prefer modern instruments over ancient and expensive ones in blind tests.

If they say that a stradivarius sound superb, it's obviously for another reason than the sound and the connection to the audience's ear.

https://www.thestrad.com/blind-test...s-violins-from-modern-instruments/994.article
https://www.science.org/content/article/million-dollar-strads-fall-modern-violins-blind-sound-check
 

57gold

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Been playing electric guitar for 50 years. Own and play 30+ guitars and a dozen amps, presently (not at the same time), and have had many other come an go. Both guitars from the 1950s (the three to the left are all 1959 Gibsons), 1960s and newer small builder instruments from 1980s to present. Oldest guitar amp is a 1959 Deluxe, 3 from the 1960s (Vox, Marshall & Fender) and a bunch of new ones (Soldano, Carr, Carol-Ann, Alessandro...). They all sound and play differently, as one would imagine and some guitars sound better through some amps. Swapping tubes matters, an old Bugle Boy 12AX7 in the first tube in the circuit sounds better than a new cheap Russian or Chinese tube...and instrument cables connecting the guitar to amp have audible differences due to capacitance.

All that said, with all my "fancy" collectable vintage and cool new design amps, I was asked to play in a friend's band in FL. He used a barge/pontoon boat to play outdoor concerts/jams on Tampa Bay a couple of times a year and would tow his barge to waterfront properties to play birthday and wedding parties. Great fun, but there was a catch - no tube amps - because on many occasions the barge would get electricity from a generator boat. Tube amps are inefficient and current hogs relative to efficient solid state amps...so I picked up my first solid state amp a Quilter Tone Block 200 watt Class D amp. Has a few dials and sounds kinda flat and dry straight into a cab. However, with a good gain pedal, an EQ and reverb/delay pedal into a good cab with Celestions, I was able to do what the Jim and his tackle box did and extract some great classic guitar tones. The color missing in the Tone Block with its minimal input controls (Quilter has enhanced its product line greatly since I got this basic unit adding significant tone shaping features) was created by blending gain, distortion pedals and ambient sounds of delay and reverb. Quality speakers and cabinet also upped the tonal color and feel.

This fellow Jim's observations make great sense to me...I almost refused to play when my friend said no tubes, but found that I could get 90% of the way to the tone I was looking for as Jim describes. And, quite frankly, for anyone in the audience that 90% works just fine.
 
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isostasy

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You should watch it till the end, you didnt understand how he equalized all of the external factors to produce the same tone with very different amps, the general concensus has agreed that this differences beween amps were set on stone, and to justify those differences missleading wording and baseless axioms have been used for years and all of that comes from a general missunderstanding of the importance of frequency response.

If that isnt an example of exactly what ASR is trying to do for hifi products then what is?

Ok I watched until the end. I get it, but I think he's missing the point and in this very undertaking proving the real problem, which is spending more time pursuing gear and 'tone' than practicing the instrument. I appreciate it's a service he's doing for his viewers but he said he spent a whole year messing around finding this stuff out, a whole year he could have spent just using an amp he already had and practicing the instrument.

It was an interesting video and thank you for sharing, but the reason I contested its value is because I'm not sure it is true that guitarists are using audiophile terminology to justify religious views regarding guitar amps, so it's not an apples to apples comparison. Added to which the fact that, as I said, guitar amps are still not a tool for measuring or reproducing a signal. I find analogies to things like visual reproduction far more helpful to debunking audiophile myths, e.g. the fact that we can't see outside a certain colour spectrum, such as to UV and infrared, means screen designers do not care about reproducing them; it follows that transducer designers should not care about reproducing frequencies above 20kHz, nor should they market their products as better if they can. Trying to dispel audiophile myths using a tool for creative expression, such as a guitar amp, is like trying to dispel myths about digital visual reproduction by bashing painter's views on pigments, as though they discuss them using RGB and luminance values, no?

I've personally never heard this talk of different tubes and biases etc. from musicians in person. They do have adherances to particular brands and models, but that's more to do with consistency: sure, you could get the same sound elsewhere, but it's a cost-benefit analysis of the time and money it would take to get there vs. just using what you know. I don't frequent forums and YouTube so maybe it is different there, but I'm not sure how representative they are of actual performing musicians.
Maybe someone already does this, I'm not in the guitar world, but if someone makes a digital front end for a clean amp, and you have DSP plug ins like plenty of DAW software and recording hardware has to emulate hardware classics, it would be a highly valuable product, if you convince guitar players of the truth of it.

OTOH, I think as an art, picking your poison and working with it, learning to make it work, learning to get a result despite limitations has value too. If you can dial up anything from a menu list, I'm not sure you will stick with a particular sound to make artistic headway to any depth. In all sorts of human pursuits having best of everything can kill creativity, art, and enjoyment vs imperfect tools or less than utopian conditions.

A cliche: Music is art, and audio is engineering is true. However, electric guitars and amps are another of those intersections where it is a bit of both. I would assume originally, electric guitars and the amps were intending to sound like an acoustic guitar only louder. Apparently that didn't last long as quite quickly electrics had their own sound. Distortion and tone were just more tools in the palette of an artist to work with. If we approach guitar amps like some do hifi, the best amp and guitar body would be one that sounded most like a clean acoustic guitar of quality.
Yes, manufacturers have precisely been doing this for years! They're called 'amp modellers', and are available in a host of different form factors, from pedals to entire rack mount systems, to simply plugins for your DAW, like you suggest.

- The Line6 POD was an extremely popular pedal which came out in the 90s and was one of, if not the first, good, affordable way to access modelling effects
- The Axe-Fx is a top-of-the-range, extremely expensive processor which loads of touring bands use
- Modelling combo amps (i.e. amplifier and speaker built into a single cabinet) are all the rage nowadays, from the Boss Katana to the Yamaha THR series

And before these, manufacturers were already experimenting with different elements of the signal chain, such as when Marshall produced their Valvestate amps which used valves only in the pre-amp stage. They were popular and one particular model, the 8100 head, has gained legendary status.

This is why I have a problem with the video because it is making out that there are hoards of clueless musicians out there with medieval views on particulars of tubes etc. arguing there is no way you could reproduce their precious tone in any other form. This is evidently untrue because reproducing different tones is precisely what manufacturers are doing, and precisely what consumers are paying for, which they wouldn't be if they didn't believe it. As with anything else, there are a handful of people who stubbornly hold particular unfounded views, but they are the exception, not the rule.

I have watched multiples of his videos. They are pretty cool! I did buy myself a nice tube amp before... and it seems that its perhaps money not well spent. On the other hand, its a cool thing regardless. On the part of the guitar sounds where it comes from... that's spot on as well. I've always shrugged about how different a guitar can be. In the end, it's often just the pickup change, tension of strings.. some strings, and how it looks and feels. The latter is often subjective. It's the fun part, but also, like any camps.. there are extremist amongst them. I like a Fender custom shop, its not always playing better than some other guitars I have who are a 10th of the price, but its also the whole brand image, look, etc to it. I think if you admit that, its fine, and you pay mostly for that. It has resell value as long as people are like that ;)
Why is it money not well spent? Did you not like the sound of it? Did you not need to amplify your guitar signal? Was it unreliable? I also have a tube amp which cost a fair amount for me (although could be considered cheap compared to some amps you can get), it glows red, and I can plug my guitar in and start playing straight away and enjoy the sound it makes. Yes, I could spend months looking for a cheaper model, even without valves, which sounds similar, but it would be a massive waste of time, would not recoup the cost, and would simply result in less time actually playing! Again, I don't believe this scenario is comparable to shopping for hi-fi equipment.
It's a very romantic point of view that, for instance, don't apply to classical violinists and classical music critics.
Studies have shown that they do prefer modern instruments over ancient and expensive ones in blind tests.

If they say that a stradivarius sound superb, it's obviously for another reason than the sound and the connection to the audience's ear.

https://www.thestrad.com/blind-test...s-violins-from-modern-instruments/994.article
https://www.science.org/content/article/million-dollar-strads-fall-modern-violins-blind-sound-check
I was a bit over zealous with my wording but all I mean is that you have something you want to play and the amp is just one part of the chain that allows that. You're never going to sound like Jimi Hendrix because you're not Jimi Hendrix, even if you use the same amps and pedals he used. You're going to sound like you and part of that is just using the tools you like.
 
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ctrl

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Anyway, this is not at all how we approach hi-fi amplifiers. I get where you're coming from but I don't think this is a useful tool against audiophools.

I do see certain parallels. There are these mystical guitar amplifiers, each of which has its own inimitable sound.
On closer inspection, it turns out that EQ and distortion play a decisive role (in reality it is likely to be much more complex, such as effect of guitar driver impedance on the FR,...). That's why amp modelers work so well.
There will always be small differences between a modeled amp and the original, but in the mix of a recording, 99.9% of people will not notice a difference.

Ultimately, physics, technology and psychoacoustics provide the answers in this area as well. There is not much room left for magic and undiscovered effects in the transmission of sound pressure fluctuations.


The DSP on guitars has been present for 20 or so years, but until recently it wasn't good enough because of computing power, and the best options were very pricy. Now a days the whole chain can be emulated, amps, effects, even the frequency response of speaker cabinets, the microphones and their different placements in the recording of the real apparatus.

Yep, it started with Line 6 POD, the Johnson J-Station and the first culmination point might have been the Digitech GNX4. The clean sound of the J-Sation was already breathtakingly good back then - I used the J-Station and the GNX4 myself back then.
 

Geert

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Here's how a good guitarist audiophiles chooses an amp: they plug in and play and decide whether they like it or not. They do not read what people say on forums ASR
Rest assure you can find a lot if of guitarist on forums. They have similar discussions as audiophiles, even about the sound of cables.
 

Spkrdctr

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I knew that video was going to bring out the musicians who were all riled up. It was a great video and showed that in todays world you can measure the sound and set to mimicking it. But, in the guitar world there are so many products and companies making different items to affect the sound, it becomes a "play it and see if you like it" type of purchase. It is like having hifi amps made to specifically have different sounds and then comparing them. The number of iterations from the different variables sky rockets quickly. Every knob change for EQ and distortion makes a new sound. I'm glad I don't have to pick out one or two items as it would seem almost impossible. I suppose that is why most of these high level guitar players have so much equipment to choose from. Years of buying different pedals and such. All in all a great video. He makes a case for the buy it if you like it and then use it till it dies thinking. Might save someone a few bucks here and there. The guy was very interesting in the video as "He is just a musician and doesn't know anything about circuits" kind of guy :)
 
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