Simulating Effects for Home Recording: Amplifier

By Jeff Strong

The amplifier simulator effect allows you to essentially have access to a whole roomful of top-notch amps without having to buy, maintain, or store them. One of the great things about amp simulators is that they allow you to plug your guitar directly into your mixer (or direct box), and you can eliminate a lot of noise that miking your guitar amp can cause.

You also get to choose the sound that you ultimately want after you’ve recorded your part. This gives you more flexibility during mixdown.

The downside to amp simulators, as with mic simulators, is that they may not sound exactly like the amp they’re trying to model, but this shouldn’t matter as long as you get the sound that you want.

Another downside is that amp simulators use processing power, and if you have a ton of tracks with a bunch of effects and other plug-ins, you may find your computer getting bogged down a bit. The remedy for this is to print (record) the effect onto a separate track before you mix the song. This frees power for other uses.

There are dozens of amp simulators on the market. Here are some worth checking out:

  • Guitar Rig by Native Instruments: Guitar Rig comes with 15 different amp/cabinet combos, a Control Room function that lets you mix a handful of different miked amp simulators together.

  • AmpliTube by IK Multimedia: Several versions of AmpliTube are available, from a free version to one with 160 gear models.

  • Amp Room by Softube: This program contains three vintage amp models with almost limitless virtual mic positioning. You can get a 20-day demo license to try it before you buy.

  • ReValver by Peavey: This software includes 20 amp types, almost 800 speaker configurations, stomp box, and other effects. You can do a lot with this software.