PreSonus Blog

The Ampire Sweetener

 

I work a lot with amp sims, and I love ’em. Well, except for one thing: Almost all of the ones that involve distortion exhibit what I call “the annoying frequency.” It’s hard to describe, but when it’s removed, you can definitely tell what’s missing—kind of a whistling sound, but without a sense of pitch. I have no idea why this particular type of artifact happens. It doesn’t go away if I increase the sample rate, choose a different pickup, switch guitars, or change my socks. And it’s worse with some amp sims than others; when reviewing a [particular amp sim by a PreSonus competitor] and I made the product manager aware of the annoying frequency, a subsequent expansion pack included a parametric equalizer so users could notch it out.

Granted, the 3rd gen Ampire is light years ahead of the 1st gen, as well as a lot of other amp sims out there. But we can still make it better, because the goal of the Friday Tip is to make things better, right?!? Besides, I’m an unreasonably picky guitar player.

Adding the EQ

Download the preset Ampire Sweetener.preset , and load it into the Pro EQ2 (Just open the .zip and double click the .preset file to install).  It will now have the curve shown in Fig. 1. Insert the Pro EQ2 after your Ampire amp and cab of choice, and the sound will magically lose its artifact.

Figure 1: Insert these notch filters after Ampire and its cab.

You have every right to skeptical—after all, you are reading this on the internet—so let’s listen to an audio example. The first half is with the EQ following the MCM800 amp and 4×12 MFB cab. The second half is with the EQ bypassed, but everything else the same. Both examples in the audio file are normalized to the same level. I’m pretty sure you’ll hear the artifact in the second half. Another way to hear the difference is play some power chords, and bypass the EQ stages to hear what they contribute to the sound.

 

The EQ’s curve isn’t only about the dual notches. There’s no need for super-high or -low frequencies, so those are reduced as well. Also, because the notches are in the high frequencies, adding a slight treble shelf compensates for the reduced amount of highs.

Figure 2: Reduce the high-shelf level and the two notches to sound more like the original amp sim/cab tone.

Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll like the end result better. You might prefer the sound with the artifact, and that’s fine. However, the artifact persists through the various amps and cabs. Inserting the Ampire Sweetener EQ removes that common element, which emphasizes the unique character, and tonal quality, of the individual amps and cabs. However, you can also “split the difference” by dialing back the parameters outlined in white (Fig. 2).

Finally, if you use other amp sims, many (if not most) will also benefit from one or two steep notches at the output. They probably won’t be the same frequencies, but they’ll likely be pretty close. The bad news is quite a few of them have far more prominent artifacts than Ampire, but the good news is the higher level makes it easier to hear them, so you can dial in their frequencies more quickly to notch them out.

  • Craig Anderton

    Hard to say. Cabinets don’t have a frequency response much above 5 kHz anyway. My *guess* (in the immortal words of the late Herman Cain, “I don’t have facts to back this up”) is that digital modeling is too detailed compared to the physical world, so the non-linear-phase EQ, coupled with the notch, adds some desirable “smearing.” I don’t think the “annoying frequency” is related to aliasing, because it exists at any sample rate.

  • Daniel Schauer

    I assume you didn’t notice this problem in the physical, non-virtual amp world (at least as much as you notice it on virtual amps). Do you think the natural impulse response supplied by the physical cabinet’s structure & materials affected the signal in way that’s similar to your EQ?

  • Craig Anderton

    It’s in the plug-in header – click on the little icon that looks like a sheet of paper, and you’ll see a bunch of preset management options.

  • Rick Perry

    Hey Craig – finally figured it out. Got them imported. Thx for the help.

  • Rick Perry

    Sorry – what is the “import” process? It’s obviously more than just downloading, right?

  • Craig Anderton

    Thanks for the feedback! I use it on some Helix presets as well, although Helix’s parametric is often sufficient to let me build the notch into a preset.

  • Rick Perry

    Sorry – what is the “import” process? It’s obviously more than just downloading, right?

  • David HAZET VILORIA

    Actually did it on helix presets with same socks. Game changer. Thanks a lot

  • I recommend importing, and then saving where you want to save it. Circle back if that doesn’t work 🙂

  • Rick Perry

    Craig – I downloaded the preset and put it in the Presets/Presonus/ProEQ folder where all the others are (Studio One 5). However, it does not show up in the ProEQ drop down list. What am I doing wrong?

  • It’s something we get used to, but once you notch it out, putting that whistle back in again makes you realize just how much it was part of the sound. It’s odd to me that it seems to exist in almost every amp sim, I’m hoping someone who knows how the code works can explain why this happens.

  • I’m not using Ampire, I’m using Bias FX2 which is a great SIM, but you’re right Craig, the difference these 2 notches have made (one was a slightly different frequency) is astonishing. If I take the notches out I wonder how I ever put up with that whistling in the past!

  • I often use the MCM800 on low sensitivity, and use the Big Fuzz before it as an overdrive…sounds pretty good 🙂

  • Michael Collins

    the heavy density pack comes with the Wildfire which I’ve been using on everything. I don’t know why but it sounds really good to me on rhythm and leads. but i like a lot of gain.

  • Michael Collins

    Now if you can just tell me how to sweeten my personality.

  • Levis

    Thank you, this made SUCH a difference! Been struggling to get a decent sound out of Ampire and now the Blackface Twin preset actually sounds like an amp… 🙌 Just need a better OD pedal in there than the Tube now.

  • It doesn’t matter much whether or not you like this particular amp sim, because as mentioned in the first paragraph, the post covers a technique that’s applicable to pretty much any amp sim. Also, virtually all recorded guitar amp sounds, physical or sim, use processing – room sounds, compression, EQ, reverb, delay, stereo imaging, etc. You are hearing only the raw amp sound, so that it’s easy to hear the difference one stage of EQ makes. If you want information on how to produce amp sounds, I’ve done other blog posts along those lines, as well as written the book How to Record and Mix Great Guitar Sounds in Studio One.

    As to your storage problem, import the file, choose Store Preset, and then you can save it in any folder you want.

  • Stuart Snyder

    Sorry; but I think they both sound dreadful.

  • Believe me…I tried!

  • David Nika

    Are you ABSOLUTELY sure that changing your socks won’t fix the problem? 😉