Fig. 1—MOT U’s Digital Performer introduced several guitarist-friendly plug-ins in version 7.
1 Bundle Up
Tight on bucks? See what’s bundled.
Apple Logic includes several
amp models and guitar processors.
MOTU Digital Performer went ga-ga
on guitars in version 7 (Fig. 1) by adding
a sweet amp model, live room, and several
excellent effects. Cubase introduced
new amps in Version 6, Cakewalk Sonar
comes with a lite (and upgradeable) version
of Native Instruments Guitar Rig,
and Sonar Home Studio bundles the full
version of Studio Devil’s VGA+. Mixcraft
Acoustica, Magix Samplitude, Pro Tools,
and PreSonus Studio One Pro (both Artist
and Professional versions) also include
amp models (Fig. 2), and Ableton Live
offers an optional-at-extra-cost amp sim
from Softube. While these “extras” aren’t
necessarily designed to compete with full
versions of Guitar Rig, IK Multimedia
AmpliTube, Waves G|T|R, Line 6 POD
Farm, Peavey ReValver, and so on, they’re
definitely an added value.
2 Check for Special
Avid offers the Eleven Rack processor/
audio interface, which
integrates tightly with Pro Tools, and
also can serve as a multieffects unit
onstage. It’s a great box if you have
the bucks. Cakewalk’s VS-20 includes
onboard, hardware BOSS COSM guitar
effects—as well as audio interfacing and
faders—that work with all Cakewalk
DAWs. Apple Logic can team with Apogee’s
GiO audio interface/footswitch—
great for laptop jockeys using Logic in
3 Download Demos,
Most programs have downloadable
demos so you can get a feel
for whether the program is right for you.
Some are full-featured but time-limited,
and others are missing a vital feature
(like being able to save), but all of them
are functional enough that you’ll be able
to see if a particular workflow resonates
Fig. 2—PreSonus Studio One’s Ampire XT includes effects and an amp simulator.
4 Seek Tone Tools
There are three effects that can
help tweak the sound of amp
sims, so hopefully your DAW
will include them:
De-esser. Positioned prior to an amp
sim, a de-esser smooths out the sound
by reducing highs dynamically and intelligently.
Multiband compressor. This lets you
do tricks such as multiband distortion
(assuming you can bypass or solo individual
Post-amp sim parametric EQ. This can
notch out nasty resonances and/or hum.
5 Go “Lite”
You may not need a full-featured,
big-bucks DAW. Many
interfaces bundle a decent lite
version of a DAW for free. Sure, they’re
hoping you’ll trade up, but you may find
that’s not necessary. Pocket the bucks
you save, and spend it on a full-featured
amp sim, or buy more RAM for
Bonus tip! IK Multimedia Ampli-
Tube Free, Line 6 POD Farm 2.5 Free,
and Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5
Player are free versions of their flagship
software. What’s the catch? None!
You don’t get all the models and effects,
but you get enough to make some pretty
cool sounds for an MSRP of $0.00—and
they’re compatible with all major DAWs.
Get all three!
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