Electronic Guitar: Sweeter Amp Sim Tone with Multi-Miking

July 14, 2011

If you were recording a guitar amp in the studio, you wouldn’t just plop the amp down, pick a random mic, then point it in the amp’s general direction— you’d try different mic types, more than one mic, move the mics around, maybe try the amp in a few different places, and even place some room mics for additional ambience.

But that’s also what you need to do with amp sims, which is why most sims not only model different mics, but allow different miking positions. IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3 and Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 4 have two very useful types of miking options. Let’s put them to use.

AmpliTube 3

AT3 offers two main mics—chosen from the usual dynamic, condenser, and ribbon emulations—so you can obtain different mic “tones.” You can change the mic blend, switch the mic phase, move the mics closer to or further away from the virtual speaker, and also move “sideways” across the front of the speaker. Unlike real mics, you can even put both in the same position.

Try this: Place a dynamic mic (e.g., 57) on-axis, and a bit back from the amp to give a direct, defined sound with a little bit of “air” but not too much brightness. Use an off-axis condenser like the 170, closer to the speaker and nearer the speaker edge, to provide “body” and resonance. Tweak the placement and blend to optimize the sound.


 AmpliTube 3’s miking options.
There are also two room mics, with a choice of five different acoustical spaces. Placement for these is somewhat more limited, but you can change the stereo image’s width (i.e., mics further apart) as well as pan them in the stereo field and reverse the phase.

Try this: For some “air,” select the room mics’ Amp Closet space, reverse phase, turn Width up full, and set Level to about 9 o’clock.

Guitar Rig 4

You can add multiple mics on an amp in different positions, but don’t use the “Matched Cabinet” associated with a particular amp—instead, insert the “Cabinets & Mics” cabinet.


Guitar Rig 4 accommodates exotic miking setups.
Try this: Drag in a Split component, and insert a Cabinets & Mics component in each split. Set these up identically, except for the Microphone Position and Mic options. Now you can experiment with different mics and mic placements with a single amp. You can even mic from behind the amp, but if you do, you’ll probably want to reverse that mic’s phase. Once you’ve nailed the basic sound, use the Volume, Pan, Treble, Bass, and Air controls to tweak the sound further.

The Split Mix section re-combines the two splits, and provides a blend slider between the two mics. You can pan the two mics here for a wider stereo image.

More Is More

While sometimes less is indeed more, in this case more mics give you more options, more tone, and more ways to arrive at a richer, sweeter sound. Try it!

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