Other than an amp...

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by rockinforJesus, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. rockinforJesus

    rockinforJesus Synchromatic

    Nov 7, 2014
    Upstate New York
    Looking for suggestions in setting myself up with a decent ampless solution for at home jamming. I have a small modelling practice amp at home, but it rarely gets used. My VOX AC15 lives at church where I get to play it Thursday nights for practice and Sunday mornings.
    I want to get a “computer rig” setup, but don’t have any experience with any ampless solutions.
    I have a PC and a decent pair of studio speakers, but don’t know where to start.
    Ideally I would like a computer program that would be easy to use, be able to emulate classic amplifiers, and a virtual pedalboard to tweak to my heart’s delight.
    Anyone here using such a setup, and if so, what components do I need? Bonus points will be awarded if I can play backing tracks through it too.
  2. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    I use Positive Grid's BIAS FX on iPad and Mac, but a Windows version is available too. Both versions can be synced, so you have the same sounds on both platforms. You can create your own setups (recommended) or use stuff others created and uploaded to the app's own tone cloud.

    Maybe try the Windows demo. It can be used as a standalone app for jamming or as a plugin in a DAW like Reaper, Cubase, etc..


    But you will need a good audio interface ... the PCs internal soundcard doesn't have a High-Z input for guitars and will cause latencies, that meansthe audio output is slower as the input, so not in sync, and you might encounter crackling noise.

    Further questions?

    PS: This should exactly be, what you are searching for and currently there's a nice discount available.
    rockinforJesus likes this.
  3. emicad

    emicad Synchromatic

    Jul 14, 2015
    Rome, Italy
    I use an Atomic Ampli-Firebox and it should give you what you need. I don't use any PC program, just the pedal and YouTube or MP3 files for backing tracks.
    audept likes this.
  4. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    The problem with practicing at home with a different amp than you play out with is that it makes it hard to get comfortable with your live sound. It just feels different. I hate it.
    I use to practice with this cheap little box with built in effects and would get use to those effects. Even though my real setup was much better when I got to the gig I was still hearing those cheap effects in my head and somehow missing them.
    It just made me second guess my setup.
    Since then I make sure I practice with the same setup as I play through live. Yeah it's more work moving the stuff around but to me it's worth it.
    JHall55 and Waxhead like this.
  5. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    That problem can easily be fixed?

    Besides the above mentioned BIAS FX another app named BIAS Amp exists. And if you don't find your amp in the cloud ... and there are tons of amps ... you can buy the Pro version of BA, which has an amp match feature, where you can record your own hardware amp and create a matching sound profile, which can also be exported to BIAS FX, where you can combine it with effects.

    For the price of these two apps the result is phenomenal.

    PS: For just 50 bucks each, I upgraded to Pro one hour ago ... that's 50% cheaper!
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
  6. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Are you happy with everything about the Atomic? I have the opportunity to pick one up at a very good deal.
  7. rockinforJesus

    rockinforJesus Synchromatic

    Nov 7, 2014
    Upstate New York
    Thanks for the suggestions. @Aymara I like what the BIAS FX has to offer. Do you know if it has a decent VOX AC amp sim? Also, along @Gretschtim1’s line of thinking, I would like to emulate my live setup as much as possible. Looking for slightly dirty amp and adding compression, gain, delay and reverb with pedals. Achievable, or not so much?
    Also, for the technically ignorant, how do you hook the guitar to the computer in lay-man’s terms?
  8. Kitvin713

    Kitvin713 Gretschie

    Jan 10, 2017
    Fresno, CA, U.S.A.
    An Audio Interface is what you will need to connect your guitar to the computer. I personally use the Mackie Onyx Blackjack but any one should work. I like BIAS FX a lot it does have an AC sim I don’t know if it accurate but it will have any effects you could need. Also GarageBand does have some amps and effects pedals sims but BIAS, imho, is better
    rockinforJesus likes this.
  9. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    IMHO, here's below a good suggestion :


    Or this one, if you think that you may be a bit too loud :


    Unfortunately, none will be dirty nor compress at all, but will take pedals greatly ;)

    OK. I stop... LOL :eek::D

    benjwri, rockinforJesus and audept like this.
  10. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Another plug for Bias. In fact I think it’s so good, I’d consider getting an iPad for it.
    Aymara and rockinforJesus like this.
  11. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Actually the problem is not just the amp - it's the whole signal chain.
    All the effects, how one drives the other which in return drives the amp.
    I guess in just the guitar through amp kind of setup your suggestion would work but with a more complex signal chain everything in the loop affects the gain structure and can cause a dramatic change to the sound.
    I rather practice with what I'm going to use live so when I perform there's no surprises and I know what my setup is going to sound like.
    It's bad enough when the room acoustics & power can change from place to place but I don't want my whole rig to change too.
    Maybe that sounds a bit anal but my practice sessions are to prepare me for the live performance. Otherwise I might as well practice on an acoustic guitar...;).
    Waxhead and rockinforJesus like this.
  12. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Yep none of the suggestions here will work for you since what you want directly conflicts with OP.
    Waxhead and Aymara like this.
  13. Javier668

    Javier668 Electromatic

    Nov 9, 2017
    Buy a sansamp liverpool
    LivingMyDream and TSims1 like this.
  14. TSims1

    TSims1 Friend of Fred

    Jun 18, 2013

    STILL my fave amp simulator! And I’ve tried a bunch...........
    Javier668 likes this.
  15. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    If you had a Mac, GarageBand has some decent amp modeling and effects. Comes free on every Mac.
    Kitvin713 and rockinforJesus like this.
  16. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    You can count on it. I just opened BIAS on iPad to have a quick look into the tonecloud and I found all variants you can think of, AC10, AC15, AC30, with or without IR. Those impulse responces are sampled cabs, that means not only the amp is tone matched, but the cab too.

    Here's an example I found on Youtube:

    Gretschtim is right, that it is not easy to emulate your live setup by 100%. I myself have no issues to emulate my Blackstar, but to emulate the Strymon El Capistan is a compromise, because it doesn't exist in BIAS FX. But with delay and chorus I come close.

    If you want a 100% tone match, sell your amp and buy a Kemper or Axe FX ... that's what more and more pros do nowadays ... carry an Axe FX and the pedal board and you always have a direct tone match, no matter if stage, rehearsal room or studio.

    But just for home jamming and recording the two BIAS apps will do a good job.

    Compressor, booster, Tube Screamer, stereo chorus, stereo reverb ... it's all there in BFX.

    Here's a screenshot of my current clean tone favourite on iPad ;)


    As I already mentioned, you need an audio interface. I myself still use an old Tascam US-122 MkII, which I connect by USB. Here I plugin my guitar and HiFi headphones ... I want to play silent anytime, but you also have line out to attach it to a HiFi amp with studio monitors or a good headphone amp ... or for tone match everywhere ... to a PA ;)

    When everything is hooked up, you switch from internal soundcard to the interface, which replaces the soundcard, and the you have two options:

    1. start the BIAS (FX or Amp) standalone app and start jamming and / or create sound setups
    2. use the BIAS stuff in a DAW

    A DAW, digital audio workstation, is a virtual recording studio, where you can record guitar tracks and even combine them with virtual instruments like drums, bass, synthesizer, piano or whatever. For sure you can also plugin a studio microphone into your interface and record your singing or acoustic instruments. If you want, you can even produce your own CD.

    For this purpose I use Reaper, which I highly recommend for beginners for several reasons:

    1. you can start using it for free and a licence cost less than 70 bucks!
    2. it's extremely powerful and can easily compete with a Pro studio, if you have the right plugins (virtual instruments & effects)
    3. beginner will find the most powerful recording community here, a free manual, tutorial videos on Youtube and the Reaper Blog with further tips

    For reason 3 no other DAW is that easy to learn.


    If you want to go this route, you only have to pay around 150 buck for the interface and can start with the free demos of above software. The prices of the BIAS stuff can be found here:


    To find good interface recommendations, check the Reaper forum and keep in mind, that a good interface shouldn't only have good hardware, but especially good drivers!

    PS: I had a look ... maybe I should try out BIAS Pedal to check, if I can emulate the El Capistan there ;)
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
    rockinforJesus likes this.
  17. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    That's all I currently use, combined with an iRig Pro interface and good Beyerdynamic HiFi headphones. And for recording I upload my setups to the cloud and load them on my Mac (Windows works too), where I can build a virtual band in Reaper. But the later can also be done in Garageband on iPad, but the desktop offers more instrument and effect choices ... and professional studio quality!
  18. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Let me pick this up and add some general comments:

    First Garageband is also available on iPad and it is possible to transfer GB songs from the iPad to the Mac. I sometimes use this feature, because playing drums on iPad is easier, than on a keyboard. And from GB on Mac I export my songs to Reaper, which offers more options and a better sound quality.


    For those who seek a quick and dirty home jamming solution without any hassle, I highly recommend to take the iPad route, but you should have at least an iPad Air 2! On Mac and especially Windows it often happens, that you first have to fine tune the system to get rid of latencies (I explained that before), which can be pretty time consuming and very frustrating for people without deeper OS knowledge.

    If you have Windows 7 you can use a tool called DPC Latency Checker to find out, if your system is ready for audio production. On later Windows versions and on Mac it is much more complex, but on macOS latencies happen seldom, when using a good interface. On Windows it happens more often due to all that bloatware, that usually is preinstalled. On my old Windows 7 Sony Vaio, which was "clean" and worked like a charm I once ran into issues after I had installed Virtualbox. On the former Windows XP Toshiba it also took some time to get rid of latencies ... here some driver updates were needed. No issues on my Macbook Pro so far! This was one of the reasons to say goodbye to Windows ;)
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  19. emicad

    emicad Synchromatic

    Jul 14, 2015
    Rome, Italy
    Yes, I have no complaints at all.
  20. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Mmh ... now it's getting interesting ... you can sync BIAS Pedal to their hardware pedal unit. So far for the on stage match ;)
    rockinforJesus likes this.