Effects Pedal Emulation Software?
August 13, 2007 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Effects Pedal Emulation Software?

I’m trying to find a music-program that essentially emulates the way an effects pedal for a guitar would work. Essentially, I want to be able to plug a microphone into my computer, play sounds into it, and then effect it in real-time with the program, so that the effected-sounds come out of my speakers as I play the notes on my guitar (and if that same program could also record the results at the same time, that’d be even better)

If this doesn’t exist, it should. If it does exist, then I’d prefer it if it was free, or at least very cheap (as in, cheaper than an actual effects pedal!)

Any help would be fantastic!

posted by heylight to Technology (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Nearly any multitracking software will do this for you. I use Cakewalk Sonar , but just start researching multitracking software. It's nearly universal now that there are also folks producing plugins for each vendor's product. Basically these plugins are what folks usually use to effect their audio. With the right options checked you should be able to hear the sound effected while you're playing it.
posted by poppo at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2007

Amplitude 2.0 live comes with Stealthplug. I just got one and its superb. Cost me around £51 ($100).
posted by daveyt at 8:22 AM on August 13, 2007

I should add - its not via microphone, its USB.
posted by daveyt at 8:23 AM on August 13, 2007

I haven't tried it but i think Jesusonic fit the bill :

"Jesusonic Software turns your PC or Mac into a fully programmable realtime effects processor. If you are going to run on a Windows PC, we recommend you just install REAPER, since it includes the most recent version of Jesusonic, and offers a LOT of routing flexibility with very little downside."

Here's the Reaper thing he's talking about.
It's not free, it's about 40$ for non-commercial use.
posted by SageLeVoid at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2007

Native Instruments Guitar Rig is exactly what you are looking for, except that it is not free. It also has a hardware component.
posted by fake at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2007

posted by sydnius at 8:42 AM on August 13, 2007

This is exactly what Guitar Rig is for, but like fake said above, it definitely is not free.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 8:47 AM on August 13, 2007

Probably too esoteric, but you can effect any input signal any possible way you can imagine with max/msp.
posted by xmutex at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2007

FYI, you can get a decent digital multi-FX pedal for about $100. I just ordered myself a Zoom G2 (haven't received it yet, but I hear very good things about it).
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2007

Line 6 makes a few products that do what you want. Unfortunately, their product line has a lot of overlap, but I think you might want to look at the Toneport products first.
posted by IvyMike at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2007

I use GearBox for this. It comes as a stand-alone application with the TonePort audio interfaces (I have the UX2). You can also get it as a plug-in for your DAW. GearBox also contains quite a few good amp/cab emulations.

The difference is this: the version that comes with the TonePort line runs alongside your DAW and you record the effected signal (read: no changes in post). The plug-in allows you to record clean and add effects in the mix.

The only drawback is there's no cheap add on if you need a foot controller for it. You can use any MIDI foot controller, but you have to use sysex to change parameters. Line 6 doens't make an add-on foot controller specifically for it.

The UX2 will set you back about $199 (the price of one decent effects pedal). But it doesn't provide a way to record. Line 6 sells something called RiffTracker, but I use Ableton Live. You can use any DAW you like with the stand alone version. The plug-in works as a VST (AU for Macs). You could even use soemthing as simple as Audacity (free, open source, mac/windows/linux).
posted by wheat at 10:38 AM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Most VST plugins will allow you to affect a signal in real-time. Guitar Rig (which also has a standalone component) is definitely most well known solution for guitar, and it sounds pretty friggin awesome (i have some pretty crappy guitars, and guitar rig makes them sound awesome). The output is not going to be ideal if you are miking a guitar, and the monitoring is definitely going to be wonky (feedback city, if you're playing out of speakers) so you're going to want to spend some cash on an audio interface that will let you record one channel in and stereo out (although it's tempting, you probably do not need an 8x8 interface -- i had one of these, and even with two mixers hooked up, i rarely used more than 4-6 inputs). You can get one cheap -- I actually bought a 2 in, 1-out USB audio interface off of someone here for about $50 (thanks, forgotten fellow mefite).

I'm not 100% sure what the cutting edge is for DAWs these days, as I haven't done any recording for a couple years, at least, but i think this (probably somewhat outdated) list of 'free or cheap VST hosts' would be a good start for you. After that, you'd want free/cheap VST plugs, which are virtually everywhere. Here's a list found via googling. Guitar Rig might provide you with convenience, but I think you can put together the software for free, and possibly get a hardware audio input for under $100.
posted by fishfucker at 10:45 AM on August 13, 2007

Just bear in mind that many effects are just never going to sound the same when added after the fact, particularly things like distortion. That's because when you're playing through an amp in real-time, your strings vibrate in sympathy with the sound coming out of the amp. So the loud distorted 'E' from the amp reinforces the vibration of the 'E' on your guitar, drastically increasing its sustain (sometime forever...). When you record your guitar directly, you just get its normal amplitude envelope -- quick loud attack, immediate decay to a much lower volume, then a slower decay to silence. Trying to add to distortion to that recording is... disappointing ... and very different from the envelope you'd get playing directly through a distorted amp -- very little immediate decay in volume, and much, much longer sustain. Other kinds of effects can work out better post-recording, though -- chorus, phasing, etc.
posted by svenx at 11:57 AM on August 13, 2007

Amplitube Live, not amplitude; and GarageBand are the two apps I've used for this. Basically the more you pay for this kind of software, the more flexible it becomes. If you're interested in really expending zero dollars, check out the Amplitube Live demo.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:28 PM on August 13, 2007

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