For a better way to record demos, I went back to the future.
One of favorite lines in all of lyric-dom is “Look out, Honey, ‘cause I’m using technology”, penned by the mighty Iggy Pop for a song called Search and Destroy (which, by the way, is one of the most potent doses of music ever administered to the general public). I love the line because it’s just so damn true. I mean, if you’re using technology – especially back in the dark ages of the 70s – you’re serious about your task. Plus, the line sings with sneering brilliance.
But, like everything else, technology is usually best in moderation and more is never better in the short term (what I mean here is, imagine you’ve built a nuclear power plant but you have to keep adding technology to it to get it to work right, not cool). Why is all this on my mind? Because I think I have started to overuse technology a bit in my demo making progress. Specifically, I have become obsessed with guitar amp simulators. I own Amplitube 2 and Ampeg SVX, both by software plug-ins by IK Multimedia, and I’ve recently been eying Softube Vintage Amp Room and Digidesign Eleven Rack (not a plug-in).
The appeal of these things is that they let me re-create the sound of virtually any amplifier ever made without getting evicted. Neat. But they are not perfect, not by a long shot. First, they don’t measure up to the real thing; they are thinner, less dynamic, less complex, less musical. More important, they can bring even a modern computer to a halt, as they ask so much of the processor. I can’t count the times I’ve had to stop recording and make some adjustments, in order to give my poor processor some relief. In the case of Amplitube 2, processor problems have gotten so bad, the plug-in has become unusable. Eleven Rack solves the processor problem by having its own speedy chip, but tone-wise, it’s a far cry from the real thing once you put it into a mix, which is unacceptable, given how much it costs. So what to do?
SansAmp (see above!).
I bought my first SansAmp right when they came out. I was living in Germany, and I’m pretty sure I had the thing shipped to me. To this day, it is a very cool sounding product. And simple. Yet mine has been sitting unused in a drawer for years, well over a decade, in fact. No more! I got my SansAmp out the other day, and I plan on making it my go-to guitar thingy for demo purposes. Sure, the siren song of amp simulators will probably remain strong, but I will resist! And for the record, I’m still using technology. Just better technology.