Virtualization another dimension (Week end blog post)

· 5 min read
Virtualization another dimension (Week end blog post)

I know many of IT people at many levels, some geek, other very geek and some less geek. I even know tech addicts and guys making crazy stuffs every time they got a new piece of software and/or hardware between their hands 🙂

I was wondering what is virtualisation, what are the boundaries and what we can call virtualisation and what is not. This blog post is an insight from my head about something I think is really cool and is also very virtual since it starts from hardware and finish by being emulated by software.

As some of you may know, I’m doing some music, and I have a nice little project going on with the sweet name “In Shadows and Dust”. Yeah this is Metal music but the point of this blog post is not about the music style, it’s about how I do it since 3 years now.

So in the end of the 1990′ I was playing in a band and there was nothing digital, everything was analogic, to play guitar or bass you had to have an amp (Head on the top of the following picture) and speakers (Cabinet big black square under the heads). To reach the sound we were aiming for, it was hours and hours of very fine tuning with all the nobs and microphone positioning in front of the cabinet.

In the end, I was never satisfy because we were limited but the number of Head and Cabinet we had… These cost a lot of money and we could not afford to but all the cool stuff we would have needed to test everything. So we had to manage with what we had and trying to get the best sound we could with what we owned.

That was in 1990′, years flew and I always had this guitar in a corner of my bedroom with a little Marshall amp :

I know this is a bad ass guitar 🙂 (Remember I play Metal so the guitar needs to look like I play Metal ^^) This minimal setup was only for playing from time to time and it was perfect, with rusty strings never in tune, occasional playing only… This is hardware and this is the basic setup you need to play electric guitar, you plug the guitar into the amp, and here you go, you have basic sound that you can tune using nobs on the top of the amp etc…

Then if you want to alter the sound a bit further, you can add guitar pedal to this setup to alter the sound between the guitar and the amp :

The setup is pretty straight forward, you plug the guitar into the input plug and you plug the output to the amp. There are a lot of different kind of pedal, each pedal have different kind of effect and alter the sound in a very different way.

As every kind of these pedal of different effect, you want to use more than one to reach the “ultimate’ sound you are looking for, the setup can become “complex” as you add more and more effect to the chain :

This is pretty real and not virtual at all right ? There are chord, plugs everywhere and looks like a mess, isn’t it ?

So in 2014 I met someone who gave me the envy to do music again and as I took my guitar and my Marshall amp I just asked myself, “Come on, we are in 2014, some things might have change here…” So I can tell you  today, everything I explained before is still 100% accurate and that haven’t change that much. What have change are the way some software companies took the opportunity to emulate all the amp, all the cabinets and all the pedals ! This is amazing what can be done with these softwares.

Many people will say it’s not the real stuff, there is something missing, but I think in the end the result you can obtain is very very close to what you would get with several thousand dollars hardware equipment.

Look at a company like Positive Grid have some product like Bias FX / Bias Amp / Bias Pedal etc… (I use all of them since 2014)

To replace my small amp Head and the cabinet with Bias Amp:

I can still virtually turn nobs, but I can do so much more, digging inside the amp, changing lamp emulation, changing transistor, radio and all the electronic to shape the sound and go further in the quest of the perfect sound. You can also place the mic to chose how it sounds the best without having all these cables everywhere and all the expensive equipment.

With Bias FX I can build a full chain effect with pedals until my virtual amp :

Again, the result is very good !

About the pedals ? They do have an application as well where you can build you own pedal effect :

All these applications are pretty neat and were game changer for me as I’m always looking to tweek the sound and go beyond what I already reached.

The drawback of having a “all software” emulation guitar rig is that it introduces latency (here we are 🙂 ) The guitar signal needs to be processed and if you don’t have a proper audio interface to plug your guitar in your computer, you will have a too big latency and the time between the actual guitar plying and the sound won’t be nice and simply not playable. If you invest a small but enough amount of money you will get rid of what is the main problem with this kind of software : latency.

This topic is different of what I’m used to post, but this is also what I find interesting about being a tech addict, it follows you everywhere, even in a Death Metal project like the one I do 🙂

Positive Grid : [link]

My band : In Shadows and Dust

First and second album : [link]

available on Spotify / iTunes, iMusic / Deezer / Google MP3 / Amazone Music etc…