27 Aug AC/DC Tone: a continuos search. Part 1, Eleven Rack attempts
UPDATE: I changed a lot on this patch, after listening to it I think it sucked majorly. Lack of higher frequencies and not enough “middle crunch”.
Here it is to you again with a few changes. The equalization curve is VERY important, even for YOUR setup!
Please listen to the clip.
Yes I know, all of us are striving to achieve AC/DC tone or for that matter, classic rock tone.
Therefore, please give it a listen before you continue reading (soundpatch version 2.0):
Angus Tone on Back in Black from SoloDallas – Attempt
Since this is an extremely long subject that I intend to treat as in depth as humanly possible (many, many considerations are needed here) I will just narrow the matter here and just talk about my current settings on the Eleven Rack (a piece of hardware built into a rack shape by Digidesign – Avid Digital – that “models” guitar recording) to achieve decent AC/DC (Angus’, but it could apply to Malcolm’s as well) tone.
What is extremely important as a premise for us to understand – me included, I just learned this recently – is what is called a signal path.
Id est (i.e.) what path the guitar signal makes before it gets to to tape or to disk (nowadays) when being recorded.
Having said this, I will concentrate for a second on a simulation of “Back in Black” tone, promising as I mentioned above to get back to this in depth to the best of my ability.
According to Tony Platt, recording Engineer for studio album “Back in Black”, Angus’ rhythm guitar being recoded (that is, when he played rhythm tracks with the band, laying out the backing track onto which subsequently Brian would sing and Angus would apply solos) had the following signal path:
[Begin Angus’ Rhythm Guitar Signal Path During Recording of album Back in Black]
Guitar straight into Marshall amplifier (to be identified with further precision) passing through a Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (discontinued, it was a wireless unit), then two condenser microphones used to record, then equalization was added (YES, during recording, as to say that what went on tape, even prior to mixing and mastering, was an equalized guitar!).
[END Angus’ Rhythm Guitar Signal Path During Recording of album Back in Black]
We will be talking about the solo guitar below (with regard to the Eleven Rack).
So, according to one interview of Tony Platt’s, it was two condenser Neumann U67 on a single 4×12 Marshall cabinet.
According to another interview of his, it was one condenser Neumann U87 and one condenser Neumann U67 on a single 4×12 Marshall Cabinet.
Does mentioning the type of microphone used really matter? Heck yes it does. Both the “condenser” aspect and the brand and type of microphone!
At the time – 1980 – tapes were still used to record in studios. There was no such thing as hard disk recording yet.
Also, the microphones had pre-amplification (tube) and they were plugged into the studio board (mix board) which added itself tone characteristics. The tape – typically 24 inch tape, pretty big – added some compression to the recorded signal, whatever that was. An effect to be taken into consideration as well.
As an added surprise, feature, Angus was known to use on the whole album, for all the guitar parts (solo and rhythm) his remote “Schaffer-Vega Diversity” wireless system to plug into the amplifier. This unit had a boost knob on both the transmitter and the receiver end. Angus has been known to use that boost to make the amplifier hotter, thus getting more gain!
So as you can see by now, a big number of variables came into play.
Unless you have at disposition all of these elements – I don’t! – we have to simulate most of them.
With the Elven Rack – and most modelers – I am specifically simulating:
• The Amplifier: using a “Marshall Plexi” model
• the cabinet(s): using a 4×12 with 25 greenbacks model
• the microphone, its placement on the cab, a simulation of the environment, the microphone built in power supply (on vintage Neumann U67s it was a box with tubes inside) and the mix board preamplification: here I am using a condenser U67 placed off axis model
• the equalization: using a post , graphic equalizer (i.e., a graphic equalizer placed after the amplifier, see image) with a given equalization curve (see image for the equalization pattern, appearing as FX2)
• In order to simulate a signal booster, I chose to not use any modeled stomp boxes in my signal path, but I chose the most transparent booster I could find in the Eleven Rack, this being another graphic equalizer with all the settings to “idle” with the exception of the output of the equalizer itself, resulting in a considerable boost (i.e., added gain). This appears as FX1.
In order to being accurate, I placed this additional boost in front on the amplifier in the signal path (see image).
A lot of stuff, huh?
The “results” are what you heard on my last videos. For each and every one of them, I always “tweaked” a bit here and there, and so you will have to, too.
There are several modeling software and hardware products out there right now.
I am still using Guitar Rig 4 at times, but I have been using The Eleven Rack solely for the recording of these last videos. The reason is not the supposed superiority of the Eleven Rack (though some say so), it’s just for this one was new and I wanted to study it in detail.
A simulation of the above mentioned signal path will follow on the Guitar Rig 4 as well, soon.
I hope you found this interesting, as it does apply to any amplifier and modeler you may have at the moment.
Eleven Rack Signal Path (only yellow illuminated components are active):
The equalization pattern on the graphic equalizer used “in post” (that is, equalization being performed on the signal coming in from the microphones, before going to tape).
Note: for the ones who do own the rack, you should be able to download the sound patch here:
Eleven Rack AC/DC Sound Patch – by SoloDallas
Post to be continued, edited for improvement.
Ole44Posted at 14:12h, 23 September
can you tell how much Eleven rack in the U.S.? here in Europe, germany, it cost about 800 €. Maybe i can find a dealer in the U.S. who ships worldwide and it is a chaeper for me…..and maybe you got a dealer…. -:)
Greets from Germany
P.S.: Really good Website and sorry for my english
KinglancePosted at 17:03h, 17 September
Ok, I’m a noob in using Eleven rack and Pro Tools 🙁 But hey, I’m new in thisone and have it only for a week 😀 So here a stupid question: Where do u have to save your soundfile (the soundfile from the “Back in black”-tone u can download here) or where do u have to put it or open it? I think that Pro Tools tutorial will be very usefull for me 😀 😀 😀
AngusrocksPosted at 03:23h, 13 September
i have a question, is it possible to connect the Eleven Rack to a real amp ?? I don`t like to play guitar over my computer, because it sounds too modeled and unreal.
SoloDallasPosted at 03:39h, 13 September
Yep. YOu can connect to a real CABINET even! Or a real amp.
AngusrocksPosted at 03:15h, 14 September
That`s fine !
Thank you Fil !
Someday i buy one, because the ampmodels of the Rack Eleven are sounding much more real.
KinglancePosted at 11:47h, 12 September
First test of Eleven Rack done! Great stuff! The Plexi amp (A1 sound, the first sound u find on Eleven Rack) is very good to play AC/DC… :p
But I can’t find how to record on Pro Tools… Recording is no problem, but hearing the recorded part with the distortion (with the effects that are used) is a problem. When I listen to the recorded part I hear only a clean sound :/ Can u help me? I do some Youtube-searching and some booklets-searching also… 🙂
KinglancePosted at 16:50h, 12 September
Problem solved! 😀 Bit searching and trying and I got it :p Maybe we could give here (on the website) a tutorial, or an info-session about Pro Tools? I know u can find a lot on the internet… I’m in for helping u if u wanted to make something like that… 😀
I want to help u with other things on this website too if u need some help with researching or making articles…
SoloDallasPosted at 16:55h, 12 September
Bravo, well done, and sorry for not having helped sooner. Yes, “we” will do a simple ProTools tutorial here. Of course I will need your help… and thanks for offering it to me.
Right now, I’m working on a huge number of things: FreeBird tutorial first. Another collaboration. Then, a series of high quality videos and audio I shot yesterday with most of my guitars and two… “marshalls”. Lots of things. But the time for the tutorial will come right after that!
Jacob YergertPosted at 22:50h, 10 September
I made this after trying to model your tone with some different software over the past week or so. I finally got something Im proud of!
Jacob YergertPosted at 22:56h, 10 September
if you go to the actual video, theres more info in the description
adam10603Posted at 05:35h, 12 September
I just sent you some useful settings to use in PodFarm. Sorry, i couldn’t send the patch itself, so I wrote down the settings in the e-mail. Have a good time dialing them in 😀
headwhop26Posted at 20:42h, 14 September
Thanks a lot, those were really helpful!
KinglancePosted at 09:22h, 10 September
Hey, I doubt of buying Eleven Rack… I have already Guitar Rig 4… Do u think it’s worth it’s money Eleven Rack then?
HagusYoungPosted at 12:26h, 10 September
If i might jump in for Fil… eleven rack is not the same as GR4, its a modeling / simulating software BUT its 80% hardware based while GR4 is totaly just Software, of course you can buy additional hardware but the thing itself is very Softwarebased.
Elevenrack is, let me call it a bit more serious than GR4. Its more professional, much more professional.
KinglancePosted at 13:01h, 10 September
Of course u may jump in… I’m pleased u want to help me 😉 I have the Guitar Rig 4 Kontrol edition (the pedal). But I think I will buy Eleven Rack too, sounds very nice (I tested it already). U have indeed Pro Tools with it, and that’s very uesefull to make own songs :p
SoloDallasPosted at 16:34h, 10 September
Eleven Rack is “better” than GR4. I don’t know why, but it is. Different sound texture. People use to address is as “threedimensional” sound instead of bidimensional. It sounds more like an amplifier microphoned. Still, a “great” amp can do more, but great amps have their shortcomings (you have to blast it loud, have a place for it, try not to get killed by the neighbors, … ). Modelers are easy to cope with. I can blast it thru the headphones and I’m fine. Eleven rack does come with protools – indispensable tool to record multitrack professionally – and it sounds very good.
KinglancePosted at 13:18h, 11 September
Since today I’m a proudly owner of Eleven Rack… 🙂 Tomorrow unboxing and trying it! :p
adam10603Posted at 15:11h, 31 August
I recorded a short “shoot to thrill” tone demo. Your settings described in the post were very useful. So I tried to recreate some “shoot to thrill” tones with it. So here it is:
(it’s not my best attempt, but the one I’ve recorded:D)
The software I used was Line6’s PodFarm. I used a compressor as a boost (compression knob on 0, and level knob on 10) because in this software, maybe this is the most transparent booster. That went into a 1968 plexi 100w head, with 25w greenbacks in a marshall 412 cabinet ( the U67 mic model was used on it ). Then some post-eq (similar to your’s, but I tweaket it a bit.)
Hope you like it!
DriesPosted at 07:18h, 02 September
To much reverb or delay to my ears. A more “direct” sound would be better. Otherwise it’s a good starting point.
Jacob YergertPosted at 09:27h, 02 September
I like your tone, but I cant seem to get that out of my Pod Studio GX. The tone it has is okay, but I get really flat, unlively tones. Do you do something interesting with it, or do you think its my guitar? Heck, it could just be me, i suppose.
adam10603Posted at 13:36h, 03 September
well, I can share some settings and tone secrets about PodFarm (you are using podfarm, right?) with you. Just let me know your e-mail address and I’ll send you some helpful information on how to set up PodFarm to get similar tones. But please note that my demo has post equalization (done in Audacity, after recording it from PodFarm.) but the basic tone is pretty cool too. I can share it (/them. I have a few AC/DC settings on PodFarm) with you, if you want to. Just give me an e-mail address!
Jacob YergertPosted at 15:25h, 03 September
yeah, that would be fantastic of you. Just hit me up at email@example.com!
And yes, I am using PodFarm.
Chabum1970Posted at 05:40h, 30 August
It needs a lot of money to achieve that tone. What can I do? Which is the best and cheaper (not too much) solution to achieve a tone like AC/DC? Maybe a Line6 POD XT or what else?
HagusYoungPosted at 12:14h, 30 August
Guitar Rig 4 opend my eyes. Never heard a relatively cheap Program which doesnt require special hardware sounding so good.
SoloDallasPosted at 12:17h, 30 August
I am SO glad to hear this. As it’s been my same finding. You know I have been using GR4 (and even GR2 and 3!) extensively. With some work – VERY useful too, to gain experience with microphone positioning, equalization etc – GR4 can sound fantastic. I got to the point of suggesting GR4 against the purchase of an equivalently priced “real amplifier” as I think that GR4 has even more potential – used well!
HagusYoungPosted at 15:16h, 30 August
I only bought GR4 because you showed me (us) how good it can sound. And yes its flexible, lots of Amps, Cabs, Pedals and the most important thing the Control Room. Its like bulding a Sound. A step further than just setting the 3 EQ knobs on the Amp.
Youre the king of Guitar Rig 😀
Jacob YergertPosted at 09:28h, 02 September
I personally wouldnt reccomend the Pod. I have it, and its very marginal.
adam10603Posted at 18:43h, 29 August
I was reading about eleven rack when I found this (they say this on their “plexi” amp model):
“For our emulation, we’ve based it on the legendary 100-watt 1968/69 version, which also has the “lay down” transformers favored by Eddie Van Halen. We’ve also “jumped” both channels like Eric Johnson’s setup.”
So the plexi head that the rack is emulating, has “lay down” transformers, and jumped channels – nowhere near the specs of Angus’ amplifiers. What do you think ?
HagusYoungPosted at 12:10h, 30 August
not true, AC/DC has been using tons of gear over the time, even Orange Amps set very clean. And Marshalls arent all the same, there is Heads (100watts) that sound realy bright, so bright that you have to jump the inputs. But the JTM45 with 2 EL84s usually doesnt need that jumping, while Super Leads sometimes need it. Its just about getting the Sound right not how you do it.
SoloDallasPosted at 12:15h, 30 August
This is what I think, too, plus my experience with heads and simulators tells me – even more now – that Hagus is right: WE CAN get to that sound even with different amps. I’m working on equalization patterns right now, that’s why I’m being silent: lotsa work!
HagusYoungPosted at 15:23h, 30 August
Last Saturday i played a new Marshall Amp. They call it the JVM 410. Awesome Amp. This thing has like 4 basic sounds … the las 2 are higain whatever, forgett them. The fist 2 (Clean and Crunch) are great. Each of this basic sounds has three different basic Gain stages. These 6 Modes Sound so perfect for AC/DCs live and studio tones. From High Voltage straight on to Black Ice. I instantly loved it, and i compared it to a JTM45, great amp but you will need more than this to cover up AC/DC from 1973-2010.
Have a look at it. You will be surprised.
LemmiwinksPosted at 13:03h, 29 August
To me it sounds like the intro (angus) of rock and roll aint noise pullution is played on a small combo.
SoloDallasPosted at 13:08h, 29 August
Hmmm… I doubt it. If you listen carefully, there’s tons of bass frequencies, typically associated with a 4×12 cabinet
HagusYoungPosted at 15:34h, 29 August
listen to it closely, the thing youve got to look at is does the intro sound equal or match the rest, especialy rnr aint noise pollution lives from that change between intro and rythm, slides and so on. i dont think that he changed the amp, prolly a few settings (sollodallas would be the one to ask :D) but not more. Another simple fact is that angus usually moves around combos, hes always going for a 4×12 and its much more punchy sound.
AngusrocksPosted at 06:44h, 28 August
great sounding hardware that Eleven Rack !!!
Unfortunalety i can`t buy myself all of that stuff, because it`s all very expensive. I mean the Eleven Rack, the Marshall head, the big Marshall box and so on…….
Finally i got that ACDC sound in a much cheaper way and to my ears it`s 95% of the original sound. I use a Line6 POD XT, a Gibson SG Standart with AYS humbucker, a good Sommer cable (The Spirit) and further a Marshall Class 5 with a two 12er Celestion Vintage 30 box running on 16 Ohm. I take the JTM 45, 66`model, a Marshall Celestion Greenback box and the Neumann U67 microfon, and of course, a little bit reverb to make the sound alive. My sound is not a studio sound, it is more the live sound. I´m very happy so far. To reach 100% of the original sound i have to spend more money and that`s what i can`t do. Just an old Gibson SG costs thousands of Euros. I play only in my cellerbar and there i have a cdplayer, loudspeakers and my rig. It´s a lot of fun to hear ACDC on the right side and the same sound on the left side where my amp is. Sometimes i got the feeling, that Angus borrow his guitar to me ((-:
HagusYoungPosted at 15:26h, 30 August
SG huh, which year ?
AngusrocksPosted at 13:10h, 31 August
It`s new, early 2010.
I changed the pickup, put the AYS in the guitar. But what i noticed once again is the fact, that the guitarcable is very important for the sound. It`s the same old rule, garbage in garbage out……..
cwildesPosted at 15:58h, 27 August
I noticed in the pictures that you’re using reverb. Is that to simulate a live setting or did Angus use reverb units in the studio?
SoloDallasPosted at 16:00h, 27 August
I always add some, sometimes too much. The sound too dry becomes unreal, especially for a modeler (that has no real cabinet, no real environment). I try to recreate some of that through reverb
sleanidraCPosted at 08:06h, 25 August
First of all, awesome site! Absolutely love it!
Second, a while ago, when you posted one of your video’s using Guitar Rig 4, you said you downloaded a test version of Amplitube. Did you actually test it, and what are your thoughts?
SoloDallasPosted at 13:02h, 24 August
Not software, it’s hardware.
There is a software plug in also called Elven, but it has several differences and it can’t be used.
A side point I was trying to make here (I’ll specify it better within the post itself) is/was that you CAN simulate that signal path with “what you have” at home. Most important components I would say being, a guitar, an amp and an equalizer! 🙂
TylerPosted at 11:59h, 24 August
As far as amps that they used on that album, from what I’ve heard alot, it was believed that angus (im not sure about malcolm) used a marshall 50 watt jmp combo. Tony Platt has said they had used a few different amps but I believe that amp is responsible for a majority of the tone on that album but like you’ve explained in this article, there was alot of other variables that varied the tone.
SoloDallasPosted at 12:06h, 24 August
There WAS a combo or two (I have the list) among the amps that were brought in the studio at the Bahamas, but I doubt that it was used on all tracks and used much. The guitars are quite “bassy”, and combos are open – less bass – so I’m in doubt.
Consider that among the amps brought in – no mention on the exact model – there were something like fifty (50!) 100 watt heads, a few 50 watt heads and dozens of cabinets. We’re talking AC/DC, baby! 😉
HagusYoungPosted at 11:47h, 24 August
Since im Almost certain that you did do researches on the Schaffer, what does Angus use today, or did you ever find a used Schaffer on ebay or somethin ? i want to try out a wireless system and as most of the people here, i want to be as close to the real deal as possible.
SoloDallasPosted at 12:08h, 24 August
Imagine how I want to be close, too! It’s been 30 years 🙂 I searched a Schaff-Vega Diversity System everywhere, they’re extremely rare. And I am sure, costly. ONLY rockstars could afford one at the time… so they say
HagusYoungPosted at 12:10h, 24 August
thats what i thought … i guess ill have to get some specs and find an matching more recent one.
btw did you get my mail @ firstname.lastname@example.org ?
rugsterPosted at 06:36h, 24 August
Great, guessed you would have but wasn’t sure if it was just a UK DVD. Looking forward to the “Jucier” stuff ! 🙂
SoloDallasPosted at 06:39h, 24 August
😀 Juicier stuff is really juicy. Something of it I have already posted right in this post (Angus’ signal path, “Schaffer Vega” as an additional “tone” addendum, …
Still much can still be discussed and talked about.
Back in Black, in my very humble opinion, has among the best guitar tone ever made. This is debatable – naturally – we all have our tastes, but that one I could never forget. I am always going back to it.
rugsterPosted at 06:30h, 24 August
Fil, not sure if you’ve seen the “Back in black, a classic album under review” DVD? It has some great interviews with Tony Platt about the whole recording process plus other cool stuff. Worth checking out if you get a chance.
SoloDallasPosted at 06:31h, 24 August
Oh thanks bud. Seen it, naturally. Part of my information derives from there as well.
But the juicier stuff – the more details – comes from written interviews. Will be posting them soon!
therealmfPosted at 05:50h, 24 August
Works! Great – thanks a lot!
SoloDallasPosted at 05:51h, 24 August
Good. PLEASE let me know what you think of it.
therealmfPosted at 05:15h, 24 August
Great site, and great post – thanks a lot! Unfortunately downloading the preset doesn’t work (access rights error). Can you double-check that?
SoloDallasPosted at 05:17h, 24 August
Thank you. I noticed, I changed it, please try now (and let me know?). Thanks, Fil 🙂