28 Mar Back In Black Tone Project Update (“Critical” info inside, from Mr. Townsend at Avid)
Due to the incredible availability and kindness of Mr. Chris Townsend at Avid – I would like to remind you that Mr. Townsend is Lead Guitar Products Architect at Avid, and he is responsible for all algorythms for FXs and amplfier modeling inside both the Eleven Plug in for Pro Tools AND the Eleven Rack – I have been exchanging emails – feverishly from my side of the ocean lol – talking about my experimentation to debunk, dissect and reproduce faithfully Mr. Angus Young’s guitar sound on the whole Back in Black album.
As this is my personal life-dream (guitar wise), this is all very meaningful to me; so I will take a chance to thank again Mr. Townsend for all of this (thank you, Chris!).
Here is his take on the compression side of the Schaffer Vega:
Chris Townsend wrote:
I definitely agree that there was some sort compression (companding) in the Vega system, but I think your preset had way too much compression to match what’s going on in the Vega. There would be a lot more noise on the original recordings if they used that much compression.
And generally these systems used companders, which compress the signal going into the transmitter and expand the signal coming out of the receiver, which in theory should give you back the same signal coming out of the guitar. Of course, in practice that ideal is definitely not achievable, and you end up with some compression/expansion “artifacts” (e.g. pumping), but overall the signal is neither compressed nor expanded.
Also, the compression/expansion ratios of these noise reduction companders are typically about 2 to 1, so it’s relatively mild. On the other hand the Grey Comp, has a nearly infinite compression ratio. I think you might be better off using the Dyn3 Comp with a 2:1 ratio, although of course to really to get the effect right we need to follow it with a 1:2 expander, but currently the Dyn3 expander is not available in Eleven Rack, although you could use plug-ins at least for experimenting.
I think that until we can implement an expander, using zero (or maybe mild) compression will give you the closest result to the Schaffer-Vega system. Regardless, all that really matters is how the end result sounds, so I’m very much waiting to hear what you find with your next tests.
I find this information to be really critical. More on it in later updates.
Please note: while I will be away (India) for a two weeks long business trip (hopefully will have some leisure time, too) I will still be 24/h, 7 days a week online with you.
I “just” won’t be able to play guitar, but will still be here with you.
Still working massively on this. Actually, it’s almost the only thing I am doing.
While I was working on the Eleven Rack, I thought “why not to try the newly discovered signal path on the Rack just for kicks?”.
So I did. I applied the same exact signal chain that I think was there in the studio for Back in Black:
Guitar -> [Vega Transmitter -> internal boost -> internal compressor] – > wireless signal -> [Vega Receiver -> Boost] -> Amp [2203/1959 for rhythm] [2203/2204/1987 for solos] -> Cabinet with Greenbacks 25watts -> Neumann U67/U87 – Board – EQ – Tape
PLEASE NOTE: it is still unclear to me as what goes first, be it boost or compressor! This can dramatically change the outcome. With my “real gear”, the sound you heard on the previous attempt has the BOOST first, then compressor; putting the compressor before the boost completely changes the sound and responsiveness of the guitar, so I think the boost goes FIRST, then, compressor. Once the circuit of the Schaffer Vega/CETEC Vega is debunked, we will know exactly what goes first. This is extremely important.
On our gear translates as:
Guitar -> boost -> compressor – > amp – cab – mike – equalization – hard disk
On the Elven Rack sample linked below, I used:
Guitar (1971 SG) – > “White Boost” – > Gray Compressor – > amp -(JCM800) – > 4×12 cab 25w – U67 off axis – > my EQ in protools -> disk
For settings, please see below.
(long one huh lol)
Here’s the result. Do NOT listen with a preconception: listen with a clean mind.
I think it’s as close probably as my last one done with real amps.
I applied my equalization curve (on the Sonnox ProTools plugins) which I think is THE good one, though there is still an intervall of small changes to be made/can be made.
So the Rack comes out to ProTools “unequalized”, i.e., the only equalization is performed on the amp within the Rack. The equlization curve applied in post is ONLY on the Sonnox plug ins, to emulate the studio signal path of back then.
I think I was saying this is also a good one (surprisingly good; yesterday I was in awe, today I’m again on the rational side of myself) because:
1) Demostrates how good Modelers are (well, THIS ONE is)
2) It really allowed for a sort of verification of my “theory” (i.e., Schaffer Vega compressor & boost), letting me almost duplicate my results done with “real gear”.
This second point is a winner for me/us: I always said that IF it was duplicable, then it was… true.
Reflections; I am massively thinking that rhythm tone was from a 2203 (in fact, I used a JCM800 as the amp model in the Rack; the Pexis didn’t work for me; I may be wrong, trying the wrong settings etc. Still a LOT of work to nail it!). I have an unmodded one here with my that I tried for the first time this morning (came in last week) and it’s a BEAST.
All for now.
One bad news: I must leave for two weeks from next monday. I iwll still be connected most of the time via email/internet here on solodallas.com, however I won’t be able to experiment further for two long weeks. It’s also good on a side because my ears are really fried this time. I have a bad case of ringing that scared me last night. Better this morning, but it didn’t go away.
All for now, talk later.
Please note that I might have exaggerated with the compressor; you can hear that because of the “reactiveness” of my touch and you hear my hand too much on chord switching.
This, or the wrong type of compressor. I still have to learn how to set the compressor properly.
As for the boost, it is still unknown to me whether I have to boost it up all the way and keep a lower setting of master volume and preamp volume on the head, or viceversa, boost less and drive more the head.
As of today, on both real amp and modeler I am using:
– boost at max
– master volume 8, preamp 8
– tones: bass 6, presence 0, treble 5, mids 3-4