Kuassa is an Indonesian company and they make in my opinion the best sounding Rack Extensions for recording guitars using Propellerhead Reason software. At the moment of writing they have two plugins out: Vermilion and Creme. I wanted to know more about these mighty fine Rack Extensions and so I decided to ask the Chairman/CTO and DSP programmer of Kuassa, Arie Ardiansyah, some questions.
What’s the difference between your Creme and Vermilion Rack Extensions compared to VST and other plugin formats?
Arie: The general differences between VST/AU format vs RE format is as follows:
- The VST/AU versions conduct processing in mono. Although it also accepts stereo audio inputs, it actually only sums or mixes both L & R inputs. The RE format, on the other hand, can proccess both mono and stereo inputs natively.
- The most obvious difference appearance-wise is that we have fancy 3D rendered microphones with the ability to switch between mono and stereo modes in the VST/AU versions. For the RE version, we are required to adhere to the Reason Rack devices template, so we altered the whole user interface from a single guitar amp with mics, to a rack effect with knobs for the cabinet settings. In addition, the mono/stereo switch is not present in RE format, but you can set both cabinet A & B in the center.
- Impulse Response Loader is present in the VST/AU format, but not in the RE format (yet?)
- The RE version has 2 extra cabinets. However, we plan to add these additional cabinets to the VST/AU versions too.
- In terms of sound, the quality of both versions is similar.
What is the hardest thing to do/achieve in guitar-amp modelling?
Arie: Everything begins from the sound, the tone that I want to achieve in my head. So, the hardest part is what needs to be done achieve that 🙂 Please refer to the next answer because it’s closely related.
What kind of hardware was used as a reference for analysing/modelling?
Arie: I’m not trying to clone a certain amp specifically. I usually start by reading lots of amplifier schematics which sound roughly similar to the tone I hear in my head. From many of those references, I start to separate each of the tone coloring parts, for example: where most of the distortion occurs, how many tube stages are used, where the tone shaping process takes place, the type of power amp used, etc, which finally can be re-calculated and put together one-by-one until it can achieve the tone I want.
What audio-interface(s) do you recommend for recording guitars?
Arie: Specifically for a guitar amp plugin, I would say anything can do. For me, the most important part is to make a dry signal as loud as you can as long as it doesn’t peak (look for an optimal setting). It can be very helpful to plug your guitar through a tube preamp first before the soundcard input (I’m still using my old and humble Behringer mic100 and ESI juli@ Soundcard that I’ve used since the Aradaz Amp era). In addition, a noise-free cables and a soundcard with dynamic range above 110dB are essential.
What else would you like to share with the Reason users, a special creative use or something else?
Arie: At this time, “secretly”, we are in progress on developing a brand new Bass Amp plugin 😀 please wish us luck!
[…] Know your soundcard. Soundcard is probably the very first thing obtained before entering the digital music production domain, so knowing them are essential, this relates to the gain level of your guitar signal into the soundcard. Most of them may or may not have a built-in pre amplifier; a small circuit to boost audio input signal with minimum noise. In that even, make sure that you are using the mic/instrument level input for passive devices such as guitars and microphones, or if there’s only a line level input present (such as the old ESI juli@), use an external preamp to boost the signal into a good, solid level. Quoting from Arie’s interview with Melodie Fabrik: […]