I’ve mixed a lot of tracks in my Logic lifetime. And to be completely honest, I rarely pull up Amp Designer.
Sure – there’s plenty of creative opportunities to enjoy with Amp Designer. But as a mix tool for wrangling tracks into place?
But I’m forever on a mission for minimalist mixing bliss.
My personal motto is “less equals more.” Less knobs, less visuals, less info.
I mean, if I can just set up a mic and record the best track ever – awesome!
But that’s seldom enough.
When I do need to pull up a plugin, I’m always looking for plugins that sound great and have few knobs to get’r done.
For example, a couple plugins I love in no particular order:
- Plug and Mix’s Retro EQ
- Soundtoys Devil Loc
- Wavesfactory Trackspacer
So I wondered to myself, what options do we have in Logic for minimalist, quick and easy tonal shaping?
Amp Designer’s Clean Preamp
If you pop open Amp Designer and travel all the way down to the bottom of the Model list, we have a Clean Preamp to use.
Really the conversation would end there. What value is there in the Clean Preamp? Doesn’t it sound like a DIed signal?
It turns out we each had a secet weapon all along hanging out at the bottom of that list.
Amp Designer’s Clean Preamp delivers a clean signal through a preamp. There’s no cab or mic emulation – just the direct signal.
And if you take a look at the Preamp, it enjoys all the same functions as the other amps:
- Gain Staging
And if you dig a little deeper, the EQ section has several styles to choose from:
- British Bright
- U.S. Classic
What I love about the EQ section in Amp Designer is how it’s broken up into four bands:
- Bass = Low End
- Mids = Low Mids
- Treble = Upper Mids
- Presence = High End
This style of EQ control makes for fast tonal shaping.
The Amp Designer Mix Strategy
From here using Amp Designer’s Clean Preamp is a lot like analog mixing.
Pick an EQ type from the EQ dropdown menu. Each EQ style shapes your track much like any analog kit.
Then dial in you track’s EQ using the 4 frequency knobs.
From there you can add a touch of reverb or some effects. And the pre-gain and post volume makes for awesome gain-staging.
I know what you’re thinking…
“No way will that work.”
But I’m telling you – try it.
Try throwing Amp Designer on your drums or vocals. Try out the Clean Preamp model. And then try mixing your tracks through it.
I’m certain you’ll find using Amp Designer will expand your creative and mix horizons.
Because at the end of the day, all these plugins are there to do whatever the heck we want with them!
Who slams a xylophone through a Bitcrusher? Or who pitches a whole mix down using Pitchshifter?
And who uses Amp Designer as a Channel Strip?
Might as well try though 🙂
Chris, this is awesome!
I would have never thought to use Amp Designer in this way at all, but it looks like a great way to get some bulk eq work done without being ‘too informed’ by the visual aesthetics that most eq (and company) plug-ins have.
As a guitar player, I find that it’s also a very guitarist friendly method too. I’m comfortable with tweaking the front panel of an Amp Head and twisting the knobs of a pedal—-so this feels very natural. And, like you mentioned earlier, these types of things (amp heads, pedals) are usually void of any large visual stimuli. So its all about what you are hearing.
My favorite part about this is how novel it is. I would never think to use this particular tool in this way, so the fact that you found this and were able to conjure up an ‘outside of the box’ way to use it for in the box mixing is really cool to me. Funny to think that such a creator-minded DAW like Logic has so many hidden opportunities for anything ranging from avant garde methods to ad hoc solutions. Just living proof that creativity begets creativity.
KTCC, would love to see more!
Thanks so much Corey! I’m stoked that you dig this idea 🙂
I’m always looking for different or novel ways for “cracking the code” for better and faster mixes.
Let me know if you ever stumble onto ideas that go outside of the box too!
Jamie Wedel says
Chris vDvv, great find dude. I use Overloud TH3 as my go to amp sim, but a recent project covering VH Runnin’ With The Devil I decided to use my Boss Katana amp with some EVH effects (recent v3 firmware update) so I recorded using AKg Perception 220 mic 🎙 for the first time, and got a fuller warmer tone that I was happy with, but now with this powerful tip you’ve graced your viewers with I’m able to tweak and get closer to the exact sound I’m going for, while adding additional reverb on the dry right channel he used on VH1 album. Pure Gold, keep these tips coming.
Of course! It’s an out of box idea, but one that simplified the mix process (or at least takes it from a different angle!).
Roman Che says
Hi. Sometimes I use Amp Designer, when I want to give some “old colour” to vocal sound.
That’s such a great technique Roman! Love it.
Amazing. I *never* would have found Clean Preamp at all, and might’ve missed the drop-down EQ and Reverb options. If I had found it, I prob. would not have considered using it for things other than guitar/bass.
Outstanding Chris. Thank you.
(and thanks to LPX software engineers)
This was timely! While using Amp designer recently to add some warmth to a guitar solo, I vaguely recall scrolling past the Clean Fat Jazz preamp. Then I stumbled across this article while trying to find a list of all the amp/cab models in Logic and their corresponding “real world” models that they are based on. I never would have thought of using these plugins in this manner. I added this to a kick drum and it helped me dial in the right sound rather quickly. Genius!
Never found that list though… ;^(