Digital Modeling of Sonic Signatures

A company called Line 6 has a number of products aimed at electric guitarists. Basically, they are digital, solid state signal processors and/or amps that use DSP to sonically model the sound of specific guitar amplifiers. The sound palette ranges from classic Fenders, stacked Marshalls, clean Rolands and more modern hi-gain, class A designs (Mesa-Boogie). Amazingly, the digital recreations are very accurate. I'm not saying they're indistinguishable from the originals, but the recreations are real close. My question is -- why are no audio manufacturers applying similar technology to recreate, or mimic the sonic signature's of well known high end amps and preamps? I'm imagining an outboard processor that the user could dial in any sound palette they desired, whenever they desired. Would any of you buy a product like this?
Hi onhwy. I started a thread recently on Digital EQ, and NO ONE responded! Apparently there are available 24 bit digital-domain pro EQs that, depending upon the type, either allow you to take a digital signal and play with it (hopefully transparently), and more complicated ones with ADC and DACs in them (although you wouldn't want to do this unnecessarily, right?). I haven't the names of these, but I've heard that masterers and other production folk use them routinely. I can easily imagine that you can use one of these to flatten a room or speaker response somewhat, or dial in a spectral tilt, as you like. Using one to "match" a pre-existing signature of an existing analogue pre or amp would be easy, but a little bit like putting the cart before the horse, no? Has anyone out there used one of these pro DSP EQs in a high-end two-channel home system? Ernie.
SGuru, Z-Sys, Junger, TC Electronic and Waves are a few of the pro audio makers of digital EQ products. Mastering engineers are very particular about their equipment and I believe the majority of them still use analog EQ (even for all digital projects). It may have to do more with their level of comfort than ultimate sound quality. Regarding DSP processing, to be convincing the emulation would have to go beyond matching frequency response curves and get into areas of dynamic distortion behavoir. Imagine flipping a switch to dial in a KT88 sound versus a 300B. With sufficient DSP power (and its getting cheaper everyday) and skillful software, it should be possible.
Ohhwy61, I'd like to *rent* the product you are suggesting and use it to expand my familiarity with the sound of different classic designs and categories of components--further my audiophile education. (Sidebar: using this technology, could someone make a CD of classic sonic signatures? Imagine: Track 6, classic Conrad-Johnson; Track 8, the sound of single-ended triodes.) In order to want to have it as a permanent part of my system, it would need to be remarkably good in terms of not adding artifacts of its own. Even then, I'm not sure I could live with that much flexibility. I would want to start tweaking the system for every recording, which for me is a recipe for audiophile burnout. Good topic.
Sounds good in theory but, unless everyone was using the exact same make and model preamp power amp, speakers and cables, there would be no way to predict how a "Conrad Johnson Mode" would sound. Since everyone has different equipment, listening rooms and hearing, how in the world could you know what the particular dialed in "Classic Component Sound" was supposed to sound like????? I've been on that merry go round myself trying to dial in ss equipment to sound close to tubes. I gave up and went back to a Conrad Johnson Premier 11A all tube amp with Sventlana 6550Cs driving Von Schweikert VR5s and rediscovered what real music sounds like. Now, if I can only find a good deal on a CJ Premier 17LS, I would be done.
Darrell, good points, but not necessarily true. Antares ( makes a product call Microphone Modeler where you specify the microphone you actually used to make a recording and you then select another microphone that you want it to sound like. If applied to high end audio you should be able to specify that you're using a Krell and you want it to sound like a Rowland. The quality of the emulation would be dependent upon the talent of the programming.