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Craig AndertonGuitars are more likely to be associated with tubes and retro technology than cutting-edge software, but that’s changing in everything from recording to live sound. Although guitars aren’t total strangers to technology—MIDI guitar continues to maintain its niche, and there have been other technologies like the Sustainiac, Gizmotron and Gibson’s robot tuning—those ripples are turning into tidal waves.

Amp simulations are becoming increasingly realistic. Line 6’s Helix raised the bar for digital floor multi-effects, and now the same technology is available in the Helix Native plug-ins. IK Multimedia continues to refine AmpliTube, Peavey’s Re-Valver 4 can model different guitar sounds before going into the amp simulation itself, and Universal Audio has partnered with Softube to add amp modeling to UA’s line of Powered Plug-Ins.

But the device that has caused the biggest stir is Kemper’s Profiler Amp, which is available as a standalone processor or complete amp (both with rack versions). Its patented process creates a “profile” of how a physical amp responds to levels, the cabinet, miking and the like to mimic not just a single amp sample, but its dynamically varying character. What’s more, the profile is customizable—for example, you might like the sound of a particular amp, but wish it responded somewhat differently to touch...