Guitar amplifiers with in-built recording outputs are truly not the latest invention. Mostly these are just grabbing your guitar amplifier’s preamp signal and apply a filter to sound somewhat like a real guitar cabinet, recorded with a microphone. The results usually sound quite good, but still far from being perfect. However, the Peavey Invective MSDI feature changes the game. Let’s have a closer look!
How most amplifiers do it, and why it sounds bad
Most guitar amplifiers – if equipped with a direct recording interface – usually grab the raw preamp signal and apply a filter to it. The filter tries to simulate a generic guitar cabinet, with a generic speaker and microphone combination. This is a really simple idea, but this is the issue at the same time: It sounds simple.
The static filter on most DI recording outputs just cuts some of the higher frequencies to make it sound somewhat close to a signal being sent through a guitar cab. As you can probably imagine, in most cases this is not going to sound even close to a well-made recording of your amplifier. There are also a couple of other things missing here, such as the power section and its tube saturation, power amp SAG, power-tube distortion, physical effects such as speaker breakup at high volumes, and many more.
Peavey Invective’s MSDI does it right
The difference is that the MSDI output of the Peavey Invective does include everything important for a good tone:
- The output of the MSDI includes the entire amp circuitry, not just the preamp. This means that tube saturation and effects such as compression, SAG, and power tube distortion are audible in your recording. Even presence and resonance knobs work because they are part of the power amp circuitry. Not to mention that power tubes color your tone, no matter where you set the amp’s volume.
- Using the full and appropriate signal of your guitar amplifier, Peavey’s MSDI now applies a filter similar to a Shure Sm57 one inch off the cone. This position is pretty much standard when recording electric guitars and yields good results for most situations.
- This is the point that impresses me the most: The MSDI of the Peavey Invective actually reads the impedance curve of your connected guitar speaker. This impedance curve is applied to the filter by means of the ohms law. It is different for each speaker model, thus representing it’s voicing.
What this means for your tone
It means that using the MSDI output of your Peavey Invective, it will sound and respond like a real recording. The entire tube amp is captured, thus you’re able to make use of presence and resonance, power-tube saturation, compression, SAG, power-tube distortion, and much more. All of this is missing on regular onboard solutions for direct recording. On top of that, the Peavey Invective and it’s MSDI read the character of the connected speaker and apply it to the filter. So when you connect your amp to a guitar cab loaded with V30’s, the MSDI will output a sound similar to your Peavey Invective running into V30 speakers, recorded with a Shure SM57. It does not just sound like a random, lifeless cab simulation. It rather represents your actual connected guitar cabinet!
Peavey Invective MSDI – How it sounds
John Fields, Amplifier Engineering Manager at Peavey Electronics, spotted my demo of the Peavey Invective using its MSDI output. I pinned this comment so you can find it easily. Here is the video:
The Peavey Invective and it’s MSDI output really surprises me. Honestly, I went through a lot of different guitar amplifiers during the past two decades. I eventually tried a lot of the offered onboard recording solutions built into these guitar amps, but I almost never liked the sound. When I bought my Peavey Invective I ignored this feature until a viewer on my YouTube channel asked me to make a video about it. I’m glad he did!
The idea of mixing a simulation of a Shure SM57 together with a “tone snapshot” of the connected guitar speaker is unique. On top of that, Peavey is using the entire amp circuitry, which means the entire superb tone of the Peavey Invective is accurately captured with this feature. In my opinion this is a really good solution for recording guitars in your home studio, or for playing live without worrying about microphones and mic placement. And Peavey didn’t even brag about this feature in the manual. But they should – because it’s amazing.