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What is a way to simulate the "air" in a studio w/o mics?

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I'd like to know what others who work completely digitally in X do to give a live feel beyond using reverbs, re-miked output, changing distance of simulated mics from simulated amps. There will be little actual recording—I've considered adding some guitar/amp hum/clicks on separate tracks, but realize there must be a smarter way to give the sense that it's a recording, not a sterile (no unintentional noises) MIDI performance that may or may not include a vocal.


I compose, but am a terrible musician otherwise and can't afford a studio space or musicians.


Any constructive advice greatly appreciated.



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The first place to start is in your MIDI programming. No amount of magic plug-ins or trickery will make a sterile MIDI performance sound human. You need to work with each note's velocity, articulation, timing, envelope, pitch, vibrato, modulation... don't hesitate to use MIDI CC automation, and a LOT of it. I've done a lot of MIDI programming for Yamaha, and most of my time was spent doing super-subtle pitch bend automation to make notes rise in pitch on the attack, drop in pitch and volume on the release... or for guitars and bass, drop in pitch on the attack, etc... listen to the real thing and try to emulate it in MIDI. It requires a lot of work, but you can end up with very realistic MIDI performances.


Then once you've gotten 98% to where you should be with pure MIDI programming, and only then, can you start thinking about mixing and plug-ins. I personally find that an amp simulator with a little bit of pre-amp gain distortion works wonders to warm up sounds, not just on guitars, but also on synths, pianos, vocals, drums... basically everything.

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