I've only been involved in home recording/pc DAW for a tad over a year now. I much prefer playing live. Done that longer & it's easier for me to dial in 'that-tone'. Sitting on the 'engineer' side of the aisle is a whole different exercise in frustration.
My recording setup involves a Line-6 Toneport di into a pc running either Kristal or Reaper (learning Reaper at the speed of pain). Toneport is a great device & the L-6 Gearbox & POD Farm have been discussed in depth as to how flexible they are. Maybe that's my problem: too many choices.
I can get a beautiful bass tone using a number of sim setups. Put it in the mix and it dies a horrible death (and it is all about the mix...right?). Usually having to EQ out extremly heavy low end freq's. Boomy & muddy. Lots of good exercise in pass filters & notching troughs in the mix. Usually altering the initial tone to where it bears zero resemblance to what I liked, even after making cuts to other instruments to make room/eliminate conflict.
Now I've always played a Fender P-bass with Rotosound roundwounds. Bright & snappy. Always played using my fingers as opposed to a pick. Picks were considered 'heresy'. But...in order to grab a decent tone in a lot of recordings I found myself going back to an old Hofner bass (that I had not touched since like...1976), slapping a set of Thomastik Infeld flats on it (which I believe cost more than I paid for the instrument when I first got it...) and playing with a pick. Got that 'plucka-plucka' tone with tons of definition.
The Hofner is an easy transition from a 6-string due to the narrow neck/short scale. It is a much more...delicate istrument than the P is. Using a pick on the P was a) challenging and b) not very rewarding. So I am now in search of 'that tone' out of the P, most recently getting ready to slap a set of Thomastik flats on in place of the Rotos & playing with a pick to see where that gets me in the spectrum.
I greatly prefer just plugging into a console and letting a real engineer handle the rest But...the 'fun' is in the experience & learning, right? I am not used to leaning so heavily on the treble side of the sonic spectrum for bass input to tracks. Whole new world. Expensive one too. And I know that finding the right tone is an elusive quest.
This is almost a rant, or at leat more of a blog entry on where I am today. Naturally any suggestions would be welcome. But then again...it is my tone that I'm chasing.