Part of the appeal of recording at a large studio is their expansive backline. Bigger studios will usually have dozen of options to choose from, which means lots of amps, microphones & preamps to mess around with!
Unfortunately, you can spend a lot of time and money auditioning all of that gear without ever getting something usable tracked. What’s more, you’re stuck with whatever options you go with – always narrowing down that wide selection to a single signal chain.
Luckily, technology has been catching on and catching up to the “pro studios” giving them a run for their money with tools like impulse responses (IRs). With IRs, we’re now able to capture the essence of a signal chain after the amplifier, store it, and use it in-the-box with accurate, detailed results.
The best part is that it can all be done at the click of a button.
IRs are essentially a screenshot of a signal chain, meaning no 2 will be identical. Getting the impulse from a Bogner 212C 2x12 through an SM57/1073 combo is going to have a completely different sound when mic’d up on-axis vs off-axis. Multiply this across hundreds of cabinets, mics & preamps, and you’ve got a candy store of options at your disposal.
Picking The Winners
When buying impulse responses, you want to make sure you’re getting value from your purchase. The easiest way to do this is by a) comparing the options included to what you’ve got access to already and b) listening to actual examples of the IRs in use.
If you’ve got access to all of the equipment for a specific IR, you might be able to get away with capturing your own! It can be a little tedious at first, but once you get the hang of it you can get your own custom IRs made to your specifications.
Finally, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got options when spending money on IRs – there’s rarely a point in spending a bunch of money on a single IR. With each Conquer All release, we’ve tested and tweaked new cabinets with a growing mic collection each time.
Now we’re up to over two hundred IRs in the series.
The Audition Process
Once you’ve found the pack for you, the auditioning process couldn’t be easier. If you’re using an amp sim, simply deactivate the cabinet section and load an IR loader plugin immediately after it on the track. If you’re using Toneforge, we’ve cut out the middleman by providing an IR loader right within the amp sim!
For those recording a live amp head with a load box, best practice is to place your IR loader as the first insert (before any processing).
Once set up, you’ll be able to quickly toggle through every IR with a click of a button, making the selection process easier than ever. Hours of trying out cabinets and microphones in the studio or guitar shop can be eliminated – and your wallet will thank you too.
Watch Ryan Bruce Audition a Dozen Cab/Mic/Preamp Combinations In Just 2 Minutes:
Interested In Learning More About IRs?
There are dozens of tutorials available online that will show you how to capture IRs, the pros & cons of various IR loaders, and more.
If you’re just getting started with IRs and are looking for a place to start, our beginner’s guide can set you on the right path.Tons of engineers (myself included) are improving our workflow with professionally captured impulse responses, are you?