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Tips for pairing amps to cabs?


marrstians
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How do you decide which cabinet to use with an amp? I find very few are usable with a particular amp without twiddling every knob on the amp, to find out it's still a bad combo. Should you set the amp to the knob settings you would imagine you would set them to if you had the combo in the room, and then switch cabinets to find ones that fit? What about pairing multiple cabinets with an amp? Should you try to match the amp to the speaker that typically came with that amp? Seems like a chicken and egg thing to me.... Set the amp up first and find the cab, or set the cab and try to get the amp to match with the tone?

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I'm no expert so I search Yahoo for typical amp speaker combinations and look up manufacturers to see what they use. Some of the dual cabinet options work out lovely -- i.e. On a Dr Z use the Z best with the 412 Blackback 12H30 as they now combine that. That speaker combo works for many amps. I also use a V30 and GB a lot. Jensen and Alnicos for some Fenders and other clean. After some of the typical it falls back to your preference. You might try setting a few different amps from clean to gainy and then change up the cabinets. Set a looper in front of the amp and record something then let it play and go adjust the cabinets.

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I think one of the best design elements in the Helix is the ability to easily audition various amp/cab/mic combinations when using the amp+cab block.  Once you've selected an amp you simply move over to the cab segment and you can cycle through any of the Helix hybrid cab selections as well as cycle through the various mic settings.  All of this can be done before committing it to your signal chain.  I use this a LOT when laying out the fundamental model I want to use which can greatly minimize the amount of tweaking one has to do with the amp.

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The majority of the time I will use the default pairing that Line 6 have set to come up with each amp. I will only change it if there's a specific thing missing from the tonality that I'm looking for.

 

I think you're missing out on some great potential.  A lot of great recordings you've probably listened to over the years were done by mixing different cabinets and amps and mic's.  It's great to be able to do what used to take hours or days in a studio in just a few minutes all in one box.

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I think you're missing out on some great potential.

 

I'm sure that's true! But I'm making up for it by not missing out on playing guitar and having fun. No problem with your advocating for trying every possible combination, but it's not what's right for me and I'm only offering a different point-of-view. Sometimes I do try lots of cabs and mics, other times not. If you've seen any of my youtube vids you'll know I can be meticulous in my tone crafting ;)

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How do you decide which cabinet to use with an amp? I find very few are usable with a particular amp without twiddling every knob on the amp, to find out it's still a bad combo. Should you set the amp to the knob settings you would imagine you would set them to if you had the combo in the room, and then switch cabinets to find ones that fit? What about pairing multiple cabinets with an amp? Should you try to match the amp to the speaker that typically came with that amp? Seems like a chicken and egg thing to me.... Set the amp up first and find the cab, or set the cab and try to get the amp to match with the tone?

With Helix cab sounds, being as bad as they are, you will ALWAYS be twiddling. Either get some IRs or keep on L6 until they understand that taking the guitar sound seriously also means taking the cab section seriously, but please dont let yourself be swayed by others here, into believing that the stock cabs are all you need for good sound.. They 100% are not....I guess  it goes without saying that you are constantly twiddling because you are constantly unhappy about the sound you are getting.

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I generally start with the cab associated with the amp in question then augment it with at least one more cab in parallel to round the sound out. Might be the same cab with a different mic, might be a 1x12 to add focus to a 4x12, may be a 2x12 or a 4x12 to add some body and depth to a 1x12. Rather than an "even split", I use an A/B so that the balance between the two can be manipulated (which is what makes 2 cabs in parallel more versatile than a single dual cab block). I've been using variations on the techniques in these two videos and getting great results. I've got a library of Ownhammer and Red Wirez IRs sitting largely unused.

 

 

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The majority of the time I will use the default pairing that Line 6 have set to come up with each amp. I will only change it if there's a specific thing missing from the tonality that I'm looking for.

I'm the opposite. I say try everything, because everything is different from everything else, and I like trying stuff.

 

Crude example: For the same approximate net frequency response, a really trebly amp and/or settings through a dark cab sounds different from a darker amp through a brighter cab. Every amp and cab and mic responds differently, and there are no rules for what works for you, the only question is if you like it. You don't have to explore beyond the standard matchups, but you certainly can, and personally I find it fun.

 

Back in high school, before Mesa started the multi-gain-stage overdrive amp thing, I strapped a load resistor across the speaker outputs of my Danelectro head so it wouldn't blow up, and plugged the output into my Baseman. It was awesome. My mom said my guitar had a sore throat :) Helix (software amp sims too) are just a really big collection of stuff you can hook up any way you like, for way way way less money than the actual things, taking up no physical space, with no danger of breaking anything. I'm in!

 

If you'd rather play guitar than fiddle with patch design, go for it, totally fun and honorable path. Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle, dig both. Whatever you want to do right now, Helix gives you quite a bag of possibilities if some day you find yourself missing something specific, or just feel like poking around for the heck of it.

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How do you decide which cabinet to use with an amp? I find very few are usable with a particular amp without twiddling every knob on the amp, to find out it's still a bad combo. Should you set the amp to the knob settings you would imagine you would set them to if you had the combo in the room, and then switch cabinets to find ones that fit? What about pairing multiple cabinets with an amp? Should you try to match the amp to the speaker that typically came with that amp? Seems like a chicken and egg thing to me.... Set the amp up first and find the cab, or set the cab and try to get the amp to match with the tone?

 

I generally figure that the default pairing is how it was intended to sound, so I start there and fiddle with the high/low cuts and mic options. If that doesn't get me where I want to go, then I just start going through all the cabs. Usually I go to a cab, dial in my normal frequency cuts, then start switching between the different mics. I can usually tell pretty quickly whether or not a given cab is going to do what I want. Admittedly, most of the times I just stick with the "normal" option - my Rectifier amps all go through a Mesa 4x12 IR, my clean Fender tones generally through the "standard" option or through the 4x10 (which is also a standard option, really). After all, much R&D went into pairing amps with cabs/speakers. I do have one weird one where the tone I wanted was apparently a 100-watt Marshall through a 1x12, which is not even possible in real life but seems to work, so whatever.

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. I do have one weird one where the tone I wanted was apparently a 100-watt Marshall through a 1x12, which is not even possible in real life but seems to work, so whatever.

Actually, I've done that in real life....'72 1987 super lead into an EVM loaded Boogie thiele cab. Turns out I likes the stock cab better, but I reallly hated gigging with it. The Theile sounded good unless you were standing within 10 feet of it, where it had some shrillness that could really hurt your ears. Point is, for all the "work" of spinning dials on the Helix, its sooooooo much easier than trying 4 or 5 heads into 3 or 4 cabs and THEN working on mic selection and placement.

 

As for all the back and forth about IRS versus stock cabs, I did my own experimentation, A/Bing some of the 3 sigma, Glenn D and Freeman IR based patches, comparing them with built in cab models. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm consistently able to get a solid equivalent tone from modelled cabs. The lessons learned from comparing them help me to tweak the cabs pretty quickly now.

 

In the end, it's all about what sounds good to your ears, and what gets your fingers stoked!

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Actually, I've done that in real life....'72 1987 super lead into an EVM loaded Boogie thiele cab. Turns out I likes the stock cab better, but I reallly hated gigging with it. The Theile sounded good unless you were standing within 10 feet of it, where it had some shrillness that could really hurt your ears. Point is, for all the "work" of spinning dials on the Helix, its sooooooo much easier than trying 4 or 5 heads into 3 or 4 cabs and THEN working on mic selection and placement.

 

As for all the back and forth about IRS versus stock cabs, I did my own experimentation, A/Bing some of the 3 sigma, Glenn D and Freeman IR based patches, comparing them with built in cab models. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm consistently able to get a solid equivalent tone from modelled cabs. The lessons learned from comparing them help me to tweak the cabs pretty quickly now.

 

In the end, it's all about what sounds good to your ears, and what gets your fingers stoked!

 

Well, maybe I should clarify that with MOST 12" guitar speakers it is not advisable as you will blow that speaker to smithereens. I have found basically one IR that I really like, it is Ownhammer's Mesa 4x12 with some combination of mics and I think boosted mids. I did a comparison of that vs the tone I got by actually recording the same guitar through a real Dual Rec into a real 2x12 and found it to be very, very close, but actually a little better because of the extra warmth. So I use that for a lot of my tones, but pretty much any time I need anything that isn't a Dual Rec I just use the stock cabs. And, in some ways, I think the stock Mesa 4x12 sounds a little better going through a PA speaker, just slightly clearer. And the stock cabs have the benefit of using much less DSP, allowing for more options. Which is a real concern now that I have decided I want to start doubling some tones. running a Dual Rec + IR through the left output and a cranked AC30 combo through the right (which sounds AMAZING, by the way).

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