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Tonio_

Where to hi-cut with IRs for a recording tone?

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Hey guys, first time posting on here, so be gentle please :)

 

So I've had my Helix for about 3 months now and I've pretty much conquered all there is to conquer settings-wise for each block. However, there is one thing I'm still struggling with getting right and that is: frequencies. 

 

I'm not using the Helix Cabs, I solely rely on IRs since I love the Friedman BE-100, so I got the Ownhammer 6-pack Friedman cab. First of all, I have a hi-cut/lo-cut block set at the very end of every chain with cuts at about 70-100hz and 10-12khz, in order to avoid having to do that in my DAW once I've recorded a track. So its basically a mastering/mixing thing to have all my recording patches ready to go without having to fiddle with the EQ in the DAW too much. (I also have a couple of parametric EQs set to eliminate all the noisy frequencies for each patch also to avoid having to do that in the DAW every time, yes I'm that lazy. But to be honest, it did take some time finding those frequencies and eliminating them in the DAW in the first place and then copying over that stuff to the Helix, so maybe not so lazy after all?). Obviously each mix is different and tracks with the same sound preset might have to be EQ'd differently in every mix, but the honky and whistly and useless frequencies still stay the same, right? I don't go nuts on the little cuts though, only a few db here and there to slightly attenuate the noisy stuff, then I still fine tune in the DAW if I need to.

So, I seem to understand that the Helix cab models and IRs cover the whole frequency range whereas actual speakers/cabs cover only up until 5K or so (I'm slightly confused at to whether the actual amp models themselves cover the same frequency range as real amps). Obviously, I'm not interested in getting a "cab in the room" sort of sound, because modelers aren't meant for that. I do however, want to replicate as accurately as possible a "mic'd up cab" and I'm a bit confused on up until where do I need to hi-cut in order to get that sound or if I need to cut at all. 

 

Please enlighten me on how the whole frequency thing works in the Helix. Like where do I need to cut to replicate that "mic'd up cab" sound? Just looking for a real professional sounding studio/recording tone and need some advice, to put it bluntly.

EDIT: I'm not searching for an actual EQ curve or a specific number or anything. I'm wondering if the Helix Amps models have the same frequency range as the actual amps they are based on. If they don't, where do I need to place the hi cut/lo cut (as in before or after the cab block, or maybe before the amp, or maybe inside the IR block itself) in order to make it sound more realistic? 

 

I'm not really sure if I could make my question clear, but I hope I did! If anyone is kind enough to take the time to write up a long post about this, I'd be extremely greatful! :)

 

Thanks in advance.

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You ask a question I've always wondered too that I'm hoping maybe someone can weigh in.

 

Do the Helix amps and caps also emulate the frequency response of their originals? Based on the extensive discussions of hi and low cuts I always assumed they didn't . . . but then why not? Wouldn't it be better to? Or does it?

 

Not that you never EQ real amps/cabs, but still. It's spoken of like it's a unique case to modelers. 

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1 hour ago, Tonio_ said:

I have a hi-cut/lo-cut block set at the very end of every chain with cuts at about 70-100hz and 10-12khz, in order to avoid having to do that in my DAW once I've recorded a track.

 

Whyyyy? I do the exact opposite, I leave the high and low cuts disabled ESPECIALLY if I'm recording, tone shaping EQ is fine, it's pretty simple, if you record with all the eq stuff done, and then that doesn't really match with the rest of the mix, you're lollipoped, you either have to reamp or record the tracks again, which takes way more work than just placing a simple high and low cut with an EQ after recording it.

 

And then getting a cab in the room sound is a bit meh too, just high cut while you listen together with the rest of the instruments in the mix until you feel that it's sounds good, then cut and boost whatever freqs you want, maybe you need to try another cab/impulse, because that's the biggest factor in modelled guitar tone I think aside from the amp, boost, etc, etc

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You pretty much answered your own question there... every mix is its own thing. Your choice of amp/cab/mic models are as well. There's no magic EQ bullet. A Plexi with a 4x12 cab and any of the darker mic choices will require entirely different EQ than a Fender Twin with a 57 in front of it... and so will a similar modeled signal chain in Helix. When it sounds good to you, and your tracks aren't getting buried in the mix, then you've found the "right cuts". But the next track you lay down may need something quite different. 

 

And, as already noted above, you don't want to have really savage cuts applied before your DAW anyway... if you decide later on that you need more of some of the frequencies you've already hacked away, then your stuck. Can't boost what ain't there...

 

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Honestly, I have done it by figuring out what cuts I end up applying in the final mix and then going back and applying those to my patches. I used to cut at like 11 kHz and then discovered that actually I prefer cuts all the way down to maybe 7.3 kHz most of the time. For cleans I find I don't need to be particularly aggressive, but distorted and fuzz tones definitely benefit from generous cuts. YMMV, of course, but my preference is to cut at the source and not have to do it in the mix later. But it's still better to leave a little too much in and not need it than to cut too much and want it later.

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I would also advice you not to use any EQ settings "just because". Ideally a good IR will have mics placed in such a natural way that you don't need to "polish a turd". Obviously some PA speakers don't sound nice distorted in the super high range which is when you'll run into nasty sounds that you can avoid with a high cut. Also low end takes a lot of power to produce for some PA speakers so you will get more volume by using a low cut. Both of these cases are just for using certain PA speakers... generally just have hicut and lowcut off!

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1 hour ago, cruisinon2 said:

You pretty much answered your own question there... every mix is its own thing. Your choice of amp/cab/mic models are as well. There's no magic EQ bullet. A Plexi with a 4x12 cab and any of the darker mic choices will require entirely different EQ than a Fender Twin with a 57 in front of it... and so will a similar modeled signal chain in Helix. When it sounds good to you, and your tracks aren't getting buried in the mix, then you've found the "right cuts". But the next track you lay down may need something quite different. 

 

And, as already noted above, you don't want to have really savage cuts applied before your DAW anyway... if you decide later on that you need more of some of the frequencies you've already hacked away, then your stuck. Can't boost what ain't there...

 

 

Yeah I think I didn't make myself clear enough in the end :')

 

I'm not searching for an actual EQ curve or a specific number or anything. I'm just wondering if the Helix Amps models have the same frequency range as the actual amps they are based on. If they don't, where do I need to place the hi cut/lo cut (as in before or after the cab block, or maybe before the amp, or maybe inside the IR block itself) in order to make it sound more realistic?  

 

I think I'll edit my OP, cause it seems I finally managed to formulate the question properly.

 

As far as my shaping EQ cuts go, they are pretty shallow, so they lower the honky and whistly frequencies just slightly. That way, I can still fine tune in the DAW if I need to.

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Unless you're mixing pre-amp with IR, or your IR's are not great, those ARE the sounds of a mic'ed up cab. Guitar cabinets don't just stop producing sound a 5kHz, those frequencies above whatever range is nominal for the speaker are just quieter the further away from whatever the optimal response of speaker, so even a mic'ed cab is still reproducing frequencies above the "cut off" of the speaker. Every amplifier has different areas where they sound harsh or boomy, so adjusting EQ and then sticking an amp model behind it isn't ideal for a good tone, either. Some amp/IR combos will sound fine with little to now HPF/LPF going on, certain combinations will need a LPF at 8k, some might need one all the way down to 4k. "Pre-EQing" for recording seems like a bad idea to me unless every song has the same dynamics, the same accompaniment instruments, the same drumming styles, the same bass tone, and the same collection of notes you're using on the guitar. I would suggest using complimentary microphones/positions and a couple of IR's (close-up SM57 with a further back ribbon or condenser microphone or similar) and level those two to get the EQ profile you're looking for, and even then I'd still expect to do fine adjustments ITB depending on the song/part/additional instrumentation. There are no "magic" cuts that work for every amp/cab/gain configuration.

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2 minutes ago, gunpointmetal said:

Unless you're mixing pre-amp with IR, or your IR's are not great, those ARE the sounds of a mic'ed up cab. Guitar cabinets don't just stop producing sound a 5kHz, those frequencies above whatever range is nominal for the speaker are just quieter the further away from whatever the optimal response of speaker, so even a mic'ed cab is still reproducing frequencies above the "cut off" of the speaker. Every amplifier has different areas where they sound harsh or boomy, so adjusting EQ and then sticking an amp model behind it isn't ideal for a good tone, either. Some amp/IR combos will sound fine with little to now HPF/LPF going on, certain combinations will need a LPF at 8k, some might need one all the way down to 4k. "Pre-EQing" for recording seems like a bad idea to me unless every song has the same dynamics, the same accompaniment instruments, the same drumming styles, the same bass tone, and the same collection of notes you're using on the guitar. I would suggest using complimentary microphones/positions and a couple of IR's (close-up SM57 with a further back ribbon or condenser microphone or similar) and level those two to get the EQ profile you're looking for, and even then I'd still expect to do fine adjustments ITB depending on the song/part/additional instrumentation. There are no "magic" cuts that work for every amp/cab/gain configuration.

Like I said above, I'm not looking for a "magic EQ". And of course, I adjust all my "pre-EQ" per amp model and per patch, I don't just keep the same stuff and stick a different amp model or IR on it. 

 

There were lots of discussions about IRs and onboard Cabs needing hi-cuts in order to sound less harsh. Is this due to the fact that Helix Amp models have a larger frequency range than the real thing or is it due to IRs and onboard Cabs themselves. What I mean by 'where do I need to cut' is at which point in the chain do I perform the cut, not the actual number. 

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11 minutes ago, gunpointmetal said:

Unless you're mixing pre-amp with IR, or your IR's are not great, those ARE the sounds of a mic'ed up cab. Guitar cabinets don't just stop producing sound a 5kHz, those frequencies above whatever range is nominal for the speaker are just quieter the further away from whatever the optimal response of speaker, so even a mic'ed cab is still reproducing frequencies above the "cut off" of the speaker. Every amplifier has different areas where they sound harsh or boomy, so adjusting EQ and then sticking an amp model behind it isn't ideal for a good tone, either. Some amp/IR combos will sound fine with little to now HPF/LPF going on, certain combinations will need a LPF at 8k, some might need one all the way down to 4k. "Pre-EQing" for recording seems like a bad idea to me unless every song has the same dynamics, the same accompaniment instruments, the same drumming styles, the same bass tone, and the same collection of notes you're using on the guitar. I would suggest using complimentary microphones/positions and a couple of IR's (close-up SM57 with a further back ribbon or condenser microphone or similar) and level those two to get the EQ profile you're looking for, and even then I'd still expect to do fine adjustments ITB depending on the song/part/additional instrumentation. There are no "magic" cuts that work for every amp/cab/gain configuration.

 

That was always what I figured with the IRs. What about the built in stock cabs.  It would make sense for them to faithfully reproduce the cabs they were modeled after, but people speak like they don't.  

 

Do you know what the answer is here?

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1 minute ago, Tonio_ said:

Like I said above, I'm not looking for a "magic EQ". And of course, I adjust all my "pre-EQ" per amp model and per patch, I don't just keep the same stuff and stick a different amp model or IR on it. 

 

There were lots of discussions about IRs and onboard Cabs needing hi-cuts in order to sound less harsh. Is this due to the fact that Helix Amp models have a larger frequency range than the real thing or is it due to IRs and onboard Cabs themselves. What I mean by 'where do I need to cut' is at which point in the chain do I perform the cut, not the actual number. 

 

The Helix cabs are shot without any high or low cuts applied. Many IR makers apply high cuts to their mic channels when they shoot their IRs or it seems they spend more time massaging the mic positions so they are less harsh out of the gate. Line 6's approach is to give users as blank a slate as possible, I think and to not "bake in" those sorts of tonal corrections.

 

I have a few presets that I made for the factory preset bundle, and one of the instructions we were given was to not use any high or low cuts in the cab block. I think they wanted people to adjust those themselves rather than have someone put some extreme values in there that might really change the character of the amp model a lot.

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8 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

 

That was always what I figured with the IRs. What about the built in stock cabs.  It would make sense for them to faithfully reproduce the cabs they were modeled after, but people speak like they don't.  

 

Do you know what the answer is here?

 

From the comments I've gleaned over the last few years from different L6 sources it seems the stock cabinets "emulate" the behaviors of IRs but in a more processing efficient way.  Beyond that I doubt you'll ever get a comprehensive answer about the details of their workings, but feel free to speculate as much as you'd like....

From my personal observations, they do a pretty decent job that's comparable to IRs, but in my experience they don't have the full range of differences you can get from IRs, particularly when it comes to using multiple mic's on a cabinet and mixing them.  Another example of differences can be heard if you take a SM57 mic and listen to the difference when placed at a distance of 1" and at 12" on a stock cab.  The tone will get darker, but not nearly as dark as an IR with a mic placed on the cap edge of the speaker compared to the cone edge of a speaker.  Granted those are two different techniques for shaping the sound of a cabinet, but in the end it's still a difference that pertains to how flexibly you can craft the sound of a speaker cabinet.  And it may be the case that the way in which they implement their IR emulation doesn't easily or efficiently provide for that range of behavior.

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55 minutes ago, Kilrahi said:

 

That was always what I figured with the IRs. What about the built in stock cabs.  It would make sense for them to faithfully reproduce the cabs they were modeled after, but people speak like they don't.  

 

Do you know what the answer is here?

They do, for the most part, recreate the actual responses of those cabs with those microphones. I think a lot of people don't like how the stock cabs feel, instead of not liking how they sound.

57 minutes ago, Tonio_ said:

There were lots of discussions about IRs and onboard Cabs needing hi-cuts in order to sound less harsh. Is this due to the fact that Helix Amp models have a larger frequency range than the real thing or is it due to IRs and onboard Cabs themselves. What I mean by 'where do I need to cut' is at which point in the chain do I perform the cut, not the actual number. 

It's due to the fact that on every recording of a guitar ever, there is some EQ (either with multiple microphones and placement, board, or DAW) and IME, most guitarists have no idea what a real cab actually sounds like when you're at the level a microphone is when it is placed. Guitar speakers are actually awful sound reproduction systems, and most guitarists that are used to playing with a real cab adjust it to sound good as to where they are standing in reference the cabinet, which is usually 5'-10' in front and anywhere from 3'-5' off-axis. What sounds good coming from a very, very directional speaker at that position, is more often than not REALLY shrill and boomy or boxy right in the beam of that speaker. It's one of the reasons so many guitarists have certain spots on stage relative to their amp where they will prefer to stand, because the guitar tone isn't great, its just great right there. 

The best place to apply the HPF/LPF filtering, for me, is right after the cab and before any time-based FX. The input signal can also be manipulated, if you're not getting what you want out of the amp (which is why a lot of high gain guys will use a boost front of a distorted amp, which usually cuts some of the lows and pushes the highs/mids into the amp louder where the sound "cuts" in a mix"). There's really no right or wrong, but in a "recording" signal chain, I'd say after the cab/IR.

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For live patches, I place a low cut before the amp block and typically set it between 70 and 120 Hz, depending on the amp model and IR. I also place a separate high cut block right after the IR block and typically set it between 7K and 12 KHz. This would work for recording if you track the dry signal and then re-amp, which is really the best way to approach recording anyway. It’s one of the great features of Helix IMHO.

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I have a few presets that I made for the factory preset bundle, and one of the instructions we were given was to not use any high or low cuts in the cab block.

 

Interesting! I did not know this. I've seen a few Jason Sadites videos and he always seems to add a parametric EQ at the end of his chain, cutting the LOW at 100 hz and the highs at around 10k. His tone "always" sounds great I think.

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