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1976fenderhead

Bass: amp vs amp+cab

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Hey, new to the forum... Just got an HX Stomp and been testing out all the amp and cab models... I like a few amps, especially the Cali 400 ch2 (the only one I prefer to my Ampeg SCR-DI pedal)... However, if I add cabs to the amp models, (or use the amp+cab block) the whole thing just sounds weird, like unfocused, distant, too spacey, lacking any punch... I don't know if this is supposed to sit better in a mix but it sure doesn't sound better to me playing solo (both with monitors and headphones from the HX, no real amp or cab involved). 

So... I'm confused. Isn't amp+cab supposed to sound bigger, stronger, etc? How is using a cab model better on bass with the Helix than just using an amp model? 

I've looked at impulse responses, like 3Sigma's, but I'm guessing I'll just feel the same about those?

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To some degree that's exactly what a cab does. It adds that final flavor that brings it down to reality.  At least in my experience, perhaps you might get solid sounds with no cab at low volumes, but if you were to pump them to performance levels I think you'd find that un toned down amp sound would suddenly sound screechy and ear drum deafening. 

 

On the subject of IRs - I would try them before you think it'll be the same deal as dialing in the stock cabs. Many people (I'd say "most" based on what I read) prefer IRs to the cab models. WIth IRs, they are already practically completed, there's really not a lot of need to dial them in any further except maybe for some high or low cuts or perhaps some volume enhancements. Even I have to admit, if you are creating a tone and you want to have the amp part finished in under 30 seconds, quickly grabbing one of your fave IRs is pretty powerful and fast. 

 

Myself, I'm a stock cab guy.  Especially with the Stomp, which has a minimum of blocks, I like that I can have an amp and cab in one block. I also like all of the options stock cabs bring, but at first it is overwhelming. You have to learn how to tweak it all so that it gets the sound you're looking for. If you're interested in learning how to do it, check out the video below to start. Hell, I strongly advise you watch ALL of his videos even if you skip stock cabs and go with IRs. 

 

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You're encountering one of the reasons a lot of hit records and recording engineers use a DI to record bass instead of mic'ing a cabinet. The acoustics of a cabinet (and IR) can smear/diffuse the sound a bit. Make it sound boxy, muddy, less punchy, however you want to describe it. I don't play bass live, but do record it in the studio, sometimes using Helix Native. If I use an IR at all I dial it way back until it sounds right. Most of the time, though, I prefer the sound without an IR or cab. FYI, I own some of the 3Sigma bass IRs (fave is the Ampeg), and like them better than the stock cabinets, but they still affect the sound in the same way.

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The cabinet is everything. It plays a much larger role in modeling in comparison to a hardware rig. Finding the right one definitely should make the experience more enjoyable. You should know what kind of sound youre chasing. If the sound you like is a cab with 8x10s, leafing thru a folder of 2x15s is likely to leave you unsatisfied. In comparison, a guitar player looking for that british sound thru a mesa cabinet is likely to have a long search. The IRs used in the video above are some of the worst available.  I would fully expect helix cabs to sound better in comparison. When you find an IR that suits you well and play on it for a couple of days, youre current selection probably will not have the same appeal to you. Good luck!

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Thanks all for the informative replies. Yes, for what I know it's the most common even if mic'ing a cab to mix it with DI, I guess that's for the same issues I'm describing. Would be nice to have an option when using the stock cabs or amps+cabs to mix in direct sound like you can do with IRs, maybe that way I could add just a little bit of that cab air without losing punch and tightness. I'm really trying to avoid using IR's or separate cab models because of the 6 block limit. I'm not using this for live applications, just to record bass in my own tracks I'm producing at home. I guess I'll just be using amps without cabs as default and in the end see if I can improve it in the mix in anyway with cabs...

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1976fenderhead .... if its any help, I've gotten my best bass tracks by 1) recording straight into the DAW through an audio interface, and 2)I using Kush Audio's REDDI bass preamp plug-in (best plug-in for bass I've found; adds a bit of heft and warmth). Then EQ and compress the bass with favorite plug-ins as needed. If I use Helix (Native) at all, I duplicate the raw bass audio track, add Helix amp and cabinet, and mix it in parallel with the DI track as needed. If you want more obvious bass effects, of course you could go straight through Helix.

 

As far as bass and Helix, there are some other thread for that and different folks have different fave amps and cabs. I personally like the old school Tuck n Go Ampeg combo.

 

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8 hours ago, 1976fenderhead said:

Thanks all for the informative replies. Yes, for what I know it's the most common even if mic'ing a cab to mix it with DI, I guess that's for the same issues I'm describing. Would be nice to have an option when using the stock cabs or amps+cabs to mix in direct sound like you can do with IRs, maybe that way I could add just a little bit of that cab air without losing punch and tightness. I'm really trying to avoid using IR's or separate cab models because of the 6 block limit. I'm not using this for live applications, just to record bass in my own tracks I'm producing at home. I guess I'll just be using amps without cabs as default and in the end see if I can improve it in the mix in anyway with cabs...

 

What you want to do is possible by doing split paths. One with a cab, one not, and messing with the ratios between them. 

 

Granted with the Stomp you do have limited blocks, but you might still get pretty far with that approach. 

 

If recording is your huge need for this, then I personally can't recommend Helix Native enough there. You can have a bajillion blocks and up to 4 split paths so it's a lot easier to balance to your liking. 

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15 hours ago, Kilrahi said:

 

What you want to do is possible by doing split paths. One with a cab, one not, and messing with the ratios between them. 

 

Granted with the Stomp you do have limited blocks, but you might still get pretty far with that approach. 

 

If recording is your huge need for this, then I personally can't recommend Helix Native enough there. You can have a bajillion blocks and up to 4 split paths so it's a lot easier to balance to your liking. 

I'm mostly using it to create tones that give me inspiration and ideas and record them as at least drafts or demos straight from the Helix. Then if I'm not happy and want more flexibility I may redo the tracks direct + plugins.

Just checked the Native pricing and realised it's cheap if I already have the Stomp. May well go for it soon!

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Bass is entirely different than guitar. A bass cab is more or less (usually) a "full-range" cabinet with a tweeter and more low end capability, and most bass amps with a DI/DI boxes that have been in use for decades specifically for bass don't feature any cab modeling. I know some people prefer the sound of certain cabinets, but for bass I prefer to have as direct of a signal as possible that I can shape at the board/in the DAW. The most recent recordings our band did our bassist insisted on using a cab so we have an Avatar 4x10 with three mics on it (D6, and a condensor and and a Sennheiser 906), a DI line off the bass, and a DI line of the Darkglass B7K Ultra Pedal. The final tone in the mix is 99% B7K and DI, with a little bit of the mics blended in for the very reason you described. They're kind of muddy, rumbly, and undefined. 

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14 hours ago, soundog said:

B7K. Nice!!

For hard rock/metal bass its the balls! So gnarly-sounding with the gain cranked.

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I'm getting good results with a cab on a split path, currently using the Woody Blue with the 2x15 Brute and a ratio of just 5 towards the cab, sounding good! But if I run out of blocks or need the split path elsewhere, it will be just amp rather than amp+cab. Line 6 really should have added a mix control on the bass cabs.

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One thing to look out for is that if using a dual cabinet, then by default the cabinets are panned L and R. This gives a nice stereo effect if the cabs/mics are different, but it might not be desirable for bass if you want more focused sound. I usually just add a mono block after the cabs in these situations - EQ or Comp.

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On 4/2/2019 at 7:04 AM, gunpointmetal said:

For hard rock/metal bass its the balls! So gnarly-sounding with the gain cranked.

All the darkglass pedals are different flavors of awesome. Vintage Microtubes, Alpha Omega, BK7, BK3.....all just sound so good.

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