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xmacvicar

Testing 1000's of IRs?

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Hey folks!
 

I am finally diving into IR's after all this time owning my helix. Seeing that all these IR packs you can purchase come with often, hundreds if not thousands of IR's, how do you go about testing all possibilities here? Given that you can only load so many IR's on the Helix itself. Do you just keep replacing IR's in the same slot to test? Eventually want the IR library in the helix to be your 'final' set of IR's, not a bunch of test ones?

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I use my Variax JTV59 to test IRs. I have a preset that links the tone control to the IR number and I can whiz through all of the loaded IRs in no time. Of course, you would need a Variax instrument to do this ...

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Aye, there's the rub. I have not yet been motivated to test anywhere near all the IRs I have purchased, and my IR library contains mostly ones I've loaded, tested, and am not using. There are only a few IRs that I actually use and they represent the small set of IRs I liked the best from among the relatively few I've actually auditioned.

 

I'm not discounting the value of IRs and I'm not advocating against their use. They can make a huge difference but I think that's mostly for people who have definite preferences in real-world cab/mic selection/mic placement combinations, and the patience to figure out the different naming conventions among various IR suppliers to identify those preferred combinations. That's not me. I find I can get tones I really like with the stock cabs. The audition/test activity for hundreds and thousands of IRs is simply too cumbersome for me to bother with given the minimal added-value in my experience.

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Yes I just keep replacing IR's in the same slot, if I find something i like i may move to the next slot to be able to compare. When Using ownhammer They will have 10 of the same 1-10 bright

to dark If I like one i will load like number 1,3,6, and 9 then if you need it to be brighter or darker you can change it in menu at gig.

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Testing a lot of IRs can be very tedious and unrewarding. A lot of them will sound pretty similar and you can go nuts trying to figure out which one you like best. 

 

What you need is some way of filtering things down to smaller sets of things that have discernible differences. Start with thinking about the tone you want based on your experience, preferences, song styles, type of guitar, preferred pickup, etc. All tone starts with the source. Then see what other players whose tone you like are using. Watch live concerts and see what mic they are using and where its placed. 

 

Next pick the kind of speaker you want, one that is generally known to be able to produce the kinds of tones you want. This can take some research to read about different speakers and how they sound, as well as look up speaker comparisons, especially those with audio so you can get familiar with how different speakers sound.

 

Next pick the kind of mic you want based on what you're trying to get out of the speaker. If its loud rock, an SM-57 will work fine. If you want something warmer, go with an R121 or some other ribbon mic. If its clean jazz, probably any condenser mic will work. All the mics will sound different, even mics of the same type (dynamic, condenser, ribbon). But these three will have the biggest differences and will help zero in on what you're looking for.

 

Finally consider mic placement. This has a big impact on tone and can give a lot of different tones even with the same speaker and mic. Closer mic'd will have more boomy low end because of proximity effect. Closer to the center will be brighter. Start with 1" and cap-edge and move from there. 

 

This approach should narrow down 1000s of IRs to 10 or so. Load these up and play through them at gig level. Pick one and stick with it for a while. Playing is much more fun that worrying about the perfect IR you might be missing.

 

 

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IR's weren't something that interested me at all initially, but the further i got into editing, the more they started to become an important part of the overall sound , to the point where i don't use eq blocks at all, as i find they have less of an impact on overall tone than IR's.

I've always felt there's enough eq'ing on the amp itself anyway ,but if you're getting close to that sound, but still feel there's something missing then stick an IR in, or flick through some and you may just find that vital missing ingredient there.

 

I've got the same problem as you with having so many, but you'll soon whittle those down to ones that really work for you, then just rename them to suit your needs, for easier access later on.

 

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For myself I pretty much use the same mic's combinations (R121 ribbon and MD421 dynamic) and generally just play with placements around mid-point between cap and cone  on different speakers.  That pretty much limits the ones I'll choose to use.  Some vendors such as Ownhammer have some pre-configured starter setups that makes selections a lot easier.

The best thing is to do some research on the different mic's and the effect of placements and that will help limit your range of possibilities.

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If you attempt to try all IR's your ears will fatigue quickly and you will never find what you really want. 

 

The advice is already given in this thread so I won't go into detail.... but you need to research what you like (cab/speaker/mic/mic position) then zero in on those IR's within the package. Each IR is labelled to include those items so you just need to learn the lingo of the package. 

 

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5 hours ago, xmacvicar said:

how do you go about testing all possibilities here?

 

Load in a bunch and audition them one by one. Eventually you'll figure out what mic and position combinations you tend to gravitate towards, but until then there's nothing to do but go down the list one at a time. Yes, it's tedious and time consuming initially. Once you get familiar with a few that you like, you'll be able to weed out much of what's supplied in the typical IR package without having to try them all.

 

Quote

 

Given that you can only load so many IR's on the Helix itself. Do you just keep replacing IR's in the same slot to test?

 

Yes...you're limited to 128 slots. So if you intend to try out more than that, obviously they can't all be loaded at once.

 

Quote

 

Eventually want the IR library in the helix to be your 'final' set of IR's, not a bunch of test ones?

 

While I'm sure there is somebody out there who's pi$$ed because 128 IR slots just isn't enough, realistically you will end up with only a handful that you like and use regularly. Put them in whatever slots you see fit, rename them if you want as the file names they come with are often obtuse and difficult to decipher until you get used to it. But whether or not the remaining slots are filled with ones you'll never use, is really neither here nor there. There are a dozens of factory presets in at least two set lists that I never use, or even look at for that matter... but there they sit. Who cares? Use what you use, organize it in whatever way makes sense to you, and ignore the rest.

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Tip for auditioning IRs inside the Helix (works pretty much the same as with the Variax method described above, just a little more comfortable, IMO at least): Fill all the slots up. Go to pedal edit mode and go through them with the -/+ switches. Once you find one you like, take a note. When done with all slots, move the ones you like to the top, remove the rest and replace them with a new batch.

 

Personally, I'm doing it inside Logic. I usually just record something without any cab information (either by using Helix Native or by sending the Helix signal to a USB recording path before it hits the cab/IR block). In Logic, I'm using Space Designer to audition IRs. I have my entire IR collection converted to Space Designer presets (there's an incredibly handy tool called "Space Designer Manager" around), which allows me to go through the entire shebang just by navigating with the arrow keys inside Logics libary tab, don't even need to open the plugin UI for that. In all these years of dealing with IRs I haven't come across any method to wade through massive amounts of IRs any quicker. In addition, having things pre-recorded allows me to concentrate on the sound rather than on my playing and it also allows me to listen to things in context (alongside a backing).

Once I find a suitable IR, I bypass that instance of Space Designer, copy it to another insert and continue with that instance. After a certain while, I just save the project, which will as well save all IRs used inside the project folder. These go into a favourite folder (or straight into the Helix - even if I am almost sorted regarding the ones I'm keeping inside the hardware).

This method works amazingly well and I can listen to heaps of IRs before ear fatigue and option paralysis start to kick in.

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15 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

Tip for auditioning IRs inside the Helix (works pretty much the same as with the Variax method described above, just a little more comfortable, IMO at least): Fill all the slots up. Go to pedal edit mode and go through them with the -/+ switches. Once you find one you like, take a note. When done with all slots, move the ones you like to the top, remove the rest and replace them with a new batch.

 

Personally, I'm doing it inside Logic. I usually just record something without any cab information (either by using Helix Native or by sending the Helix signal to a USB recording path before it hits the cab/IR block). In Logic, I'm using Space Designer to audition IRs. I have my entire IR collection converted to Space Designer presets (there's an incredibly handy tool called "Space Designer Manager" around), which allows me to go through the entire shebang just by navigating with the arrow keys inside Logics libary tab, don't even need to open the plugin UI for that. In all these years of dealing with IRs I haven't come across any method to wade through massive amounts of IRs any quicker. In addition, having things pre-recorded allows me to concentrate on the sound rather than on my playing and it also allows me to listen to things in context (alongside a backing).

Once I find a suitable IR, I bypass that instance of Space Designer, copy it to another insert and continue with that instance. After a certain while, I just save the project, which will as well save all IRs used inside the project folder. These go into a favourite folder (or straight into the Helix - even if I am almost sorted regarding the ones I'm keeping inside the hardware).

This method works amazingly well and I can listen to heaps of IRs before ear fatigue and option paralysis start to kick in.

 

So is this something you do for each different amp? Or do you find IR's that work with many different amps. Or a combination of both perhaps. And do you personally rename your IR's?

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Here is my approach, I have my 'Go-To' IR's in the first slot.  I only use one Speaker/Cab IR....it has a sound that I like.  I have some 3Sigmas guitar IR's that I have those loaded from Slots 10-25 I think.  

 

If I want to audition any additional IR's I'll utilize 50-??  I'll import them, I have a template preset already setup with a signal chain consisting of FX/Amp stuff that I like as a base test tone.  I have the Looper Block at the beginning of the chain, so I can Loop  a phrase from the tone/song i'm wanting to get....then let the Looper do its thing and repeat the phrase.....

 

as its doing so, I can then focus on the IR block and cycle through the IR slots until I find one that gives me what I need.  I'll then copy that IR into slots 2-10 to compare more closely with my 'Go To' IR to see if I like it better or if I want to start utilizing different ones.  

 

 

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16 hours ago, SaschaFranck said:

This method works amazingly well and I can listen to heaps of IRs before ear fatigue and option paralysis start to kick in.

 

I am very happy with the IR(s) I have in my "go to" list... but I will have to give your method a try... thanks for sharing. 

I could be missing out on some really nice IR's that I wouldn't think to listen to. 

 

1 hour ago, brue58ski said:

So is this something you do for each different amp? Or do you find IR's that work with many different amps.

 

I know that question wasn't for me, but IME... certain speakers are synonymous with certain amps. EG: AC30 and bluebells/silverbells, Plexi and Greenbacks/Creambacks, etc... etc...  A speaker is 50% of the tone.... and those combinations create the sounds we are familiar with. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't experiment to find what you like, it's just good to know how those familiar tones are created. 

 

After saying that I must admit, I generally stick to one speaker for all my amps :) 

 

MIC choice and placement is very different. IMO that is all about experimenting to find what you like. 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

I am very happy with the IR(s) I have in my "go to" list... but I will have to give your method a try... thanks for sharing. 

I could be missing out on some really nice IR's that I wouldn't think to listen to. 

 

 

I know that question wasn't for me, but IME... certain speakers are synonymous with certain amps. EG: AC30 and bluebells/silverbells, Plexi and Greenbacks/Creambacks, etc... etc...  A speaker is 50% of the tone.... and those combinations create the sounds we are familiar with. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't experiment to find what you like, it's just good to know how those familiar tones are created. 

 

After saying that I must admit, I generally stick to one speaker for all my amps :) 

 

MIC choice and placement is very different. IMO that is all about experimenting to find what you like. 

 

 

I'm the same way, I my go-to is a cab/mic that I'm not even sure what it is.  its a 4x12 labeled as 'creamy'.  there are others that just seem to move the mic position around that are labelled Aggressive or something descriptive.....Not even sure where I got them, but I love the thick but not muddy sound it gives me. 

 

I only use that IR, so that probably explains why I struggle with some of the amps as I know some of the speaker IR's I've tried with some of those 'picky' amps you mentioned just don't sound right.  Its amazing to me that some of those iconic amps really work 'well' with only certain speakers.

 

But I agree on the 50% tone thing...there are a few amps I just couldn't get along with, kept trying and trying.....until I change the cab/mic type I couldn't EQ them right.

 

A good IR can help eliminate the need for EQ at times, freeing up signal chain space.

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1 hour ago, brue58ski said:

 

So is this something you do for each different amp? Or do you find IR's that work with many different amps. Or a combination of both perhaps. And do you personally rename your IR's?

 

Well, yes and no - I am sort of doing this per amp, but usually that only happens when recording, so the IRs don't necessarily need to end up on the Helix, I only keep a handful of IRs I find useful at the end of the list should I record something at other places without a computer at hand (my 2008 Macbook won't run HX Edit, need something new soon-ishly, likely a 2-in-1 convertible or so). And as said, when recording, I can monitor through my live IRs just fine and slap others onto the recorded signal later on.

On the Helix itself (apart from the mentioned "safety" IRs), I am so far just using exactly 2 IRs that I captured, mixed and matched myself, IMO they work amazingly well with all sorts of amps - but then, I'm only using 3 amp types anyway, a US Double Nrm for cleans in all patches and either the L6 2204 mod or the Voltage Queen for driven sounds. And I'm always just using one single IR for them, never switch during a gig or anything.

 

Fwiw, apart from IRs being a rabbit hole and apart from the Helix not dealing too well with IR management (at least so far, 2.9 should be way better...), for me there's a certain "philosophy" (uhm, that's quite a bold statement...) behind doing it like this. For me (!) it's absolutely safe to say that using as little IRs (and amps too, fwiw) live is the easiest recipe for a balanced, homogenous sound. I got away with that very recipe for over 3 decades already, usually I was shooting for 2 (ok, sometimes 3) amp channels, a bunch of "modifiers" (drives, comps, EQs) and a single cab to work well with a broad variety of sounds ranging from completely clean to pretty well driven classic rock. I left that path here and there (using multiple amps and cabs, or mutlipe IRs with modelers) - and whenever I did, I would often run into situations where I felt kinda distracted. So I just returned to these rather simple setups, the main benefit being that I'm absolutely familiar with my live sounds.

Add to this that most often, FOH folks and bandmates are quite happier, too, as they don't have to deal with a plethora of completely unrelated sounds always sitting in the mix quite differently.

I can still add more than enough variety using different drives, some EQ-ing and FX. And quite obviously, there's also pickup selection, volume pots and playing dynamics.

 

YMMV, but I have as well listened to plenty of players with very unbalanced sounds. Very often Top 40 players trying to mimic each and every sound as it is on the original recording - which, at least IMO, is quite pointless unless you do a tribute show with *plenty* of rehearsing and very accurate "sound management" all across the band. Having said that, if I was playing, say, in a Pink Floyd tribute act, I'd likely do it that way as well - for anything else I try to stay away from any attempts at covering sounds 1:1 as much as I can but rather stick with "more or less in the ballpark" sounds I am familiar with.

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27 minutes ago, codamedia said:

After saying that I must admit, I generally stick to one speaker for all my amps :)

 

Yeah, same here (see last post). Did so for ages with my real cabs, too. I usually used either a 2x12 or a 1x12, both sounding pretty similar, featuring Celestions or at least celestion-ish speakers, all pretty well worn in. Even replaced the speakers in my Twin with Celestions (well, not completely, a V30 and a Peavey Sheffield which is rather celestion-ish).

When recording, I treat things pretty differently, but for live playing, I absolutely prefer being familiar over squeezing the last ounce of whatever authenticity out of my setup.

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MIkko (ML sound lab)  looks to be an amazing platform for fine tuning/creating IR's exactly how you want them to sound.    That's what I'll be doing.     STL tones Libra is another cool platform for mixing IR's.   Both platforms utilize advance studio techniques, so the results can be outstanding relative to the static IR's available., which are still awesome. 

 

The best thing you can do for IR's is understanding the recording side of guitars /cabs and speakers and why different mics / distances are used and why mics sound different etc....(its a rabbit hole)   

AND always audition at the intended volume and preferably with a track going on in the back ground, this will ensue your tone cuts in a mix. 

 

my 2 cents..... 

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I'm mixing my IRs since a long time already, just using what my DAW has on offer. Works a treat. Whenever I find a nice blend, I consolidate things into one single IR.

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