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Samdbl

School me on IR’s, please

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Doing some solo gigs and I’ve decided to go direct with my hx stomp, I’ve got it sounded pretty good. But I am curious about the IR option. I have never understood the concept behind these. Do they just make the amp models sound ‘better’? If so, why aren’t they just part of the amp model to begin with?

Anyway, as it stands, I have used all of my six slots for effects and the amp model. Would I need to lose something to free a spot up to use an IR? And where in chain would it go?

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1 hour ago, Samdbl said:

Doing some solo gigs and I’ve decided to go direct with my hx stomp, I’ve got it sounded pretty good. But I am curious about the IR option. I have never understood the concept behind these. Do they just make the amp models sound ‘better’? If so, why aren’t they just part of the amp model to begin with?

Anyway, as it stands, I have used all of my six slots for effects and the amp model. Would I need to lose something to free a spot up to use an IR? And where in chain would it go?

 

An IR replaces your cab block... they're completely independent of the amp model you're using. It's just a fixed capture of a particular cabinet and mic combination. They're a bit easier to use, as there are no parameters to adjust as you have with the cab block. You drop it in, and you'll either like the sound of a particular IR, or you don't and move on to the next one... which brings us to the rabbit hole. A typical IR bundle will have dozens, perhaps a couple of hundred of individual files to sift through... different mics, mic positions, etc. It can become exhausting to toggle through them all to find the handful that you'll like and use regularly.

 

Are they "better" than the Helix cabs?.

Absolutely yes. Definitely not. Yes, but only on Tuesdays with a full moon... depends on who you ask. "Better" is in the ear of the beholder, just like everything else that gets discussed around here.

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I believe, generally, that IRs use more DSP.  If so, then you could run out of DSP for other fancy effects and multiple blocks of stuff going on, rather than using one of the built in helix cabs.

 

The built in helix cabs have far more configuration options, miking choices and positions, etc... all in one cab block.

 

The built in helix cabs tend to be brighter, which can be great, but if you want to shave off the fizzy highs on a distorted tone, for example, and you are used to getting that from your choice of speaker cab... then you maybe could find an IR file that handles that for you.

 

You can make your own Cab IR files..... not saying it's easy to do it well (ideally you want an anechoic chamber, or at least a very well treated (dry, acoustically) room, so your cab doesn't always sound like it's in your kitchen, even when you're playing at carnegie hall.

 

Those are superficial items.  If you check my post history, you can probably find a thread I created about cabs and IRs and how to avoid fizzy sound, and such.  Might help, might not, but it's free to read, and has good contributions from multiple people.

 

Cheers

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Generally speaking, there's nothing you can get out of an IR that you couldn't get out of a stock cabinet.  It's just more work to do it.

Here's a good real world example.  The sound of any cabinet is really determined primarily by the mic or mic combination being used on it and how that mic is placed to capture the sound.  Often the most realistic sound comes from combining different mic types such as a dynamic mic and a ribbon mic placed in different locations on a cabinet.  Once you know what mic types you like and how you like them placed, if you were using Helix stock cabinets you choose a Dual Cab block so you could place the dynamic mic on one and the ribbon mic on the other and setup the placements (as well as other parameters) in each cab to get what you're after.  if you were using an IR you would just select the IR that uses your preferred mic and placements and you're done.  However you can't change those mics and placements without changing the IR.

Either way you're going to need to understand the different behaviors of different mics and know what kind of placement tends to work best for you.  If not you'll just be shooting in the dark and wasting a lot of time trying to discover what you tend to like.  I think a lot of us that have been doing this for a while have come to some conclusions about what works best to our ears.  For example, 99% of the time I'm going to use a MD421 dynamic mic in combination with an R121 ribbon mic.  The placements may change slightly depending on the song, but it's almost always the same combination whether it's a stock cab or an IR.

It's true that stock cabinets use less DSP than IRs, but I suspect that's only true if you're not using a Dual Cab setup.  When it comes to using multiple mics and placement I suspect the IR wins, especially if you use the smaller length (1024 versus 2048).  Another consideration in favor of IRs is that, because of the way they're created, there is no additional DSP cost if you want to use more than just two mic and mic placements.  One of my more often used IRs is the Ownhammer Massively Multi Mic'd IRs for the Marshall Basketweave cabinet in which 1 IR can have up to 5 different mic's and combinations.  I'm not sure if you could even achieve such a thing with stock cabs without running into DSP limits.

Bear in mind I use the Helix Floor so I don't have the same DSP limits you might encounter on your Stomp.

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A cabinet/speaker choice is a huge part of your tone... not just with the HX platform, but in the traditional amp world as well. This gets even more complicated when you add the many mic choices and position options. 

 

Enter the IR.... those options are all baked into one nice neat little package. 

 

I can get those sounds from the stock cabs, but often need multiple cabs, mics, positions and plenty of EQ to do so. I have the LT... so I can afford to play around with the stock cabs as much as I want. If I owned a Stomp (and needed blocks for effects), I would just use an IR. 

 

When looking for an IR, don't go in without knowing what you are after! (ie: do your homework)

Buy a package with a cabinet/speaker combo you know you are going to like.... then learn how the IR's are organized in regards to mic choices and positions. If this all sounds foreign to you, be prepared for a heck of a learning curve! The choices made here are (IMO) just as important as the choice of amp you use to drive it... but with far more options! 

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