Axe-FX Speaker IR's, Reverb Settings and Food For Thought

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Scott Peterson, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    **This is 100% subjective opinion presented as 100% subjective opinion. I am NOT any sort of expert on this subject; I am just discussing MY opinion as such. YMMV!**

    I've been on a mission my whole playing life to find the perfect tones. I've been a gear hound since I was a kid. I am unabashedly focused on my tone quest along with creating and performing music. I started playing at 12 years old; I'm 42 now.

    Once I got the Axe-FX, I heard the top end of the actual tone sound like the best tones I've ever heard. The science behind it is more understandable to me know; but in the end what matters is the way the tone is shaped by the tools at hand.

    In my Axe-FX journey, and it is a journey, many of the epiphanies and added colors from Cliff's persistent and focused development have only made the tools at hand even more powerful and allowed us - the end user - to take the 'blank palette' and create our own soundscapes. Be it as a preamp with the cab/power-amp blocks off; be it FRFR as an all-in-one direct to FOH solution.

    I came into the box in late spring/early summer 2007 at version 3.xx firmware; there was no Ultra at that point. I waited 4 months to pay a lot of money for something I was essentially buying on faith and at that point we had a 30 day trial. I knew in the first 20 minutes that this thing was THE thing for me.

    I was in the chorus begging for the Royer 121 mic and a 'none' mic setting; and we got it. When Cliff opened up the User Cab capability I KNEW in my heart that at some point moving forward it would become a very powerful part of the toolbox to craft end tones especially for the FRFR guys.

    The IR's 'out there' and collected, shared and discussed to great lengths here and elsewhere were just the beginning. Recabinet and then Red Wire gave us power like we have in well outfitted studios to choose our speaker cab, choose our mic, choose the position and now with Red Wire's Mixer... create high resolution cabs for the AxeFX that can combine different mixes of IR's and only take up ONE user slot of the 10 we have to use in the Axe-FX.

    Now I've gone on and on (and on and on...) about that; and posted findings here and elsewhere almost in realtime at the front end of those abilities being available. Some folks assumed that somehow the stock IR's in the Axe-Fx are substandard; or at least that somehow that I felt that way. That's never been the case, but assumptions are assumptions.

    I started mixing Cab IR's in my DAW (thanks again to Mike from Red Wire sharing a Reaper file and directions, I'd have never figured it out on my own) and you can basically do mixing on the fly, in real time with FAR more efficiency than you can attempt even in a studio. When I did this, I was using the amp/cab blocks ONLY.

    I've done so many mixes of cab IR's at so many different IR's that I can't even track them. Hundreds. I've mixed all sorts of near field/far field, etc.. I wanted, or was attempting, to create 'space' - depth AND width - to a focused tone that you could close your eyes and 'see' in a stereo field. I got pretty close to that and there are threads spelling out what/how I did it.

    But when I ran these things live, in the room with the band, on the gig... they were washed. They did sound and work great; but it wasn't 'right'. In looking at it in retrospect, I was depending too much on using FF in my cab mixes and NOT enough focusing on the actual room. When I presented the sound live, I was dropping reverb at least back on and just rolling with the default settings there... and it was washing out. I have never been a reverb expert and didn't comprehend what was happening. So I turned it off and the sound was better... but lacked any 'body' to carry the tone. It sounded not 'right'.

    Reverb is the space. That's what reverb IS, a recreation of SPACE. Recent threads pointed out a few things that Cliff, again, dropped in to not much fanfare but from power user guys that understood what he did. I sure did not. Messing with the pre-delay and the 'long delay' suddenly, for the first time in my life, made reverb sound/feel RIGHT.

    That set me up for one of those little personal epiphanies that we all have. I went back to the tried and true method of just mixing a Royer 121 and a SM57 (off axis) on the speaker and dropping the reverb in wetter than I had in the past.... 6% (I've almost always went with 2% wet) and followed advice from guys that GET these things and it started really working better live.

    Now here's the kicker and the food for thought. I started messing, because I could, with the stock IR's from the Axe-FX. I set up a parallel path with two cab blocks both running high resolution mono cabs with the stock IR's mixed in too.

    And there it is. I've not touched anything in the cab or reverb block for about a week and have been recording and did a rehearsal and a gig with it setup this way. Now, this feels and sounds right to me. It's cutting live, it's fitting the mix recording, it's just feeling 'right'.

    Here's a YouTube demo of a Rivera amp with 15 different speakers. Notice the mic setup when watching; and notice how DIFFERENT each speaker really does make it sound. Every different IR will likewise capture the cab/mic used in such a manner. The IR's you use are your cab. If you use the User IR slots, you can control not only the cab and mic, you can control the POSITION of the mic and have a far larger variety of choices to use no matter what the source.



    Here's a solo'd track from a demo song that I posted here in the recording section. This is a bit dry for this demonstration, but you'll hear it... I think. What you are hearing is my Melancon Custom Artist T on the neck WCR SR single coil (excuse the hum!) and my JCM800 preset/Cab is RedWirez G12M Royer 121/Cap with SM57 Off-axis Cab edge at -6db, in parallel with Stock "BritCab412" with the Royer 121 mic at -12db, with the rotary and reverb blocks in the signal chain.

    The reverb is a medium room with the pre-delay at 39ms and the tail at 150ms at 6% wet.

    Disregard the playing (really!) and focus on the image presented when you listen with your eyes closed in the stereo field. The Rotary obscures this, but it's interesting to hear:

    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8500356


    Now here's another solo'd track from the same demo without any effects; same guitar/pickups; just my Fender Deluxe amp block, Cab block (Red Wire on Deluxe Blues speaker, and the 212Tweed/Royer 121 from the Axe-FX) at the same -6/-12db mix ratio and some reverb (I run 1/2% spring with zero pre-delay ms and zero long tail in series with a 2% medium room with the same settings from above) so you can contrast. Not very wet to hear it THAT well, but you'll get the picture.

    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8500370

    ***NOTE - those are all scratch tracks, one take passes. Yes I will be recutting them for real without all the biffs and clams!!!***

    Fun stuff. Applying these things to making music is EVEN more fun.

    And that's what I dig about this community for all the knocks this forum takes across the Net; sharing experiences and learning from each other to make better tones and hence, better music!
     
  2. markp

    markp Member

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    Thank you Scott,
    For all the IR posts,I had know idea a couple months ago.
    I did a month with the 11 rack and was really impressed and thought of trying the red wires inside my daw,with both 11 and real amps.All the IR reading led me to try the AXE FX .I was equally impressed with the axe(after a day and half of trying to figure it out,it became very easy to dial the basic tones)I dialed up about 100 marshall presets 1 blackface 1 tweed 1 slo 1 bogner 1 powerball 1 trainwreck 1 dumble .All with stock IRs.
    I think the Axe is everything they say it is.And even though I havnt tried 3rd party IRs or every amp and every effect.(really hard in 15 days)I have decided to try the third party IRs in the daw with 11 and real amps.

    I will say again,The axefx is all that! but my decision is based on money and being able to keep more of the real amps/And I think the 11 rack is really incredible also.
     
  3. bluffalo

    bluffalo Member

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    As a player who hasn't played with much gear, that video with all the different speakers really proved a point to me.

    Tone is still lower on my list of wants out of playing guitar (playability and flexibility far outweigh tone to me) but hearing a "real" test that basically has the same outcome as spinning a knob on the axe just makes me realise what happens and what should happen, and how the results are so similar.


    Thanks.
     
  4. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    Cool post Scott. I have to say I think it's a bad idea to "swear off" the stock cabs. There are some really good ones in there that just work well with certain amp/mic combinations.
    I STILL haven't even attempted to test the Far Field IR's or mixing of IR's yet. I forced myself to really work on a few of my patches and going through every cab/mic combo, but using recommended distances in most cases <4-6" from cap, cone, edge of cone>. I have some interesting choices that work for me; the SM7 on a P12R for my blackface, the U87 on my AC30 with Blues (BOXEY BUT VOXEY!!!), a 414 on the 1960A G12M for my Marshall needs... hell, I'm not using the Royer 121 at all! (yet).
    Anyway, with a simple, methodical approach to testing the IR's against my patches and adding reverb to taste I'm pretty much nailing things the way I like the hear them... Like I said, there is SO MUCH in there that is available to me I WILL eventually try it out. But, I'm not stuck in the rabbit hole and I'm really, really enjoying the tones right now through the nearfield monitors.
    I will get another Atomic FR some day, no doubt in my mind. But, for right now with major volume constraints I have found the magic. When I play my JTM45 patch with the 1960A-G12M-414 combo with a touch of slapback delay (no reverb needed on this one) I feel like I'm sitting pretty close to a 4x12 giving up the goods (fat, warm, edge of breakup cleans and then kicking in the TS808 to push her hard). Just fantastic with a strat... time to mess with a Plexi :)
     
  5. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

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    I'm not to the point of using the IR's yet...I'm using whats in the unit...

    my ears really like the 4x12 25 watt speakers cab for distorted amps and the 2x12 british and 2x12 boutique for clean and crunch sounds.

    I really like celestion blues and golds in person but not in comparison to the cabinets above...

    I'm using the Royer R121 and the U87 split on the cabs in stereo almost exclusively. One is big and bold and the other is clean, bright and tight.
     
  6. mtmartin71

    mtmartin71 Silver Supporting Member

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    Scott...I'll have to admit I've been following your path on a number things AxeFX including using your IR recipes. So I'm a little confused though by this post. Are you saying that you've gotten rid of the room IRs such as the null positions, stereo room, and FFs and stuck with the original IRs you had been using? Are you now going back to the stock IRs with the new reverb recipe and doing it that way? Or, are you mixing both? I guess the net of your post is that the reverb is what you're using now to give depth or the in-the-room sound to your patches. I guess the only trouble I'd see with that is if you want a real wet reverb for a patch, you've kind of sectioned off the reverb on each of your patches to be the room vs. doing it at the IR level.
     
  7. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Good question.

    This is my personal opinion, not expressed as any sort of expert on this, I am a plebe learning my way and nothing more here...

    I am using two cab blocks in parallel one using the stock IR with a mic and one with a RedWire mix. I am NOT locked into anything right now and am simply exploring options, sounds and tones. The box allows that.

    I've moved the FF IR's out of the mix -for now- because everytime I try them live, it washes out the guitar in the mix. IMHO. Solo'd out, ala a clip? Sounds incredible and good. In a band mix (competing with acoustic guitar, keyboard and 3-4 voices in the mix (and drums and bass)? The cut is just not 'right'. Again, IMHO.

    Also, I am using two reverb blocks now - a lot - with extremely good results when I want a spring reverb AND a room/hall reverb. I run those in series; spring reverb block into the room/hall reverb block. I simply mix them lower in the 'wet' department (say each at 3% wet).

    I have a tendency to post/report in real time; and I know that folks that do actually pay attention to me might be frustrated because I keep changing things up as I go. Nature of the beast; I am learning and a lot of this is trial and error. I have a weekly P&W gig where I consistently play the same room with a busy mix. I KNOW that room. I KNOW that mix. I play in that context most every week, so it is a fantastic opportunity to be a 'lab' where I can test out what I am working on in a semi-controlled situation.

    So I apologize for changing up my formulas so often; but I am one of those nutcases that is not afraid to strip it all back down to nothing and start from scratch. Combine that with my posting behavior and frequency and I can see how some folks looking for set 'answers' could be irritated. :D

    It's a process, a journey and I doubt that I will ever stop. I've been this way for nearly 30 years with so much gear over that time that it is almost embarrassing. Fun... but insane at the same time. :D

    Onward! :D
     
  8. mtmartin71

    mtmartin71 Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks Scott...I'm trying to get after the best possible live sound as recording isn't my focus right now. I think I get what you're trying now. You're using one reverb for "the room" and another reverb for "the reverb" :)
     
  9. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Yes and no. With thr new reverb parameters, you really can do both at once with one reverb block. There's a thread on the Fractal Forum in the General Section by Radley about reverb. Take a few minutes and read that. Put your helmet on, because your head might explode. :D

    I use two blocks on Fender amps that IMHO, need spring reverb as part and parcel of what they do independent of the room reverb.
     
  10. felken

    felken Member

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    Quote...

    So I apologize for changing up my formulas so often; but I am one of those nutcases that is not afraid to strip it all back down to nothing and start from scratch. Combine that with my posting behavior and frequency and I can see how some folks looking for set 'answers' could be irritated. :D

    It's a process, a journey and I doubt that I will ever stop. I've been this way for nearly 30 years with so much gear over that time that it is almost embarrassing. Fun... but insane at the same time. :D

    Onward! :D[/QUOTE]


    No apologies needed. I am glad you are sharing what you are trying and finding. It is helpful which I believe is why you are sharing it. Maybe sometime I will get busy with my Ultra and share results but until then these constructive threads are really helpful.
     
  11. voojo

    voojo Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes I agree!! The Axe-FX is a complex unit with many parameters. It's nice to have a jumping off point & tweak it to individual taste. I've got Scott's threads as well as others printed out and sitting on my desk at home, I reference them all the time.

    FWIW I've found that (for me) the Red Wire impulses are fantastic sounding, I've just barely scratched the surface & they are the real deal, at least with my setup. I haven't even bothered mixing them as they sound good as is (though I will definitely experiment with mixing soon.)

    Thanks again to Scott & others that have shared much information here and on the Fractal board, while avoiding the sniping of the tube heathens! ;)
     
  12. guitarist58

    guitarist58 Member

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    Scott - also, thanks for that speaker test video--I'd never seen it before!
     
  13. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    +1 on the video. Very interesting!

    Regarding IR mixing, I'm not surprised that they are not working for you live. I experiment with some of the recipes you posted, and thought they lost a little too much definition. But, I have not tried them live. Eventually, I'll get some time to try adjusting the recipes for myself, but until then I'm content to use the stock cabs along side a few of the RedWirez cabs for my patches.

    And thanks for continuing to share you experiences!
     
  14. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I have a new IR mix concept and will be doing clips; but I'll be trying it live first. Epiphany today. Wow.
     
  15. voojo

    voojo Gold Supporting Member

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    Tease!!

    :rotflmao
     
  16. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Here's the concept:

    In the Fractal Forum in the IR section, Mike from Red Wire is working with a few members there making 'metal' version of the IR's. How? He's adding EQ to the IR's. (*Well, he's actually scooping existing IR's by scooping mids out). Guys there are LOVING the results.

    With mixing your IR's in a DAW (Reaper files that Mike from Red Wire shared for free) I've been mixing and creating my own IR's. It's like a fun factory. You create the IR in real time with a direct recording (with the cab block in the Axe-FX turned off) by just listening and trying stuff on the fly. It's uber fun and cool. :D

    So drop some EQ or.... whatever across the master before you create the IR. Hadn't tried it.
    Here's my brainstorm - why stop at EQ? Aha!

    So I promptly mixed up my fave formula in the DAW:

    0db Royer 121 Center Cap 2"
    -3db TAB-Funkewerk SM57 2" Off-Axis Cap Edge
    -6db Royer 121 Cone 4"
    -12db Back of Cab (Different mic's available, different distances.)

    So that really sounds great by itself. Now, the kicker here was that I have two UAD cards and a bunch of tools that I use when I mix or record for real (not just clips). I tried a bunch of different plugs, order of plugs and messed around and around till I found something that really made my toes curl.

    Across the master, I set up a chain that was as so:

    UAD Pultec Pro -- UAD Cambridge EQ -- UAD Neve 1073

    Then I used some of the settings I prefer as go-to setups and lo and behold, it was good. Really good.

    So I redid my cabinet IR's; processed them with AlbertA's utility; then dropped them in the Axe-FX and redid my signal path's to one high resolution cabinet again.

    And damn, it sounds fine. Now I have to do some clips, because well, I have to. I don't want to get to far hyped up - I've gotten hyped up before I gave other things the acid test of trying them live first - but this is remarkable.

    So... I guess later tonight, I'll have some clips at least. :D
     
  17. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Quick off the cuff clip.

    I need to acid test these for real, but in the room LOUD they sound really good for what I'm going for.

    Fender Deluxe and then Marshall JCM800 (and some STP goodness there). :D Melancon Custom Artist T direct to Axe-FX; Amp/Cab/Reverb signal chain; digital out to Reaper. Ripped to mp3. Posted here:

    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8511063

    Listen to the top end, bottom end and close your eyes and picture the tone; to me... pretty much what I want. Maybe some tweaks, but I'd like to test this live. We'll see how it sounds to me tomorrow. :D I might hate it and start over from scratch... we'll see.
     
  18. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I redid the cabs and clips.

    Reposted OP.

    Here's the concept:

    Today here in the IR section, Mike from Red Wire was working with a few members there making 'metal' version of the IR's. How? He's adding EQ to the IR's. (*Well, he's actually scooping existing IR's by scooping mids out). Guys there are LOVING the results.

    With mixing your IR's in a DAW (Reaper files that Mike from Red Wire shared for free) I've been mixing and creating my own IR's. It's like a fun factory. You create the IR in real time with a direct recording (with the cab block in the Axe-FX turned off) by just listening and trying stuff on the fly. It's uber fun and cool. :D

    So drop some EQ or.... whatever across the master before you create the IR. Hadn't tried it. Here's my brainstorm - why stop at EQ? Aha!

    So I promptly mixed up my current fave formula in the DAW:

    0db Royer 121 Center Cap 2"
    -3db TAB-Funkewerk SM57 2" Off-Axis Cap Edge
    -6db Royer 121 Cone 4"
    -18db Back of Cab (Different mic's available, different distances.)

    So that really sounds great by itself. Now, the kicker here was that I have two UAD cards and a bunch of tools that I use when I mix or record for real (not just clips). I tried a bunch of different plugs, order of plugs and messed around and around till I found something that really made my toes curl.

    Across a send bus, mixed in at -10db or so, I set up a chain that was as so:

    UAD 1176LN -- UAD Neve31102

    Then I used some of the settings I prefer as go-to setups and lo and behold, it was good. Really good.

    So I redid my cabinet IR's; processed them with AlbertA's utility; then dropped them in the Axe-FX and redid my signal path's to one high resolution cabinet again.

    And damn, it sounds fine. Now I have to do some clips, because well, I have to. I don't want to get to far hyped up - I've gotten hyped up before I gave other things the acid test of trying them live first - but IMHO this is remarkable.

    Quick off the cuff clip.

    I need to acid test these for real, but in the room LOUD they sound really good for what I'm going for.

    EDIT: Lunchtime redo. Reworked the cabs, edited post above and new clip upload (same link).... back to work now....

    Fender Deluxe (Deluxe Blues Cab), then Marshall JCM800 (G12M Greenback cab).
    Melancon Custom Artist T direct to Axe-FX; Amp/Cab/Reverb signal chain; digital out to Reaper. Ripped to mp3. Posted here:

    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8511063

    Listen to the top end, bottom end and close your eyes and picture the tone; to me... pretty much what I want. Maybe some tweaks, but I'd like to test this live. We'll see how it sounds to me tomorrow. :D I might hate it and start over from scratch... we'll see.
     
  19. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm one who has been following in your wake for a long time on the AxeFx, but I have to say I'm now completely lost. Not your fault--you don't owe anybody anything.
     
  20. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    :D

    It's really simple; I'm trying different things and there you are.

    I'll break it down better once I'm dialed in.
     

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