Reactive load/IR loader and amp feel question

Qstick333

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,192
I am a technical disaster...I barely understand how anything works. I'm also an amp dude and love amps but am working on bringing the volume down at home practicing because really, what's the point? I want to preserve my hearing and not have any more ringing, etc...

Even when a cab is in another room, there's something awesome about a loud amp to me. The notes have a life of their own and sort of bloom into place with single notes. The amp seems to react better to the volume knob of my guitar. When you play an amp through a reactive load/IR loader (like the Suhr RLIR or the Captor X, etc...) does the amp retain that feel? Through monitors of any type I realize feedback won't be the same, if at all, but do the characteristics of the amp come through? I haven't gone down the digital world yet because I can't see myself successfully programming anything. Even my old Mesa Quad is confusing ;)

Thanks!
 

DR1138

Member
Messages
16
I have the Captor X, used to have the Torpedo Live rack unit. Also tried the Mesa Cab Clone IR.

The Captor X is pretty easy to use, and the software for it works pretty well. Once you get your amp/IRs loaded and setup in it, you don't even need to connect it to your PC when you play - you can store up to 6 different settings and change them on the fly with one knob on the front of the unit. The Cab Clone IR is even easier to use, but it's a bit more costly and doesn't have the full tonal options of the Captor X. You can load your IRs into via USB, however.

In terms of sound quality, any of these will sound reasonably close in tone to your speaker as if it were close-miked. It will not sound exactly like how the speaker sounds in the room. The actual sound/tone will also depend on the IRs chosen, or the Two Notes speakers if you use the Captor X, etc. I admit that I am pretty picky and relatively old fashioned myself, so I still think that with the current technology that IR loaders like these are not quite there yet. The sounds will not be quite as loose and "varied" as a real speaker/cab will, but on the other hand you can play your 100 watt amp at 2 am with headphones on and not bother anyone.

The attack on the strings will be pretty close, but the one thing that will be missing is that speaker cabinet vibration that cranking up a real amp gives you. So if you like that room rattle and whatnot, it won't be there unless you crank up your monitor speakers pretty loud.

There are plenty of demos of these units on You Tube and I would highly recommend watching as many as you can before you buy anything.

Good luck, hope you find something that works for you!
 

aynirar27

All that, and a bag of chips
Platinum Supporting Member
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33,490
I was very trepidatious to try IRs but I have come to really enjoy them. Being able to push amps as I please is great. One thing to consider though is that IRs are capturing mic’d amp tones, which are slightly different than being in a room with a cab.
Great for recording, not ideal for just jamming, but still better than playing at low volumes imo
 

sickboy79

Member
Messages
14,033
I"m with you on there's nothing like the real deal loud amp sound and feel. That said, I have a Suhr RL IR that I use all the time with my amps. I primarily use it for low volume and headphone playing, which IMO it excels at. Is there a difference, yes. But, you get the sound and in general feel from you amp. It has excellent stock IRs loaded, and you can load your own if you want.

What you don't get is that interaction with the air coming out of the speakers and the tone of real speakers. It's really close but, not 100% the same. I love my Suhr RL IR (as does my wife!!!). It's also got an Aux In so you can jam along with your music on your phone/computor, etc. Essential piece of kit for what I do now playing Madison Square Basement as I don't gig anymore.
 

Qstick333

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,192
I"m with you on there's nothing like the real deal loud amp sound and feel. That said, I have a Suhr RL IR that I use all the time with my amps. I primarily use it for low volume and headphone playing, which IMO it excels at. Is there a difference, yes. But, you get the sound and in general feel from you amp. It has excellent stock IRs loaded, and you can load your own if you want.

What you don't get is that interaction with the air coming out of the speakers and the tone of real speakers. It's really close but, not 100% the same. I love my Suhr RL IR (as does my wife!!!). It's also got an Aux In so you can jam along with your music on your phone/computor, etc. Essential piece of kit for what I do now playing Madison Square Basement as I don't gig anymore.
Thanks. What are you using when not using headphones? I think John has said he uses Bose computer speakers, which I have, but I might have made that up. Lol

I like everything Suhr does and like the idea of the unit, though I wish it could handle longer IR’s since I can see myself going down that rabbit hole one day.

I’d love to have a solid amp tone and a low level….like 70 or 75db’s. It would be a game changer.
 

Qstick333

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,192
I was very trepidatious to try IRs but I have come to really enjoy them. Being able to push amps as I please is great. One thing to consider though is that IRs are capturing mic’d amp tones, which are slightly different than being in a room with a cab.
Great for recording, not ideal for just jamming, but still better than playing at low volumes imo
I just want to jam at home to practice. I can deal with non optimal tones to be able to use my pedalboard and amps and just play.
 

MuzicToyz

Member
Messages
404
I am a technical disaster...I barely understand how anything works. I'm also an amp dude and love amps but am working on bringing the volume down at home practicing because really, what's the point? I want to preserve my hearing and not have any more ringing, etc...

Even when a cab is in another room, there's something awesome about a loud amp to me. The notes have a life of their own and sort of bloom into place with single notes. The amp seems to react better to the volume knob of my guitar. When you play an amp through a reactive load/IR loader (like the Suhr RLIR or the Captor X, etc...) does the amp retain that feel? Through monitors of any type I realize feedback won't be the same, if at all, but do the characteristics of the amp come through? I haven't gone down the digital world yet because I can't see myself successfully programming anything. Even my old Mesa Quad is confusing ;)

Thanks!
Just get a Tone King Ironman and stay out of the weeds of the impending digital disaster. Just plug this between your amp and your speaker, set the volume, and smile. Sounds and feels just like your cranked amp, just the wife and kids are not yelling at you to turn it down. IRs seem to just throw you into a world of infinite options - You end up spending an inordinate amount of time swapping IRs in an attempt to get something you already have.
 

Alpione

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,203
Thanks. What are you using when not using headphones? I think John has said he uses Bose computer speakers, which I have, but I might have made that up. Lol

I think you’re asking all the right questions. As important as which IRs you use is what you’re actually listening through.

I’ve got some decent but not high end Westone IEMs that sound pretty good but to me listening through headphones isn’t that satisfying. My jam group is all IEMs though so they’re necessary when playing with those guys.

I also have a pair of decent but not high end JBL 7” studio monitors which also work pretty well and are best for playing along to jam tracks that I either load into GarageBand or play on YouTube with guitar going through the monitors at the same time. Here, though, I still find myself wanting to turn everything up to get some of that “room” feel back.

To answer your original question, no, IMO it’s never like the real thing. Super useful for recording and quiet playing, definitely. But it’s going to sound like youre playing a recording of your amp rather than the amp itself. And personally, I don’t find a ton of advantage using capture devices to turn real amps into digital versus using the various modeler plug ins which will give you more flexibility. I know a lot of people do, so to each his own.

I do this kind of backwards. I use my IEMs while playing out of the house and use power scaling on my Badger 18 in the house so I can keep that real amp feel at lower levels. Just depends what you need and your situation. :)
 

maxbrothman

Member
Messages
541
It is important to make a distinction between IRs and Cab sims.

IR is a set of files. You have to go through folders of dozens, maybe hundreds of that IR to find the right one and load it in. You can get away with any file usually, but if you want the sound from what you hear in YouTube videos, then they have done the work to find the exact one that sounds great. In reality, the workload is no different than finding the right mic and mic placement on a real cab.

A cab sim lets you load a cab with speakers and you move around the microphone in the software and find your tone that way. You can use multiple different microphones and many other settings.

Most cab sims can load IRs.

IR loaders are generally not cab sims.

So with that out of the way, does the amp retain the feel? Yes and no. FRFR isn't directional like a cab. It is a wider beam of sound. Will your amp sound like your amp? Yes, it will. Will it sound like your amp and your cab. No. Can you get it close? Yes.
 

Ejay

Member
Messages
7,716
Putting a mic…or mic sim/ir and use a fullrange speaker….drastically change the experience. Still can sound good…it’s what we hear on records…but the live experience is very different.
If you want to stay close to “amp on steroids” experience…that’s not your solution!

If you have an amp with an efx loop: (get one if you don’t)

- put something in the loop to get to low volume eq settings: usually more bass (#loudness knob on hifi audio stuff)
- may also be usefull to control volume

If your preamp/pedals don’t give you the desired result, get something that models that “amp on steroids thing”, analog or digital.
Digital into tube powersection/cab can give great results!
Analog, my personal fav: revival drive…truly an amp in a box.
I use it into a 2x50 tube powersection…sounds as good as it gets at low volumes (and can go nuclear)
I also get good results using an Engl e530 preamp.
(I play clean, and mid gain…jazz and blues)

Attenuation…idnk…to me it’s a complicated/expensive way to get to low volume…considering the great “amp in box” solutions out there….it wouldn’t be my route.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
10,334
But it’s going to sound like youre playing a recording of your amp rather than the amp itself.
... which is just what the doctor ordered in the studio ! :cool:
you totally don't need that guesswork between a deafening loud amp and the recorded result, which will invariably sound much different ... :nuts
same with a remotely mic'ed cab, btw !
no, the guitar has to sound great in the mix, through the monitors - that's the entire point ! :dunno

I am a technical disaster...I barely understand how anything works. I'm also an amp dude and love amps but am working on bringing the volume down at home practicing because really, what's the point? I want to preserve my hearing and not have any more ringing, etc...

Even when a cab is in another room, there's something awesome about a loud amp to me. The notes have a life of their own and sort of bloom into place with single notes. The amp seems to react better to the volume knob of my guitar. When you play an amp through a reactive load/IR loader (like the Suhr RLIR or the Captor X, etc...) does the amp retain that feel? Through monitors of any type I realize feedback won't be the same, if at all, but do the characteristics of the amp come through? I haven't gone down the digital world yet because I can't see myself successfully programming anything. Even my old Mesa Quad is confusing ;)

Thanks!

basically, you have to keep a few phenomena separate in your head :
  1. feel in the fingers - with a top quality load (Suhr, Fractal) it's as good as identical to the pure amp / cab, but loads are not created equal - you get what you pay for.
  2. volume feel, feedback - not a question of the load, just turn up as loud as you need, and there you go ... If you can't, blame it on your location, not on the load !
  3. tone (as in EQ etc) - entirely due to the IRs - post pro (plugins) is fair game, but not really required with the "right" IRs (except for some generous HPF, but that's true for mics as well)
  4. room illusion - it's up to you to provide this - a short, close mic IR will sound dry, get over it. Either use HQ 500ms IRs and blend a few room mics in, or use ambience / reverb plugins, either one can work fine.
if you don't want to record, only jam with a cranked amp at your volume of choice, re-amping is what you want.
either a Power Station, or a custom chain like mine :
Suhr RL > 19" FX > Mesa 295
in both cases you'll get the full benefits of the load, seamless volume control, and you won't need PC or IRs, as you'll be playing through your proper guitar cab, not monitors or (hell, no !) phones ...

to me, reactive loads (and also IRs) are the biggest game changers since the invention of the guitar amp ! :bow
but you'll need to learn how to use them ...

ymmv,
Rhino
 

Husky

Member
Messages
13,154
The big issue here is what gets recorded in any way is never the same as being in the room with a cab. Many of all of our favorite tones were originally recorded with much smaller amps than we think. Using a good RL and IR is excellent way to record silent usually way better than you could get using a mic if you don’t have a studio. So take the RL and IR and listen on great monitors and it’s going to sound pretty much the same as using a mike. Critical component is you need decent monitors. IMO it a similar deal to modelers, I never seem like trying to use a modeler for a live in the room live sound but they can definitely work recording direct. To drop the level 3dB SPL you can treat the RL as a silent speaker and hook it up with your cab and if it has a proper true impedance curve you don’t lose and quality of tone or feel. I run the RL as a dummy speaker with the SL67, kick in to low power and it’s 25W, add a Rl as dummy cab and you are 12W. However, there is never a replacement for that feel of speakers pushing air at loud volumes. Loud is loud but tinnitus is not fun either.
I am a technical disaster...I barely understand how anything works. I'm also an amp dude and love amps but am working on bringing the volume down at home practicing because really, what's the point? I want to preserve my hearing and not have any more ringing, etc...

Even when a cab is in another room, there's something awesome about a loud amp to me. The notes have a life of their own and sort of bloom into place with single notes. The amp seems to react better to the volume knob of my guitar. When you play an amp through a reactive load/IR loader (like the Suhr RLIR or the Captor X, etc...) does the amp retain that feel? Through monitors of any type I realize feedback won't be the same, if at all, but do the characteristics of the amp come through? I haven't gone down the digital world yet because I can't see myself successfully programming anything. Even my old Mesa Quad is confusing ;)

Thanks!
 
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LaXu

Member
Messages
10,963
Reactive loadboxes are not built equal. I currently own two: a Bluetone Loadbox and the one in my Fryette PS-100. Both of them feel slightly different with the same amp/cab (even running through the Fryette's poweramp) and the Fryette is even adjustable in this regard.

The Bluetone is actually a slightly better match to my Bluetone 4x10 cab which is probably what was used as reference for it. With the Fryette all options are "close but not exact" to the cabs I own. Proper reactive loads do work well enough as an approximation for the amp-speaker interaction though, I'm talking about small differences here and your experience may vary based on what cabs/speakers you use.

Cab sims are a bigger difference. They sound like listening to a miced cab in a control room. If you want to make the most of it and own some mics, shoot IRs of your own favorite cabs because that's going to get you closer to the sound of those cabs.

Volume will still play a big part in the perceived experience which is why you can't get the same thing out of tube amp -> loadbox -> cab sims -> headphones for example. The interaction between guitar speakers and the guitar is going to be missing.

For headphones use, Fractal Audio's digital modelers are actually superior for this usecase because they have a number of tools to improve this setup: They have a "gain enhancer" that simulates that interaction between guitar and speakers when playing louder. They have good room reverb for simulating the missing space. They can simulate speakers being driven too.

Using cab sims for recording with tube amps is totally fine and gives great results, but if you just want to use them for your own playing enjoyment personally I'd just go with digital modeling because it offers massively more options to tailor the sound than most cab sim units excluding the UAD OX, which is hard to recommend because it's not that great as a reactive load and it has received no software updates since 2019. UA should release the cab sims from that as their own pedal.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,963
It is important to make a distinction between IRs and Cab sims.

IR is a set of files. You have to go through folders of dozens, maybe hundreds of that IR to find the right one and load it in. You can get away with any file usually, but if you want the sound from what you hear in YouTube videos, then they have done the work to find the exact one that sounds great. In reality, the workload is no different than finding the right mic and mic placement on a real cab.

A cab sim lets you load a cab with speakers and you move around the microphone in the software and find your tone that way. You can use multiple different microphones and many other settings.

Most cab sims can load IRs.

IR loaders are generally not cab sims.
Your definition of "cab sims" is nothing more than a fancy UI that blends a massive set of IRs. It is more intuitive to use but the underlying tech is the same stuff.

At the moment the only physical device that offers that sort of UI is the NeuralDSP Quad Cortex. Otherwise it's only available in plugins. I like ML Sound Lab MIKKO best for this as you can export those mixed IRs to use in other devices. The only limitation is that you have to use ML Sound Labs cab packs and most of those are oriented towards high gain stuff so tons of 4x12s but not much for smaller, more vintage options.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
10,334
Your definition of "cab sims" is nothing more than a fancy UI that blends a massive set of IRs. It is more intuitive to use but the underlying tech is the same stuff.

At the moment the only physical device that offers that sort of UI is the NeuralDSP Quad Cortex. Otherwise it's only available in plugins. I like ML Sound Lab MIKKO best for this as you can export those mixed IRs to use in other devices. The only limitation is that you have to use ML Sound Labs cab packs and most of those are oriented towards high gain stuff so tons of 4x12s but not much for smaller, more vintage options.
all major IR loaders have the export option. :dunno
TwoNotes (mostly proprietary cabs), mixIR and Libra (wav based).

I prefer the latter two myself ...
ymmv,
Rhino
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,963
all major IR loaders have the export option. :dunno
TwoNotes (mostly proprietary cabs), mixIR and Libra (wav based).

I prefer the latter two myself ...
ymmv,
Rhino
Not every "mix multiple IRs together" system supports IR export. Celestion Speaker Mix Pro does not, neither does Softube's Speaker Shaper. That's why to me ML Sound Lab's MIKKO is the superior plugin because it's more widely usable. I can export my personal multi-mic mix IR out of it and stuff it into my Axe-Fx 3 for example.
 

Sloppyfingers

Member
Messages
1,606
OP. For myself, I find listening purely to the sound of an IR gets annoying when I'm playing at home..Great for recording, but not so much for real time playing. I would rather listen to my real cabinet in the room turned down low..That said, there's no getting around physics. If the feel of moving air and a cranked cabinet is what you are after, then a cab sim may get you closer in perception than your real speaker cabinet turned down low.If you aren't real technical, then delving into load boxes and digital cab sims are definitely not as overwhelming or as sharp of a learning curve as other digital realms.
 
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maxbrothman

Member
Messages
541
Your definition of "cab sims" is nothing more than a fancy UI that blends a massive set of IRs. It is more intuitive to use but the underlying tech is the same stuff.

At the moment the only physical device that offers that sort of UI is the NeuralDSP Quad Cortex. Otherwise it's only available in plugins. I like ML Sound Lab MIKKO best for this as you can export those mixed IRs to use in other devices. The only limitation is that you have to use ML Sound Labs cab packs and most of those are oriented towards high gain stuff so tons of 4x12s but not much for smaller, more vintage options.
The last time I used a cab sim from Two Notes it let me use multiple microphones. Does other hardware like a Captor X do that?
 




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