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Check out our guide to Dialing in your tone for simple steps to get the most from our IRs.

How to Use Red Wire Impulse Responses


To "install" the impulse responses (IRs) you need to extract the IR files and folders from the archive you downloaded and onto your hard drive.

Window Installation:  On Windows, you can use a tool like Winzip. Or, starting with Windows XP, you can just double-click on the zip file and it will open up just like any other folder. Even though it looks like a regular folder, Windows is just reading the contents of the compressed zip file, so you need to copy and paste, or drag the contents of the compressed folder onto your hard drive. If you are unzipping multiple IR archives, Windows may ask you if you want to overwrite any files or folders. You can say "Ok". Windows will merge the contents of one folder into another, so you will have one Red Wire Impulses folder with everything in it.

Mac OSX Installation:  On Mac OSX, you can double-click the zip file to uncompress it. It will create a folder called Red Wire Impulses. If you already have a Red Wire Impulses folder then the new folder will be named "Red Wire Impulses 1" or something similar. You can use this Merge Folders app to merge the contents of one folder into another. So, you can merge the contents of any new IRs archives into your existing Red Wire Impulses folder. There are usage instructions in the zip file.

The folder structure should look something like this when you're done:

Red Wire Impulses
     Series Name
          Sample Rate/Bit Depth
                    Speaker Name
                                   Impulse File Name

So, for the Speakerbox series, one branch of the folder tree might look like this:

Red Wire Impulses
          44.1 KHz-16bit
                              AKG C414B-ULS
                              Ambient Mics
                              Audix i5
                              Beyerdynamic M160
                              Neumann KM84
                              Neumann M8 on CMV563
                              Neumann U87
                              Royer R121
                              Sennheiser MD421N
                              Shure SM57
                              Shure SM7
                              TAB-Funkenwerk Modded SM57

The IR file name breaks down to: SpeakerName-MicName-Position-Distance.wav. The "Ambient Mic" folder contains the room mic, back of cabinet IRs, and any unusual mic placements, like the NullAndWall IRs.

Axe-Fx compatible sysex files are located in the Axe-Fx folder.

Working with our speaker impulse responses (IRs)

1.  First you need an audio host. This can be a full blown Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), a standalone VST host, or a standalone, software-based guitar amp/effects modeler. Pretty much any DAW will do ya. If you just want to play your guitar through a speaker impulse and you aren't interested in recording the signal you can use something like Revalver Mk III, which can operate in standalone mode or as a VST plugin, or you can use a standalone VST Host. VSTHost is a good one and its free.


2.  Next you need a compatible convolution plugin. If you purchased the complete BIGBox set, then you should already have our mixIR2 plug-in. Besides our mixIR2, our IRs should work fine with any convolution software that can load 3rd party impulses, but the following are known to work: If you want to monitor the wet (convolved) guitar signal in "real time" (with low latency), your best bets are: mixIR2, LeCab, LAConvolver, Revalver, Reverberate, SIR II.


3.  Load up an Impulse Response. Loading an IR pretty much consists of pointing your convolution plugin to an IR file (see folder structure from Installation). In general, if your convolution plugin is the first in the chain, you'll want to use a mono instance of your plug when one is available. If you're placing it after an amp modeling plugin, then you're probably better off with a stereo instance. You may need to adjust the plugin's output gain, depending on which IR you are using. If your plugin has a Mix parameter, you should set it to 100% wet and disable the dry signal if necessary. You should use the IR files from the sample rate/bit depth folder that matches your project's sample rate and bit depth. Here are some specific tips on working with some of the available convolution plugins:


4.  Route your guitar signal through the convolution plugin. Ok, now you need to get your guitar signal into the convolution plugin. I'll leave the vagueries of how to work with specific DAWs and audio interfaces to the manufacturers, but as far as getting signal to the into your audio interface you have 3 basic options.

Option 1: Attenuator/DI Box with Line Out and Speaker Through.

If you follow a few simple precautions, we think this setup yields the best results. It will give you a recorded sound most like what you're used to hearing from your amp in the room because you are using both the preamp and the power amp sections of your amplfier.

WARNING: A quick warning about this one. You should never plug your amp's Speaker Out directly into your audio interface. Bad things will happen if you do. Very bad things. You should also never run your amp without plugging the Speaker Out into an appropriate load, one that matches the amp's expected impedance. So, if you have an amp that expects an 8 ohm load, then you need an 8 ohm speaker, or an 8 ohm dummy load. Failing to use an appropriate load, could blow your output transformer. So, read the next part carefully. If you do fry your audio interface by plugging your amp directly into it, or blow your output transformer, DO NOT blame us, we warned you.

In this setup, you plug your guitar into your amp like you normally would, but instead of plugging your amp directly into a speaker cabinet, you plug it into a DI box with a line out and a speaker through. If you have an amp with a line out that comes after the power amp, then you probably want to use that instead of the line out on the DI/load box. You connect the LINE OUT to your audio interface. You may need to run it through a preamp first to boost the signal depending on whether your DI outputs a line level or mic level signal.

IMPORTANT: You then connect the speaker through to your speaker cabinet. The DI box must be designed to accept a signal from your amp's power section. You can only skip the speaker hookup if your DI box has a dummy load that matches the impedance of your amp. Here are several examples of DI "boxen" that can be used in this setup. Not all of them have dummy loads, so read the manual for your particular box.
Palmer PDI-03/04
Sequis Motherload
Weber Mass
THD Hotplate
Sequis Richter Control
Behringer Ultra-G GI100
The Palmer PDI-03/04, Weber Mass, THD Hotplate, and the Sequis boxes all have an attenuator built in. That means, that you can turn down the volume of your amp's signal before it gets to the speaker. The Palmer PDI-03/04, Weber Mass, Sequis products and the Hotplate can also be used as "dummy loads" at their highest levels of attenuation. That means you can safely run your amp without connecting a speaker for silent running. The attenuator acts as an appropriate load for the amp, so you don't have to worry about blowing your output transformer.

Besides keeping the neighbors happy, this can be a real advantage for the home recordist because it allows you to monitor the signal as it's recorded and tweak it on the fly as opposed to only hearing your amp in the room and having to guess what it'll sound like on "tape", or misjudging mic placement and EQ decisions because the sound of your amp is bleeding into your headphones.

Another advantage, not to be overlooked, is the ability to incorporate power tube saturation at any volume level.

Don't forget to bypass your DI box's speaker simulation, we'll be using our impulse responses for that.

Option 2: Preamp with Line Out.

Depending on the sound you are looking for (clean sounds work best), you can sometimes get good results running the Line Out of a guitar preamp straight into your audio interface. Our speaker IRs will tame the prickly harmonics you will hear if you crank the preamp into distortion and monitor the dry signal.

If your amp has an effects loop, you can often patch your audio interface in at that point. Some amps have a line out with a built in speaker simulation. We would not recommend using it as you will proabably not be happy with the results.

Use our IRs with your amp modeler to improve the overall realism of the recorded sound. Just disable the modeler's cabinet simulation and run the Line Out into your audio interface.

Option 3: Direct.

Unless your capturing a totally clean guitar, you'll probably only go direct when using a software-based amp modeler. You will find that our IRs give you a wider range of sonic options than the current crop of amp modelers, so feel free to bypass their cabinet simulations and run one of the plug-ins listed above in the effects chain right after the modeler. You will need a DI box or a preamp with a built in High Z input to convert the high impedance guitar signal to a low impedance mic level signal, or line level signal if you're using a active DI box. Here's a few standalone DIs we've used and liked:
Radial Passive/Active DI
Countryman Type 85
Avenson Small DI

5.  Start playing. If you're monitoring the wet signal coming from the convolution plugin (and you probably are) you will want to set the latency on your audio interface as low as possible. At 44.1 KHz, setting the buffer to anything 128 samples and under feels pretty good. Some people don't really notice up to 256 samples. You can get away with larger buffers at higher sample rates.


6.  Dial in your tone. Part of the reason we gave you so many options is because we wanted to make it feel like you're sitting in the control room with an assistant in the live room moving the mic around the cabinet. Part of the fun is becoming familiar with each mic's unique characteristics and then figuring out how to manipulate them to your advantage. So it's not only an IR library it's a learning tool... it slices, it dices... it will also do your taxes.

It may seem overwhelming at first, so we provide a few starting points below that you can tweak to find the tone that best suits your amp, your instrument, your playing style, and your genre.

Based on our experience, and yours may vary depending on the factors noted above, a good place to start with just about every cab is a Royer on the cap at 1-2". Then you can dial in what you want from there.

Or with the other mics you can start:
421         CapEdge 0", CapOffAxis 0", Cone 3"
C414        CapEdge 2-3"
i5          Cone 0"
M160        Cap 0-2", CapEdge 0-2"
RE20        CapEdge 0"
KM84        CapEdge 2-3"
M7          CapEdge 1-2"
M8          CapEdge 1"
R121        Cap 1-2"
SM57        Cap Edge 0-1", CapEdgeOffAxis 0"
TAB57       Cap Edge 0", CapEdgeOffAxis 0"
U87         Cap Edge 2-3"
If you need one general rule for all mics then you should probably start on the CapEdge at 1", then dial in from there.

These won't always work right off the bat, and you may find yourself surprised by what sounds good, so play around with the placement. Here are some tips:
  • Move the mic closer for more proximity effect and thus more low-end. This will balance out the highs you get from being closer to the cap or overwhelm them in some cases and skew the balance.
  • Move the mic farther away to thin it out. This works well for clean guitars & "bassy" amps.
  • Move the mic towards the cap for more high end, or "definition" if it sounds too muddy
  • Move the mic out towards the edge of the cone if you're getting too much high end or it sounds too harsh.
  • If it sounds too bright, sometimes it'll work to leave the mic where it is and just flip it off axis. It will roll-off the highs and depending on the mic give it "grainy-er" sound.
  • Try blending multiple close mics. The IRs are time-aligned so you can mix a 2" mic signal with a 0" mic signal and not have to worry about phase coherence. Try mixing an SM57 for some bite and an R121 for the beef. Or try a 421 with an R121 for the same effect with more cut and less midrange bite.
  • Try blending in the room mics, the the back of cab mics, and the mics placed farther back for a more 3D sound
In short, if you use these guidelines and just start playing around you should quickly find many combinations that will work for you. No more applying dangerous amounts of EQ to try and get your IR'ed tracks to sit in the mix.

Good luck and have fun. We hope you find our speaker impulses useful. Feel free to send us samples of your work!

THE FINE PRINT: All product names used in this webpage are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Red Wire Impulses. These trademarks of other manufacturers are used solely to identify the products of those manufacturers whose tones and sounds were sampled during impulse response capture.

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