Cab Emulator Plugins

The melda cab simulator got me thinking a bit. I, on a fundamental level, hate all guitar cab emulators. I don’t hate the way they sound. I hate the way you have to go about picking impulses. Maybe I just haven’t looked around for enough good ones.

I love having tons of impulses. I hate trying to figure out which one I like best. I hate scrolling through lists of impulses, clicking on them almost randomly to find the best one. Sometimes I find one that’s close, but maybe too dark. Or the tone is good, but too much room was captured. The entire experience sucks, every time.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to make it suck less. It’s 100% about the interface. Are there any cab emulators that have a good UX? If so, what are they?

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Agreed 1000%

The only one I’ve used that worked the best for me is MixIR, that came with the RedWirez Big Box collection. It allows me to make combos of up to like 6 IR’s (I think? maybe more), save presets (not unique to them!), and most importantly to me… I am able to set a custom home/default directory for all my IR’s so when I click LOAD I’m where I need to be without extra clicks.

Now, I think RedWirez has ceased development of IR’s and this software, so now it works a bit funky in Cubase… but I think it’s basic functionality was the best I’ve used even though I’ve had to move on because it doesn’t work 100% anymore.

Two Notes Wall of Sound is pretty good too… except for the horrendous GUI they put on it, and the fact that it’s a resource disaster. The way they organize their own IR’s and 3rd party ones is decent and I wish there was a stripped-down version of it that kept the organization and other cool stuff like the power amp emu.

I think at the end of the day, I’d love a simple interface, the ability to mix multiple IR’s, and really good organization/curating. Like being able to tag IR’s as a “favorite” or even add a note into some kinda metadata… I suppose presets can take care of some of that… but doing favorites could be cool and not clutter up a preset list.

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Good thinking Boz.
I’m not too fussy myself when it comes to guitar amp sounds. There is so much to chose from, I just fiddle around until I get something that sounds interesting in the context of the song. Right now I’m quite content with the Waves guitar amp plug (forget what is called), mainly because for my workflow it’s easy to use: first I try a few presets to get in the ballpark and then tweak (including the standard Waves choices for cabs, mics and mic placement) add some fx, and done. No searching endless files of impulses (I have enough) without really knowing what I’m doing. I’ve tried amps that you can customise to the nth degree, but I can’t find anything better than what Waves gets me and it takes a lot longer. I assume Waves integrates the impulses in the amp choices. So I’m not sure you can do anything for lazy sods like me, but I’m sure there are real guitar freaks that would love a good user friendly UI with a really good set of impulses where you can easily find the right impulse. Are you thinking of a separate plugin or an integrated amp plug?

Kill me. Nothing drives me more insane than clicking the “browse impulses” button and having it open up to some random folder far from my impulses.

I’ve thought about the tagging thing. A huge problem I have with my impulses is that they are from a bunch of different impulse developers, and they all have different organizational formatting, and I’m not going to go in and reorganize 500 impulses into a consistent folder format, so I just don’t ever use the ones that have a slightly different folder structure. If I could tag them, or maybe even do an auto-formatting of the folders structure in the plugin itself, I’d quadruple the size of my usable impulses.

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I was just thinking… this may not be practical or possible from a dev perspective, but would be a pretty amazing function: Phase alignment of IRs. Vendor IR’s tend to be fine with their own kind, but once you start mixing and matching it can get unfortunate pretty quickly.

I like mixing IR’s… like if I want to use a 57 on a T75 from an old Marshall, but really think an R121 on the Bogner Uberkab would complement it… but one is OwnHammer and the other is another vendor. Odds are decent they won’t play well together because of phase. I’ve seen some IR loaders allow you to slip samples one way or the other, and while it’s a lovely start, something that can do it automatically and still leave a trim option would be a godsend to me.

That being said, maybe we’re just not meant to “cross the streams”.

Agree with you completely. Only thing that comes to mind that is helpful is the Amplitube, TH3 and other all in one programs that actually you can move mics and changes sound. All the IR loaders are dreadful. @bozmillar there might be an angle in there for new software to write?

That would actually be pretty trivial to do, and definitely handy to have. Then it would be way easier to mix and match different cabs.

I wonder if it could just scan a bazillion IRs and cluster them by features.

Most developers solve the oranization problem by just making their own IRs. It’s not a bad solution. You can be a lot more thoughtful in how they are organized and captured. If I were to do it that way, I’d have to start out with just one cab and really get the process down. I don’t love the idea of hunting down a million cabs and capturing them. That sounds like miserable work, but probably the best way to get a good, consistent UX.

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Yeah, with that in mind, I use the more minimalist IRs that I have say 8 IRs captured off a 1960a cab, all phase aligned. I do a lot more of these than hunt thru some of the humongous libraries that I have.
Every once in a while I go nuts and do that as I am looking for particular effect, but less is more.

I seem to gravitate more towards these guys:

These are a friend’s from another forum and I helped in the testing stages, so maybe just a tad partial. Also always go along well with the Kalthalen free IRs. Then I have a ton of others that sit around unused for the most part.

I might have spent quite a few hours browsing through loads of IRs when I initially bought some packs, but I know what I like, and used that experience to hone in on the ones that might work for me. When I found one it went in a separate folder, and I’ve ended up with a handful where I know them, I understand what they do and what they’re for, and it keeps things easy.

It definitely helps that I was able to base my initial searching on what I knew worked for me in the real world - I’ve gigged and recorded through so many speaker cabs, tried so many speakers in them, that I know I like, say, Celestion Blues more than greenbacks, oversized closed back 2x12s more than 4x12s, V30s more than T75s, etc.

So I’ve ended up with a little bunch of IRs that represent what I’d choose to play+record through if that technology didn’t exist.

A Celestion alnico silver 2x12 cab miked with a 121
The same, but Alnico Blues for a little neater, less ragged midrange
An oversized Bognor 2x12 with Vintage 30s miked with a 414 for thicker, heavier stuff
A 1x12 with a Bad Cat ceramic speaker for when I want a tighter sound with bigger mids

And for each one, I’ll have 2 or 3 options - one with the mic closer to the center of the speaker, and another with it further out, so I can change how bright+ punchy or mellow the IR is to taste.

Having done that, I pretty much forget about the other 1000 or so IR files, because worrying about one of them being better than what I chose isn’t going to make my music better.


This one looks interesting. While it doesn’t appear to help solve the problems of organizing / browsing a library of IR’s, it does have a different interface for mixing / combining IR’s.

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That’s pretty cool! It looks like you can Save/Export the mix as a new IR, and also Save/Store presets. It does have a phase-flip button, but as mentioned earlier it may be that mixing IR’s from various sources could introduce some subtle phase issues that wouldn’t respond to the 180 degree flip.

Libra’s really cool actually… I’ve been playing around with it a fair bit. The issue I’m running into as mentioned above is phase issues. If I try to mix cabs from different vendors, a lot of times I’ll get all sorts of nastiness… and I’m not about to go through all my IR’s and phase align them. Ugh.
That being said, I could also just use IR’s from the same vendor :rofl:

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@Descent I bought a few of the small sample IR packs from Zombie… they’re really quite excellent! Thanks for mentioning them!

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I was involved jn the trial group. Honestly, that’s about the only IR and Kalthallen free that I use all the time.

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