VI. Cabs and Mics
- A. Cab/Mic Overview
- B. Cab Selection for Direct Tones
- C. Cab Selection for Live Tones
- D. Mic Selection
- E. Dual Cabs
- F. Cab DEP's
- G. E.R.
There are several things to consider when selecting a cab/mic combinations for your patches. Your main considerations should be the general tone and feel of the cab/mic and whether frequencies are plain noisy or missing.
While the most obvious thing is frequency response, simple things like too much bass, mids, or high-end can easily be filtered out using EQ (and/or some of the Cab DEP's). To some degree, that is important - other than a few general EQ tweaks, you're probably not going to EQ out all the differences between one cab/mic and another. But unless the frequency response you want is extreme and can only get there with a certain cab/mic, such considerations should take a backseat to tonal nuances or deal-breaking imperfections.
If frequencies are missing, trying to dial them back in will end up amplifying noise, which will kill your tone. If a cab is deficient in some frequencies to the point where they are noticeably absent, it's probably not going to work out. There are some Cab DEP treatments I cover below that may help, but if they do not, swallow any sentiments you have towards that cab/mic and move on - you're going to be happier with another one.
It's easy to confuse a strong frequency response with noise at first glance. You can tell the difference by playing different notes and chords up and down the neck and seeing if the tone remains stagnant, always sounding the same. If so, that's noise. If it's just a small frequency range, you may be able to dial it down with a Parametric EQ. That's what I occasionally do for fizzy spots. But before doing that...
The cab's Res Level DEP might help reduce the noisyness of the cab. I find at low settings (15-30%) you get the cleanest, most-natural sound, but the tone can be a little rough and/or dark/scooped. As you turn it up, you'll hit the spot where the resonance starts to smooth out roughness and the tone becomes "squishier". From that point on, the resonance tends to amplify certain frequencies and filter out others, and the tone tends to sound a bit more and more washed out, almost like a presence knob for the lower mids. I like to find the sweet spot where the tone starts to get a little squishy, but I generally don't want the resonance to emphasize certain frequencies over others. This spot tends to sound like a nice, thick tone but also clear and relatively noiseless. Going past this point may improve the frequency response for your tastes, but may also introduce more noise and less clarity to the tone. Sometimes that's ok, but most of the time I avoid that.
On the other hand, if a cab is deficient in lower frequencies and not punchy enough, you may be able to balance it out by increasing the Thump or reducing the Res. Level Cab DEP. Keep in mind that reducing Res. Level may make the tone a bit rougher - you may be able to dial this out when dealing with amp/distortion tone, but maybe not. However, as mentioned above, deficient frequencies are often a deal-breaker. Trying to dial them in results in a noisy tone.
If a cab simply has too much low-end, you can dial this down using the amp's bass knob, the Thump Cab DEP, the Low Cut Cab DEP, or using an EQ effect. A lot of people have said the Pod HD's cabs are too dark. Not the main ones I use - they aren't dark enough! But in any case, if a cab is too dark, that's easily taken care of with EQ. I don't find I have as much trouble with the low end as I do with mids and treble. The low-end is rarely noisy, and doesn't require the same attention to detail on the Cab DEP's as the mids and highs. Just EQ it out using the 4 controls I mentioned, usually using a combination of them to get the exact frequency response you want.
Similar to amps, the cabs seem to have their own individual nuances that are unique to that model. Spend time with the cabs/mics and try to identify a feel for them that transcends their EQ curve. I wish I could just tell you the nuances of each one, but they're really difficult to describe - it's like trying to explain the difference between the different sounds of vowels. You have to put time in with each one. It's a good idea to try to EQ out the obvious general differences and to adjust the Res. Level DEP before thoroughly listening to the tonal nuances. Otherwise, you might miss them, distracted by annoyances that can be dialed out.
You don't have to experiment for hours with every possible combination - 1 hour with each cab/mic combination would take 128 hours. You should be able to tell which cabs sound in your desired ballpark after trying a couple different mics on them. I'd start with the SM57 on axis and SM57 off axis, as they deliver a relatively clean representation of the cab's sound. Once you've found 3-5 cabs you think sound best, try them using all the mics.
But keep in mind that just because one mic doesn't sound good with one cab doesn't mean it will sound bad with every cab. Some sound a lot different. For instance, I think the 409 Dynamic mic sounds really vintage-y with most cabs, but it sounds really heavy and modern with the XXL cab. It helps not to think of the cab and mic simulation as separate processes - think of each combination as its own unique entity. This is actually probably how the Pod HD technically performs cab + mic simulation - each cab/mic combination loads a distinct IR file.
Further below, I recommend running a dual cab setup. The EQ advice contained above and below does not pertain to a dual cab setup, where you are generally picking two cab/mic combinations that complement each other and lead to a fuller response from the get go. Dual cabs are not for the faint of heart, or those wanting to run numerous or expensive effects. If you just want an awesome amp tone and are willing to spend a bit more time on your patches, I recommend you jump right into dual cabs.
As a final note, if you have run out of effects blocks and can't get the EQ you want, you may want to sacrifice the tonal nuances of the cab/mic you've picked and use a cab/mic that gets you that EQ. It's a trade-off you have to make sometimes.Top of Page
My favorite cab/mic combinations to use for single amp patches are:
Great all around tone. A little midsy and maybe a little light on the high-end but nothing EQ can't solve. Nothing sounds fake or washed out here. The only problem is it's a little noisy compared to its on axis twin, and the Tread V-30. This is my go-to cab/mic.
I used to rely on the Treaplate 4x12 + SM57 on axis combo, because of its rich highs and upper mids; but I felt it left the tone way too thin, lacking in punch, warmth, and bass. Trying to dial that in never resulted in a satisfactory tone. So I switched mostly to the SM 57 off axis, which doesn't quite have the same clarity in the top end, but has a better overall response across all frequencies. Recently I've noticed there's still something fake-sounding in my tone and went back to the drawing board, trying to really test out all the cabs in detail. The one that stuck out was the Hiway 4x12. Both 57 on and off axis work well with it, and deliver a very real-sounding tone.
I also have different favorite mic/cab combinations for my dual cab patches. See that section for those.Top of Page
To compare cab/mics, you want a true A vs. B comparison. After you've dialed in your amp tone, picked a cab/mic, and EQ'ed the patch in pretty well, clone the patch (save it to a neighboring or empty patch space), select a different cab or mic in the clone, re-tweak the EQ and Cab DEP's, then compare the new patch vs. the original. Otherwise if you just switch the cab you're comparing, one cab is dialed in and one is not. Each cab/mic will have unique EQ and Cab DEP settings ideal to the patch you're trying to create. Compare tweaked cabs to tweaked cabs, not defaults to defaults or tweaks to defaults. Additionally, the Tread V-30 4x12 is significantly louder than any of the other cabinets, which makes it difficult to compare it to other cabs as you're trying to build a patch. Compensate your patches for volume as well as EQ differences.
A lot of the tones I seek require a nice, bright top-end. This often goes too far, putting harsh highs in the tone. But these can easily be rolled off using a Mid-Focus EQ. I stick to my general principles - that it's better to filter out frequencies than to try to dial them in and to start with the cleanest signal possible and EQ or otherwise adjust it.
But sometimes you want a cab's unique tone, and that means I may need to boost the high-end. I like to use the Studio EQ to do so - it uses wide boosts and it has an 8 kHZ selection, that allows it to focus higher than the Parametric EQ. Another good option is the Parametric EQ. Although the frequency selection only goes up to about 5 kHZ, it has a high shelf that can make a nice even boost to the highs. If this ends up putting too much crackle in the ultra-high end, again, a Mid-Focus EQ is best to roll that off.Top of Page
After testing pretty much all of the cabs in depth, EQ'ing out any sore spots that may initially overwhelm me, I came to the conclusion that the Hiway rules all other cabs in its ability to deliver the tone of a real guitar speaker. I can't say exactly what speaker it sounds like. Some of the recorded tones I've tried to emulate have used Celestion Vintage 30's, Celestion Greenbacks, and Altec 417-8H's, maybe some others as well. In all cases, I got the Hiway cab to sound more like the tone than the Tread V-30, XXL V-30, Greenbacks, or other cabs. Some tones, which I know used Vintage 30's, sound virtually identical to the tone I can get with this cab model. The actual speakers modeled in the Hiway cab are Fane 12287, which I cannot find any clips of or detailed comparison to speakers I'm more familiar with. In any case, I am currently in love with this cab model. I use it in virtually all my single-amp patches now, replacing the Tread V-30 and Greenbacks 4x12's I was using.
I'm still trying to figure out why it took me over a year to realize this about this cab, as I formerly thought the Tread V-30 cab ruled the roost. I think I was biased against it due to it being a "vintage" model, with speakers I was quite unfamiliar with. Also, the first thing you'll notice about the tone is that it's really midsy - right in the honk area of the mids, which is NOT metal. Dialing the mids out can be a little tricky, but I find a Parametric EQ with frequency at 47%, Q around 50%, and gain around 35-40% does nicely. It's the low and high-end tone that I really like here.
This cab is not perfect. It's not as loud and clear as the Tread V-30, but I think it's still preferable because the tone is so much more consistent across the entire frequency spectrum. Also, it can be a little weak on bass, which you'll have to dial in. This can lead to a bit of drone and boom in the low end, which is off-putting. But dialing in the bass isn't as noticeable, especially in a mix, as the fake or dead sound of the other cabs.
For DEP's, I like to turn the Res. Level down quite a bit in general (25%), making the tone quite crispy and clear and I boost Thump to add a bit of punch.Top of Page
It seems to have the least bass of all the cabs. You'll have to dial it back in, but you're never going to get the same amount of chug from it as the XXL V-30 4x12. It can also be a little bright (especially with the 57 on axis and 421 Dynamic), so you'll have to stay mild on your treble or turn up the bass and mids (I find the best way to tame the sizzle is to use a Mid-Focus EQ). Even with those deficiencies, I still think it's one of the better options, in general. But if you directly compare it to a real cabinet or high quality 3rd party IR, you'll notice it has some dead spots or something that make it sound a little fake.
I find this cab is best around 40% Res. Level - that's where the resonance starts squishing the speaker but before it starts making the upper mids overly prominent. Thump can definitely stand to be turned up - I go all the way to 85%.Top of Page
The XXL V-30 4x12 cab should be in the same ballpark as the Tread V-30 4x12 (same speakers being modeled) with a bit more bass and a slightly different frequency response. Yet, it sounds WAY different, out-the-box. I think many people desiring a heavy tone would choose the XXL cab over the Tread on first glance. The deep bass makes it sound undeniably heavy.
Yet something about it sounds a bit off. It's clearly got way too much bass, especially in the "boomy" range between 100 and 240 HZ. But even when you dial that out, it just sounds muffled or something, even with mics that tend to have more presence. I rarely use it by itself for this reason. The only mic I find it sounds good with is the 409 Dynamic, but you have to tame the boomyness still.
Nonetheless, it definitely sounds the heaviest, and I can dial it in close enough to where I want it to be for certain patches. It's the only cab that'll get you that ridiculous Meshuggah (and metalcore) djent.
There are many ways to tame the bass - the amp's bass control, the Thump Cab DEP, the Low Cut Cab DEP, a Mid-Focus EQ, or a Parametric EQ. I almost always use a Mid-Focus EQ anyway, so I start there. Try using a low Q setting on the high pass, and slowly turning up the cutoff frequency to find the sweet spot. Then play with Q and frequency until you have it exactly like you want. That should help balance it out. If still sounds boomy, I use a Parametric EQ with frequency at 13 or 14%, Q around 75-85%, and gain at 35% or less - this will dial out that boomy spot. Or reduce the Thump DEP. If you can palm-mute a low B and it doesn't rattle your entire house, you're on the right track. Finally, try turning down the "lows" parameter on the Parametric EQ a bit or backing off the bass on your amp model.
I actually like to turn up the Res. Level on this cab to about 60% when I use it by itself. This seems to give the mids and presence a healthy boost, partially evening out the frequency response of the cabinet. As expected you probably want to turn Thump down a tad, but don't go too much or things will start to sound weird. When I use it in a dual cab patch, I'll turn Res. Level down to clean up the tone, but it makes things darker, but that's ok since I'm pairing it with a brighter cab.Top of Page
I have really come to enjoy the Greenbacks 4x12 for a few of my tones, mostly Satriani and EVH. It has some buzzy quality to it, which might not work for heavier music. But it works for a slightly-nasal traditional rock tone, with nice midrange. It might get you a good 80's metal tone. It sounds good paired with the SM57 off axis mic though. For some reason this cab seems to have more highs with the SM57 off axis than on axis.Top of Page
The Uber 4x12 is another good option, modeling a 4x12 with 2 Vintage 30 and 2 G12T-75 speakers. It's got a great bass response and a touch of a vintage sound to it. I think it sounds more like the Tread V-30 4x12 than the XXL 4x12 does. It's more like a real cab "out-the-box".
The only caveat, which is true of pretty much every cab but the Tread V-30, is that it's a little lacking in the high-end response. You can dial some in with a very strong presence boost around 2 - 2.8 kHZ, but it's going to sound a little noisy. Getting the right amount of bass isn't a fight like with the XXL. You can probably get away with just adjusting the amp's bass knob.
It's highly valuable for dual cab tones - a perfect complement for the Treadplate 4x12's brightness to fill in some punch and warmth. Also when mic'ed with a 57 gets that raucous T75 tone, but has a more modern sound than the Brit-T75 4x12.Top of Page
Very nasal and vintage-sounding. I find I prefer the Uber for a more modern T75 sound. I occasionally use this cab for classic rock tones, but you're going to need some EQ treatment. The lower mids can be a bit boomy and it's a bit muffled in the high end. I very rarely use this cab because of how noisy it is and how difficult it is to dial-in, but it does have that pure T75 sound if that's what you want.
As for Blackbacks 4x12, I don't dislike it perse, but I never found it preferable to the ones listed above for the tones I was going for. I don't know what it is - I tend to love it at first but slowly get a little annoyed with them. I think they have a little buzz to them that's too prominent compared to the rest of the tone - there's not enough creamy mids here. I find the Blackbacks 4x12 is in the same league as the Uber. It can sound a bit aggressive and vintage at the same time, but ultimately I just can't dial it in where it doesn't sound harsh, noisy, or fake.
As for the other cabs, I simply didn't find many of them useful for a high gain tone. They all sound REALLY thin, especially the Fenders. The Celest 12-H 1x12 and the PhD ported 2x12 are probably the best suited for a high gain tone, but unless you're mixing them with another cab, you won't find enough punch.
For clean tones, I like the Fender 2x12 and the Celest 12-H the best.Top of Page
When not using Studio/Direct output mode, selecting a cab enables "live-voiced cabs" which are a mild EQ effect designed to color your actual cab's sound to be more like the one selected. I tend not to use these, instead selecting "no cab". They seem to muffle the high end a bit.
If you find "no cab" too harsh, first check your amp/power amp. Some power amps have a presence control that's used to dial in the right amount of high end. Sometimes, you may thinking its a pre-amp control that's being bypassed, so you don't think to adjust it. If there's no setting on your power amp to dial back harshness, you may simply have harsh speakers. In this case, I do recommend setting your output mode to something other than "Studio/Direct" (Stack power amp or Combo power amp usually), and using a live-voiced cab that suits you.
I believe they are free DSP-wise and don't consume additional effects blocks, so in that sense they are better than an EQ effect. Don't just try the ideal cab you want here - try them all. Try the 1x12's as well as 2x12's and 4x12's. You can't know in advance how well any one will work with your actual cab - the Pod doesn't know what kind of cab you have.
If your tone is still too harsh with one of those, try dialing down the high end with an EQ effect. I like the Mid-Focus EQ's low pass.
If you still have no luck, try using Studio/Direct output mode with a cab/mic simulation. Even though this is not how the Pod was designed to be set up, as long as you like the tone you get, you should use it. Your only other option at this point would be to replace your speaker(s) (given the issue isn't due to how you set up a patch).Top of Page
90% of my tones use the SM57 mic. It seems to get the most guitar tone and the least noise for distorted tones. Many have complained that it creates too much fizz or harsh high-end. I think some of the other mics are fizzier, but I do agree about the high-end. However, this is easily solved with the low-pass of a Mid-Focus EQ (see Mid-Focus EQ). If there's any fizzy spots, you can easily dial them out with a Parametric EQ (see fizzy spots).
I go back and forth on whether I prefer on or off axis. It depends on the tone I'm going for. I like to start on-axis. It really captures the high-end sizzle cleanly, and the tone just seems richest with this mic. But something about this mic can also make the tone sound like a modeler and not a real guitar tone - I think it's the lack of punch and warmth. Sometimes you can dial in enough warmth with the on axis depending on the tone you're going for and the amp model you're using. Or if you're using the dual cab technique below, you just pair this mic with a darker cab. I find my favorite tone is a Hiway/XXL combo, both using the 57 on axis - thick AND rich.
The cab DEP's have really helped get the right amount of growl and bite from this mic. You can use the Res. Level, Thump, and Decay controls to thicken up and smooth out the tone more than you otherwise could.
But sometimes you want the off axis. In general, the off axis is less clean - it sounds a bit noisier, and maybe a bit fizzier. But you get a more punchy tone really centered around the warm mids, but you still have a good high-end response. The one exception is on the Greenbacks cab - I find the 57 off axis is a bit brighter and cleaner for some reason.
For dual cab tones, I always use a 57 on axis on one of the cabs to get a nice clean upper midrange and treble response. None of the other mics come close for these frequencies.Top of Page
The Dynamic mics are pretty good, but can sound overly aggressive. They almost sound like a real amp with a blanket over the speakers, then a touch of highs added on top later on. The highs are bright but the presence is lacking. In fact, when you turn up presence for these, often you'll notice you get a thicker sound, not necessarily what you'd expect by adding more presence. I like the sound of the XXL cab with the 409 and the Tread V-30 with the 421, but I use these very sparingly. The 409 can sound more vintage with other cabs.
I sparingly use the 409 for dual cabs - it can fill in some punch and warmth pretty well, but in general I find other mics below do it better.Top of Page
I can't tell if these mics dial in a good bit of midrange or are simply noisy. The 67 is a bit tamer than the 87. The 87 I use sparingly. I tried to work with the '87 for a while and was digging it at one point, but I eventually gave up on it.
These mics sound "squishier" than the others, which can sound a little djenty. You get less high end definition, but the overall sound is a bit smoother. They might work well for lead tone in a mix with a lot of space, but I don't think they'd cut through at all in any kind of busy mix. It just sounds way too noisy to me.
I tend to like the 67 and sometimes the 87 for dual cab tones. They add punch and warmth nicely and "fill in" the tone. Just watch out for some buzzy high end creeping in - you may have to dial down the treble on the amp using this.Top of Page
The 4038 actually sounds kind of like a mild version of the Condenser mics, but a bit buzzier or filtered-sounding. It's usable but kind of dark. Maybe it'd work for a real grindy tone. The 121 will get you nowhere for high gain tones from my experience, at least on its own. I know many metal bands use a 121 to record. I could never get anything worthwhile from the 121 model though. I do like it for mid-centric clean tones though.
The 121 is great for dual cab tones, filling in a lot of midrange and punch, but not really putting out a bunch of nasty high-end like the dynamics and sometimes even the condensers. The 4038 is more difficult to blend in due to its raucous high-end, but it can be made to work.Top of Page
Using the dual cab technique I'm presenting here can improve your direct tone dramatically. However, this is not for the faint of heart. It requires about 2x as much time to dial in as a single cab patch. You will also take a heavy DSP hit, so this is not recommended where you need many effects on your patches - in some cases you won't be able to fit a single reverb after adding a distortion effect and the necessary EQ effects.
Every cab/mic will have some frequency range that sounds fake, washed out, or muffled. Luckily, I don't believe these are always in the same spot. This means that you can combine complementary cab/mic's to get what sounds like one great cab.Top of Page
You will need to use dual amps plus a possible additional effect, maybe two. So if you won't have the DSP or effects blocks for this, you'll need to adjust your patch accordingly. I find it's best to start with a blank patch and add the effects in after dialing the amp tone in. Also, your EQ settings may end up far from whatever works with a single cab, so don't worry about preserving your "magic" settings.
Setting up the technique is quite simple: you just create a dual amp patch, choose the same amp model for both amps, and dial in basically the same settings. You only change the cab/mic's being used between them. I recommend you start with the exact same gain, EQ, and DEP settings. Make sure you pan each Channel to center in the Mixer. You want one great mono tone, not a kind of stereo mix.
Next we get to cab selection. I like to start by picking my cabs based on their general tone and feel, ignoring the mics for the time being. The mics chosen will likely depend on this spreadsheet/alternate Google Cloud version/pdf version, which we will get into in the next section. But the basic idea is to choose "compatible" but complementary cabs. For example, the Tread V-30 and XXL V-30 work nicely together because they are both tight, modern-sounding cabs using the same speakers, yet one is rather thin and the other has lots of punch. On the other hand, the Tread V-30 and Hiway might work less well together because they are both a bit bright but have two different sounds to them. You have to be familiar with the qualities of the cabs individually before choosing which to mix. Use the descriptions above and demo their tones to figure this out. Or check out my favorites combinations below.
I tend to use the Hiway, Tread V-30, Uber, or Greenbacks with a 57 on axis mic as the cab in Channel A - this will be my "bright cab". For Channel B I like to use the Uber, Greenbacks, or XXL V-30 with the 121 Ribbon, 67 Cond, 409 Dyn, or 57 off axis mic. However, I use this as a loose starting position. They might not work well together, even if they are compatible and complementary from their individual characteristics, as we'll see below. Be ready to abandon your initial choice for something similar. For instance, if you wanted to use the 409 mic, you may have to use the 421 mic, or a 67 cond - something somewhat similar. In some cases you may want to use an entirely different cab.
Just keep in mind you don't want to have to EQ the crap out of either of the cabs. You want them to simply blend together into one full-sounding cab. You also want to adjust the volume of each amp to balance them. Neither should overpower the other. I generally find I like them with the same volume, but sometimes I use the darker cab a little louder. Start with your bright cab's volume at 0% and slowly turn up the volume until the sound gets nice and full but it doesn't start to overtake the darker cab. You'll need the bright cab's high-end to make the guitar tone cut through, but you don't want to sacrifice midrange or "body" in the process.
When you first setup your patch, the results might not be as pretty as you'd like. I've actually found that many combinations sound bad at first but can be fixed. This leads me to the next section on phase correction, but first I'd like to say that I prefer to use cab/mic combinations that do not require phase correction, or only require using a single EQ effect to do so. If you find the section below too confusing or know in advance that you won't have an extra EQ or 2 to spare on phase correction, just use the combinations below as a cheat sheet - it lists combinations that don't require any phase correction, or it lists which cab needs to be delayed and by how much. Or demo examples in This setlist.Top of Page
You may notice a drop in high-end response and/or a dead or phasy tone when you first combine the cabs. The dual cab combination you chose is likely experiencing a comb filter. Anytime you record a single audio source with two mics that are at different distances, there will be negative interference occurring at regular intervals throughout the frequency spectrum. In short, this means the tone has dead spots. This is due to a slight delay in one of the signals. For certain frequencies, the two signals perfectly cancel out. Others are just out-of-phase to various degrees, while some perfectly reinforce each other.
Higher-pitched frequencies get the worst of it. Because they have a shorter wavelength, even a slight delay can cause perfect cancellation. This is probably what you notice. The tone sounds like a blanket was thrown over the amp. Even though the Pod is using different cabs, the signals aren't as different as they sound. Even the dark cab has some treble in there, and it can wash out the bright cab's high-end. Even if you use the same mic on both cabs, it doesn't mean the signal isn't delayed more in one than the other. This could be a result of how the cabs themselves behave, differences in the distances Line 6 used to mic them, or differences in how the DSP processing implements them.
I have discovered a method to phase correct the two cabs. Some effects can be set to be transparent to the signal; however, they do require processing time, which introduces a very slight delay to the signal. The most common effects I use are EQ's and Compressors. By using a combination of such effects, we can acheive phase correction. The difference is night and day.
Author's note: the information below gets fairly technical and might be more work than necessary. The easier way to do this is to simply throw a parametric EQ with default settings behind one of the amps before the mixer. Toggle it on/off and see if the tone improves with it on. If not, do the same test on Channel B. If the tone sounds muffled with no EQ, EQ on Channel A, and EQ on Channel B, or if it just sounds "off" and "phasy", give up on the combination you've picked - you'll probably need to use 2 or more effects to phase correct the cab/mic choices, which starts to become a hindrance. I list combinations below and in this spreadsheet/alternate Google Cloud version/pdf version that work well using 0 or 1 EQ's. This setlist also contains examples.
I have done some pretty thorough research on this, and am continuing to update it. The link below is a spreadsheet with a matrix of every possible combination of cab/mic with another, for the Tread V-30, Hiway, XXL, Greenbacks, Uber, Brit, and Blackbacks 4x12 cabs with all available mics with the delay required to make them in-phase represented in a number of samples assuming a 96 kHZ sample rate. It contains tabs on how to use it, a list of relatively tone-transparent effects with the amount of delay they introduce, and the combination of effects necessary to get any particular amount of delay.
So here's how to apply this knowledge. First look up any pair of cab/mic you want to use with any other cab/mic in the CabDelayTimes spreadsheet. Channel A's cab/mic is listed on the x axis, Channel B on the Y axis. Where these rows and columns meet, you'll see a number. That tells you the number of samples you need to delay Channel B to get phase correction. If the number is negative, that means you need to apply the delay to Channel A (if so, it might be simpler to simply switch the cab/mic in Channel B to Channel A and vice versa).
Once you have found the delay number, you need to add effects to channels A and B to get the specified delay. You'll notice in the FXDelayTimes spreadsheet, the smallest delay time for any effect is 6 samples. To get values less than that you need to add a larger delay to one Channel and a shorter delay to the other Channel. For instance, to get a 4 sample delay in Channel B, you'd put a Parameter EQ in Channel A and a Blue Comp in Channel B. This puts a delay of 10 samples in Channel B and 6 samples in Channel A, giving you a difference of 4 samples in Channel B. This is where the FX Combination Delay Times spreadsheet is useful - you can quickly look up combinations that will yield delay samples in increments of 1 sample from 1 to 20+.
I have color-coded the cells that require 0 or only 1 EQ effect. I recommend sticking to using these cab/mic combinations. Otherwise you risk having to use too many effects blocks or DSP on phase correction, or you have to use effects whose tone-neutrality is highly suspect.
If this seems confusing, it can be a bit tricky at first. That is why I made this setlist. It contains numerous example patches demonstrating how to achieve phase correction. You can toggle the effects on/off (usually with FS2) to hear the difference they make to the tone.A few notes:
The tone might be too trebly for your taste. Don't worry about that - we're going to EQ later. You want the tone that sounds the least filtered/phasy/dead and the most like a single amp tone. Sometimes increasing the delay between the cabs reduces the frequency cancellation in the high-end but adds more ambiance to the tone. I don't like this - I want to reduce the delay between the cabs to as close as I can get to 0. You can use E.R. and the Cab DEP Decay to add slight ambiance and thicken up the tone.Top of Page
With two sets of amp EQ's and possible EQ effects on only one channel, EQ'ing can get much trickier than with a single amp tone. The important things to remember are that the controls will work slightly differently for each channel given the cabs' different frequency responses, and some frequencies will sound a bit better in one channel than the other. However, dialing frequencies out completely can make the tone "small" or a bit dead. I find both amp's need somewhat similar EQ settings, but not exactly the same. The ultimate goal is to blend them together for one full-range sound, playing into the strengths and weaknesses of each cab/mic.
For amps where you're using power amp distortion, EQ settings will affect distortion tone. In these cases, I want the EQ settings virtually identical...at least to start. Only after finishing the rest of my patch and using as many EQ effects as possible for final EQ will I revisit these controls to try to get the final EQ I want.
I also often like to put a Mid Focus EQ at the end of my chain. This helps me roll off some of the extreme highs and lows. You can also use the Gain parameter as a final patch volume, rather than having to change both Mixer Levels or the Amp Volume controls.
You'll probably still want further EQ treatment. I find a Parametric EQ or two behind the mixer (applied to the mixed signal) is usually enough. The phase-correction EQ's above can help as mentioned above, but they won't have as powerful of an effect as a post-mixer EQ. However, since DSP is tight, it's best to make smart choices for them to get as much as you can from them and your amp EQ before trying to add post-mixer EQ blocks. This is especially true for lead patches, where you need some time-effects, or patches that need pitch or mod effects.
Keep in mind that the Cab DEP's will also affect final EQ. Sometimes they can be slightly tweaked for EQ purposes without changing the tone too much. But more extreme changes will affect the tone. So primarily use them for that purpose.Top of Page
I like to keep the amp Drive and DEP's (Master, Sag, Hum, Bias, Bias X) the same on both amps. Don't be afraid to tweak them after all the EQ and phase correction work above. You can also start by making these adjustments before getting into the dual cab stuff. I just like them the same because I don't want it to sound like I'm running two different amps - I really want one giant sound, which I find hard to find using single cabs. So I try to keep everything as together-sounding as possible, only tweaking EQ between the two cabs so that they blend together better. You may find you can get a better sound by varying them, but I have hit my limit of complication I'm willing to deal with.
For Cab DEP's, I usually leave them pretty much at 50%, or I end up turning Res. Level up or down a bit (especially for the Tread V-30 and XXL cabs). This may smooth the tone a bit or make it a touch crispier. Sometimes I boost Decay to get a smoother, thicker tone. Thump can give you even more control over the low-end, but between the EQ controls, mix between the cabs, and if using a Mid-Focus EQ, you probably won't find much improvement here. You can vary these between the two cabs, but I find the tone sounds more consistent if you keep them closer, especially in regards to Decay. Low Cut usually isn't necessary if I have a Mid-Focus EQ in the patch; but if not, use it to trim excess bass. Generally, I follow my advice on how to use these as if they were a single cab, but I'm much less extreme with how I change Res. Level.Top of Page
Normally, I avoid E.R. above a very minor touch because it has that "between two brick walls" feel to it, with an artificial-sounding short echo. However, adding it in mild doses to the "dark cab" only works wonders. It gives the tone just enough ambiance to sound natural, but the bass remains tight, the highs remain crisp, and there's no noticeable echo. I cannot understate how important this tweak is. It lets you go from a tone that sounds artificially dry to closely resembling a mic'ed cab.
So I often use 0 - 4% E.R. on my bright cab and ~5 - 15% E.R. on my dark cab. This works for both rhythms and leads.Top of Page
If you thought DSP management was a pain with a single amp patch, you are screwed. Don't anticipate being able to use any of the super-expensive effects, like spring reverb, smart harmony, or pitch glide (but you may get lucky and squeeze it in if your patch is very bare bones otherwise).
I can get away with a non-spring reverb on most dual cab patches, but it means painful sacrifices. I generally like to run an EQ or Distortion effect in front of the amps. This may no longer fit. If I can fit it, it means I can't use any (or as much) post-Mixer EQ. Given the choice, I'd rather have a phase-correcting EQ behind one of the amps than an EQ effect behind the Mixer. I may need to rely more on the amps' EQ controls for most of my EQ.
If you absolutely need some effect behind the mixer and you're using cab/mic combinations that require 1 or more EQ's for phase correction, you may need to select different cab/mics. I tend to use ones that require 0 or 1 EQ's for phase correction. More than that is very limiting.
Instead of reverb, I more-often use a pair of Delays. These use less DSP together than a single reverb. The Ping Pong Delay uses less DSP than the others, and can be made so that there's no "ping pong" effect. I set one to imitate a mild reverb, which a delay time of ~40 - 200ms. I set the Feedback around 40-50% and keep the mix around 20-25%. By itself, this can sound too echo-ey. But the other delay masks this. I like it with a time of 300-600ms. To vary the sound a little more, I'll use a mod delay on the short delay.
If you are accostomed to using a Distortion effect and a Compressor in front your amp, you can possibly get away with just using the Distortion by turning up its Drive parameter a little bit, which will compress the tone more without necessarily distorting it.
Noise gates are relatively cheap, but I save them for last and only use them if I have room most of the time. For some patches, the noise gate is a critical part of the tone - then you have to work around it. But for traditional use, you can get a similar effect by setting the expression pedal to control both amps' Ch. Volume parameter. Then when you know you're not going to be playing, rock back the pedal - no more hum/hiss/noise. Also, keep in mind the regular Noise Gate uses less DSP than the Hard Gate, but it does alter your tone.
If you can't fit the mod effect you wanted, there may be enough DSP for an alternative. I find the Dimension can substitute for a Chorus or Flanger without consuming too much DSP. See this section for more DSP advice.Top of Page
Here's the list of successful matches I've used. Please let us know if you find others.
|Uber V-30 4x12||57 on axis|
|XXL 4x12||121 Ribbon|
This is the last and to my ear best combination I've found. It seems natural - crisp highs and powerful mids. And there's less EQ'ing to deal with here too.
|Uber V-30 4x12||409 Dynamic|
|XXL 4x12||57 on axis|
Nice feel like the one above, but not quite as much SNR. Maybe a clearer midrange though.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis|
|Uber 4x12||409 Dynamic|
Great for thick vintage 30 tone with great mids - like a real Mesa cab with V30's - modern sounding but not too bright or harsh. Great for rhythms and leads.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis|
|Uber 4x12||121 Ribbon|
Great for the Petrucci tone - like a real Mesa cab with V30's, with a mix of 57 and ribbon mics for a full, thick sound that is modern sounding but not too bright or harsh. Compared to the option above, it is a little thinner, but also has stronger midrange, maybe too strong for my tastes. Best used for leads.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis||1 EQ|
|Uber 4x12||87 Condenser|
Great for the Vai tone - like a nice 4x12 cab with Vintage 30's, with a mix of 57 and condenser mics for a midsy tone, that's still got a modern edge. Works best with a midsier tone - not going to really djent as well as the choice above.
|Greenbacks 4x12||57 off axis|
|Greenbacks 4x12||67 Condenser|
Great for the Satriani tone - Kind of a loose, vintage-sounding tone, but good SNR and clarity.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis||1 EQ|
|XXL V-30 4x12||57 off axis|
Good for a modern yet bright metal tone. Keeps the clarity of the Vintage 30's and SM 57 but the XXL supplies enough punch and warmth to get a fuller tone. The XXL has a great grindy sound to it in addition to its punch, but the downside is that the XXL has a certain artificiality to it I get annoyed with.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis|
|XXL V-30 4x12||409 Dynamic|
This provides a lot of punch, which works great for a metalcore tone, but you don't get as much clarity or as rich midrange. Works for a punchy, scooped sound, but might be too scooped - it's a good idea to supplement this combo with a wide midrange boost. Even so, you won't dial out the artificial-ness of the XXL.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis|
|XXL V-30 4x12||121 Ribbon|
Modern yet midsy. Use this instead of the above option if you need more mids and clarity, but it has a bit less punch to it.
|Uber 4x12||57 on axis||1 EQ|
|Uber 4x12||67 Condenser|
I use this for a modern T75 sound - harsh and raucous yet tight and djenty.
|Tread V-30 4x12||57 on axis|
|Greenbacks 4x12||121 Ribbon|
Old favorite I used for lead tones - very warm and full.
|Hiway 4x12||57 on axis|
|Uber 4x12||409 Dynamic|
Kind of raucous, almost vintage high-end, but modern, tight bottom-end - Great for death or black metal or even a djenty 2000-era Meshuggah tone.
|Hiway 4x12||57 on axis|
|XXL V-30 4x12||409 Dynamic|
Same as above but with the characteristic punch and scooped mids of the XXL.
I used to have a kind of order on how to dial in all the controls, but I find since they are all related to each other and can impact how you use other controls (like compression and EQ), it's best to try to experiment with them, compensating other areas. I like to copy my patches and A/B them to see if the changes help or hurt, then commit or discard the change and try a new experiment.
I agree with community member mdmayfield wrote in this thread. It sounds like these adjustments are applied to the IR signal before it is mixed with the dry signal coming from the amp, rather than post-cab when they have already been both mixed together. Check that thread for his descriptions and a video documenting their effect on the frequency response.
Just a high-pass filter where you specify the frequency. It will roll off the bottom end. Since I usually have a Mid-Focus EQ after my amp/cab, I prefer to use that to trim the low-end - it allows you to adjust the Q as well as frequency.
Where I like to use this control is when I'm using dual cabs. For a boomy amp (Treadplate), I'll vary the low cut settings for each cab to make them more consistent or to make the bass knobs on the amp respond differently. For instance, I may turn the low cut on my Hiway cab up to around 120 HZ, then use the bass control on the amp to dial in some punch. On my XXL cab, I'll leave the low cut between 60-75 HZ and dial in the desired amount of deeper bass.
Or if I'm combining the Treadplate and Hiway cabs, I'll use this on the Treadplate around 300-400 Hz to prevent any of the Treadplate's low-end from interfering with the Hiway. And I'll use low Treble/Presence settings on the amp driving the Hiway, so that its highs don't interfere with the Treadplate's. Just like mixing instruments, I want each to have its own space and peak ranges, but still blend together seamlessly.
Sets the resonance level of the cab. This is basically like setting how hard you want to push the cab. At lower levels, the resonance is not affecting the speaker's signal reproduction as much, and the tone is a bit crispier but can sound a little more "dead" and scooped. Higher levels can get a smoother tone but it is a little more compressed and less tight. This control also affects how much the Thump and Decay parameters actually influence the tone - they are basically flavors to the resonance set here.
I find there are 3 zones to this control. At lower settings, the cab tone is cleanest, but the tone can be a little rough. Depending on your amp tone and cab selection, it may be more crisp than rough. As you turn up the Res. Level, the tone will start to get squishier, smoothing out the roughness. I find this is the sweet spot. Past this point, the resonance starts to dominate the tone, with certain frequencies boosted and others cut. Also, the tone begins to lose clarity, sounding a bit washed out or noisy. Thus, extreme settings make the tone "wonky". I never go lower than 25% and never higher than 70%. Most of the time I'm close to 50%.
I find I usually turn this down a little bit on the Hiway and Tread V-30 cabs, but turn it up a bit on the XXL cab. It makes the Hiway's highs a bit more crisp. The Tread V-30 becomes less presence-heavy and a bit clearer. The XXL gets a bit of a mid-boost by turning it up, which I find makes it sound less dark and scooped then it does at 50%. But I rarely go past 60%.
For dual cab tones, I find this control is best left around 50% or boosted slightly. It really emphasizes the character of the cab and supplies the mids that cut through. While this might throw the Hiway or Treadplate cabs out of balance by themselves, when they are paired with the XXL or Hiway to provide more low end warmth and punch, everything blends better, and the tone is richer with higher Res. Level settings.
This control is yet another means to alter the nature of the distortion tone you are getting. If you find pre-EQ'ing your amp (or some other distortion stage) can't get you exactly where you want to go, this is a good place to experiment. I've had tones that worked for rhythm but were too harsh for lead or weren't giving me the right compression that were vastly improved by manipulating this control. For instance, if I lowered this control, I'd get a more bright and less compressed tone. Then I could add a bit more compression and use less treble before the amp. Overall I had the same average amount of compression, but I got more consistency between rhythms and leads. And the highs I had were less gritty and harsh for leads but still crisp and crunchy for rhythms.
This determines if the resonance affects the low-end of the frequency spectrum or not. If you want a chunky low-end response, you can turn this up; but if your tone is too boomy you can turn it down.
I found this control worked better for adding punch to the tone than the bass control on the amp. The bass control seems to boost more ultra-low-end making the tone boomy. I think many people would turn up the bass, then use this control to try to dial out boominess, but I find the opposite approach works better, being conservative with bass and adding punch using this control.
Basically sets how long the resonance persists (at least I imagine). This is kind of like the decay setting on a reverb. Too short gives a tone that sounds too thin. Too long gives a tone that sounds fake or weird. I generally like to boost this a little if I want to thicken up my tone, but going higher than 70% I find things start getting weird. I generally stay between 50-70%.Top of Page
I default this to 0%. I prefer to use a reverb effect if I want to add a little space to the tone, but for a metal rhythm I generally don't want space at all. The only time E.R. would be useful in my opinion, is if you have already maxed out your effects blocks or DSP and want some additional reverb/space. It doesn't sound bad, but you get more control and a better sound from a reverb effect. Sometimes, I set it to between 0 and 10% to add a minor touch of ambiance to the tone where I don't feel that effect is worth adding a whole Reverb effect.Top of Page