Are you tired of using the same old guitar tones in your music and want to create something truly unique? Then you should consider blending guitar impulse responses (IRs). At Modern Metal Songwriter, we believe that blending IRs is one of the best ways to achieve unique and interesting guitar tones. In this article, we'll explain what IRs are, why they're important, and how blending them can help you achieve a sound that's all your own.
What are Guitar IRs?
Before we dive into blending IRs, let's start with the basics. An impulse response, or IR for short, is a digital audio file that captures the acoustic characteristics of a physical space or piece of equipment. In the case of guitar IRs, they capture the sound of a particular speaker cabinet, microphone, and room. Guitar IRs are important because they allow guitarists to recreate the sound of different amps and speaker cabinets without needing to physically own them.
Instead, you can use IRs with amp modeling software to simulate the sound of different gear. This can save you a lot of money and space, while also giving you a wide variety of tonal options to choose from. Now that we've covered the basics of what guitar IRs are, let's talk about how blending them can help you achieve unique guitar tones.
Blending IRs for Unique Guitar Tones
Blending IRs is the process of using multiple impulse responses together to create a unique sound. Instead of using a single IR, you can blend different IRs together to create a sound that's tailored specifically to your needs. One of the benefits of blending IRs is that it allows you to create sounds that are not possible with a single IR. For example, you can blend two different speaker cabinet IRs to create a sound that's in between the two. You can also blend a room IR with a speaker cabinet IR to create a sense of space and depth in your guitar tone.
Blending IRs from different sources can also help you create unique sounds. For example, you can blend IRs from different manufacturers, different amp models, or even different genres of music. This can lead to interesting and unexpected tonal combinations that can set your music apart from the rest.
As you can tell by the photo, our Clairvoyant Amp Suite plugin makes it very easy to blend in IRs!
Selecting Complementary IRs
While we certainly encourage you to experiment with anything because you never know what you can get by taking unorthodox approaches, we also wanted to mention that selecting complimentary IRs can be a good way to help create a full tone. Complementary IR selection can lead to guitar tone that is larger and has more depth.
For instance, pairing a warm and smooth IR with a bright and articulate one can produce a tone that has both warmth and clarity, filling up the sonic spectrum effectively. The warmth from the former can add body and richness, while the brightness from the latter ensures each note remains distinct within the mix.
Likewise, combining a vintage-style IR with a modern one can yield a fusion of classic and contemporary tones, providing a unique sonic character that appeals to a wider audience.
Moreover, this approach can be a remedy for any potential shortcomings within individual IRs. If one IR lacks low-end presence, pairing it with another that excels in that area can rectify the deficiency and produce a well-rounded tone. It's not just about compensating for weaknesses, though; it's about creating an entirely new tonal landscape that wouldn't be achievable with a single IR alone.
In summary, the art of blending complementary IRs offers guitarists the ability to sculpt rich and captivating tones that stand out in a mix. By thoughtfully selecting IRs that bring out the best in each other and fill in each other's gaps, musicians can unlock a realm of sonic possibilities that might have otherwise remained untapped.
Don’t Forget About Phase!
Understanding and managing phase correlation between IRs is a pivotal aspect of achieving properly blended guitar tones. Phase correlation refers to the alignment of the peaks and troughs of sound waves between different sources. A lack of phase alignment can result in tonal muddiness, loss of clarity, and overall sonic degradation. When combining multiple IRs, ensuring their phase coherence is crucial for preventing destructive interference and guaranteeing a harmonious, unified sound.
To evaluate phase correlation, attentive listening is essential. When auditioning blended IRs, listen for any signs of cancellation or comb filtering – phenomena that arise from the interference of out-of-phase frequencies. These artifacts can manifest as hollow or distant tones, lacking the fullness and richness expected from layered IRs. Visual aids like phase meters and spectrograms can also assist in identifying phase-related issues by illustrating waveform misalignment.
Phase issues can often be fixed by either flipping the phase on one track or time-aligning the IRs. Utilizing time manipulation tools, such as adjusting the start time of an IR, can bring the waveforms into harmony. However, it's crucial to exercise caution during this process, as excessive time manipulation might inadvertently modify the tonal characteristics of the IRs.
Cohesive phase correlation is also important because it ensures that the sound waves from different IRs reinforce each other, rather than cancel each other out. A well-aligned blend of IRs preserves the distinct characteristics of each while contributing to a unified and textured tone. Whether striving for a lush, ambient soundscape or a punchy, defined riff, maintaining phase correlation is a key part of making a good tone when blending IRs.
Using the Modern Metal Songwriter IR Packs
We have two IR packs designed specifically for modern heavy tones! First, the DECLASSIFIED IR pack is a collection of impulse responses specifically designed for rock and metal guitarists. Using these IRs, you can achieve a range of classic metal tones, from warm and vintage to modern and aggressive.
We also partnered with producer/engineer Phil Pluskota to create the Sonic Assault Studio Signature IR Pack! Having worked closely with bands such as Signs of the Swarm, Misery Signals, and countless metal producers, Phil has been trusted by many bands to deliver on unique guitar tones that set their records apart.
His collection of amps and cabs is highly sought after by producers and guitarists alike and allows for endless tone crafting. Now you can get access to Phil's cabs for your own music!
In addition to the DECLASSIFIED pack and the Sonic Assault Pack, Modern Metal Songwriter also offers a free IR pack that includes a selection of our best IRs. This pack is a great way to try out their IRs before committing to purchasing the full pack. By using Modern Metal Songwriter's IR packs and blending their IRs together, you can create something truly unique.
In conclusion, blending IRs is a powerful tool for guitarists who want to create unique and interesting tones. By using multiple impulse responses together, you can achieve sounds that are not possible with a single IR. Blending them can help you get a full tone that is unique and fits your personal tastes for whatever you're working on. Just remember to maintain phase coherence!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on blending IRs and examples of how you are using our Declassified IR Pack! Feel free to share them in our free Facebook Group!