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This article was originally published in issue #50
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The sounds have a clarity and sense of air about them that works well with both real and simulated amps and the room mic samples layer beautifully with the close mics.
They sound great
Well chosen options give variety without drowning the user in hundreds of very similar sounding files
New models constantly being added
You have to find an Impulse Loader
Could get a bit expensive if you wanted to collect every model (but a lot cheaper than real cabs and collections are discounted!)
In his never-ending quest for the perfect recorded guitar sound, Andi Picker delves into the world of impulse responses with the expanding collection from loudspeaker kings Celestion.
I’m a big fan of speaker impulse responses. Used either with a live amp and a load box (see GI Issue 42 for a Making Tracks feature about this) or with an amp simulator, a good impulse is a quick and convenient way to really bring a guitar sound to life.
In case anyone needs a quick catch-up: an impulse response is a burst of sound played through a speaker and recorded. When the impulse is loaded into a piece of software called an Impulse Loader (!) the effect of all of the processing that has been applied to it can be used on other sources. By using clean, high headroom amplifiers to feed the original cab, this can represent the sound of the speakers, cab, microphone, pre-amp, and the room that the recording was made in.
At the time of writing the Celestion impulse collections include the G12M Greenback, G12H Anniversary, G12M Creamback, G12H Creamback, V30, G12 65, Blue, G12H Redback, and Neo Creamback models (the last two have been added since I started the review), each with five cab types (1x12 closed & open back, 2x12 closed & open back, and 4x12 closed back) each recorded with three mics (SM57, MD421, R-121) in six positions, plus TLM107 room mics, plus various mixed combinations, with 200 and 500 ms impulses at 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96kHz sample rates, all provided as .wav files to use with any convolution software, plus various configurations for hardware units. That’s quite a lot of files, but the downloads are well arranged and simple to navigate, and it’s easy to exclude any options that you don’t want to use. File names are useful, using clues like “dark”, “thin”, “bright”, “fat”, and “balanced” to guide us, and the impulses within the microphone folders are varied enough that we can actually hear the differences between them.
Over the years I have bought a few impulse libraries, and they all have their own sonic signature: some are balanced and real-sounding while others can be a bit hyped and larger than life. These Celestion speaker/cab/mic combinations actually sound pretty much like perfect versions of my own real cabs and mics, and they seem to work well without needing additional EQ tweaking, which is both reassuring and convenient.
Celestion could hardly afford to put its name on its own samples of its own speakers if they weren’t good, and these impulses were clearly recorded to a very high standard with top quality equipment and engineering. The sounds have a clarity and sense of air about them that works well with both real and simulated amps and the room mic samples layer beautifully with the close mics. I’ve had my favourites set of impulses for some time now, but I’ve actually replaced some of them on a couple of projects that I’m working on because the sonic signature of the Celestions seems to sit in the specific tracks better (to my taste at the moment).
All impulses are available for purchase as individual cabs, or as collections with a hefty discount, though it still adds up a little if you want to have everything.
Celestion’s digital products website has up to date details of available options with sound samples, and there is a free impulse available to download and try. Just by way of a suggestion, I do think it would be useful if Celestion provided an impulse loader to complete the package: certainly there are a number of options available (including some very good freeware) and some amp-sims allow third party impulses to be loaded into them directly, but not all loaders are created equal, and it might be nice for a new user to be able to use their libraries “straight out of the box” without having to research and hunt around for another component to do them justice (and I suspect that a top-quality loader with a well designed file organiser could put the Celestion brand onto a lot of computer screens).
All the same, these are excellent impulses that sound just like very well engineered recordings of the real thing.