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This article was originally published in issue #54
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The demand for portable, easy to use and high-quality speaker simulation for professional musicians is at an all-time high. Whilst we all love the sound of a well-mic’ed speaker cabinet, it’s often not the most ideal solution in certain live and recording situations for quick stop offs.
14 excellent guitar and bass cab impulse responses
Easy to use
The feel of cab simulation may not suit everyone
Sam Bell reviews DigiTech's CabDryVR. A pedal featuring a selection of 14 great sounding guitar and bass cab impulse responses that allows for high quality cabinet emulation without the need for a real cabinet.
Before I get into this review, I think it’s important to state the importance of a speaker simulator and why you may want one. The demand for portable, easy to use and high-quality speaker simulation for professional musicians is at an all-time high. Whilst we all love the sound of a well-mic’ed speaker cabinet, it’s often not the most ideal solution in certain live and recording situations for quick stop offs. Having a cab sim gives the user the ability to go direct to a mixing board, in ear monitors or DAW without the many variables that can make the traditional approach inconsistent and time consuming. Having said all of this, as a professional guitarist, nothing beats having a real cab on stage in terms of feel but I in my work as a gigging musician have found cabinet simulators, impulse responses and direct solutions very helpful and incredibly effective! 90% of the time in large venues the audience can’t tell, it massively reduces stage volume and makes life a lot easier for the sound engineers, which makes the whole mix a lot clearer, consistent and easy!
The DigiTech CabDryVR is a dual cabinet simulator pedal that’s designed to go on your pedalboard alongside whatever you might use. The pedal is powered by a 9volt input and takes up a small footprint on your board. The CabDryVR has a dual inputs and outputs, one of which gives you the additional option of running to your amp on stage if you wish to mix the two signals. Which can yield fantastic results live and in the studio. You can also run both inputs and outputs direct, letting you blend the different speaker cabinet simulations. There are 14 impulse responses on this pedal designed for guitar and bass, each of which can be tuned to different cab ‘sizes’. Smaller cabs have more top end and less bottom, great for cutting sounds. Bigger cabs feature more bass and lower mid-range. If you mix the two and tweak the level controls of each output, you can really dive into making a versatile cab sound, much like putting two mics on one speaker cabinet to get similar results, however, this can happen at a push of a button and a few knob tweaks thanks to the CabDryVR.
I really like the simplicity of this pedal, having used lots of impulse responses in a recording DAW set up, I have seen how detailed it can get, which is great for the finer details, but in a live situation or a time constrained situation, simplicity gets to the point and gets things done! The polar opposite has been true as well, I have played amps with ‘cab sim’ outputs which sound like someone has trapped a wasp in a bottle of popular orange drink from the 90’s. This pedal, however, finds a fantastic middle ground, giving the user enough options to really shape their tone convincingly but not have them lost down the rabbit hole of mic distances, early reflections and the whole myriad of other options available on more studio based gear. The cab options are listed on the website and cover the meat and potatoes of popular cab designs, everything from a small 1x8 combo up to a large closed back 4x12 is covered and some popular choices in between.
Some may find that using a cab sim sounds very dry and clinical. However one thing we forget is that when we hear a real speaker cab in a room, we are hearing the room, we are hearing extra things. My tip as a professional guitarist to anyone using a cab sim for the first time is to keep in mind using some ambience after the cab sim, such as a bit of room reverb, or a short slapback delay. A very popular technique with pro guitarists even when using a real cab, it creates some space between your ears and the sound, which makes it sound great!
The build and look of this pedal are great too, I really like the bright yellow and racing start line stripes, not really sure why they have gone for that design, I am probably missing something, but I really like it! Like with most of DigiTech’s products, it is robust, well built, a pedal that should survive many, many gigs and heavy use. I would highly recommend looking at this pedal if you are looking for direct options for live work or a quick solution in a studio environment.
2 x 1/4" Inputs and Outputs
9V DC power supply (sold separately)