Hi my name is Tori. I’m one quarter of the band Retiree, an artist and a sound designer based in Sydney.
Over recent years Retiree have self recorded, produced and mixed our own music – learning a lot along the way.
Recently, it gently blew my mind when I realised how easy it is to create your own effects through measuring Impulse Responses, and that IR’s (impulse responses) aren’t just limited to reverb effects – it’s possible to create very usable simulations of all sorts of hardware. Since then, I’ve been creating my own simulations of amplifiers, old Hi-Fi systems, eq’s, guitar pedals and more using the Max for Live IR Measurement Device and Convolution Reverb.
In this post I’m going to run you through how to create impulse responses for yourself – so you can start creating and collecting your own simulations of hardware equipment using the aforementioned Max for Live devices.
IRs – a Workflow Breahthrough
Here’s a quick example to convey how much this has been a workflow breakthrough for my band.
There’s hundreds of great amp and effects simulations out there, but my bandmate has a beautiful boutique guitar amp head (pictured below along with a Roland Space Eho) that is crucial to his sound. The only issue is that lugging it to rehearsal every week has been a real punish (plus there’s the chance of damaging it as it’s got 4 fragile tubes). Recreating the exact sound of his amp in software would be possible, but it’s very tedious to try to match using other peoples plug-ins.
So in a bid to avoid the amp being lugged to rehearsals, I decided to have a crack at creating a simulation of it using an impulse response measurement. Not only was this unexpectedly quick and easy to do, we were also pretty surprised at the quality of the simulation.
Now, we’ve been using the simulation we created when we rehearse and its been handy when we’re writing music too. If my bandmate’s amp isn’t on hand then we can just DI his guitar straight into a computer, apply the amp simulation, and then straight away we can get a very reasonable idea of how his guitar part will sound and sit in the mix.
Here’s some audio examples of a vocal sample processed through the real hardware vs. the IR – to show you how accurate the simulation can be.
[sc_embed_player fileurl=”https://blog.liveschool.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/tori-amp.mp3"] The Amp (first one is real, 2nd is with the IR)
[s[sc_embed_player fileurl=”https://blog.liveschool.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/tori-space.mp3"]m> The Space Echo (first one is real, 2nd is with the IR)
Overall it’s been a really powerful and convenient workflow to adopt, so let me explain quickly how you can use it too.
What you will need
- A computer
- Any audio interface
- Some interesting gear to measure (this is what you’ll be creating a simulation of)
- Audio cables to connect your gear to the audio interface (2 if mono, 4 if stereo)
- A mic and mic lead (only required if you’re recording gear with a speaker)
- Ableton Live Suite with the Max for Live essentials pack installed
Step 1 – Patch your signal path
You’ll need to send audio from your computer to the piece of gear you’re creating a simulation of. To achieve this, connect the output/s on your audio interface to the input/s of the gear – simple.
If you just want a hardware emulation, then patch the audio output/s of the hardware back straight back into the audio input/s of your interface. If you want to capture something like an amp/speaker combination, then instead you’ll need to position a microphone close to the speaker and run that back into your audio input.
Step 2 – Software Setup
First, drop the IR Measurement Device onto an audio track.
You can find this in Live’s browser under: Max for Live>Max Audio Effect>IR Measurement Device
The default settings on the IR measurement device work really well, however, by default it’s set up for stereo capture, so you’ll need to adjust the Chan setting to Mono to Stereo if you’re capturing in mono – like in the picture below.
Then just arm the track to record and set your monitor to in.
Step 3 – Take your IR measurement
Click sweep or impulse on the IR Measurement Device to begin the measurement. You will see the progress bar loading as the measurement is taken. It should say “Measurement Done” if it is successful.
If the measurement isn’t successful, double check your patching and I/O settings.
Step 4 – Save your impulse response & try it out
Save the resulting Impulse Response (in WAV format) into a folder where you can start accumulating your new IR’s. Then, take the saved Impulse Response audio file and drop it into the Convolution Reverb device to see how it sounds!
Once you’ve dropped it into the Convolution Reverb Device, you can also save this as a preset in your user library to make it even easier to use next time.
That’s how simple it is!
So don’t hesitate to start doing this yourself, as you can see it’s super easy and can make the sound of your hardware gear a lot more portable and convenient.
Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with our latest free tutorials, samples, video interviews and more.
Learn more about Producing Music with Ableton Live.