Impulse Responses are the number one thing that can help you find the perfect guitar tone when using amp simulator plugins to record and play guitar through a computer.
Digital amp sims have come a long way in recent years, but with some styles of music, such as heavy metal, it can be hard to find the right tone. That’s where impulse responses come in handy.
It’s absolutely amazing how good of a sound you can get out of an amp sim with the right impulse. You can achieve the same tone from your favorite song or guitarist with little effort.
Most amp sims worth using allow you to import IR’s, or you can use a free program like LeCab 2 or NadIR. There are tens of thousands of impulse responses available online. Some cost money to buy, like Rosen Digital and RedWirez Impulses, but there are tons of free ones online that are really good if you know where to look.
What is an Impulse Response?
Impulse Responses are basically designed to capture the unique sounds of various cabinet and microphone combinations.
They also capture the frequency of the entire signal chain from the mic, the power amp, preamp, and even the specific sound of the room, among other things.
How to Use Impulse Responses
Most amp sims support importing Impulse Response files. I use Recabinet 4 and TSE X50. Those are both paid amp simulators, but offer free demos. Both are really good at simulating the Peavey 6505/5150.
There are free options as well. Along with the LePou Free Amp Sim Plugins, there’s the LeCab 2 that can load up to six impulse responses at once, and it’s free.
Another free standalone IR loader is NadIR by Ignite Amps. It can load two IRs at once and the plugin includes other controls like panning, filters, stereo control, and delay.
Free Impulse Response Downloads
After downloading a few IR packs here and there, I came across the 7deadlysins Impulse Pack over at Osiris Guitar.com that contains thousands of impulses, with many of the best and most popular IR’s included all in one place.
Some of the better ones to start with include the Guitar Hacks Impulses, the Engl Pro 4×12 V30 pack, the Mesa Boogie 4×12 700+ Gods Cab IR’s (or you can download it separately below), and there are a bunch for specific bands and songs.
7deadlysins Impulse Pack (230 MB)
Additional Free Impulse Response Downloads
Free Redwirez IR Library – Redwirez offers a free pack of Marshall 1960A IRs, with Celestion G12M-25s, and it includes 17 different mics to choose from, each in dozens of variations.
OwnHammer – An impulse response library based on “V3 Mix” sampling methodology with neutral tube power amps.
Catharsis Impulses – The 7deadlysins pack contains thousands of IR’s, but somehow Catharsis isn’t among them.
God’s Cab 1.4 – This is included in the 7deadlysins pack but it is an older version. This includes over 700 Mesa OS IRs and Axe-FX ready files at 44.1, 48, and 96 khz sample rates.
ToneVampIRe HD – Another popular IR pack, ToneVampIRe HD includes 44 impulses for 37 songs, from artists like Deftones, Metallica, Mudvayne, Rammstein, and Slipknot.