HOW WE DO CAPTURES
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
A lot of testing and A/B comparisons have been conducted in order to arrive at our current best practices for creating captures. Read below to find out more
DI VS FULL CAPTURES
Our most extensive testing after acquiring our Quad Cortex unit went into understanding, which approach to capturing yields the closest results to the reference amps in tone and response. We arrived at the conclusion that the Quad Cortex sounds most authentic to the reference amp by using DI amp captures in conjunction with high quality cabinet Impulse Responses (or IR's). This should not be surprising as Neural DSP ships their product with factory captures all of which are DI captures. The Quad Cortex seems to be geared towards this approach and that is great, because it gives also the most flexibility in regard to further tone sculpting with your own IR's.
Our DI captures are created with the amplifiers working in conjunction with the speakers or cabinets they have been intended to operate with. The captures are created at full volumes, without attenuators or other devices in the chain that might affect the tone.
THE RIGHT CAB FOR THE JOB
Each cabinet has its own characteristic load on the amplifier, which affects its tone and response. The DI signal is tapped directly from the amps output, not an attenuator or load box, keeping the most natural and authentic response of each amp. The next best thing would be using a high quality reactive load, but units of this type are each created to have just one characteristic load line and they cannot switch between dozens of authentic load lines.
DON'T FORGET THE WARMUP
We warm up our amps at least 2 hours before any captures are made - this is because some of the old amps in fact do sound better when they are really heated up. The worst offender in this category is our 1964 AC30, which achieves a very pleasant beeswax smell which has been used on it's transformers, once it's ready for the ride.
DIALING IT IN
Our captures come dialed in for 6 EQ presets - Thin, Bright, Balanced, Warm, Fat and Scooped While most presets will sound good with many pickups, you will find that the brighter presets will lend themselves best for Humbucker and P90 style pickups, while the warmer ones will play very well with single coils and other brighter pickups/pickup positions. Though the specific guitar used is not part of any phase of the capture process, we test our captures with humbucker (1980's Yamaha SA-1000) and single coil (62 Hot Rod Strat) types of guitar.
THE LAST 2%
The Quad Cortex at it's current state has slightly less gain and misses a touch of presence range to our ear, when comparing captures to the reference amps. This difference is truly minute, but just to be sure, we compensate for that by various means in order to get a capture that is practically indistinguishable from the reference. Furthermore we carefully level-match all our captures in order to achieve a consistent output throughout our captures, in order to let you focus on what is the most important - your tone.