Bogren Digital Jens Bogren Signature IR Pack - Lead + Clean by NicoMcJ
Following the success of the original Bogren Digital rhythm IR pack, Jens and his team have worked to create a follow up package in the form of the Cleans and leads IR pack. This pack comes with a much larger catalogue of impulses than the original; 20 clean and 41 lead. As with the rhythm pack the key is simplicity and asking the user to use their ears when deciding which IR to use for any given application.
Sound Quality - 5/5
A remark I made in the original rhythm pack was “If you’re the kind of player who just wants to load some cabs into his Helix and play alone, stop reading here; these IRs are probably not for you. As is almost always the case with fully produced guitar sounds, they are not hugely flattering in isolation and out of context.” This does not apply with this pack; there are tones that work superbly in isolation on both the clean and lead side. There are also those that have clearly been EQ’d more to sit in a mix. The widened library works in the pack's advantage here, there really is an IR for almost every application you can think of.
As for the sound quality of the IRs themselves, they are detailed. Even with mega-distorto-gain there is a clarity and punch that highlights the tone of your amp and guitar. Even the thicker, warmer IRs avoid being muddy, while the more treble-biased IRs avoid being shrill or piercing.
Finally, the pack is heavily marketed to the metal crowd, after all, that’s where Jens built his career but this pack works for so many different applications. For example, take a Vox AC30 model with a light crunch, load up the “almost acc” IR from the clean pack, select a guitar with P90s and lose yourself in the Indy gloriousness. One of my favourites was a Telecaster, the “Telecastme” IR and a Bassman model; pure Americana.
Ease of Use - 4/5
I marked the original pack 5/5 in this aspect, so why only 4/5 this time around you may ask? The vastly increased library is the reason here. In both libraries (clean and lead) there is some noticeable tonal crossover and the somewhat random (albeit hilarious) naming system makes it difficult, at times, to find exactly the tone you are looking for. Scrolling through the IRs is fun but not linear. However, this is soon overcome as you get used to the IRs and their characteristics and become more familiar with their names.
Using the IRs themselves is an absolute doddle. Simply choose the sample rate best for your application and drop them into whatever vehicle you are using. I used them in both Bias coupled with NadIR in my DAw, and also in HX Effects with outboard preamps. In both settings they were perfectly usable and the volume was pretty much consistent from IR to IR. A bugbear of mine with certain other IR brands (who shall remain nameless) is the massive volume change from sample to sample and it’s refreshing that this is not an issue with this pack. The IRs are nicely responsive to HPF and LPF settings and this is pretty much all that is required when finding your sonic space. When mixing I needed no further EQ and this is a massive time saver.
As with the original pack Jens deliberately avoids saying how each IR was made. The documentation mentions the cabs that were used in general terms, but not on which IRs or any mention of the mics or combinations thereof. This is a fantastic feature. Guitarists often “hear” with their eyes and taking this approach means that you are forced to decide with your ears, and your projects will be better as a result!
Features - 5/5
The pack comes with 4 different sample rates and works in every host I can think of. No matter if you use Kemper, Axe-FX, Helix or you are strictly DAW; this pack has a sample rate for you.
Bang for Buck - 5/5
61 high quality IRs for under 40 Euros. That’s €0.66 per IR. For me, the real value for money comes in terms of both usable applications and time saved. Unlike some IR packs these don’t carry any dead weight; yes, there is some tonal crossover as mentioned above, but there aren’t really any unusable sounds or very niche sounds. Also as mentioned above you don’t need to spend ages tweaking mic positions or EQ settings, you just select the IR that fits and go.
If you can only afford one of Mr Bogrens’ products, it’s a no-brainer - buy this one. The IRs in this pack cover so much aural ground and the sheer quantity of samples means the value for money factor wins the day. If you already have the rhythm pack, this is a viable expansion to your library, there is tonal crossover in places between the two packs but mostly they work fantastically well to complement each other.
The original rhythm pack was groundbreaking in it’s own way, and this is the natural evolution of the product line. Now we just need the bass pack to complete the set…..
I've made an accompanying video for this review, and it is purely meant as a demonstration of the 61 IRs. Here’s the details:
Demo 1 - Lead Pack
I used an Ibanez Iron Label RGA with Bare Knuckle Aftermath pickups. This went into Bias Amp into a TS9 to a 5150 blended with an SD-1 into a JCM800. This was then summed to mono and fed into NadIR with the Bogren IRs.
Demo 2 - Clean Pack
I used a PRS Silver Sky. This went into Bias Amp into a Fender Twin model and was fed to NadIR with the Bogren IRs.