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Thoughts from the experts on Iso Cabinet designs
Old 2nd March 2014
  #1
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Thoughts from the experts on Iso Cabinet designs

I'm going to building two of these for my one-room studio. Naturally, I've been watching some DIY build videos on YouTube, but noticed there's really no consistency in the designs:

- some have speakers built-in, mounted to the iso cabinet: wouldn't this negatively affect the tone vs. making it large enough to fit an 1x10/12" cab? I'm not an expert on speaker cabinet design, but with that in mind, I find keeping the cab designed by the manufacturers (experts) seems the most logical, if not inefficient space wise.

- the material typically seems to be a combination of Auralex-style acoustic foam and rockwool. Due to the small size, would there be a better material choice? Would a diffusor work better in front (i.e. speaker/mic | diffusion | absorption | wood).

- the design from an acoustic perspective seems to be inconsistent as well: some put the speaker in the corner facing the opposite corner, Auralex foam on the sides, shaped in a semi-circle opposite, etc. Maybe within these constraints, acoustics (beyond leakage outside of the box) is irrelevant due to the size and volume (these boxes are meant to be cranked)?

I'd like to hear from the experts on how they feel a properly-designed iso cab should be put together, what's important, what's not, etc.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #2
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🎧 15 years
I wouldn't count myself as an expert, but a few thoughts on it...

An iso box would be too small for a diffuser.

Having the speaker built in might hurt iso a little, but the box sitting in a box without some sort of decoupling will also have flanking paths. In practice not likely to be a huge difference there...

Ultimately an iso box is trying to make the best of a bad situation, not much is desirable about recording in a space with that little volume. I don't know what your needs are, personally I just make up L-pads so I can drop the cab level when needed, but maybe a leaky damping box could work? IE don't try for a lot of true isolation, but instead build a frame that holds 703/foam etc. It would knock the mids and highs down without going modal inside.
Old 2nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC ➑️
I wouldn't count myself as an expert, but a few thoughts on it...

An iso box would be too small for a diffuser.

Having the speaker built in might hurt iso a little, but the box sitting in a box without some sort of decoupling will also have flanking paths. In practice not likely to be a huge difference there...

Ultimately an iso box is trying to make the best of a bad situation, not much is desirable about recording in a space with that little volume. I don't know what your needs are, personally I just make up L-pads so I can drop the cab level when needed, but maybe a leaky damping box could work? IE don't try for a lot of true isolation, but instead build a frame that holds 703/foam etc. It would knock the mids and highs down without going modal inside.
Can you elaborate on L-pads?
Old 2nd March 2014
  #4
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🎧 15 years
Just two resistors here is a calculator

L pad calculator - attenuation dB damping impedance decibel loudspeaker speaker voltage divider - sengpielaudio Sengpiel Berlin

I use 20w resistors for amps. They are probably overkill (rated for 20w crest factor of 0dB and the resistors only take part of the power)...

What is the problem you are having that the iso box would fix?
Old 2nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC ➑️
Just two resistors here is a calculator

L pad calculator - attenuation dB damping impedance decibel loudspeaker speaker voltage divider - sengpielaudio Sengpiel Berlin

I use 20w resistors for amps. They are probably overkill (rated for 20w crest factor of 0dB and the resistors only take part of the power)...

What is the problem you are having that the iso box would fix?
One room studio, want live off the floor options for bands coming in vs. bleed or amp sims. Guitarists yesterday were complaining a lot about tone with some amp modellers I was using.
Old 2nd March 2014
  #6
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🎧 10 years
My recommendation is to use L-Pads or a Speaker DI. There are loads of speaker modeling plugins if you are going that route.

But IMHO, there's nothing like a good amp/speaker/mic(multiple mic) combination in a good room.

That said, why would anyone want to completely change the characteristics of a speaker cabinet by putting the whole thing in a little box?

Think about it. Let's say you create a good, sound-proof box that is 48" wide, 48" tall, and 24" deep. Minimum 4" of treatment on 5 surfaces would give you an RT60 of about 0.1 second making the Shroeder frequency 630 Hz. With that, the pressure zone of that box begins at 141 Hz. Now IF you are able to drive the pressure zone with that speaker, the response below that will be very flat.. BUT you may find that the speaker cone simply STOPS moving at that point and the voice coil heats up... It really depends on the speaker/cabinet combo design.

So the recorded sound from this compared to the same amp in a good recording room is what? Or is the Iso cab recording pretty much the same as a DI? - Or is it worse? It's just not something that I would recommend or try. Honestly.

Can anyone name a signature guitar sound that is/was recorded this way? (this is an honest question - looking for an answer, because I would like to be proved wrong)

I really think that there are more cost effective ways to get an electric guitar recording... or at least Better Sounding ways.

Cheers,
John
Old 2nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface ➑️
....Guitarists yesterday were complaining a lot about tone with some amp modellers I was using.
Try this, my friend; Record the guitar straight/flat/DI'd on a track (plain old electric guitar plugged into a DI) and another track with the module and/or modeler. Once the tracking is done and you are happy with the feel, you can take the guitar (DI) track out of the DAW and run it through an attenuator (potentiometer) into a good tube amp in the tracking room or CR. Run the track and adjust the amp until you get the tone you want. Mic it & record it.

Now you have something that you can work with. If you don't like the way that amp tone sits in the mix. Do it again. After a while doing this kind of thing, you'll get good at hitting the right tone, etc.

Have fun.

Cheers,
John
Old 2nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhbrandt ➑️
Try this, my friend; Record the guitar straight/flat/DI'd on a track (plain old electric guitar plugged into a DI) and another track with the module and/or modeler. Once the tracking is done and you are happy with the feel, you can take the guitar (DI) track out of the DAW and run it through an attenuator (potentiometer) into a good tube amp in the tracking room or CR. Run the track and adjust the amp until you get the tone you want. Mic it & record it.
Cheers,
John
Big +1 here.

With some additions. The line2amp kits are cheap and do exactly what they say on the tin, you can also get away with using a passive DI backwards as a reamp box, or an attenuator. Ultra high gain stuff seems to work better here with actual reamp transformer boxes instead of just attenuators.

I DI into plugin modelers but trying to get the right sound to replicate someones rig here is a nightmare. Another better option I find is to use a HK redbox with a dummy load (100w 8ohm resistor) from their amp. It's not going to sound as good as miking it, but its's a unique sound that often makes it to the final records here. So I split DI after their pedals (always have them turn their compressor pedals off, I find) and feed one to their head and the other to DI to modeler plug, then on to reamp later (using my monster pre-blending reamp rig usually).

A great swiss army knife of a tracking head is the HK tubemeister 18, it has redbox, L-pad and dummy load all built in and it's simple enough that just about any guitarist can figure it out. Also Engl pre's have redbox type of DI outputs (I have a e530) as do some others (VHT/fryette I believe...).

In my little corner of the world we need more high gain stuff than low. IE I come across a lot more guitarists who want to make their fender deville amp sound like modern rock, than who are trying to get fender sounds out of a pitbull etc.
Old 2nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
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1 Review written
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhbrandt ➑️
Try this, my friend; Record the guitar straight/flat/DI'd on a track (plain old electric guitar plugged into a DI) and another track with the module and/or modeler. Once the tracking is done and you are happy with the feel, you can take the guitar (DI) track out of the DAW and run it through an attenuator (potentiometer) into a good tube amp in the tracking room or CR. Run the track and adjust the amp until you get the tone you want. Mic it & record it.

Now you have something that you can work with. If you don't like the way that amp tone sits in the mix. Do it again. After a while doing this kind of thing, you'll get good at hitting the right tone, etc.

Have fun.

Cheers,
John
I already suggested (and did that), but they were complaining that the sound in the cans wasn't inspiring and made it difficult to pull off a performance... I felt like smacking them, but if I was playing an electronic kit, I'd feel the same way (whether it truly is the same... ).
Old 2nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC ➑️
Big +1 here.

With some additions. The line2amp kits are cheap and do exactly what they say on the tin, you can also get away with using a passive DI backwards as a reamp box, or an attenuator. Ultra high gain stuff seems to work better here with actual reamp transformer boxes instead of just attenuators.

I DI into plugin modelers but trying to get the right sound to replicate someones rig here is a nightmare. Another better option I find is to use a HK redbox with a dummy load (100w 8ohm resistor) from their amp. It's not going to sound as good as miking it, but its's a unique sound that often makes it to the final records here. So I split DI after their pedals (always have them turn their compressor pedals off, I find) and feed one to their head and the other to DI to modeler plug, then on to reamp later (using my monster pre-blending reamp rig usually).

A great swiss army knife of a tracking head is the HK tubemeister 18, it has redbox, L-pad and dummy load all built in and it's simple enough that just about any guitarist can figure it out. Also Engl pre's have redbox type of DI outputs (I have a e530) as do some others (VHT/fryette I believe...).

In my little corner of the world we need more high gain stuff than low. IE I come across a lot more guitarists who want to make their fender deville amp sound like modern rock, than who are trying to get fender sounds out of a pitbull etc.
Yeah, I think attenuator/load box is probably the best option, sonically and perhaps psychologically too ("I'm plugged into my amp so it must sound better!").
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