GGD: Oversized Cali clip. Morin Marshall CARCASS

VESmedic

Well-known member
I wasn’t too stoked on this IR pack at first, but I quickly started to really like it. Especially with some of my brighter amps. This amp, is completely out of control, period. It’s wild and hairy, and has such a sinister midrange, and it’s been awhile since I’ve used it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl with this IR plugin. Really really nice job Nolly did I think, all 6 cabs are unique and have their own personality. This is the “upfront” cab, with a 57 only for now. Little throwback carcass riff. 79 morin Marshall JMP> Driftowod loadbox> interface> DAW> GGD plugin. Enjoy!


 

Spaceboy

Well-known member
That sounds great. I have been fond of the GGD Cali yet. Just A/B against my usually IRs, the GGD shit seems a little bland and muffled in comparison.
 

VESmedic

Well-known member
Hey VESMedic, I'm so glad Cali has grown on you - excellent tones there, love the snarl from the Morin, killer. The 5150 adds a lovely mid thickness and blunt attack in the mix. Great sounds!


Thanks Nolly. I originally found them too dark for my liking, or so I thought, but I was wrong and can admit that! I’m generally a fan of bright, cutting but thick guitar tones, and these do still deliver that in spades if you want. Of course, everyone’s listening environment is different and tastes etc. my genelecs are great, but my room is not, for the time being.

I do wanna say though I appreciate your passion and in-depth “nerdy ness” about this stuff as of lately. I relate to you on many levels and look at things very similar to the way you do, and I just generally appreciate the fact you have a platform to do this and speak about things that have been often overlooked in the recording and guitar community in general: such as the differences in V30s and cabs over the years etc.
 

VESmedic

Well-known member
That Marshall is even more gnarly than mine. Damn that thing is a beast! 4 gain stages?


Man I don’t even know to be honest. Mike morin told me he did about 10 of these specific mods in about 1995 or so, called the head from hell mod. He’s very hard to get info out of, and just an overall strange dude haha! I did my best to get some info about this amp when I got it but it wasn’t much really. He does remember doing this specific one though. All original transformers with an additional custom transformer, dual push/pull gain knobs aka Jose style, totally redone eq section, tube effects loop, 5 12ax7s total . Quite the original tone, and it’s the scariest amp I own by far.
 

VESmedic

Well-known member
That sounds great. I have been fond of the GGD Cali yet. Just A/B against my usually IRs, the GGD shit seems a little bland and muffled in comparison.


I originally thought the same, but I found that not to the case overall. It’s amazing what a cm of movement towards the cone or away from
The cone on a mic will do, and this kind of shows that to be honest. The greats really do spend hours moving a microphone cm’s at a time to get just the right amount of everything they are looking for, and it’s quite an art for sure. I’m constantly amazed how In one position a mic sounds too bright, and then moving it a mm or a cm away from the cone can make that same sound instantly too dark, it’ll make you pull your hair out for sure.

What I love about these honestly is the midrange character. he really picked some great cabs with some fantastic midrange. My new OS sounds great and is decently broken in ( by josh Wilbur using it on triviums new record, I guess if it sounds good enough for him it’s good enough for me) but it still doesn’t have as much “character” as some of these for lack of a better term. Nolly did really hit some killer mic positions with this, although I will say that yes with some of my amps some positions are too dark, but that’s to be expected I think.
 

Nolly

Active member
Thanks Nolly. I originally found them too dark for my liking, or so I thought, but I was wrong and can admit that! I’m generally a fan of bright, cutting but thick guitar tones, and these do still deliver that in spades if you want. Of course, everyone’s listening environment is different and tastes etc. my genelecs are great, but my room is not, for the time being.

I do wanna say though I appreciate your passion and in-depth “nerdy ness” about this stuff as of lately. I relate to you on many levels and look at things very similar to the way you do, and I just generally appreciate the fact you have a platform to do this and speak about things that have been often overlooked in the recording and guitar community in general: such as the differences in V30s and cabs over the years etc.

Thanks man, that's really kind of you to say! I'm glad you and others are on a similar path, and also very grateful I've had the time and space to do the necessary experimentation. I'm extremely happy that others seem interested in the findings, and that they seem to enjoy using this plugin as much as I do.

RE: Brightness, just to say my piece on this - I'm 100% confident that these captures are accurate representations of the cabs, and while in some cases I chose specifically dark sounding speakers (Massive being an example of this), I also made sure to include cabs like "Guttural" and "Detailed" that have more extended top end, at least within the realm of this sort of cab and speaker ohmage. Of course you can also adjust the mic position to the brighter end of the dial too, I spent a lot of time figuring out the limit before the tone lost its sweetness and the top end gets too static-y, but they're still relatively bright sounds - again, within the realm of this sort of cab/speakers.
I think if people find the brighter cabs set with the brightest mic positions too dark still, they either just don't like how this sort of cab sounds, or perhaps they could revisit their amp settings if they are simply used to using brighter IRs/cabs. Or of course, it could be the loadbox or plugin/processor they are using is not delivering an accurate representation of a real tube amp with all its impedance behaviour intact, for whatever reason.

I also do agree with many users' comments that our previous cab plugin (Studio Cabs: Zilla Edition), is focussed on quite dark captures. This was intentional and was a result of mic positions but also a signal chain designed to maximise "warmth" as a bit of an antidote to the majority of IRs the struck me as unrealistically lacking depth. I think some users who wished that Zilla had brighter sounding captures have come to Cali with the preconceived notion that it is going to be dark sounding, and take a bit of time to come around to it.

I don't mean any of the above to be a "defence" against your comments, I just wanted to explain my thinking on it for the others viewing to see and understand.

RE: mic positions, yes it really is a game of mm! That said, some of the speakers I captured for this just record so easily it's a trivial matter to get a great tone out of them. I still tested to the nth degree to get the most refined sounds for the plugin though!
 

VESmedic

Well-known member
Thanks man, that's really kind of you to say! I'm glad you and others are on a similar path, and also very grateful I've had the time and space to do the necessary experimentation. I'm extremely happy that others seem interested in the findings, and that they seem to enjoy using this plugin as much as I do.

RE: Brightness, just to say my piece on this - I'm 100% confident that these captures are accurate representations of the cabs, and while in some cases I chose specifically dark sounding speakers (Massive being an example of this), I also made sure to include cabs like "Guttural" and "Detailed" that have more extended top end, at least within the realm of this sort of cab and speaker ohmage. Of course you can also adjust the mic position to the brighter end of the dial too, I spent a lot of time figuring out the limit before the tone lost its sweetness and the top end gets too static-y, but they're still relatively bright sounds - again, within the realm of this sort of cab/speakers.
I think if people find the brighter cabs set with the brightest mic positions too dark still, they either just don't like how this sort of cab sounds, or perhaps they could revisit their amp settings if they are simply used to using brighter IRs/cabs. Or of course, it could be the loadbox or plugin/processor they are using is not delivering an accurate representation of a real tube amp with all its impedance behaviour intact, for whatever reason.

I also do agree with many users' comments that our previous cab plugin (Studio Cabs: Zilla Edition), is focussed on quite dark captures. This was intentional and was a result of mic positions but also a signal chain designed to maximise "warmth" as a bit of an antidote to the majority of IRs the struck me as unrealistically lacking depth. I think some users who wished that Zilla had brighter sounding captures have come to Cali with the preconceived notion that it is going to be dark sounding, and take a bit of time to come around to it.

I don't mean any of the above to be a "defence" against your comments, I just wanted to explain my thinking on it for the others viewing to see and understand.

RE: mic positions, yes it really is a game of mm! That said, some of the speakers I captured for this just record so easily it's a trivial matter to get a great tone out of them. I still tested to the nth degree to get the most refined sounds for the plugin though!


Thanks for your thoughts, as always! I appreciate it. You are an extremely likeable guy, and extremely charismatic, so you have a unique ability to draw people into you and really listen to what you have to say, which is quite a breath of fresh air in this industry. Being extremely close to Mark lewis and Suecof, these are the conversations we have had over the last many many years, and I truly learned alot from mark for sure. While I'm sure you will agree he is extremely opinionated, these in depth super nerdy type of conversations are really where you learn about this stuff, and truly see what makes an actual difference in your tracking and mixes etc. I have learned it truly is the performance, and great inputs (great amps, great mic pre's, great cabs etc) that truly define and what make our favorite records sound great, and much of what is talked about on youtube etc over the last few years, while maybe relevant to some extent, the vast majority of your favorite records it seems have a few things in common: Great performances, and great inputs. The more I learn, the more I come back and see that it really is those 2 things that make all the difference. It's just nice to hear some of these conversations get brought to light for others to learn about, because often I will speak of things I've learned over the years, but the vast majority haven't had similar experiences or know where I am coming from, but you bringing up some of this stuff (such as your V30 video) really explains and shows how much this nerdy tech stuff can matter on the the hunt for tone.

As far as brightness, I agree with your view points 100 percent. These speakers definitely smooth out of over time, and that is kind of the draw to them at the end of the day, is the character they take on as years of use go by. The bright/dark knob really is quite genius, and pulls whatever I Need out of it I think as well. It's so interesting how opinions on tones can vary from person to person, or how people perceive things. And on that note, I struggle with the fact that I can never really tell what a guitar tone is going to sound like in stereo, when just listening to a mono single guitar track. And I talk about this here all the time, i'm curious if you understand or run into what I'm saying as well. This is initially why I thought some of them were too dark for my liking. However, after double or quad tracking and panning them out, the stereo image became apparent, and they were lovely, and just as you said, had the right top end and weren't pushed past the limits of losing the tone etc. The gnarly midrange character was awesome, and much better than (to me anyways) my own personal OS mesa cab. This is something I Just can't wrap my head around, because obviously a panned stereo guitar tone with its wide stereo image, is going to sound nothing like a mono track up the middle; and even more so, that mono guitar track, atleast to me, gives me very little idea, if any, of what it is actually going to sound like when panned and double tracked. So for me, I've learned a mono guitar track really doesn't tell me much at all. Which caries over to "well what DOES this IR actually sound like?" There's no references initially in the tracking phase, unless of course you have reference mono tracks that you know and love etc. There's things I pick up on and things that stick out that make me go "oh that's gonna be real good in a mix etc", but really, it's extremely difficult. I'm just curious if this is something you run into, or tricks you might use or what you listen for when getting an idea of what this mono single guitar track will sound like when panned big and wide.


Also out of curiousity, what mic pre's did you use to capture this pack? Thanks for all the info, I know we all truly appreciate it!
 

Nolly

Active member
Thanks for your thoughts, as always! I appreciate it. You are an extremely likeable guy, and extremely charismatic, so you have a unique ability to draw people into you and really listen to what you have to say, which is quite a breath of fresh air in this industry. Being extremely close to Mark lewis and Suecof, these are the conversations we have had over the last many many years, and I truly learned alot from mark for sure. While I'm sure you will agree he is extremely opinionated, these in depth super nerdy type of conversations are really where you learn about this stuff, and truly see what makes an actual difference in your tracking and mixes etc. I have learned it truly is the performance, and great inputs (great amps, great mic pre's, great cabs etc) that truly define and what make our favorite records sound great, and much of what is talked about on youtube etc over the last few years, while maybe relevant to some extent, the vast majority of your favorite records it seems have a few things in common: Great performances, and great inputs. The more I learn, the more I come back and see that it really is those 2 things that make all the difference. It's just nice to hear some of these conversations get brought to light for others to learn about, because often I will speak of things I've learned over the years, but the vast majority haven't had similar experiences or know where I am coming from, but you bringing up some of this stuff (such as your V30 video) really explains and shows how much this nerdy tech stuff can matter on the the hunt for tone.

As far as brightness, I agree with your view points 100 percent. These speakers definitely smooth out of over time, and that is kind of the draw to them at the end of the day, is the character they take on as years of use go by. The bright/dark knob really is quite genius, and pulls whatever I Need out of it I think as well. It's so interesting how opinions on tones can vary from person to person, or how people perceive things. And on that note, I struggle with the fact that I can never really tell what a guitar tone is going to sound like in stereo, when just listening to a mono single guitar track. And I talk about this here all the time, i'm curious if you understand or run into what I'm saying as well. This is initially why I thought some of them were too dark for my liking. However, after double or quad tracking and panning them out, the stereo image became apparent, and they were lovely, and just as you said, had the right top end and weren't pushed past the limits of losing the tone etc. The gnarly midrange character was awesome, and much better than (to me anyways) my own personal OS mesa cab. This is something I Just can't wrap my head around, because obviously a panned stereo guitar tone with its wide stereo image, is going to sound nothing like a mono track up the middle; and even more so, that mono guitar track, atleast to me, gives me very little idea, if any, of what it is actually going to sound like when panned and double tracked. So for me, I've learned a mono guitar track really doesn't tell me much at all. Which caries over to "well what DOES this IR actually sound like?" There's no references initially in the tracking phase, unless of course you have reference mono tracks that you know and love etc. There's things I pick up on and things that stick out that make me go "oh that's gonna be real good in a mix etc", but really, it's extremely difficult. I'm just curious if this is something you run into, or tricks you might use or what you listen for when getting an idea of what this mono single guitar track will sound like when panned big and wide.


Also out of curiousity, what mic pre's did you use to capture this pack? Thanks for all the info, I know we all truly appreciate it!
Thanks so much for the lovely complements, it's very kind of you to say so many nice things!


Mark is great, very passionate about sound and a lot more open-minded than people assume from his online persona. We recently reconnected and from our conversations he seems to be heading towards the brighter end of things, chasing down early 90s 16ohm Marshall Vintages to get as much bite and aggression as possible.


It's so cool you say people are paying more attention to these factors, I have noticed more balanced conversations taking place about the V30 variants etc, which is a far cry from how they tended to be a few years ago - to me this is a massive win because it's so easy to get stuck in the mire and never get the sounds you want otherwise. Performance aside, it's my opinion (and personal experience) that not having the "right" cab/speaker has been the single biggest factor in people not achieving the sounds they love. Once you have that, the amp and pedals you choose are far less make-or-break and you can enjoy the different textures and vibes they give, rather than looking at them to deliver you the tone you've always searched for because a band you like says they used it on a record you like the sound of.

Personally I don't put much stock in the differences between microphone preamps when not pushed into saturation. Compared blind, they often have very insignificant differences, apart from a few outliers with more obviously coloured sounds. For Studio Cabs: Zilla Edition I used the darkest preamps in the studio, but for Cali I actually used the preamps in my Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt interface - they're as clean and faithful as you could ever wish for. I know Mark Lewis is a big believer in using specific preamps only, but most other big name producers that get great guitar tones seem to agree there's very little in it, and tend to err on the side of transparency for distorted guitars anyway.

With regards to perception of tone when single tracked vs double tracked, I agree 100% that once you have a stereo pair of guitars you get a much clearer picture of the tone, and one that is a lot more informative of how that tone carries in the mix. I've found that these days I think and speak a lot about how guitar tones feel "closer" or "further away" from you as you listen back to them. Thinking about this - and this is a totally unfounded hack science guess - perhaps with a stereo pair, your brain is able to perceive the the frequency response and time domain a bit like it does when it is decoding spacial information around you, to inform you of what and how close the sounds in your environment are. It seems to me that in mono that part of your brain doesn't get the L-R differences it needs to do that. I could be completely wrong here, but it makes sense with what I think I know about audio perception.

P.S. If you want to get tones similar to the Audiohammer straight OS cab, check out the "Thick" cab in Cali. That'd be the closest to the mid-00 speaker + comb-filtered midrange thing going on there.
 

stratjacket

Well-known member
I watched one of the 45 minute videos last night, sounds pretty cool. Do any of you know of a way to use these with the AxeFx III?

I never use plugins for things like this, I’ve used Fractals CabLab to blend/mix several of my own cab IR’s, I pretty much just use those. I’d love to try this (and others) but in my AxeFx.
 

Nolly

Active member
I watched one of the 45 minute videos last night, sounds pretty cool. Do any of you know of a way to use these with the AxeFx III?

I never use plugins for things like this, I’ve used Fractals CabLab to blend/mix several of my own cab IR’s, I pretty much just use those. I’d love to try this (and others) but in my AxeFx.
Hey stratjacket, thanks for enduring the 45 minute video, I hope you enjoyed it! You can export .wav files from Cali and then stick those on your Axe-FX to use. More details - bypass the cab on the axe-fx then run into Cali either as a standalone app or a plugin in your DAW, so you can audition the cabs and find sounds you like and want to export. Any time you have a setting/blend you like, just hit export and you'll get a .wav file you can import to your Axe-FX or load in another device/plugin etc.
Hope that helps!
 

stratjacket

Well-known member
Hey stratjacket, thanks for enduring the 45 minute video, I hope you enjoyed it! You can export .wav files from Cali and then stick those on your Axe-FX to use. More details - bypass the cab on the axe-fx then run into Cali either as a standalone app or a plugin in your DAW, so you can audition the cabs and find sounds you like and want to export. Any time you have a setting/blend you like, just hit export and you'll get a .wav file you can import to your Axe-FX or load in another device/plugin etc.
Hope that helps!
Ok cool, that makes sense. Thank you!!
 

TheGreatGreen

Well-known member
Hey stratjacket, thanks for enduring the 45 minute video, I hope you enjoyed it! You can export .wav files from Cali and then stick those on your Axe-FX to use. More details - bypass the cab on the axe-fx then run into Cali either as a standalone app or a plugin in your DAW, so you can audition the cabs and find sounds you like and want to export. Any time you have a setting/blend you like, just hit export and you'll get a .wav file you can import to your Axe-FX or load in another device/plugin etc.
Hope that helps!

I was just about to ask for more details about the Export feature but nevermind, great info there!

Also, I used to be like most guitar players and barely gave cabs a second thought beyond "can it get loud" but as soon as I started working with modelers and recording them, I quickly realized how I’d overlooked speakers and cabs in general, as being forced to choose them from nothing made me instantly aware both of how drastically my sound changed from one IR to the next, and how unique they all were. Then as I really developed my sound, I basically found and stuck with a mix of V30's and Heritage Greenbacks. Count me in as somebody who appreciated both your recent V30 deep dive video with Kristian and your Cali OS plugin demo video with Rabea. They definitely answered some specific questions I had about V30's but didn't have the ability find out for myself.

It's super helpful to the community to see somebody taking on this piece of the puzzle and trying to put the knowledge out there, especially somebody like you with the relationships and ability to really get the best examples of the speakers and cabs in question to further your research. These days I'm glad it's becoming more common knowledge that cabs are at least as important as amps and guitars when it comes to your sound, and that people with a good ear and a lot of experience (and cabs) are able to offer up curated packages of their best efforts like what you're doing. Cheers dude.
 
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VESmedic

Well-known member
Thanks so much for the lovely complements, it's very kind of you to say so many nice things!


Mark is great, very passionate about sound and a lot more open-minded than people assume from his online persona. We recently reconnected and from our conversations he seems to be heading towards the brighter end of things, chasing down early 90s 16ohm Marshall Vintages to get as much bite and aggression as possible.


It's so cool you say people are paying more attention to these factors, I have noticed more balanced conversations taking place about the V30 variants etc, which is a far cry from how they tended to be a few years ago - to me this is a massive win because it's so easy to get stuck in the mire and never get the sounds you want otherwise. Performance aside, it's my opinion (and personal experience) that not having the "right" cab/speaker has been the single biggest factor in people not achieving the sounds they love. Once you have that, the amp and pedals you choose are far less make-or-break and you can enjoy the different textures and vibes they give, rather than looking at them to deliver you the tone you've always searched for because a band you like says they used it on a record you like the sound of.

Personally I don't put much stock in the differences between microphone preamps when not pushed into saturation. Compared blind, they often have very insignificant differences, apart from a few outliers with more obviously coloured sounds. For Studio Cabs: Zilla Edition I used the darkest preamps in the studio, but for Cali I actually used the preamps in my Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt interface - they're as clean and faithful as you could ever wish for. I know Mark Lewis is a big believer in using specific preamps only, but most other big name producers that get great guitar tones seem to agree there's very little in it, and tend to err on the side of transparency for distorted guitars anyway.

With regards to perception of tone when single tracked vs double tracked, I agree 100% that once you have a stereo pair of guitars you get a much clearer picture of the tone, and one that is a lot more informative of how that tone carries in the mix. I've found that these days I think and speak a lot about how guitar tones feel "closer" or "further away" from you as you listen back to them. Thinking about this - and this is a totally unfounded hack science guess - perhaps with a stereo pair, your brain is able to perceive the the frequency response and time domain a bit like it does when it is decoding spacial information around you, to inform you of what and how close the sounds in your environment are. It seems to me that in mono that part of your brain doesn't get the L-R differences it needs to do that. I could be completely wrong here, but it makes sense with what I think I know about audio perception.

P.S. If you want to get tones similar to the Audiohammer straight OS cab, check out the "Thick" cab in Cali. That'd be the closest to the mid-00 speaker + comb-filtered midrange thing going on there.


Man you of course nailed it, that “thick” cab is that sound for sure. That comb filtered midrange, that’s exactly it, I never could describe what I’m hearing but that’s for sure it. It’s really evident on the earliest audiohammer records. Ironically according to mark, prior to 2009, all my favorite tones that came out of there were an 05 slant oversized, and many since is an 08 traditional cab, go figure. But you nailed that sound closer than anyone I’ve ever heard. I use to always be floored going over to audiohammer and trying to figure out how they got those tones with often just a 57 using a lot of the same gear I owned at the time. Mic placement is everything, well not everything but you know what I mean :) it’s quite amazing. Mark is for sure on the Marshall kick, I recently got him a jubilee cab with 8 ohm Marshall vintages from 1987, and he just picked up a 92 jubilee cab with 16 ohm Marshall vintages. I’ve always felt the same way, the Marshall cabs just sound right to me a lot of the time, and since the end of heartache came out, everyone has been chasing “that” sound, and Marshall has gotten out of the limelight until recently. Even sneap I hear is back using Marshall cabs ALOT.

Thanks for the explanation on how you look at things being “closer” or “farther away” in the stereo image, that makes sense to me 100 percent, I just could never figure out how to explain it.


Also thanks for the info on the captures. I’m trying to decide between the ensemble or the symphony for my new place, and I have no doubt either will be amazing and way more than I need at my level.
 

Nolly

Active member
I was just about to ask for more details about the Export feature but nevermind, great info there!

Also, I used to be like most guitar players and barely gave cabs a second thought beyond "can it get loud" but as soon as I started working with modelers and recording them, I quickly realized how I’d overlooked speakers and cabs in general, as being forced to choose them from nothing made me instantly aware both of how drastically my sound changed from one IR to the next, and how unique they all were. Then as I really developed my sound, I basically found and stuck with a mix of V30's and Heritage Greenbacks. Count me in as somebody who appreciated both your recent V30 deep dive video with Kristian and your Cali OS plugin demo video with Rabea. They definitely answered some specific questions I had about V30's but didn't have the ability find out for myself.

It's super helpful to the community to see somebody taking on this piece of the puzzle and trying to put the knowledge out there, especially somebody like you with the relationships and ability to really get the best examples of the speakers and cabs in question to further your research. These days I'm glad it's becoming more common knowledge that cabs are at least as important as amps and guitars when it comes to your sound, and that people with a good ear and a lot of experience (and cabs) are able to offer up curated packages of their best efforts like what you're doing. Cheers dude.

Thanks man, that's so cool to hear! I feel extremely lucky that part of my job enables me to go down these rabbit holes. For me at least, there has been nothing more elusive in the world of recording than the conundrums of top tier high-gain guitar tone, so it's been extremely cathartic to be able to come back with answers and tools that others can enjoy too. I appreciate your kind words, thanks!

Man you of course nailed it, that “thick” cab is that sound for sure. That comb filtered midrange, that’s exactly it, I never could describe what I’m hearing but that’s for sure it. It’s really evident on the earliest audiohammer records. Ironically according to mark, prior to 2009, all my favorite tones that came out of there were an 05 slant oversized, and many since is an 08 traditional cab, go figure. But you nailed that sound closer than anyone I’ve ever heard. I use to always be floored going over to audiohammer and trying to figure out how they got those tones with often just a 57 using a lot of the same gear I owned at the time. Mic placement is everything, well not everything but you know what I mean :) it’s quite amazing. Mark is for sure on the Marshall kick, I recently got him a jubilee cab with 8 ohm Marshall vintages from 1987, and he just picked up a 92 jubilee cab with 16 ohm Marshall vintages. I’ve always felt the same way, the Marshall cabs just sound right to me a lot of the time, and since the end of heartache came out, everyone has been chasing “that” sound, and Marshall has gotten out of the limelight until recently. Even sneap I hear is back using Marshall cabs ALOT.

Thanks for the explanation on how you look at things being “closer” or “farther away” in the stereo image, that makes sense to me 100 percent, I just could never figure out how to explain it.


Also thanks for the info on the captures. I’m trying to decide between the ensemble or the symphony for my new place, and I have no doubt either will be amazing and way more than I need at my level.

I'm glad the Thick cab gave you the right vibe mate, it's a cool and "brutal" sound that definitely needed to be included in Cali since I wanted to make sure all of the most famous flavours of tone are represented in there. It's also cool you're the one that sourced those Marshall cabs for Mark. I'm interested to hear those really old '87 8ohm Vintages, I think I'm probably always going to prefer the sound of the smoother early 00 speakers (I guess I've just been conditioned that way) but I look forward to hearing what Mark gets out of them for sure.
Yep, Andy is using the Marshalls almost exclusively these days, with straight off-the-shelf Chinese 16ohm V30s. He gets a great sound from them, his tones always sound like him. He's also throwing more mics up than he used to back in the day, I think it's typical 3 or 4 inputs blended to get his tones. It makes sense once you've done the single 57 thing for a while and have gotten excellent tones that way, you'd want to change things up and use unfamiliar mics or combinations to get to new and interesting sounds - that's why I wanted to make our cab IRs into actual plugins that encourage blending and experimentation, and hopefully that'll mean it stands the test of time where users can keep coming back to it and getting fresh sounds.

No worries at all. For what it's worth I've downsized my rig from the Ensemble Thunderbolt to the Symphony Desktop and I love it. I'm pretty much only mixing or tracking a single input in my studio these days though.
 
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